Re: Survival of the Specious ;)

Wed, 13 Sep 1995 16:02:23 -0500

Nick wrote:
> is true that various tribes were quite different from one
>another, but there's something still to be said for the general
>similarity between the tribes. There were some things which they
>all--for the most part--held in common with one another, in terms of
>general world-view, etc...

A problem emerges in this analysis. One that I'm sure I won't find
a lot of support for because this list is filled with *archaeologists*,
whom, in general, don't know a hell of a lot about Native Americans.

Nick, your operating under a lot of *stereotypes* about what constitutes
an "Indian". The thing that is useful to remember is that there is no
such THING as an Indian (except in India, of course, but then I would
be hard pressed to identify all of the traits that make-up an "Indian").
In American parlance, an"Indian" is a socially _constructed concept_.
Constructed with our simplifying stereotypes to make life easier, and
to make us feel good about ourselves, superior, etc.

When Cortes landed in Mexico there were 600 different languages
flourishing with inumerable different lifeways *in Mexico alone*! These
were all different kinds of PEOPLE engaging in different modes of
production, and thinking in many different ways. Sure, there were also
similarities, thats what we call the "commonality of man", but not
any more so than in other areas and with other peoples. (In fact,
there were probably more differences in America than in Europe since
Europeans were engaging in far fewer modes of production (feudalism).

As regards to the ranking of the most "fittest", I don't know how to
answer that. Certainly, there is no non-subjective way to rank
cultures. The fact that we had a greater technology, were more blood-
thirsty, etc. who knows? BTW, a good source for beginning to see
Truth (or as you were posting about earlier--the closest tale to what
*actually happened*) is _Colonial Encounters_ by Peter Hulme.

Good Luck,

James Benthall
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204