from (3/12/2000): San Diego State University: photograph, with caption:
"Women's History Month Exhibit
Creating Their Own Path
Women Who Paved The Way"
"SDSU'S Dept. of Women Studies"
"Missionary Kate McBeth and a group of Nez Perce women (ca. 1889-91). When
the CONVERSION OF INDIANS TO CHRISTIANITY became part of FEDERAL
POLICY in the early 19th century, missionaries were encouraged to live among various
tribes and set up schools and churches [an example of how Imperialism was effected,
upon, and in, "American Indian societies"]. Conversion to Christianity almost always
diminished the role of women in the governance of American Indian societies, which
were, unlike Christianity, traditionally matrilineal [overstated (complex)] societies."
[Note: I thank a woman professor, for the article by Carol Devens, 1423, the book by
Clifford E. Trafzer, 1439, the reference: Encyclopedia of North American Indians,
Frederick E. Hoxie, editor, Houghton Mifflin, c1996 (no Bibliography, but,
Bibliographies (69-71). numerous Biographies)].
from: Addition 11, 908: [drawing of 5 Indians] 'In 1816, when world traveler
Louis Chorls drew these [California (31st state, 1850)] Mission converts, he
wrote, "I have never seen one laugh. I have never seen one look one in the
face. They look as though they are interested in nothing." By 1816 this was
from: Addition 11, 909: 'In 1850 Pedro Alcantara, born in 1786, spoke of his
people, "I am a Christian Indian, I am all that is left...I am alone. I do not
complain, the antelope falls with the arrow."'
from: The Infidel's Text-Book, Being the Substance of Thirteen Lectures on The
Bible. By Robert Cooper [1819 - 1868] [see 1413], Author of "The Holy Scriptures
"The greatest part of the Christian world can hardly give any reason why they
believe the Bible to be the Word of God, but because they have always believed
it, and they were taught so from their infancy."--Dr. Isaac Watts.
First American, Republished from the London Edition. Boston: Published by J.P.
Mendum, at the Office of the Boston Investigator. 1876 (1858) (England 1846).
[this reference, thanks to Neil Nissenbaum ("Onslow Free Thought Society--Newsletter--"(firstname.lastname@example.org))].
'We will now notice a people who were unknown to Christians till so late a period
as the 14th century--the American Indians. Even this uncultivated race entertained
views of morality of which "civilized" Christians might be proud. The reply of the
famous Indian, Red Jacket, to the Christian Missionary, Mr. Cramp [Cram], is highly
characteristic.--The priest tells the Indians that they were in darkness, and that there
could be only one true religion, and it was his. The reply of the Indian affords a
memorable instance of the moral dignity and simplicity of that virtuous and
unsophisticated race. It is given in Howitt's "History of Christianity and
Colonization [Colonization and Christianity] ," p. 397-401. Red Jacket
[Sagoyewatha 1758? - 1830 (Seneca Chief)] eloquently observes:--
[from: Colonization and Christianity: A Popular History of the Treatment of
the Natives by the Europeans in all their Colonies, William Howitt 1792 - 1879
['Howitt was a professed "adherent of the main doctrines of the Quakers and the New
Testament,"' (A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols., vol. 1, J.M.
Robertson, 1929, 78)], Negro Universities Press, 1969 (1838), 397:
'In the year 1805 a council was held at Buffalo, by the chiefs and warriors of the
Senecas, at the request of Mr. Cram from Massachusetts. The missionary first made a
speech, in which he told the Indians that he was sent by the Missionary Society of
Boston, to instruct them "how to worship the Great Spirit," and not to get away ["get
away" = acquire, etc.] their lands and money; that there was but one true religion, and
they were living in darkness, etc. After consultation, Red-Jacket returned, on behalf of
the Indians, the following speech, which is deservedly famous, and not only displays
the strong intellect of the race, but how vain it was to expect to christianize them,
without clear and patient reasoning, and in the face of the crimes and corruptions of the
"Friend and brother, it was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet
together this day. He orders all things, and he has given us a fine day for our council.
He has taken his garment from before the sun, and caused it to shine with brightness
upon us. Our eyes are opened that we see clearly; our ears are unstopped that we
have been able to hear distinctly the words that you have spoken. For all these favours
we thank the Great Spirit and him only.
"Brother, this council-fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that we
came together at this time. We have listened with great attention to what you have
said; you requested us to speak our minds freely: this gives us great joy, for we now
consider that we stand upright before you, and can speak whatever we think. All have
heard your voice, and all speak to you as one man; our minds are agreed.']
[following, is the continuation of the speech, by Red-Jacket, from: The Infidel's
"Brother, you say you want an answer to your talk before you leave this place.
It is right you should have one, as you are at a great distance from home, and we do
not wish to detain you; but we will first look back a little, and tell you what our fathers
have told us, and what we have heard from the white people.
"Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned
this great island. Their seats [places, abodes, etc.] extended from the rising to the
setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of Indians. He had created the
buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He made the beaver and the bear, and
their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the country, and taught
us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce corn for bread. All this he
had done for his red children because he loved them. If we had any disputes about
hunting-grounds, they were generally settled without the shedding of much blood; but
an evil day came upon us: your forefathers crossed the great waters, and landed on
this island. Their numbers were small; they found friends, and not enemies; they told
us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men, and came here to enjoy
their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their
request, and they sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat, they gave us
poison (spirituous liquors) in return. The white people had now found out our country,
tidings were carried back, and more came among us; yet we did not fear them, we took
them to be friends: they called us brothers, we believed them and gave them a larger
seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased, they wanted more land,--they
wanted our country! Our eyes were opened, and our minds became uneasy. Wars
took place; Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of our people were
destroyed. They also brought strong liquors among us; it was strong and powerful and
has slain thousands.
"Brother, our seats were once large, and yours were very small. You have
now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our
blankets. YOU HAVE GOT OUR COUNTRY [see Addition 11, 909; 1416], BUT ARE
NOT SATISFIED;--YOU WANT TO FORCE YOUR RELIGION UPON US.
"Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to
worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and if we do not take hold of the religion
which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are
right, and we are lost; how do you know this? We understand that your religion is
written in a book; if it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit
given it to us, and not only to us, why did he not give to our forefathers the knowledge
of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us
about it; how shall we know what to believe, being so often deceived by the white
"Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If
there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all
agree, as you can all read the book?
"Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was
given to your forefathers, and has been handed down from father to son. We also have
a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us their
children. We worship that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we
receive; to love each other, and to be united;--we never quarrel about religion.
"Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all; but he has made a great difference
between his white and red children. He has given us a different complexion, and
different customs. To you he has given the arts; to these he has not opened our eyes.
We know these things to be true. Since he has made so great a difference between us
in other things, why may we not conclude that he has given us a different religion
according to our understanding? The Great Spirit does right: he knows what is best for
his children: we are satisfied.
"Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you; we only
want to enjoy our own.
"Brother, you say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to
enlighten our minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings, and saw
you collecting money from the meeting. I cannot tell what this money was intended for,
but suppose it was your minister; and, if we should conform to your way of thinking,
perhaps you may want some from us.
"Brother, we are told, that you have been preaching to the white people in this
place. These people are our neighbors; we are acquainted with them: we will wait a
little while, and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them
good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider
again what you have said.
"Brother, you have now heard our answer to your talk; and this is all we have to
say at present. As we are going to part, we will come and take you by the hand, and
hope the Great Spirit will protect you on your journey, and return you safe to your
[Note: this reply, by Red Jacket, resembles other Indian replies; courteous--OVERPOWERED!]
"The Missionary, hastily rising from his seat, refused to shake hands with them,
saying, 'there was no fellowship between the religion of God and the works of the
Devil.' The Indians smiled and retired in a peaceful manner."
O! what a contrast between the Barbarian and the Christian! How noble the
virtue of the one, how disgusting the bigotry of the other! What a glorious triumph of
morality over religion! What an unanswerable proof that a people may be VIRTUOUS
WITHOUT THE BIBLE, AND VICIOUS WITH IT!' [259-262].
from: A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century, J.M. Robertson, 2 vols.,
vol. 1, Watts, 1929 (1930, G.P. Putnam's Sons).
"As regards militant freethought on the popular plane, the activities thus far reviewed
may be said to be summed-up in 'The Infidel's Text-Book' (1846), a condensed
reproduction of thirteen lectures by Robert Cooper [see 1410]4 (b. 1819), a young
schoolmaster in the Co-operative Schools, who at seventeen was an acknowledged
Owenite lecturer and debater. A youthful work by him, 'The Holy Scriptures Analysed,'
was denounced by the Bishop of Exeter in the House of Lords; and he was dismissed
from his post (1841), becoming a Socialist Missionary, with a strong freethinking bent.
The 'Infidel's Text-Book' reflects the temper naturally generated by persecution
in young combatants, who, aspersively dubbed infidels, defiantly bear the flag. It is, as
the author claims, a systematic attack on the Bible all along the line, drawing on a
considerable knowledge of eighteenth-century criticism, remorselessly applied; and
for a good many years it was a popular militant hand-book, till in 1858 he re-modelled it
into a treatise on 'The Bible and its Evidences.' In 1854 he started the London
Investigator, which entered on a new current of propaganda, coming in 1858 into the
powerful hands of the young Charles Bradlaugh [1833 - 1891]. Like him, Cooper was
until his death (1868) actively engaged in political reform, thus carrying on the twofold
impulse set up by Paine [Thomas Paine 1737 - 1809]." [78-79].
from: Beyond 1492, Encounters in Colonial North America, James Axtell, Oxford,
'On the eve of contact with Europeans, native Americans everywhere were in the
inexorable process of adapting to changes in their environment, natural and man-made, as they had been for thousands of years.2
But the unforeseen arrival of Columbus [Christopher Columbus 1451 - 1506]
accelerated change in both of the ancient worlds he effectively yoked together,
particularly in that world he came to regard as new. For the Admiral and his
successors carried in their holds powerful catalysts of change, the likes of which the
natives had never known. Epidemic disease was the most powerful and the most
terrible because it killed and maimed without warning and apparently without reason. It
could be spread at will by those possessed of its maleficent secrets, but never stopped
until it had run its deadly course through the "virgin soil" populations of the Americas. It
attacked with indiscriminate and lethal efficiency, claiming as its victims young and old,
men and women, shamans, kings, and commoners alike, leaving only the pale
newcomers unmarked and standing. Smallpox or pneumonic plague could easily
erase 50--90 percent of a native community or tribe in one terrifying visitation,
forcing the dazed and battered survivors to alter their lives in ways scarcely
experienced or imagined before 1492.3
Another force for change was equally new and audacious, but it appeared less
dangerous because it wore a human face, however disfigured by unsightly hair. IF
DISEASES WERE THE SHOCK TROOPS OF THE INVASION OF AMERICA,
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES WERE ITS COMMANDOES, DISGUISED IN FEMININE
BLACK ROBES AS MEMBERS OF A PEACE CORPS. Although they came bearing
a message from a "Prince of Peace," they unconsciously bore a whole civilization
that would not tolerate the America they had found. In its claim to universality and
adamantine truth, evangelical Christianity had no room for "false gods," strange rituals,
and local beliefs. It sought to bend the "pagan" and "infidel" worlds to its own will and
vision of the good, true, and beautiful. In America as in China, "Christianity was a
religion that changed customs, called into question accepted ideas and, above all,
threatened to undermine existing situations."4 In countless instances, it not only
threatened, it did so. As agents of change, missionaries in post-Columbian
America had no human equals and only one strain of superiors.
PERHAPS THE BEST AGENTS OF ALL WERE THE JESUITS. By history and
design, the Society of Jesus was destined to change the American world. It was a
fraternity designed for war, the greatest human engine of social change. Its
founder [Saint Ignatius of Loyola 1491 - 1556] was a stubborn Spanish-Basque
courtier-soldier, much taken with the "exercise of arms" in young manhood. The
Society he founded was sanctioned by the pope in 1540 in a bull entitled Regimini
militantis Ecclesiae, which accurately reflected its pugnacious stance toward the
Protestant Reformation and international "paganism." The Spiritual Exercises that
Loyola devised for his recruits sought to dissolve their individual wills in Christ's, which,
they were reminded, was to "conquer the whole world," particularly "all the lands of
the infidel."5 ....' [155-156].
"In the Jesuit reserves of New France [see 1423], the natives experienced
other alterations in their traditional ways of living and thinking, some the result of
religious prescriptions, others because of the Jesuits' cultural preferences. All Jesuit
neophytes had to acquire a new sense of time and, to some extent, space. CATHOLIC
TIME was very different from the natural rhythms of the seasons by which the Indians
kept time. Rather than the migrations of geese, the sprouting of green corn, or the
break-up of river ice, the missions marked time by ecclesiastical calendars,
mechanical clocks, and church bells. One day a week was set aside as a holy day
of rest; 165 days (the equivalent of 5 1/2 months) a year were supposed to be meatless
(although the benign pragmatism of the Sorbonne faculty enabled Canadians to regard
the beaver as a fish).25 Bells called worshippers to Mass twice a day, and special holy
days, dedicated to the lives of Christian saints from a strange and distant world,
punctuated the church calendar." .
"The daughters of converts probably felt the loss of their customary freedom
most keenly. Because the new converts believed that Eve tempted Adam with the fruit
and brought sin upon mankind, her descendents were held liable for the sexual straying
of his; and in the Catholic Church at this time, sexual sin was considered more
dangerous than pride, the original transgression. Accordingly, the patriarchal
priesthood and newly patriarchal native families were charged with bridling the
dangerous "license" of Indian girls, most of whom traditionally enjoyed the sexual
and behavioral freedom of their brothers.26" .
[Illustration] "Two Huron women converted by Jesuit missionaries,
worshipping their new Christian God instead of (or perhaps in addition to) their
ancient deity, the SUN. From Novae Franciae Accurata Delineatio (1657), probably by
Francesco Bressani, S.J., who worked among the Hurons in the 1640s." .
[from: The Native American Sun Dance Religion and Ceremony, An Annotated
Bibliography, Phillip M. White, Greenwood, 1998. "Introduction The SUN Dance is
the best known and most dramatic of North American Indian ceremonies, and it is the
most spectacular religious ceremony of native North America...."].
"Although native women and children were the initial targets of Jesuit
control, their husbands and fathers were never far behind. They soon discovered
that even grown men were not exempt from the lash of Christian discipline. No
one who was whipped for running away from Spanish missions or for some venial sin in
Canada could miss the Jesuit's hand behind the sting administered by garrison soldiers
or by native gobernadores, fiscales, and dogiques.28 Nor could they fail to notice the
loss of independence in their lives, nor how they had to answer to a new hierarchy of
authorities, with precious little voice in their selection. In the Indians' new world,
colonial--particularly Jesuit--rule meant an acute loss of autonomy in virtually every
facet of life. For many natives, the Jesuit priest wa [was] the most visible and vocal
symbol of their predicament.
TO AN EXTENT UNIMAGINABLE BEFORE COLUMBUS, BLACKROBED
FOREIGNERS [CHRISTIANS!] NOW DECIDED FOR MANY NATIVES WHAT TO EAT,
HOW TO LIVE, WHEN TO WORK, WHOM TO OBEY, AND EVEN THEIR FATE
AFTER DEATH." .
from: Ethnohistory, Volume 7, ["Composed...at Indiana University"], 1960.
'Christianity and Indian Lands
Fred M. Kimmey
[44-57, text; 57-60, Notes, and, Bibliography]
One of the most curious aspects of the expansion of Europeans into North
America is the attitude of the White man toward aboriginal land rights. Historians,
it seems, have generally tended to oversimplify the issue. Although the historian Louis
B. Wright has shown that religion played a far greater part in European expansion than
the negative one of justifying universal aggression against pagans, in a more typical
treatment another historian, James A. Williamson, dismisses the question by stating
that Christianity saw itself as "ipso facto in a state of war with all infidels. That is the
justification of the licence to 'conquer, occupy, and possess'...It is the moral basis of all
the early empire-building of the European peoples."1 Admittedly, Williamson was
dealing, in this instance, with the subject of John Cabot's first patent, a topic somewhat
removed from the more legalistic problems of Indian land rights. Nevertheless, such
explanations are misleading because they imply that the "state-of-war" justification was
everywhere accepted among Europeans: this was not the case. Very popular and well
circulated were opinions in opposition to arbitrary seizure, such as those stated by the
clerics Francisco de Vitoria [1492 - 1546 ("However, unlike Las Casas, Vitoria
changed his theory so as to justify the Spanish seizure of treasure in the Americas."
(Internet (Oregon State U.))]2 and Bartolome de los [las] Casas [1474 - 1566]3 and by
the "father of international Law," Hugo Grotius [1583 - 1645].4 But even more
important, statements like Williamson's fail entirely to take into account the early
seventeenth-century English theory that the Indian was receiving fair value for his
land since the White man was bringing him the Word of the Lord....' [see footnotes
1, 2, 3, 4, page 1419] [44-45].
[reminiscent, of much "legal" action. Those in power know what they intend to do, then,
via legal abracadabra, and/or fiat, they win--you lose!].
[Comment: (classic story) a native speaking: "When you came, we had the land,
and you had the Bible! Now, you have the land, and we have the Bible!"].
[source?]. [See: Imperialism]. [from: Addition 11, 909]
'....we must go back to 1583 to the publication by Sir George Peckham [d. 1608] of a
tract reporting the settlement of Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey Gilbert [c. 1539 -
1583].9 In this tract Peckham describes two sorts of colonizing activities: "The first
when Christians by the good liking and willing assent of the Savages, are
admitted by them to quiet possession. The second, when Christians being
unjustly repulsed, doe seeke to attaine and mainteine the right for which they doe
come."10 When trying to establish Christianity either type of activity may be
undertaken. It is obviously best to use the first method whenever possible but if after
"good and Fayre" means are used the savages cannot be satisfied, then "I hold it no
break of equitie for the Christians to defend themselves, to pursue revenge with
force,...for it is allowable...to resist violence with violence." And further, if they continue
to attack, "the Christians may issue out, and by strong hard [action] pursue their
enemies, subdue them, take possession of their Townes, Cities, or Villages, and to use
the Law of Arms..." Such action might be necessary to protect the property of the newly
converted savages since after the departure of the Christians wicked rulers might
return to idolatry [compare: contemporary political noises, about Democracy, in foreign
Now in accomplishing all this Christians "shall in no whit" transgress "the bonds
of equitie or civilitie..." Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340] and other "Ecclesiastical
Historiographers" are also called upon by Peckham as testimony to the justice of
using arms to reduce pagans to Christianity. By this means it is "proved that we
may....lawfully plant and inhabite their countries [this paragraph, one classic, of
Christian heinousness]."11' [46-47].
'Ministers of the Church of England played no little part in spreading
abroad the idea that Christianity was fair payment for the Indian land. Probably
the first sermon published to stimulate the advancement of the Virginia Colony was that
of William Symonds [1556 - 1616? "created D.D. [Doctor of Divinity] 1613" (Concise
Dict. Nat. Bio.)], preached in 1609 at Saint Saviours in Southwardke.14 The
published tract was entitled "Virginia Britannia;" passages of the "Epistle Dedicatorie"
are quoted to preserve the author's continuity of thought:
Long since the Gospell of Christ did ride forth conquering that hee might over-come. And Now, the hostes that are in heaven doe follow him on white horses.
For the Lord hath made bare his holy arme...and all the ends of the earth shall
see the salvation of God...And now the wise and industrious Merchant, doth hold
the riches of the Gentiles too base a fraight for his shippes. He tradeth for his
wisdome, that saith: Surely the Isles wait for me (saith the Lord) and the shipes
of the ocean most especially: namely to carry the Gospell abroad...who can
with-draw himselfe from concurrance in so good an action....
In the body of his sermon Symonds builds upon Genesis 12:1. "For the
Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy Kindred, and
from thy father's house, unto the land I will show thee." This Symonds interprets as
a message to the English people. The Lord is instructing them to leave their homeland
and remove to "the Isles [that] wait for me," i.e., that wait for the Word of the Lord.
They have been called: "Let us be cheerfull to goe to the place that God will shew us
to possesse in peace and plentie, and Land more like the Garden of Eden: which the
Lord planted, than any part else of all the earth." Obviously the belief that it was the
destiny of the English people to colonize the new-found land of America was by then
In a sermon preached at Paul's Cross on the 28th of May, 1609, the
Reverend Daniel Price proclaimed that anyone who opposed the plantation of
Virginia "and the saving of souls...is an adversary of Christ." There are great
expectations from colonizing activities. The profits are both in the present and future:
by turning the savages to the path of righteousness not only will their souls be saved
but the bounds of the kingdom will be enlarged.
Do on as you have begun, and the Lord shall be with you; go, and possess the
Land it is a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey, God shall bless you,
and those ends of the World shall honor him.16' [49-51].
'one finds it difficult to conjure up a picture of an American-Indian welcoming the
expropriators of his land with the words "How beautiful are the feet of them that bring
glad tidings..." However, it is apparent most Englishmen were, by this time, convinced
the Lord had chosen their nation for the task of converting the natives of North America
and that by their conversion (always at the "great charge and expence" of the English)
they were paid in full for loss of land.' .
'The predominant role of religion in the life of Jacobean England, and all of
Europe for that matter, leaves no mystery surrounding the almost reflexive use of
Christianity to establish theoretical justification for seizure of land from a
primitive people. Historical methodology apart, it is the seventeenth-century
dependence upon religious answers to any knotty problem that requires us to divide
our intellectual sympathy, in however unequal portions, between the aboriginal
inhabitants of North America and an expanding Europe.
1. Wright, Religion and Empire; Williamson, Voyages pp. 155-156. While
Wright has admirably shown the influence of religion on the larger and more complex
topic of early imperialism I have limited my study here to the specific question of the
connection between Christianity and aboriginal land rights, or stated more directly,
THE RELIGIOUS JUSTIFICATION FOR SEIZURE OF LAND FROM THE NORTH
2. According to Vitoria [Francisco de Vitoria 1492 - 1546 (see 1416)] neither
king nor pope had the right to parcel out the land of the Indians. See Wise, The Red
Man, p. 59; also McNickle, North American Indians, vol. 12, p. 207.
3. Hanke, The Spanish Struggle, pp. 131-132. For a brief interpretation of the
famous debate between Bartolomé de las Casas [1474 - 1566] and Juan Ginés de
Sepúlveda [1490? - 1574] and an interesting reassessment of Sepúlveda's position
see Quirk, Some Notes on a Controversial Controversy, [Hispanic American Historical
Review] vol. 34 , pp. 357-364.
4. Grotius [Hugo Grotius 1583 - 1645] asserted "discovery" was not licence
to seize the land if it was occupied. Rose, Cambridge History of the British Empire,
vol. 1, p. 192.' [57-58].
from: Documents of United States Indian Policy, Second Edition Expanded, Edited
by Francis Paul Prucha, University of Nebraska, 1990 (c1975).
These documents illustrate the history of the relations between the United States
government and the American Indians from the founding of the nation to the present
Francis Paul Prucha, S.J.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin" [xi].
"74. Indian Commissioner Taylor on Transfer of the Indian Bureau
Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
November 23, 1868
The proposal, advanced strongly in the late 1860's and again a decade later, to
transfer the Bureau of Indian Affairs from civilian control under the Interior
Department to military control under the War Department brought a spirited
attack from Commissioner Nathaniel G. Taylor. He admitted, however, that
affairs had not been well handled under the Interior Department, and he
recommended the creation of a separate department of Indian affairs." .
'4. Military management of Indian affairs has been tried for seventeen years and
has proved a failure, and must, in my judgment, in the very nature of things, always
prove a failure.
Soldiers are educated and trained in the science of war and in the arts of
arms. Civilians are taught in the sciences and arts of peaceful civilization. In
lifting up races from the degradation of savage barbarism and leading them into
the sunlight of a higher life, in unveiling to their benighted vision the benefits of
civilization and the blessings of a peaceful Christianity, I cannot for the life of me
perceive the propriety of the efficacy of employing the military instead of the civil
departments, unless it is intended to adopt the Mohammedan motto, and
proclaim to these people "Death or the Koran."' .
"79. Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners
November 23, 1869
The first report of the Board of Indian Commissioners shows how seriously they
took their responsibilities. They presented a startling indictment of past dealings
with the Indians and then offered recommendations for changes in Indian policy
which foreshadowed most of the reforms proposed through the rest of the
"While it cannot be denied that the government of the United States, in the
general terms and temper of its legislation, has evinced a desire to deal
generously with the Indians, it must be admitted that the actual treatment they
have received has been unjust and iniquitous beyond the power of words to
"The establishment of Christian missions should be encouraged, and their
schools fostered. The pupils should at least receive the rations and clothing they
would get if remaining with their families. The religion of our blessed Saviour is
believed to be the most effective agent for the civilization of any people." [133-134].
'80. Indian Commissioner Parker on the Treaty System
Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
December 23, 1869
The treaty system of dealing with the Indians had long been under attack
because of the inequality of the two contracting parties. After the Civil War such
criticisms came to a head and contributed to the abolition of treaty making in
1871. One strong statement against negotiating treaties with the Indians
was made by Commissioner Ely S. Parker, who was himself a Seneca
Indian [unexpected! details?], in his annual report of 1869.
....Arrangements now, as heretofore, will doubtless be required with tribes
desiring to be settled upon reservations for the relinquishment of their rights to the
lands claimed by them and for assistance in sustaining themselves in a new position,
but I am of the opinion that they should not be of a treaty nature. It has become a
matter of serious import whether the treaty system in use ought longer to be continued.
In my judgment it should not. A treaty involves the idea of a compact between two or
more sovereign powers, each possessing sufficient authority and force to compel a
compliance with the obligations incurred. The Indian tribes of the United States are
not sovereign nations, capable of making treaties, as none of them have an organized
government of such inherent strength as would secure a faithful obedience of its people
in the observance of compacts of this character. They are held to be the wards of the
government, and the only title the law concedes to them to the lands they occupy or
claim is a mere possessory one. But, because treaties have been made with them,
generally for the extinguishment of their supposed
absolute title to land inhabited by them, or over which they roam, they ["INDIAN
TRIBES"] HAVE BECOME FALSELY IMPRESSED WITH THE NOTION OF
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE. It is time that this idea should be dispelled, and the
government cease the cruel farce of thus dealing with its HELPLESS AND IGNORANT
WARDS. Many good men, looking at this matter only from a Christian point of
view, will perhaps say that the poor Indian has been greatly wronged and ill
treated; that this whole country was once his, of which he has been despoiled,
and that he has been driven from place to place until he has hardly left to him a
spot where to lay his head.
This indeed may be philanthropic and humane, but the stern letter of the law admits of
no such conclusion, and great injury has been done by the government in deluding this
people into the belief of their being independent sovereignties, which they were at the
same time recognized only as its dependents and wards....' [134-135].
"96. General Sherman on the End of the Indian Problem
October 27, 1883
In his final report as General of the Army, William T. Sherman noted the end of
the Indian wars and the settlement of the Indian question." .
"7th. Resolved, That education is essential to civilization. The Indian must
have a knowledge of the English language, that he may associate with his white
neighbors and transact business as they do. He must have practical industrial
training to fit him to compete with others in the struggle for life. He ["THE
INDIAN"] MUST HAVE A CHRISTIAN EDUCATION TO ENABLE HIM TO PERFORM
DUTIES OF THE FAMILY, THE STATE, AND THE CHURCH...." .
[Index] "Christianization of Indians, 63, 77, 92, 119, 124-25, 127, 133-34, 135, 157-58, 164, 166" .
from: American Quarterly, Volume 38, 1986, Number 3. ["461"-479, text; 479-480,
Gender as a Factor in Indian
Adaptation to European
Colonization in New France
" 'It is you women,' " charged the men, " '...who are the cause of all our
misfortunes,--it is you who keep the demons among us. You do not urge to be
baptized; you must not be satisfied to ask this favor only once from the Fathers,
you must importune them. You are lazy about going to prayers; when you pass
before the cross, you never salute it; you wish to be independent. Now know that
you will obey your husbands.'"1 With this angry accusation the Christian men of a
Montagnais Indian band in New France, frustrated by the persistence of traditional
religion in their community, identified women as the major obstacle to the group's
conversion. The band had been under the direct influence of the French since a Jesuit
priest convinced the survivors of the 1639-40 smallpox epidemic to accompany him
from their small camp at Three Rivers to the St. Joseph mission at Sillery. There the
French sheltered and provided for them, and resident Christian Indians demanded their
conversion. Whether the women of the group eventually capitulated was not noted by
the priest who recorded the incident. He did remark that at least one woman fled into
the forest rather than submit. The men, believing that the women's independence and
apparent lack of interest in Christianity had divided the group, resolved that should she
be captured, they would chain and starve her as punishment.2 ....' ["461"].
"Conversion placed unaccustomed restrictions upon women. The French
socioeconomic structure and belief system distinctly favored men. The Christian
message of the priests stressed the authority of the male in society and the
family. The trading system itself was one in which men dealt with men. Many women
did not willingly accept the imposition of European-defined sex roles and their
resistance was expressed in their reluctance to convert. This resistance--related to
social and economic changes as well as religious factors--became a divisive force in
many native communities...." .
["New France": "At its greatest extent it included much of southeast Canada, the Great
Lakes region, and the Mississippi Valley." (www.dictionary.com)].
'The priests staffing the Jesuit missions in New France were educated and
earnest men who worked tirelessly to promote European religious and cultural values in
Indian communities. The disparities between their world-view and that of their
prospective converts, however, constituted an ongoing source of discomfort and
irritation. In a letter to Le Jeune [Paul Le Jeune: dates?] with suggestions for
instructing new missionaries Father Jean de Brebeuf [1593 - 1649], of the Huron
mission of Ste. Marie, explained the problems of life in the field: "...LEAVING A
HIGHLY CIVILIZED COMMUNITY, YOU FALL INTO THE HANDS OF BARBAROUS
PEOPLE WHO CARE BUT LITTLE FOR YOUR PHILOSOPHY OR YOUR
THEOLOGY. ALL THE FINE QUALITIES WHICH MIGHT MAKE YOU LOVED AND
RESPECTED IN FRANCE ARE LIKE PEARLS TRAMPLED UNDER THE FEET OF
SWINE, OR RATHER OF MULES, WHICH UTTERLY DESPISE YOU WHEN THEY
SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT AS GOOD AS PACK ANIMALS AS THEY ARE."16 The
Indians, in turn, often were puzzled by the urgency with which the priest initially
attempted to change native customs and beliefs. Pierre Biard [1576 - 1622], of the first
Jesuit mission (1611-16), found that when he argued with Indians about some practice
they responded accordingly: "That is the Savage way of doing it. You can have
your way and we will have ours; every one values his own wares."17' .
"The confrontation between [Montagnais (see 1423)] men and women of St.
Joseph's [mission] at Sillery was by no means an isolated incident. Indeed, the Jesuits
recorded similar episodes of resistance throughout New France. The missionary
effort became a divisive force in many native communities because women and
men reacted to the Jesuit assault in very different ways. Men more often seemed
receptive to European religion and customs. At first the Jesuits consciously chose
to focus their proselytizing on men and boys, alternating attacks on male hunting
and divination rituals with blandishments of the comforts and virtue of life as a
Christian man." .
'The Fathers found the ease with which Indian couples obtained divorce
equally distressing. "The stability of marriage is one of the most perplexing questions
in the conversion and settlement of the Savages" wrote Vimont [Barthélemy Vimont],
head of the missions after Le Jeune, "we have much difficulty in obtaining and
maintaining it."45 And Pierre Boucher [1622 - 1717], several times governor of the
Three Rivers settlement and a resident of New France from 1635 until 1717, observed
that "divorce is not an odious thing among them [sic] Indians....for when a woman
wishes to put away her husband, she has only to tell him to leave the house, and
he goes out of it without another word...."46 In fact, most Indians found divorce quite
acceptable if a couple had a hostile or unsatisfying relationship. Women felt free to
leave spouses who were poor or lazy hunters or who were otherwise not adequate
To the Jesuits this situation was untenable. The priests clearly understood
that if native Christian communities were to develop successfully sexual
freedom, divorce, and polygamy had to be eliminated. By 1638 they [Jesuits] had
decided that dispensing land and money might be the most effective inducement to
marital fidelity, "for a husband will not so readily leave a wife who brings him a
respectable dowry; and a woman, having her possessions near our French settlements,
will not readily leave them, any more than her husband"--or so they hoped.48 The
missionaries worked hard to get women to accept monogamy since they were
convinced that "it was not honorable for a woman to love anyone else except her
husband."49 They often had to rely on male converts to enforce observation of this
alien practice, however. In one notable instance, zealous Christians at Sillery
captured a woman who had left her husband and, with the French Governor's
approval, imprisoned her without food, fire, or cover in early January.50 Women,
particularly non-Christians, resisted the change because it was not to their advantage.
They undoubtedly wanted to retain control over their sexual activities. Moreover,
women objected to monogamy for more practical reasons. A Montagnais convert told
Le Jeune that "since I have been preaching among them that a man should not have
more than one wife, I have not been well received by the women; for, since they are
more numerous than the men, if a man can only marry one of them, the others will have
to suffer. Therefore this doctrine is not according to their liking."51
To be sure, some women apparently accepted the Jesuits' teachings. For most
of them, however, conversion seems to have been a protective measure aimed at
preserving social and religious autonomy when outright resistance proved
dangerous. They may have converted for the sake of their families, striking a
bargain with the Christian God to save a sick one's life. Some, such as the young
woman whom Le Jeune recommended to the dungeon, decided that Catholicism
was preferable to flogging or imprisonment--an understandable choice.52 It is likely
that in many instances conversion decreased the pressures applied to a band by the
French and alleviated tensions which arose in communities such as St. Joseph's from
conflict over religious allegiances. Quite possibly, superficial observance of
Christian practices enabled women to divert attention from themselves.53
If converted, women tended to interpret and manipulate Christianity to
serve their own needs....' [468-469].
'The experiences of native women in New France were not unique but are part of
uneven, gender-based social change which has been a trademark of Western
colonization. This has been most frequently described in contemporary cases of
"developing" Third World societies in Africa or South America, but it clearly has been a
factor in historic situations as well.83 Women's resistance to Christianity--and all
that faith represented--in seventeenth-century New France [see 1423] can be seen
as a rational strategy designed to preserve a way of life which maximized female
autonomy and authority. In the face of changes which threatened to deprive them of
social, economic, and ritual significance women stressed customs which reinforced
older beliefs dependent on reciprocity between the sexes. Their success in this effort
cannot be measured by their often marginal positions in the colonized communities
which developed around missions and trading posts. It must be considered internally,
in the context of the very survival of Indian societies. It seems likely that women's
adherence to "traditional" ways strengthened in the course of their confrontation with
missionaries and converts. In effect, their efforts to protect their interests as
women may have created a vehicle which ensured the persistence of native
culture and ideology through women's identity.'  [End of text].
from: The Invasion Within, The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America,
James Axtell, Oxford, 1985.
'From Canada to the Carolinas, the anti-Christian "evil one" [Devil] held the benighted
natives in thralldom, especially their shamans and conjurers, who were thought to be
on speaking terms with him. By this token, of course, native religious customs could be
seen by the Christian strangers as "only superstitions, which we hope by the grace of
God to change into true Religion."24
But ONE MAN'S SUPERSTITION IS ANOTHER MAN'S RELIGION, as a
glanced at any dictionary will quickly reveal. According to the Oxford English
Dictionary, the word superstition derives from the Latin superstitio, "soothsaying," by
way of Old French and Middle English. By the early decades of the sixteenth century it
had come to mean "irrational religious belief or practice...founded on fear or
ignorance," with the connotation that the religion was "false, pagan, or idolatrous."
Webster's first (and unchanging) American definition merely augmented the word's
pejorative character by speaking of "an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the
supernatural, nature, or God, proceeding from ignorance, unreasoning fear of the
unknown or mysterious." Religion, on the other hand, was seen by the European
wordsmiths as the "service and adoration of God or a god as expressed in forms of
worship." Many skeptics have seen through the illusion of difference, but none more
clearly than Thomas Hobbes [1588 - 1679]. The "fear of things invisible," he wrote in
Leviathan, "is the natural seed of that, which every one in himself calleth religion; and
in them that worship, or fear that power otherwise than they do, superstition."25 In
short, SUPERSTITION HAS NO OBJECTIVE REALITY; IT IS MERELY AN
ASPERSION USED BY ONE GROUP TO DENIGRATE THE RELIGION OF
ANOTHER. Accordingly, it is best dropped from the historian's descriptive vocabulary.'
'The Jesuits also departed from Recollect [black robes = Jesuits; gray robes =
Recollects ["Friars Minor" (387)] (78)] thinking on the capacity of the Indians for social
and intellectual improvement. While the friars though them barely above the level of
brutes, the Jesuits "intitle[d] them to good sense, to a tenacious Memory, and to a quick
Apprehension season'd with a solid Judgment," whereby they "readily apprehend the
meaning of the Scriptures." As early as 1632, the missionaries who worked with the
Algonquins and Montagnais were convinced that they were "not so barbarous that
they cannot be made children of God....Education and instruction alone are lacking."
Le Jeune [Paul Le Jeune] compared the natives he knew to the uneducated
villagers of France and concluded that, man for man, "the Indians are more
intelligent than our ordinary peasants."61' .
'....And to prop up the whole Christian community as it strove for complete
hegemony over native life, the Jesuits sought to recreate in the North American
wilderness the major institutions of Roman Catholicism--chapels and churches,
sodalities ["sodality, an association of Catholics to promote the spiritual life of its
members, apostolic works of evangelization, and aid to those in need (see can. [canon]
298). Jesuit John Leunis organized the first sodality in Rome (1563)." (HarperCollins
Encyc. of Catholicism, c1995)] and sacraments, calendars and choirs, ceremonies
Though armed with a formidable array of personal and institutional weapons and
fired by an uncommon zeal, the Black Robes [Jesuits] did not conquer the lands of the
Canadian infidels with anything like celerity. A MAJOR IMPEDIMENT WAS THE
DISCONCERTING BELIEF OF THE NATIVES IN THEIR OWN SUPERIORITY, to
which many stubbornly held even after the French fathers had done their best to
disabuse them. Indeed, they were convinced that the priests' very attempts to do so
were further evidence of the priests' general imperfection.
To form a low opinion of the strangers the Indians had but to look them over and
to observe their behavior for a short time. The long black and gray robes of the
Jesuits and Recollects were not only effeminate but a positive liability in woods
or on water. When wet they dried slowly and dragged sand into the canoe; when dry
they caught on underbrush, attracted stinging insects, and absorbed the summer sun--along with the Frenchmen's distinctive scent of onions, salt, and garlic. Equally
repulsive were the Jesuits' breeches, which would have slowed the hunter-warrior in
pursuit of his prey and prevented him from squatting to urinate, as he [Indian] was
wont to do.23
Worse yet were the priests' beards and haircuts. The native idea of crowning
beauty was long, stiff, black hair, "all lustrous with grease." To them, short-cropped
hair on any part of the body was so repulsive that whenever a missionary fell into the
hands of an Indian enemy his beard and tonsure were among the first objects of the
torturer's rage. In the 1660s the Outagamis (Fox) killed any Frenchmen they found
alone because they could not endure the sight of their beards....' .
'Another priestly oddity was their pointed disinterest in women. Although
most of the northeastern tribes knew short-term continence among warriors before and
during a war party, they did not immediately appreciate the missionary's view of
perpetual celibacy. Like most Europeans, they could not imagine a man without a
woman; ignorant of the monastic tradition, they could imagine still less a life without
sex. When the Recollects worked among the Hurons in the 1620s, they were
bombarded with requests to marry. "In these importunities," wrote Brother Sagard
[Gabriel Sagard (Recollect (see 1427))] with some embarrassment, "the women and
girls were beyond comparison more insistent and plagued us more than the men
themselves who came to petition us on their behalf." For reasons such as this, the
missionaries who lived among the sexually liberated natives felt in need of truly
"angelic chastity," for as Father Le Jeune [Paul Le Jeune] put it, "one needs only to
extend the hand to gather the apple of sin." When religious eyes could no longer
support the sight of so much "lewdness, carried on openly," the priests moved to
separate quarters, thereby earning even lower marks for sociability. Only with the
advent of lonely French traders and soldiers did the fathers' lack of interest in Indian
wives and daughters begin to win favor.25' .
'The Indians' intellectual capacity was never at issue; according to the Jesuits,
who were old hands at evaluating brainpower, they compared favorably with
peasants, rural villagers, and even "the shrewdest citizens and merchants" in
France.41 Only the novelty and complexity of the Christian credo imposed barriers to
native understanding [more confirmation, for the intelligence of the Indians].
THE NOVELTY OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF STEMMED LARGELY FROM THE
HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF THE RELIGION IN A COURSE OF EVENTS
SURROUNDING THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST [NOT "HISTORICAL"!] (a man the
Indians had never heard of) in the Near East (a part of the world they did not know
existed) more than sixteen hundred years before (an inconceivable length of time
for oral peoples). It was all news to the natives that the Great Spirit (God), after
creating the universe from nothing, made the first man and woman on earth and
promised them eternal life in Paradise for their faith and obedience (many of the
northeastern Indians, particularly the Iroquoians, believed that a water-covered earth
existed before a Sky-Woman fell from heaven to people a gigantic island, formed on
the back of a turtle from mud gathered by a diving animal); that the first couple
disobeyed God, thereby staining their progeny with original sin and condemning them
to eternal punishment in a fiery Hell (the Indians knew only a beneficent afterlife and
nothing of sin); that in His mercy God breathed the holy spirit into the womb of a
virgin, who bore His Son, Jesus (the Sky-Woman, too, became miraculously pregnant
by "the wind," but bore twins, one good, the other evil); and that after a blameless life of
teaching God's commandments, Jesus took upon himself the sins of the whole world
and sacrificed his life upon a cross so that man might live again in purity and merit the
joys of Heaven.42 Perhaps equally stunning was the news that the Indian peoples of
America, a continent unknown to the Old World when and long after Jesus lived, were
included in this divine plan, and that the Black Robes [Jesuits] had been sent by
Christ's captain [the Pope] on earth to convey the good news written in God's
'....Even the missionaries promise that converts would go eventually to the
Christian heaven carried the implicit threat of separation from loved ones and
relatives in the traditional land of the dead. "We are well as we are," protested a
Massachusetts woman, "and desire not to be troubled with these new wise [is that
the word she used?] sayings."37
The sharp exclusivity of Christianity in all things--rituals, morality, afterlife--was
to Indian thinking not only divisive but foolish. When new Christian gods and spirits
could be added to the traditional pantheon without cultural dissonance, it made little
sense to put one's whole trust in such novelties until they could be tested by time. The
limber pragmatism of native religion was especially attractive when missionaries from
many denominations hawked their spiritual wares while proclaiming the one true faith.
For traditional Indians, conversion to Christianity had three other serious
drawbacks. First, it diminished their intellectual independence by imposing upon
them spiritual directors and culture brokers from an alien, often hostile world. If the
natives were forced to swallow greater dependence on European trade goods and
military allies, they could at least choose to remain at ideological liberty. Secondly,
most of their tribesmen who received a Black Robe's moist benediction upon their
foreheads died shortly after, apparently the victims of the white man's sorcery.
NOT WITHOUT REASON, MANY NATIVES THOUGHT THAT "BELIEVING [IN
CHRISTIANITY] AND DYING WERE ONE AND THE SAME THING."38
Finally [Third], it took little time for the Indians to discover that the Christian
preoccupation with the future cast a pall on the traditional pleasures of the present. To
enter the "narrow way" of scriptural conformity was to submit to a weekly Sabbath and
daily abnegation that frowned on familiar feasts, songs, dances, games, and cures, on
sexual relations and even economic necessities such as hunting and fishing. WHY
SHOULD WE PRAY TO GOD AND BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, ASKED SOME OF
ELIOT'S [John Eliot 1604 - 1690] FIRST AUDITORS, WHEN, "OUR CORNE IS AS
GOOD AS YOURS, AND WEE TAKE MORE PLEASURE THAN YOU?"39
Strengthened by arguments such as these, the Indians' "hereditary prejudices"
toward their own religious culture greatly frustrated the missionaries who labored to
wean them from it. But when traditionalist arguments were illustrated with examples
from "the Contemptible State of the domesticated Tribes" (as Sir William Johnson
described them), potential converts dug in their heels even deeper.40 Those Senecas
who listened to a war chief declaim against the foreign presence of Samuel Kirkland
and his Holy Book would have thought long and hard before opening their ears to the
"Brethren attend!" intoned Onoongwandikha. "You may be assured, that if we
Senecas...receive this white man and attend to the Book which was made solely
for white people, we shall become a miserable abject people....How many
remnants of tribes at the East are so reduced, that they pound sticks to make
brooms to buy a loaf of bread or it may be a shirt...Why, their grandsons are all
become mere women!...
[I]f we change or renounce our religion for that of the white people, we shall soon
lose the spirit of true men....We shall be sunk so low as to hoe corn and
squashes in the field, chop wood, stoop down and milk cows like negroes among
the Dutch people."41
Behind the worried words of the Seneca warrior lay more than two hundred
years of cultural resistance by eastern natives who thought their own ways at least
equal, if not superior, to those proffered by the missionaries. When the missionaries
overstepped the native bounds of courtesy and pressed them to change their thinking,
the Indians time and again made a characteristic response. If during a theological
debate with the missionary a native leader was not convinced of the wisdom of the
Christian position, he would close with a subtle plea toward toleration. "All your
arguments," warned Pierre Biard from experience with the Micmacs, "and you can
bring on a thousand of them if you wish, are annihilated by this single shaft
which they always have at hand, Aoti Chabaya (they say), 'That is the Indian way
of doing it. You can have your way and we will have ours; every one values his
own wares.'"42 By a similar tactic the Hurons tried to dampen Father Brébeuf's ardor
for their conversion. "Do you not see that," they asked him, "as we inhabit a world
so different from yours, there must be another heaven for us, and another road to
reach it?"43 Sometimes the rejection could be even more pointed. The Iroquois at
Shamokin minced no words in spurning the offer of David Brainerd in 1745 to settle
among them for two years, build a church, and call them together every Sunday "as the
whites do." "We are Indians," they announced, "and don't wish to be transformed
into white men. The English are our Brethren, but we never promised to become
what they are. As little as we desire the preacher to become Indian, so little
ought he to desire the Indians to become preachers."44 The preacher left the next day.
In the face of so many compelling reasons for standing pat, it might seem
strange that Indians even considered changing their religious ways. Yet, to judge from
the number of native converts in the colonial period, many obviously entertained the
possibility long enough at least to reject it. What impelled them to give a hearing to the
missionaries? What was capable of penetrating their cultural complacency and glacial
indifference to normative novelty?
Contemporary critics of the missions and historians of a similar disposition have
insinuated that many--even most--of the Indians who listened to the missionaries were
"wheat and eel" Christians, beggarly hypocrites who grunted assent to the missionaries'
preachments only as long as they were offered a pipe of tobacco, a nip of brandy, or a
handful of biscuits. Understandably, the critics' suspicions increase when the
missionaries or their political benefactors raise the material ante. When converts are
given military garrisons in besieged villages, discounts at the company store,
elaborate gifts, and exclusive rights to purchase firearms, as they were in
Huronia, skeptics' eyebrows fairly soar. The difficulty [?] with such wholesale
incredulity [?] is that gifts were the lubricant of all native social interaction, and a
missionary who tried to gain an audience without them would have preached to
the trees....' [281-282].
The White Indians
It is very easy to make an Indian out of a white man....
Frances Slocum (Weletawash) [1773 - 1847]
The contest of cultures in colonial North America was far from one-sided. Despite
superior technologies, aggressive religions, prolific populations, and well-articulated
ideologies of imperialism, the French and English invaders enjoyed no monopoly of
success in converting enemies to their way of life. In fact, the Indian defenders of the
continent were more successful, psychologically if not numerically, than either of their
European rivals. Partly because of their unrealistic goals, the English had little
success in converting Indians to Christian civility and virtually no success in
persuading French Catholics to become anglicized Protestants. The French, on
the other hand, hit upon a winning combination of methods for drawing large numbers
of natives to at least minimal adherence to Catholic Christianity and substantial
numbers of English prisoners to both Catholicism and loyalty to French colonial culture.
But the Indians, despite all odds, succeeded in seducing French and English
colonists in numbers so alarming to European sensibilities that the natives were
conceded to be, in effect, the best cultural missionaries and educators on the
An indispensable article in the European faith in the superiority of their own civility was
that no civilized person in possession of his faculties or free from undue restraint would
choose to become an Indian. "For, easy and unconstrained as the savage life is,"
wrote the Reverend William Smith of Philadelphia, "certainly it could never be put in
competition with the blessings of improved life and the light of religion, by any persons
who have had the happiness of enjoying, and the capacity of discerning, them."1
And yet by the close of the colonial period large numbers of French and
English settlers had chosen to become Indians--by walking or running away from
colonial society to join Indian society, by not trying to escape after being
captured, or by electing to remain with their Indian captors when treaties of peace
periodically afforded them the opportunity to return home....
Benjamin Franklin [1706 - 1790] wondered how it was that
When an Indian Chief has been brought up among us, taught our language and
habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one
Indian Ramble with them, there is no persuading him even to return. [But] when
white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and
lived a while among them, tho' ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all
imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a
Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life, and the care and
pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good Opportunity of
escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.3
In short, "thousands of Europeans are Indians," as Hector de Crèvecoeur [1735 -
1813] put it, "and we have no examples of even one of those Aborigines having
from choice become Europeans!"4' [302-303].
'"By what power does it come to pass," asked Crèvecoeur, "that children who
have been adopted when young among these people,...and even grown persons...can
never be prevailed on to re-adopt European manners?"74 Given the malleability of
youth, we should not be surprised that children underwent a rather sudden and
permanent transition from European to Indian--although we might be pressed to
explain why so few Indian children [and the "few Indian children", were probably
subject to the duress of "accommodation or annihilation", and/or, material inducements
(see 1431)] made the transition in the opposite direction., But the adult colonists
who became Indians cannot be explained as easily, for the simple reason that they,
unlike many of the children, were fully conscious of their cultural identities while they
were being subjected to the Indians' assiduous attempts to convert them.
Consequently, their cultural metamorphosis involved a large degree of personal
The great majority of white Indians left no explanations for their choice.
Forgetting their original language and their past, they simply disappeared into their
adopted society. But those captives who returned to write narratives of their
experiences left several clues to the motives of those who chose to stay behind. They
stayed because they found Indian life to possess a strong sense of community,
abundant love, and uncommon integrity--values that the European colonists also
honored, if less successfully. But Indian life was attractive for other values--for
social equality, mobility, adventure, and, as two adult converts acknowledged,
"the most perfect freedom, the ease of living, [and] the absence of those cares
and corroding solicitudes which so often prevail with us." As we have learned
recently, these were values that were not being realized in the older, increasingly
crowded, fragmented, and contentious communities of the Atlantic seaboard, or even in
the newer frontier settlements.75 By contrast, as Crèvecoeur said, there must have
been in the Indians' "social bond something singularly captivating."76 Whatever it was,
its power had no better measure than the large number of French and English
colonists who became, contrary to the civilized assumptions of their countrymen,
[326-327] [End of Chapter].
Education and Empire
Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre,
but they are more deadly in the long run.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835 - 1910]
Christianity is and always has been an evangelical, a proselytizing religion;
missionaries are essential to its nature. CHRIST AIMED AT THE SPIRITUAL
CONQUEST OF THE WHOLE WORLD, not just the Near or Middle East. THE
EARTHLY REALIZATION OF THE CHRISTIAN VISION ENTAILS THE CONVERSION
OF THE ADHERENTS OF ALL OTHER RELIGIONS--MUSLIM, BUDDHIST, TAOIST,
BY ITS VERY NATURE, CHRISTIANITY IS EXCLUSIVE AND
one cannot be a Hindu and a Christian at the same time. In the shadow of the Cross,
all other beliefs and practices pale into insignificance.
Christianity is also a historical religion, a faith more of time than place. In the
birth, life, and death of Christ it ["Christianity"] found its origins, vision, and driving
purpose. Time for Christians pivots on Christ's axis--B.C. and A.D.--and the Bible,
divided into Old and New Testaments, is the telling of that epic story. Historical time is
merely the premonition and fulfillment of God's prophecies, which will culminate
definitively, if figuratively, on the Last Day of Judgment. The meantime, the here and
now, is dedicated to the endless and usually thankless task of saving pagans and
heretics from eternal perdition.
It was fitting, if also paradoxical, that Christopher Columbus, who witnessed
the final reconquista of Spain from the Moors, discovered a New World while seeking in
one corner of the Old World (China) the wealth to mount an anachronistic crusade to
liberate Jerusalem in another and restore it as the seat of Christendom.1 Wishing to
expand the empire of Christianity by conquering ancient and obdurate enemies, he
[Columbus] discovered a whole continent of new, seemingly docile souls
perishing without benefit of clergy. By pulling America into the relentless stream of
Christian time, Columbus inadvertently redirected the evangelical energies of
European Christianity toward the Occident and introduced the American natives to
the civilized notion of conquest as conversion. In that deceptive guise, much harm
was--and still is--done in the name of philanthropy....' .
'The conversion of the natives entailed such a cultural metamorphosis that
they became trusted scouts, sentries, and soldiers for the European colony
whose churches they attended. The fiercest defenders of colonial borders were
the reserve and "praying" Indians, who now scalped under the sign of the Cross.
Having fomented civil strife in native villages by their proselytizing, the
missionaries often instigated civil war by pitting tribesmen, even kinsmen,
against each other to honor the Prince of Peace. Having divided Satan's minions,
the black robes [black robes = Jesuits; gray robes = Recollects ["Friars Minor" (387)]
(78)] helped to conquer them all, some by faith, others by fire.' .
"Though the Indians eventually lost and usually lost badly, the Christian
missions also softened the blow. Conversion was, as many natives found, one way
of adapting to [, and, surviving,] the invasion of America. For those worst hit by the
invaders and their microbes, Natick and Sillery served as halfway houses on the road
to recovery. The full civilizing remedy was the colonial equivalent of the Marshall Plan,
which offered the hapless natives a complete program of moral rearmament, social
reconstruction, and religious revitalization. If racism, disease, lawlessness, and
hypocrisy eventually spelled the demise of many Christian Indian groups--as they
certainly did--the initial effectiveness of the mission program cannot be denied
for those Indians faced with
ACCOMMODATION OR ANNIHILATION." .
'In the end the European conquest of America was nearly total, but it was not
obtained without a share of deep ironies. One is that the vast majority of Indians in the
colonial period, for whom "Example [was] before precept," were not seduced by
Christianity because the Christians with whom they were most conversant taught
them the vices of Europe and few, if any, virtues. "What great offence hath been
given by many profane men," lamented Edward Winslow [1595 - 1655], "who, being
but seeming Christians, have made Christ and Christianity stink in the nostrils of the
poor infidels and so laid a stumbling-block before them."7
One ironic consequence of the disparity between Christian preaching and
practice was, in the words of Sir William Johnson, that "THOSE INDIANS WHO HAVE
THE LEAST INTERCOURSE WITH US, HAVE THE MOST INTEGRITY, & POSSESS
THE BEST MORAL QUALITIES." Another was the embarrassing opinion of European
captives and other persons who knew both cultures well that the natives who were
uncontaminated by European vice inadvertently, naturally, lived a purer Christian text
than the colonial Christians. A final irony was that the standard native technique for
frustrating aggressive missionaries and other reformers, their "secret weapon" of
outer complaisance and inner disagreement, was considered "a form of
politeness" in native society. Thus, with a happy brand of poetic justice, a piece of
savage civility was used to stymie the civilized savagery of men who intruded
themselves upon native life and ran roughshod over the bounds of native courtesy.8
But the final stage of the Indians in the uneven contest of culture was the
psychological and moral equivalent of the definitive fencer's move in which he wraps
his sword around his opponent's and lets both weapons fly out of their hands to the
ground. The Indians' conversion of hundreds of "civilized" captives to "savage" life tore
from the hands of the colonists, however briefly, their sharp conceit as the "chosen
people" of God and their unexamined faith in the superiority of their own customs and
opinions. With Montaigne [331 (not presented)] we can only regret that the
invaders, stripped bare and defenseless, did not seize the moment for self-understanding, tolerance, and true humiliation.' [332-333] [End of text].
'146. Mass. Col. Recs. 2:56; Winthrop's Journal 2:124. See also Shepard, Clear
Sun-shine, 40, no. 19: "If any man lie with a beast he shall die [Leviticus 20:15 (see
also: 20:16)]." This was hardly applicable to the Indians before the English introduced
domesticated animals. Moreover, it seems to reflect a concern for English rather than
Indian morality. In 1642 the Plymouth Colony experienced an epidemic of
"notorious sins," especially of the sexual sort. Fornication and adultery were
rampant, as were sodomy, buggery, and bestiality. A teenage servant was executed for
unnatural relations with "a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a
turkey," wickedness which "he had long [? ("teenage servant")] used...in old England"
(Bradford, Plymouth Plantation, 316-21). John Lawson noted that the Carolina Indians
had no name for sodomy in their language (New Voyage to Carolina, 193).' .
"149....An important reason for the southern resistance to fitted breeches
was that Indian men squatted to urinate...." .
'Colonial North America was not only a battleground for furs and land, but also for
allegiances and even souls. In the three-sided [Indigenous peoples (Indians),
English, French] struggle for empire, the English and French colonists were locked in
heated competition for native allies and religious converts. The Invasion Within sharply
contrasts the English efforts to "civilize" the Indians with the French willingness to
accept native lifestyles, and reveals why the struggle for control over the continent
became a fascinating contest of cultures between three shrewd opponents lasting
nearly 150 years.' [back cover].
from: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong Lies Across America, James W. Loewen,
The New Press, 1999.
[this reference, thanks to the encouragement of Neil Nissenbaum ("Onslow Free
"4. Exploring vs. Exterminating the Natives"
'At least twenty [California] state historical markers treat missions without
mentioning Native Americans--although mission communities were Indian
communities typically comprising 200 to 2000 natives, a handful of Spanish or Mexican
soldiers and their family members, and two priests. Half a dozen other markers
mention Indians only as recipients of Spanish services--the most insulting is at San
Juan Capistrano, which the marker describes as "seventh in the chain of 21 missions
established in Alta California to christianize and civilize the Indians." In San Luis
Obispo County, a marker tells that Mission San Luis Obispo was "built by the
Chumash Indians living in the area"; another marker for its outpost, Santa Margarita
Asistencia, states "Here the mission padres and the Indians carried on extensive grain
cultivation." No marker in any other county lets on that Indians made and laid
virtually every brick in every mission in California. Instead, like the slave
plantations we will visit later (72), the head man did all the work himself, as in this
marker in Santa Clara County:
Old Adobe Woman's Club
This adobe, among the oldest in Santa Clara Valley, was one
of several continuous rows of homes built in 1792-1800
as dwellings for the Indian families of Mission Santa Clara. It links
the Franciscan padres' labors with California of today.
When interpretation does mention Indians at missions maintained as museums--particularly at those still owned by the Catholic Church--it presents the missions as
harbors of shelter and well-being built by the Spanish for the Natives, echoing the state
markers. Guides and labels do not tell how overseers forced Indians to farm,
build, and even worship under threat of lash and chain.' [63-64].
[See: Addition 11, 908-909 (California (31st state, 1850) Mission converts)].
[See: Strangers in a Stolen Land: American Indians in San Diego 1850-1880,
Richard L. Carrico, Sierra Oaks, 1987].
"75. George Washington's Desperate Prayer
Pennsylvania Valley Forge"
'The first fabrication Valley Forge inflicts on visitors concerns the
extraordinary suffering the men endured as they encamped there. "Valley Forge is
the story of an army's epic struggle to survive against terrible odds, against hunger,
disease, and the unrelenting forces of nature," says the brochure the National Park
Service (NPS) still gives to visitors. THIS HYPERBOLE ORIGINATED WITH GEORGE
WASHINGTON [1732 - 1799] HIMSELF, who wrote to the Continental Congress on
February 16, 1776, "Naked and starving as they are we cannot enough admire the
incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery." The brochure for the Valley
Forge Historical Society reproduces this sentence on its cover, even though the army
never got to Valley Forge until December, 1777, eighteen months after
Washington wrote it!' [362-363].
'When tourists leave the Valley Forge visitors' center and drive around the park,
the largest building they encounter is the beautiful Washington Memorial Chapel,
begun in 1903. Its dominant characteristic is its matched sets of dazzling stained
glass windows, one depicting the life of Jesus Christ, the other the life of George
Washington. "Washington in prayer at Valley Forge is seen in the central opening
over the door," explains the chapel's handout. The general kneels in prayer to
Almighty God, seeking God's assistance when it seemed only He could aid the
American cause, so desperate were its circumstances. The same kneeling general is
on display in bronze at the nearby Freedoms Foundation and in a painting in the
museum of the Valley Forge Historical Society.
The image and the inspiration for the chapel came from none other than
Parson Weems, the Episcopal minister who published the first biography of
Washington in 1800. WEEMS MADE UP BOTH THE CHERRY TREE STORY AND
THE PRAYER INCIDENT, the latter in 1804 for a magazine article. Here is the Valley
Forge tale in Weem's vivid prose: ....' .
'The two parsons, Weems [Mason Locke Weems 1759 - 1825] and Burk [Herbert
Burk], doubtless felt that for Americans to believe that George Washington was a
pious Christian would do no harm. But Washington wasn't. Like many other leaders
of the Revolution he was a Deist. A member of the Episcopal Church, he believed
that religion was "an indispensable basis for morality," in Boller's [Paul F. Boller, Jr.]
phrase, but did not believe in conventional Christianity. "He was not given to praying
on his knees nor to referring to Jesus in public or in private," Boller emphasizes. Nor
did he take communion. Freemasonry was more important to Washington than
Episcopalianism according to Gordon Wood, an authority on the Revolution.
Indeed, for many leaders of that time, Wood notes, Masonry offered something of a
surrogate religion complete with ritual, mystery, and fellowship but "without the
enthusiasm and sectarian bigotry of organized religion."' .
'Other important founders were even less Christian than Washington [George
Washington 1732 - 1799]. Thomas Jefferson [1743 - 1826] called himself "an
Unitarian," while Ben Franklin [1706 - 1790] said, "I have found Christian dogma
unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."
THE UNITED STATES WAS SIMPLY NOT FOUNDED AS A CHRISTIAN NATION,
EVEN THOUGH A MAJORITY OF ITS CITIZENS HAVE BEEN CHRISTIANS.
People who don't know this, who think the United States is legally Christian, may be
less tolerant of agnostics and atheists. Also, since most fundamentalists do not view
the United States as a Christian nation today, misrepresenting Washington and other
founders as devout Christians prompts some to blame the Supreme Court, the media,
"liberals," our entire political leadership, or the devil for causing America's "fall from
grace."1 Notwithstanding the two parsons ["Weems and Burk" (see 1437)] then, to
believe that George Washington was a pious Christian may harm America.
Even if Washington never prayed here, even if that writer wasn't particularly
severe, even if not much happened here, Valley Forge is still a beautiful park.
Indeed the absence of events there may be its most interesting story. The
colonies were at war with the mother country, but no battles were fought from
December 1777, through June 1778. Winter does not last until June in Pennsylvania.
Nevertheless the colonials stayed in their winter encampment at Valley Forge and the
British stayed put in Philadelphia, and life went on without much fighting for six
months. War was very different then.2'  [End of entry].
from: As Long As The Grass Shall Grow and Rivers Flow, A History of Native
Americans, Clifford E. Trafzer, University of California Riverside, Harcourt College
Publishers, c2000. [Note: "Selected Readings and Bibliography", at the end of each
SINCE THEIR FIRST CONTRACT WITH EUROPEANS, NATIVE AMERICANS HAVE
CONSIDERED THE COLONIZATION OF THEIR HOMELANDS TO BE AN INVASION
AND CONQUEST. Oral histories today abound with stories of first contact between
native nations and various Europeans. At times, first contact was benign, even
positive, with a good deal of trading. At other times, first contact between peoples was
hostile and dangerous, leading to deaths and enslavement that set the tone for poor
relations in the future. Although the Norse invaded America long before the Spanish,
their significance to Native American history is minor because of the great impact the
Spanish had on American Indians over a huge area from the tip of Tierra del Fuego in
South America to the Nootka villages of western Canada. The Age of Discovery and
European colonization of Native American lands and peoples initiated a holocaust that
lasted for centuries and continues in some parts of the Americas. The invasion of
America also gave rise to native resistance movements that have lasted for centuries
and are alive today. Native Americans have survived and live in nearly every parts of
the hemisphere in spite of a conquest that began inauspiciously on October 12, 1492.
From their homes, Taino (Island Arawak) men, women, and children watched
three ships approach their island in the Bahamas. According to Taino scholar José
Barriero, the people questioned the meaning of these creatures that flew over the
waters with white sails and large wooden hulls. The three caravels were the Niña,
Pinta, and Santa Maria. Admiral, Viceroy, and Governor Christopher Columbus [1451
- 1506] landed on the island of San Salvador (modern Watlings Island). Columbus
had traveled about three thousand miles, but the distance between the two lands was
small in comparison to the cultural and social distance between Europeans and Native
Americans. Columbus and his men brought biases and assumptions from Europe
that would forever change the lives of millions of tribal people, whom the
foreigners labeled Indios or Indians. Like other Christians of his time, Columbus
was significantly influenced by a wellspring of racial hatred and pitted white
Christians against non-Christian people of color. Columbus and Spanish
conquistadors were influenced by nearly eight hundred years of bloody warfare,
religious bigotry, and cultural intolerance between Christian people of the Iberian
Peninsula and African Moslems. Racial and religious intolerance traveled with the
Spaniards to America and contributed significantly to the genocide of thousands
of Native Americans." [20-21].
In 711, African soldiers had invaded the Iberian Peninsula, sweeping into southern
France until Charles Martel defeated them. Moslem soldiers retreated over the
Pyrenees Mountains but controlled portions of the Iberian Peninsula for centuries until
1492, when King Fernando and Queen Isabella's armies defeated the Moors at the
Battle of Granada. It is no coincidence that when the Reconquista ended, the conquest
of America began. During the Reconquista and Crusades, Christians developed
deep racial hatreds for dark-skinned non-Christians, whom they characterized as
evil, primitive, and savage. Christians portrayed Moslems as Satan's children,
licentious subhuman counterimages [sic] whom God intended for Christians to
exterminate. While Christians from the Iberian Peninsula fought and killed
Moslems, other European Christians launched the Crusades into the Middle East
to kill Moslems in the name of Christ and recapture the Holy Lands. Racial and
religious hatred, born during the Middle Ages, was transferred to Africa and Asia
by Portuguese expeditions and to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese.
AMERICA WAS NOT A VIRGIN LAND IN 1492, AND IT WAS NOT A
WILDERNESS TO NATIVE POPULATIONS.
The research of Lakota scholar Vine Deloria, Francis Jennings, and Gary Nash has
aptly demonstrated this fact. Approximately ten million Native Americans lived in
present-day Canada and the United States, whereas between twenty and thirty
million American Indians lived in Mexico. And between sixty-five million and one
hundred million native people lived in Central and South America. Yet, by "right of
discovery" and "right of conquest," Spaniards claimed the right to control the lands and
people of any regions they were colonizing, demanding that other European nations not
intervene. Nevertheless, the Spaniards overran lands long settled by American
Indians, refusing to recognize native sovereignty, land rights or resources, or freedom
of religion. SPANIARDS EXPLOITED NATIVE LABOR AND LAND IN ORDER TO
BENEFIT THEMSELVES AND SPAIN, STEALING GOLD, SILVER, AND OTHER
RAW MATERIALS WHILE ENSLAVING PEOPLES BY THE THOUSANDS AND
KILLING THEM THROUGH PUNISHMENTS AND EXCESSIVE WORK. Most
conquistadors cared nothing about permanently resettling America but wanted only to
accumulate wealth and return to Spain. Conquistadors were ruthless individuals
who believed themselves superior in every way to American Indians. They reflected
the arrogance of Queen Isabella, King Fernando, and Pope Alexander VI, who
divided the "heathen world" between Spain and Portugal through the Treaty of
Tordesillas (1494), permitting Portugal to resettle Brazil and Spain to claim the
rest of America....' [21-22].
"....Slavery became an early institution used by the Spanish to control and exploit
native labor, and when Indians fought as patriots against exploitation, forced labor,
sexual abuses, and oppression, presidio soldiers ruthlessly destroyed native opposition
by hanging prisoners, burning people alive, and flaying the skin of their victims.
Between 1493 and 1500, approximately five hundred thousand Native Americans--perhaps more--died in the Caribbean Islands.
Spaniards murdered and tortured men, women, and children if they did not
produce their quota of one small bell full of gold dust every three months. Soldiers cut
off fingers, hands, feet, legs, noses, and genitals of recalcitrant men, women and
children who would not pay homage and tribute, and they set their war dogs on
native people to tear them to shreds [see #3, 91 (Dogs of the Conquest)].
SPANIARDS BURNED CACIQUES (LEADERS) AND THEIR FOLLOWERS TO
DEATH IN ROWS OF THIRTEEN IN HONOR OF CHRIST AND THE TWELVE
Spaniards enslaved and sold thousands of native people after 1503, particularly
those Indians living under the rule of a Spaniard who was given an encomienda or a
specific number of Indians who were entrusted to an encomendero for labor and in
return were supposed to receive Spanish civilization and Christianization. After 1550,
Spaniards enslaved Indians through repartimiento, whereby the Spanish
uprooted Indians and forced them to work in mines, plantations, and public
works. Many Indians died from forced labor, brutal punishments, lack of food, and
poor housing. Throughout the conquest, soldiers and officials indiscriminately raped
mothers, wives, and daughters, creating a reign of terror in Native America...." .
'....the Requerimiento...was a document--written in Spanish--outlining Christian
creation, God's law, crown authority, papal rule, and the requirement of natives to
surrender or face utter devastation. The document demanded that Native Americans
accept Spanish rule so they would do well:
["Requerimiento"] But if you do not do this, and wickedly and intentionally delay
to do so, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall forcibly enter into
your country and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we
can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their
Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make
slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses
may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do all the harm
and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive
their lord, and resist and contradict him....
Often Spaniards read the Requerimiento aboard ships, to mountains, or to
sleepy villages before engagements. Like so many laws designed to protect
Indians, the Requerimiento was a farce. In reality, the document meant nothing and
was not truly a reform, because the excesses of the early Spanish colonial period
continued unabated in spite of the requirement to give native people a chance to
surrender before being annihilated by soldiers and war dogs. Slavery of Native
Americans continued in one form or another throughout the colonial period and
expanded to the enslavement of Africans as well.
FREED AFRICANS WERE LIKELY PART OF COLUMBUS'S FIRST VOYAGE BUT
WERE BROUGHT TO AMERICA AS SLAVES AS EARLY AS 1512.
[see Addition 24, 1130-1166 (Slavery)]
Five years later, Las Casas [Bartolomé de las Casas 1474 - 1566] encouraged the
crown to use African slaves over Native American slaves because AFRICAN
MOSLEMS HAD HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME CHRISTIANS AND HAD
REJECTED CHRIST. Las Casas later renounced his stand on African slaves, but
trafficking in millions of African slaves to work in mines, sugar, cotton, and
coffee fields accelerated....' .
"Conquest of Mexico
From the islands of the Caribbean Sea, Spanish entradas traveled to the mainland of
South, Central, and North America. Wherever they traveled, Spaniards claimed
native lands and proclaimed native peoples to be subjects of the crown.
Adelantado Hernán Cortes [1485 - 1547] led a significant expedition in 1519, when he
commanded 550 men, sixteen horses, and eleven ships, which weighed anchor in
Yucatan and Tobasco before arriving in Veracruz. In Yucatan he picked up a
shipwrecked Spaniard named Aguilar who spoke Maya, and in Tobasco he was
given la Malinche (Marina), an Aztec who spoke Maya and Aztec. Through them,
Cortes had interpreters and an Aztec mistress who understood the cultural beliefs of
Aztecs. She knew that Moctezuma [1480? - 1520] was a god-king leader who ruled a
vast empire, rich beyond belief. Moctezuma was at war with surrounding native people
who would welcome the conquest of Aztecs. She knew that Aztecs feared that one
day the sun would no longer appear and life on earth would end. In order to keep
the sun alive, Aztec priests offered human sacrifices, generally taking victims from
surrounding tribes. Moctezuma feared that recent thunderstorms, earthquakes, and
volcanic activities as well as a comet and frightening prophecies foretold doom for the
Aztecs. Moctezuma also worried about the return of a legendary and powerful Toltec
king-god named Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent.
When Moctezuma learned of Cortes, he was convinced that the Spaniard
was Quetzalcoatl, a god that Huitzilopochtli, the Toltec god of war, had banished
from Mexico long before the time of the Aztecs..." .
"Spanish rule within the present boundaries of the United States extended from
Florida to California. San Juan Pueblo scholar Alfonso Ortiz and Jemez Pueblo
historian Joe Sando have shown in their works that Pueblo peoples resisted Spanish
occupation, laws, and institutions, and they continued to stand against the invasion by
foreign powers throughout the colonial period. Native Americans who resisted
Spanish rule often faced treatment as harsh as that faced by the people of
Acoma. Spanish soldiers, missionaries, and settlers often removed Indians from
lands that the newcomers desired. Spaniards demanded tribute in the form of
food and regulated native access to water, timber, foods, and other resources
that belonged to Indian groups. Spaniards actively sought to destroy native
religions and supplant them with Christianity...." .
'Spaniards and mission fathers raped native women and children, and native
women strangled babies born of forced intercourse. Spanish concentration of Native
Californians into missions created catastrophic declines in native populations,
and if Indians tried to leave the missions, soldiers rounded them up and punished
them for this and other infractions of Catholic moral codes. Most missionaries
would have agreed with Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, who viewed California's
Indians as "barbarous, ferocious and ignorant" people who required "more frequent
punishment." As Castillo points out, "the California missions were coercive
authoritarian institutions" where Serra [(Miguel José) Junípero Serra 1713 - 1784
("Apostle of California")] and his missionaries punished Indian men, women, and
children with barbed whips, branding irons, shackles, mutilations, stocks, work
teams, and jails. Missionaries also executed native men and women.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has closed its punishment books in its
archives in Santa Barbara and will not permit scholars open access to documents
that might further tarnish the Church or Serra's rise toward sainthood. A former
tribal chairman of the Cuyapaipe Reservation in eastern San Diego County
summed up the missions: "The Indians were slaves. They did all the work and after
a day's work, the priests locked them up....They fed them actually as little as
possible. They beat them and killed them if they were sick, or couldn't work, or
didn't agree to do certain work." This is a contemporary view of the mission system
shared by many Indians in California.' .
"Everywhere the Spanish traveled, Native Americans resisted conquest
aggressively and passively. Many Indians continued to practice aspects of their old
religion while also participating in Christian ceremony and ritual. They slowed their
work and refused to help Spaniards locate other Indians to be forced into the mission
system. Native Californians escaped the missions when they could, including over two
hundred Ohlones who fled Mission Dolores in 1795. Indians incarcerated at
Missions San Miguel and San Antonio poisoned priests, and in 1812, Ohlones at
Mission Santa Cruz assassinated Father Antonio Quintana. In February 1842,
Chumash and other natives living at Missions La Purisima and Santa Barbara rose
in a major revolt. Fighting broke out initially when Spaniards whipped a neophyte at
Mission Santa Ynez, and the Indians there burned several mission buildings. The
same day, two thousand natives captured Mission La Purísima and were soon joined
by Indians from Santa Ynez and San Fernando. Native American soldiers fortified the
mission, cutting gun ports in the adobe walls and setting up cannons and swivel guns.
Other Indians in the area responded to the call, including Chumash at Mission
Santa Barbara who armed themselves and prepared to die for their freedom. For
several hours the Indians at Mission Santa Barbara fought Spanish soldiers but
eventually gave up and retreated to the presidio of Santa Barbara. The Chumash
sacked Mission Santa Barbara and moved into the mountains. In March 1824,
hundreds of Spanish cavalry and infantry attacked the four hundred native defenders at
Mission La Purisima, who fought with cannons, guns, bows, and arrows. After fighting
several hours, a priest negotiated an armistice. California Indians from other missions
joined the Chumash, but by May and June the revolt slowed, especially after some
neophytes agreed to return to the missions--although four hundred refused to return.
Spanish officials negotiated an end to the rebellion and then launched a criminal
investigation that resulted in the execution of seven leaders and a sentence of ten-years, chain-gang labor, for four other leaders." [35-36].
"While France and England expanded their empires, Spain also moved
defensively into Texas. Spanish priests established two missions along the Nueces
River among the Hasinai Indians but abandoned these institutions after the native
people revolted in 1702. However, Spanish missionaries returned in 1715 after French
traders expanded their holdings in Louisiana. In addition to mission work with the
Hasinai, Catholic missionaries moved among the Oamayas, Tawakonis, Tonkawas,
Karankahuas, and others, attempting to convert these people to Christianity. At the
same time, Spanish officials established presidios along the Texas-Louisiana border.
Their largest settlement was at San Antonio de Valero, a pueblo that boasted a
presidio and mission called the Alamo. As was true in all Indian missions, Spanish
priests demanded that the Indians of Texas surrender much of their culture and way of
life. Priests at the Alamo and other missions ordered native families to end their
lives as hunters, gatherers, and independent farmers. They were to leave their
villages and move into the mission compound, where they could live an orderly,
systematic, sedentary life controlled by Spaniards who wanted them to work without
compensation for the Church, presidio, and pueblo. SOME INDIANS RESISTED, BUT
ALL WERE INFLUENCED BY FOREIGN ANIMALS, PLANTS, POLICIES, AND
"Spain had claimed native lands by right of discovery and war, fighting any
tribe or band that resisted Spanish rule. Native Americans often resisted Spanish
rule overtly and passively, and although they could accommodate many aspects of
Spanish rule, European diseases killed thousands of men, women, and children
who had no immunities to foreign sicknesses such as smallpox, measles, colds,
influenza, diphtheria, typhoid, and cholera. In order to survive, some Native
Americans acculturated into Spanish society by eventually becoming Christians and
speaking Spanish as their second or third language. Some wore European dress and
worked as vaqueros (cowboys), farmers, cooks, and maids. However, they did not
surrender that which was truly native, including their languages, religions, laws,
kinships, and foods. Through radical change, most Native Americans did not
assimilate into Spanish culture or lose all elements of their native cultures. They did
not adopt everything that was Spanish. In the larger sense, Native Americans
survived missions, presidios, pueblos, slavery, disease, and malnutrition, living
through and with a myriad of radical changes that came with the Spanish
[End of Chapter 2].
'In addition to disease and firearms, Wyandots suffered from the mission
system. Jesuits were particularly adept at establishing missions and spreading
the Christian gospel among the tribes. The introduction of Christianity split
native communities into Christians and non-Christians, creating divisions that often
pitted individuals against individuals, families against families, and elders against
young people. Missionaries encouraged Indians to give up their "heathen" and "pagan"
practices so that they could be saved in this world and the next. Native American
spiritual beliefs, songs, stories, ceremonies, and rituals declined over time, in part the
result of Christianity....' .
"Whites particularly loathed native medicine men and women, holy people
who called on spiritual and medicinal means to direct their positive and negative
powers. Christian Europeans denigrated Native American religion, art, music, dance,
ritual, and ceremony, stereotyping them as savage. WHITES PORTRAYED
AMERICAN INDIANS AS ANIMALS, NOT HUMANS. Such negative perceptions
created a dangerous climate for native peoples, because the English newcomers
determined from the outset that they were superior lords and masters, the children of
Christ, and that they had an obligation to destroy that which was evil and primitive. It
was also to their economic advantage to kill Indians and displace them. Early on the
English determined that Native Americans were obstacles to God's plan and
Christ's gospel. And in such a climate as this, it was easier for English colonists to
justify killing Native American men, women, and children while destroying native
cultures. American Indians lived in jeopardy not only because they controlled
land and resources desired by whites, but also because Europeans viewed them
as dispensable beings who stood in the way of Christ, civilization, and economic
'Although Puritans professed that a primary goal of their colony was to
Christianize Indians and destroy Satan among them, they made little effort to
include Indians in their world, because natives were positioned outside the body
of God and squarely within that of the devil. Although most Puritans conceded
that Indians could achieve salvation, they could do so only after years of training
in Christian beliefs, the Bible, and English civilization.
Most Puritans believed that it was not likely that many Indians would ever
be considered part of the "elect," that select group of people who would receive
God's grace in this world and the next. The vast majority of Indians were outside
the covenant and always would be. In the Puritan mind, evidence that Indians were
Satan's children abounded, because native people knew nothing of Christ or the
Christian religion, and Puritans said natives worshipped in a manner similar to that of
witches and warlocks. Indian medicine people claimed to communicate with plants,
animals, and invisible spirits. They met around fires in all-night ceremonies with
dancing, singing, and offerings of tobacco that seemed satanic to Christians. Puritans
claimed superiority over Indians, including their leaders, offering as proof the fact that
whites died from disease far less frequently than did native peoples. In 1633-1634,
smallpox ravaged New England, killing thousands of Indians but few French,
English, or Dutch. One writer stated "without this remarkable and terrible stroke
of God upon the natives, [we] would with much more difficulty have found room,
and at far greater charge have obtained and purchased land." According to
Winthrop [John Winthrop 1587 or 1588 - 1649], the Indians were also inferior because
"they inclose no Land, neither have any setled habytation, nor any tame Cattle to
improve the Land by, and soe have no other but a Naturall Right to those Countries,
soe as if we leave them sufficient for their use, we may lawfully take the rest."
Winthrop's statements ignored the fact that Indians farmed, lived in towns, and
improved the land. Winthrop lied to justify theft.
WINTHROP AND THE PURITAN OLIGARCHY BELIEVED THAT GOD HAD A
RIGHT TO ALL LANDS, AND BECAUSE PURITANS WERE GOD'S OWN AGENTS
ON EARTH, THEY HAD A RIGHT TO ALL NATIVE LANDS....' .
Forced Removal and Puritan
Native Americans throughout the region watched as Puritans consolidated their power
in the years following the Pequot War. In 1638, the Puritans began a vigorous
campaign to consolidate Indians onto "reservations" where they could be
controlled, Christianized, and "civilized." Native leaders resisted white attempts to
control their people, but among them, they had no unified policy to match that of the
"THE GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGED AND PROVIDED FUNDS TO CHRISTIAN
ORGANIZATIONS like the Society for the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel
among the Heathen, the Missionary and Bible Society of the Methodist Episcopal
Church in America, and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to
conduct mission work among Indians. Methodists, Moravians, Quakers, Baptists,
Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and others also established
missions, but their views of native people and those of enlightened government
officials, did not represent those of most whites in the western settlements.
The vast majority of white settlers wished to develop commercial agriculture,
transportation systems, and urban areas. They viewed American Indians as
impediments to white progress, civilization, and nation building...." [109-110].
"Missionaries, Oregon Trail,
The Nez Perces and Flatheads became interested in knowing more about the spiritual
power of white men, so in 1831, they sent a delegation to St. Louis to inquire about the
source of this power and about the book of knowledge used by Christians...." .
'Young Chief Joseph [Heinmot Tooyalakekt 1841 - 1904] reflected the position of most
Nez Perce leaders in this parable that appeared in the North American Review in 1879:
Suppose a whiteman should come to me and say, "Joseph, I like your horses,
and I want to buy them." Joseph would respond, "my horses suit me, I will not
sell them." When Joseph responded that he was not interested in selling his
horses, the white man goes to my neighbor, and says to him: "Joseph has some
good horses. I want to buy them, but he refuses to sell." My neighbor answers,
"Pay me the money, and I will sell you Joseph's horses." The white man returns
to me and says, "Joseph, I have bought your horses, and you must let me have
them." If we sold our lands to the Government, this is the way they were bought.
Nez Perce leaders who refused to sign the Thief Treaty became known as
the nontreaty bands, and most of them renounced Christianity, returning to their
native faith....' .
The concept of forcing Native Americans to live on reservations was not new in the
HUMAN BEINGS HAD HERDED OTHER HUMAN BEINGS ONTO SPECIFIED LANDS
WITH FORCED BOUNDARIES AND RULES OF BEHAVIOR FOR CENTURIES.
The reservation system that emerged in the United States during the second half of the
nineteenth century was built on past experiences, drawing on two models of colonial
policies of the French, Spanish, and English. Although the reservation system owed
some of its origin to the Catholic mission systems of the Spanish and French, it
owed far more to that of the Puritans of the seventeenth century.
The Reservation System
After the Pequot Indian War, PURITANS removed Native Americans from their
homelands and relocated them onto confined reservations where whites
controlled them. Puritan fathers argued that they created towns of praying Indians for
the benefit of Native Americans, who would be uplifted in this life and the next by God's
earthly agents. Puritan reservations were institutions designed to regulate many
aspects of Native American life, including work, recreation, law, trade, hunting,
farming, family, education, and religion...." .
"Instead of exterminating Indians or simply pushing them west, the government
determined to follow the advice of humanitarian reformers and create reservations
where Indians could be colonized, civilized, and Christianized. Reservations
became the purgatorial mechanisms by which whites could begin to assimilate
'THE RESERVATION SYSTEM WAS A SECULAR PURGATORY FOR NATIVE
AMERICANS, a place where strict and zealous humanitarians often began the process
that would lead Indian people--they believed--to higher levels of existence. In Indian
purgatory, Native Americans would die and be reborn after they had atoned for
their "sins" against whites. White agents used the RESERVATION as a place to kill
"savage" Indian cultures and replace them with those of a superior civilization WHERE
INDIANS LEARNED ABOUT THE ONE TRUE GOD AND CHRIST'S TEACHINGS.
Christians had long held that Native Americans were "Red Devils" and "Satan's
Children," and the reservation experience offered native people an opportunity to
expiate Satan and follow the Jesus Road.' .
"WITH INDIANS CONFINED TO THE RESERVATION, CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES
COULD CONTROL THEIR FLOCKS AND REDIRECT THE LIVES OF INDIANS
TOWARD CHRISTIANITY." .
'Education and Christianization
Native Americans had their own systems of education long before whites came to
the Americas. They had their own intellectuals and scholars who instructed people
with enlightenment and wisdom. Families, clans, and tribes had their own educators
who taught children each day. Clan mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles,
fathers, and others taught native literature, history, geography, religious studies,
medicine, botany, zoology, soil science, astronomy, political science, law, and manual
skills such as making dresses, lodges, bows, and arrows. Professional storytellers
shared ancient histories with children and adults alike, reconstructing the world through
words and providing sacred oral texts that held the body of law that guided tribes in
secular and spiritual matters. All Native Americans had educational systems before
Columbus [1451 - 1506], and all native societies valued learning and wisdom....'
"The U.S. government supported Indian boarding schools as institutions
through which to destroy Native American cultures, languages, arts, and
identities. Indian agents, soldiers, and Indian policemen rounded up children age five
and above on reservations, forcing parents to give up their children or face prison
terms at Alcatraz or other federal penitentiaries. In 1907, several Hopi Indian families
hid their children and refused to allow whites to take their children to boarding school.
Agents ordered fathers to be arrested and sent them to Alcatraz. Native American
parents hated to lose their children, fearing whites would pollute them,
destroying their minds, bodies, and spirits. Several [? (apparently, many!)] children
died at Indian schools, from smallpox, measles, cholera, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.
Others died of sickness brought on by severe depression, loneliness, and abuse.
When children became ill at a boarding school, white doctors and nurses treated
them in the school infirmary or sent them home to die. When the children of Navajo
leader Manuelito [Hastiin Ch'ilhaajinii 1818 - 1893] contracted measles at Carlisle
[Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania (288)], officials sent them home, where they infected
their father, who died of the disease. In his classic autobiography, Don Talayesva
(Hopi) details his own case of pneumonia while he attended Sherman Indian Institute
in Riverside, California...." .
'William Jennings Bryan [1860 - 1925], the loser of presidential campaigns
and always the liberal Christian [prosecutor, 1925, Scopes "Monkey Trial"], described
Indians as "a race of primitive, untutored, nature-worshippers." He proposed to
"shove the Christian religion down the throat of every Indian." But other reformers
were more interested in issues important to the welfare of native people....' .
[See: "In Memoriam: W.J.B." [William Jennings Bryan], in: A Mencken Chrestomathy,
H.L. Mencken, 1956 (1949), 243-248. Devastating! Must See!].