Monday, December 10, 2012

When Native Americans Created Utopia

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

St. Thomas More's 'Utopia' was, interestingly, set in the New World. What More may not have known, however, is that many Native American tribes may have created a real utopia.

The Arawaks, for example. The Arawaks --wiped out entirely in an act of genocide perpetrated by Christopher Columbus --were notable for their crime free society, the equality accorded women, the utter lack of 'private property'. 'Private property' was a concept unknown to them.
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
    They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

--Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, Chapter 1: Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress

Other tribes, likewise, approached utopia, notably the Iroquois Confederation which heavily influenced the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three parties as follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade are the first party; Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and Dehennakrineh, Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party. The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the first and second parties and if an error is made or the proceeding is irregular they are to call attention to it, and when the case is right and properly decided by the two parties they shall confirm the decision of the two parties and refer the case to the Seneca Lords for their decision. When the Seneca Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida Lords on the opposite side of the house.

6. I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the leaders of the Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk Lords are the foundation of the Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have protested against them.

No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless all the Mohawk Lords are present.

--Iroquois Constitution, Rights of the People of the Five Nations
Other tribes were equally advanced --the Choctaw, Cherokee, and farther north --the Mandan. Tragically, all the tribes were the victims of acts of genocide. I am of Choctaw/Cherokee descent but know very little of my ancestry but what had been handed down to my mother. In the case of the Mandan, less than 100 pure blood Mandan survive.

But --they had proven: Utopia IS possible.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

the new frontier in scholarship...



a Cherokee tear was bequeathed to me

inversions of truth seem to be

a serious perversion of History...

Catlin, George (1796–1872),

a painter and author.

In the 1830's Catlin traveled extensively in the Great Plains, visiting some 48 tribes.

(2 volumes, 1841).

1837 Catlin established his Indian Gallery, a collection of paintings, costumes, and artifacts,

In the 1850's he made several trips to South America to paint Indian life. More than 500 original paintings and sketches are in the Smithsonian Institution.


no Israelites live in the "Jewish" so-called STATE....

the stool sculpture deity cult compound...

as far away from Utopia one can travel on Planet Earth

Davy

LanceThruster said...

If I recall correctly, there's been only one instance in the history of mankind where an advanced culture met with a less technologically advanced culture and the advanced one did not decimate the less advanced one. I'm told it was a group of whalers who landed where they got the needed supplies to survive from the local eskimo tribe. I forget where I read this and have not been uble to come up with the particulars for confirmation, but it sounds about right.

Len Hart said...

Lance, I believe you are correct. The fate of Native Americans seems to have been inevitable. Tragically --it is the norm. The great loss to civilization is that in each case the cumulative learning and culture is very nearly lost completely.

Len Hart said...

Davy, thanks for reminding us of the great work of Catlin. Were it not for Catlin and precious few others, our knowledge of Native American culture would be no better than some of those dreadful 1930's (or earlier) Hollywood westerns. I must commend a relatively recent effort: Dances With Wolves, probably the best 'western' motion picture ever put on film.

LanceThruster said...

Yeah, Len.

Imagine an alternative history along the lines of "What if the Nazis had won WWII?"

What if different cultures from history interacted in meaningful and cooperative ways rather than the more powerful and more aggressive one destroying/subjugating the less aggressive/more benign one?

[sigh]

Len Hart said...

Great comments, Lance. It's a challenge to imagine Nazis ruling the world simply because it may be impossible to imagine even worse atrocities inflicted on even larger scales. For example --the 'Holocaust' is even now unimaginable but try to imagine a world-wide genocide of Jews, Black races, Russians, indigenous peoples wherever Nazis might encounter them.

LanceThruster said...

So very true, Len. The thin veneer of civilization is thin indeed.

KP Ryan said...

"... who were remarkable for their hospitality; their belief in sharing."

Those 2 traits us new Americans can never been accused of exhibiting.

Except our metals... we are adept at sharing bullets and bombs with the rest of the world.
Oh, and pollution. We're good at sharing that, too.
And I can't forget chemicals and biologicals. In fact, we share with those with both Americans we don't much like, and we also share 'em with most of the rest of the world.
(Except Israel. We just share our phony dollars with Israel. And our technologies. And secrets. Stuff like that.)

I take it back.

Us, the new Americans are really quite good at sharing! We should be proud! Lord knows we're always hospitable, too. Just come over for a visit, y'all don't believe me... see for yourselves! Just be sure to bring all your paperwork.

Anonymous said...

the Z in NAZI stands for zionism

the Zionists control the global crime syndicate...

in America "THEY" print the currency, own the Media and operate a kosher brothel...

there were never any so-called "Jews" in the OT, and 90% of so-called "Jews" are -

[GOG & MAGOG]

- descended from proselytes [CONVERTS] to Talmudic Judaism...

literally a stool sculpture deity cult.

while these facts may offend the easily offended sensitive "Jew" worshipper they are nonetheless FACTS that demand something more than derision and scoffing...

these truth hating terrorists have managed to mass murder over 300 million NON "THEYS" in the last century alone....

"THEY" are a real existential threat to mankind.

"THEY" need to be quarantined,

DNA tested...

and all the wealth accumulated for the last...oh let's say 6,000 years

needs to be returned to the people that it belongs to...

but first people need to open their eyes and SEE and stop being.....


- NOTSEES -

Get it ?

No one on Earth HAS to be a "Jewish"....

It's True !!

Anonymous said...

You alright, Len?

Waiting for your reaction to the events this week. Hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing information of my ancestors I have never been able to find before.
Genocide, perhaps, but my great grandmother was 100% Arawak, making me 1/16th, my grandchildren 1/32nd. The people may be gone but some have survived, I am here., my family...
BTW what few we are, are mixed. In fact one of my grandchildren is descendant of all the human races, from African to Chinese. It seems some of the Arawak spirit of true loving welcomed the various peoples who came together to produce such a beautiful, smart, talented child. It is truly my hope that we could come together and produce what we humans could and should, a better human race crafted in love

Len Hart said...

Anonymous wrote:

"The people may be gone but some have survived, I am here., my family..."

I feel the same way. There is some consolation in the fact that, though they were "conquered", there is, I think, greater interest in the culture and plight of Native Americans than ever before.