November 11, 2012

Cannibal Indians in My Ghost Story

A note from a Facebook friend:OMG. Moronic episode of "My Ghost Story" where white land owner is horrified to find "evil spirits" of "cannibal" Miami Indians on "his" land. Thinks he stirred them up by finding arrowheads and tries to propitiate them by planting a fruit tree as a "nature sacrifice." Give me strength...The official summary of the Biography channel TV show:"My Ghost Story" features true and astonishing stories of the paranormal, told by the people who lived through them--and actually caught them on tape. From moving furniture to dark apparitions to violent poltergeists, these harrowing eye-witness accounts of the unexplainable are transformed into more than tales with terrifying visual evidence. Everybody has a ghost story, but these people have theirs on film.And the segment, titled "Little Dead Riding Hood":After a homeowner discovers arrowheads in his yard, his life unravels and his children's lives are even threatened.

Cannibalism among the Miami

The supernatural claim is undoubtedly bunk, but you can find some talk of the Miami Indians practicing cannibalism:

Miami Indians

Very little has been recorded of the customs or general ethnology of the Miami. They were organized upon the clan system, with, according to Morgan, ten gentes. One of their dances has been described, the feather dance, in which the performers, carrying feathered wands, imitated the movements of birds. They had a cannibal society—or possibly a clan—upon which devolved the obligation of eating the body of a prisoner upon occasion of certain great victories. Such ceremonial cannibalism was almost universal among the northern and eastern tribes.CannibalismThe 1913 Handbook of Indians of Canada (reprinting 1907 material from the Bureau of American Ethnology), claims that North American natives practicing cannibalism included "...the Montagnais, and some of the tribes of Maine; the Algonkin, Armouchiquois, Iroquois, and Micmac; farther west the Assiniboine, Cree, Foxes, Chippewa, Miami, Ottawa, Kickapoo, Illinois, Sioux, and Winnebago; in the South the people who built the mounds in Florida, and the Tonkawa, Attacapa, Karankawa, Caddo, and Comanche (?); in the Northwest and West, portions of the continent, the Thlingchadinneh and other Athapascan tribes, the Tlingit, Heiltsuk, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, Nootka, Siksika, some of the Californian tribes, and the Ute. There is also a tradition of the practice among the Hopi, and mentions of the custom among other tribes of New Mexico and Arizona. The Mohawk, and the Attacapa, Tonkawa, and other Texas tribes were known to their neighbours as 'man-eaters.'" The forms of cannibalism described included both resorting to human flesh during famines and ritual cannibalism, the latter usually consisting of eating a small portion of an enemy warrior.

As with most lurid tales of native cannibalism, these stories are treated with a great deal of scrutiny, as accusations of cannibalism were often used as justifications for the subjugation or destruction of "savages."

Miami Indian CultureFrom the Miamis came one of the greatest chiefs and warriors in United States history--Me-che-can-noch-qua--Little Turtle. He was a man of many talents and he was very courageous(noted at a young age). He became a tribal leader at an early age. He carried himself with a dignity that caused both Indians and whites to respect him. From the time that he reached the head of his nation until his death there was none to equal his influence.

He visited Philadelphia where his portrait was painted by one of the most well known artists of that time. President Washington once presented him with a sword.

He was a clever and strategic warrior against the Americans for a number of years. Once peace was established, however, he accepted it and honored it. He is said to have done the most to bring the practice of cannibalism to an end.

Comment:  Even if this information is true, the ritualistic eating of parts of dead warriors isn't what most people would call "evil." Therefore, to claim that the Miami Indians are haunting a house because they're evil cannibals is a rank example of stereotyping.

For more on Indians and the supernatural, see UFOs = Navajo Fact of Life and "Medium" Smudges in Priceline Commercial.


Suzi Q said...

I was disgusted by that episode as well! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You'd think I would be used to it by now, having had people say amazingly stupid things about natïve people, even right to my face! But, almost everytime, it still floors me! I guess I keep believing that people are becoming more aware....

Susan Walks Alone

Anonymous said...

I've been to the house. It IS haunted. And I'm pretty sure he's just claiming it's evil, because the poor man is freaked because his little girl is having nightmares about people telling her they're going to eat her and her family. I AM native American. And for all you know, so is the 'white' man you're all so disgusted about. Personally, I'm disgusted that you all are acting as if it's your personal business.