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American-Indian wars

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Eugene posted on Fri, Dec 7 2012 6:31 AM

Americans, mostly in the 19th century, have massacred many indian tribes and driven most of them to reservations in which many have died from hunger and diseases. What is your take on this? Is it as one sided as it appears to be or there is more to it?

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"Americans" are not a "one side".

The Voluntaryist Reader - read, comment, post your own.
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That's a good abstract.  Some tribes put up fights although the Cherokee didn't.

Jefferson wanted to test each tribe while Jackson didn't differentiate between any of them.

I think Jefferson had prejudices towards some of them because he felt for the white men and that he believed that the white men needed the wealth of native americans.

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When you say "what is your take on this," I am inclined to say that my "take" on it was that it was a tragic string of events composed of murder and theft of all sorts. But when you say "Americans" did this, you shouldn't forget the principles of individualism. I'm sure many Americans despised it.

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Eugene replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 11:38 AM

It goes without saying that not all Americans are responsible for the crimes committed by the soldiers.

I just thought maybe there was some significant aggression from the indians that I am not aware of. Perhaps not all blame lies only on the aggressors on  the American side

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Answered (Not Verified) Kakugo replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 11:40 AM
Suggested by No2statism

The Indian Wars are nothing more than an extension of European colonialism. The big difference is that while the British busied themselves in India and South Africa and the French in Algeria and Indochina, the Americans fought an infinite series of wars of aggression in what was more or less their own backyard.

The main difference is neither the British nor the French took the thing to the next level as the Americans did. They contented themselves with ruling their colonies as they saw fit and extract as much wealth (and dump as many of their products) as they could. By contrast the Americans waged what was more or less a total war: clear the land from indigenous people to prepare it for "resettlement". Rarely in written history something similar had been done.  Genghis Khan's hordes committed innumerable massacres, but that was invariably to break their enemies' will to resist. If a city submitted to the Golden Horde and paid tribute it was spared and as long as the tribute was forthcoming more or less left alone. By contrast the Indians who submitted to Washington weren't left alone no matter how they behaved. Both Chief Joseph's (father and son) learned it the hard way. By the time those few brave Nez Perce warriors decided to fight their way to Canada it was too late. The Romans sometimes behaved in similar fashion (see those Helvetian tribes who accepted to trade their territories with new ones and were massacred by their Roman "escort" near the Saone River) but they didn't take the thing to the next level as the Americans did.

Why did the Wars seem so one sided to us? Yes, the Plain Tribes were never very numerous in numbers but it must also be said the overall quality of the US troops engaged in the war was never very high and that of the officers leading them even lower. The Nez Perce, the Lakota Sioux and the Apache were all able to hold their ground militarily by sticking to a highly mobile form of warfare and exploiting the enemy's weaknesses. What ultimately cost them the war is the fact they were basically hunter-gatherer tribes with rifles and horses fighting against an industrialized Nation-State which also happened to be their neighbor. Superior numbers, superior supplies, the ability to quickly mobilize and transfer large numbers of men, the ability to communicate rapidly through the telegraph... as Stalin said quantity is quality of its own.

To close we must not fall victims to the old fallacity that Indians waged war in chivalrous fashion. What little we know about the wars they waged among themselves before the white men arrived hint at the fact they fought as brutally and efficiently as the Europeans.



Together we go unsung... together we go down with our people
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