Now someone has raised a similar question: Whether the Indians colonized each other once they were here:
Indians were also colonists
By Wallace Alcorn
Yet, when the literature turns to narratives of the interface of Indians and Anglos, it is just this—Indians and Anglos, as if all Indians were alike and all Europeans were alike.
I recognize this same inconsistency in the term “colonies” for the European settlements and “tribal territories” for the Indians. Except that the tribes were not able to maintain contact with their points of origin, it seems to me they were also colonies, e.g., Apache, Winnebago. The Indians were as much colonists as were the Europeans. If they can be grouped in distinction from each other, we can speak only of the earlier colonists and the later colonists.
The literature of the discipline of Indian history locates the various tribes by their respective geographical territories. This had fascinated me as a student, and I had tried to memorize their locations. Different maps confused me, because they placed the various tribes in different locations. What I didn’t then recognize is that the tribes kept moving around, migrating from one area to another. Each time they settled, they declared this their territory.
The language the literature uses is the Indians “competed for territory” or “struggled over disputed lands” or “vied with each other over watering rights and hunting ranges.” But when it describes Anglos seeking new areas in which to settle, the language changes to “the colonists drove the native Americans off their ancestral lands” or “wrested it out of the hands of the native peoples” or “seized what belonged to the original inhabitants.”
2. the country or district settled or colonized: Many Western nations are former European colonies.
3. any people or territory separated from but subject to a ruling power.
Again, Alcorn writes:
Here's the problem with Alcorn's thesis: He's conflated several different things: conquering, colonizing, warring, raiding, and simply wandering nomadically. Yes, Indians did some of the things Europeans did. But their actions were much more limited in scope. They sure as hell didn't launch an all-out conquest of several continents (North and South America, Africa, Australia).
While the Indians warred and raided, the Europeans conquered and colonized. The European actions were an order of magnitude more consequential.
Alcorn's not-so-hidden agenda
If you think Alcorn is just innocently disputing a point of history, think again. His agenda should be obvious to the casual reader. If not, he states it for us:
The sins of American Indians and European settlers were the same: failure to sustain human values and failure to act humanely.
Whenever you hear people talk about how warlike Indians were, you can bet they're about to rationalize the Euro-American genocide of Indians. They won't note that many Indians were peaceful. That many lived in the same place for centuries. That many signed treaties guaranteeing their rights but were killed or relocated anyway.
And that previous wars don't justify subsequent wars. If that were true, Al Qaeda would have no trouble defending 9/11. "By the Alcorn doctrine," Osama bin Laden might say, "your previous wars--against Britain, Mexico, the Indians, Spain, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc.--justify our attack. Since you believe war justifies war, so do we."
For more on the subject, see "Something You Never Hear" About Indians?, Spaniards = Nazis, and The Wisdom of Albert Speer.
Below: One good attack, invasion, or war deserves another?