October 10, 2006

Re-revising Native history

Patrick Barkman:  Who ‘discovered’ the ‘New World’?An excellent recent work on this subject, and the re-revisionism of American Indian history, is 1491, by Charles C. Mann. Whereas contemporaries of Colombo, like Bartolomé de las Casas, described a land that was a “beehive of people,” the next generation of explorers found emptiness, leading to the enduring myth that North America was virgin unclaimed territory. De las Casas first came to the Americas as a conquistador himself, but was sickened by the brutality he witnessed and, repenting, entered the priesthood. His posthumous work, Apologética Historia Sumaria, was the first attempt by Europeans to write truthfully about American Indian culture. In fact, the “discovery” of the “New World” had led to a crisis in Christianity, since these lands and people were not to be found in Holy Scripture. De las Casas’ famous debate with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 was over the blunt issue of whether or not American Indians were human beings.

De las Casas had a somewhat romantic view, arguing that Indians were naturally innocent, living in paradise—a patronizing and offensive position, to be sure, but certainly better than de Sepúlveda’s contention that Indians were essentially animals who only looked like men, natural slaves created to serve white men and incapable of self-governance. King Charles V (grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella) was persuaded to de las Casas’ point of view; one can only imagine how things could have been worse for Indians had he gone with de Sepúlveda instead.

6 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The arguments will go on for centuries about who was first to blunder into the 'New World.' The Vikings were first, according to some scientific findings. But then again NOVA on PBS this week says they did no such thing. When the pyramids and huge cities were found in what is now Central and South America, Europeans declared that the Egyptians or the Phoenicians or even the Chinese must have been early arrivals that built those magnificent strongholds. In the 20th Century, such claims transmogrified into outer space aliens or even the survivors of the continent of Atlantis. Thus, Native people must have found such locations and moved in, because they certainly could not have built them. And now, with 'Kennewick Man', Caucasians now are claiming that the white man occupied these continents first and those now called the Native Americans drove them out and replaced them. And heaven forfend that writerfella ever should repeat what the Mormons claim about the New World! Great CoogaMooga!
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Not a Sioux said...

Kennewick Man? Merely the remains of Jean Luc Picard, who due to a terrible time-travel mishap, ended up living out the end of his life among the Native people of the Pacific Northwest many many centuries ago.

The Native people who adopted and befriended him interred him to make sure his remains would stay preserved for a very long time (knowing of Picard's interest in archaology).

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, the representation of 'Kennewick Man,' which actually is a computer-generated image, DOES resemble Patrick Stewart. BUT another computer reconstruction done on a skeleton buried at Stonehenge completely looks IDENTICAL to the purported image of 'Kennewick Man'! As I have said before, writerfella does not have to aim his nose at Denmark to know that something is of ill repute!

Rob said...

See Kennewick Man, Captain Picard, and Political Correctness for more on this subject.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Whatever the context, one line in 'Kennewick Man, Capt. Picard, And Political Correctness', most definitely is false. And that is, "Science never is wrong!" Science, almost alone among all other philosophies, knows that most of the time, it is wrong. Its entire existence is based on exacting truths from reality. Plus, science only learns more truths from its mistakes and knows that continuing research and other investigations only improve the reliability of its observations, which can change radically as time rushes past.
Compare that to other philosophies, most especially the poetic philosophies of religion. Those tenets never change and cannot ever be changed. Man evolves but has created gods and pantheic laws that do not evolve. Alas, that context yet is another version of 'The Picture Of Dorian Grey' and its conscripts dare not ever look upon the reality behind their faiths.
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

For those who didn't see it, "science is never wrong" is my paraphrase of the claims of certain people. Namely, those who want to dissect rather than bury Kennewick Man's remains.