II. The Extermination of the Indigenous Peoples of North America

 

 

 

The indigenous people of North America lived there tens of thousands of years before the white Europeans arrived. Most likely they came from Asia passing through what is known today as the Bering Strait land bridge during the Ice Age. American Indians developed a wide range of language customs and civilizations. They created many tribal nations. They were not only hunters and fishermen on the west coasts but farmers who grew corn and squash. They raised turkeys and guinea pigs.

 

“From the time Europeans arrived on American shores, the frontier became a shared space of vast, clashing differences that led the U.S. government to authorize over 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people. By the close of the Indian Wars in the late 19th century, fewer than 238,000 indigenous people remained, a sharp decline from the estimated 5 million to 15 million living in North America when Columbus arrived in 1492.” [1]

 

The reasons for this racial genocide were multi-layered. Settlers, most of whom had been barred from inheriting property in Europe, arrived on American shores hungry for Indian land—and the abundant natural resources that came with it. In addition, Indians' collusion with the British during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 exacerbated American hostility and suspicion toward them. Furthermore, indigenous people were just too different: Their skin was dark. Their languages were foreign. And their world views and spiritual beliefs were beyond most white men’s comprehension.” [2]

 

“The Europeans brought with them their diseases that the Indians did not have a cure for and they were devastated by them. Unlike the Europeans and Asians, whose lifestyle had a long history of sharing close quarters with domesticated animals, Native Americans were not immune to viruses spread by domesticated cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and horses. Consequently millions were killed by measles, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, bubonic plague, cholera, scarlet fever and syphilis.” [3]

 

“Spreading disease was not always intentional on the part of the colonists. But there were instances that confirm that the European settlers exterminated natives. In 1763, a serious uprising threatened British garrisons in Pennsylvania., Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, wrote to Colonel Henry Bouquet at Fort Pitt: “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians [with smallpox] by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” [4]

 

During Pontiac's uprising in 1763, the Indians besieged Fort Pitt. They burned nearby houses, forcing the inhabitants to escape. The British officer in charge, Captain Simeon Ecuyer, reported to Colonel Henry Bouquet in Philadelphia that he feared the crowded conditions would result in disease. Smallpox had already broken out. On June 24, 1763, William Trent, a local trader, recorded in his journal that two Indian chiefs had visited the fort, urging the British to abandon the fight, but the British refused. Instead, when the Indians were ready to leave, Trent wrote: "Out of our regard for them, we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Smallpox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."…“There's no doubt that his act met with the approval of the British military in America and may have been common practice. Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander of British forces in North America, wrote July 7, 1763, "Could it not be contrived to Send the Smallpox among those Disaffected Tribes of Indians? We must, on this occasion, Use Every Stratagem in our power to Reduce them. About a week later, he wrote to Bouquet: "You will Do well to try to Inoculate the Indians by means of Blankets as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race."[5]

 

One of the known massacres of the Indians was in 1890 in Wounded Knee. To end the Ghost Dance spiritual movement the police arrested the famous chief Sitting Bull and murdered him. When the Indians resisted the US Army 7th Cavalry raided the village and killed 150 Indians. It is likely that this was a revenge for the regiment defeat and the death of the butcher Custer in Little Bighorn. [6]

 

In 1973, the American Indian Movement (AIM) led by Dennis Banks and Leonard Peltier occupied the place and another battle with the police took place. In 1975 two FBI agents were killed in Pine Ridge reservation during a raid on the village and Peltier was arrested and sent to life in prison even though he is likely not the one who shot the agents. [7]

 

Thus to create a capitalist society in North America it was necessary for the settler colonialists to destroy the Indians and their civilization. “At the beginning in British North America the British pretended to treat the Indian chiefs with some respect, to give them presents, to sign treaties with them, to bring influential chiefs to England to meet the King. Later on primarily from economic motives the Indians were perceived as savages. The English in particular were contemptuous of them, treating them as lackeys for the fur trade and despising the French and Spanish who took intermarriage and Indian land rights seriously. Smaller tribes on the East Coast, the first to recognize this, were destroyed and their people enslaved when they tried to drive the English out. Larger tribes on the interior managed (often by playing their own game of divide and survive among the rival empires) to maintain their self-respect and their independence up to the time of the American Revolution. But by siding with the British in 1776, all the Indians east of the Mississippi went down to final defeat. Some of the Indian nations, like the Creeks and Seminoles in the Southeast and the Delawares and Shawnees in the Old Northwest, managed to wage wars against the Americans from time to time thereafter, but even these tribes knew that they would never again have total freedom. They were simply fighting to avoid total destruction.” [8]

 

The Indians were portrayed at the beginning as Noble Savages. The American painter George Catlin, painted them as: “pure, bold, and noble beings, brave and honorable warriors and beautiful princesses, gifted orators, and creatures of innocence and simplicity living from the bounty of nature.”

 

In the nineteenth century, during the Romantic period, many European writers adopted the idea of the noble savage and used it to express their longing for simplicity, beauty, and deep connection to nature. However, this image was changed in the second part of the 19th century. Charles Dickens, an Anti-Semite, wrote in his 1853 essay “The Noble Savage”:

 

To come to the point at once, I beg to say that I have not the least belief in the Noble Savage. I consider him a prodigious nuisance, and an enormous superstition. His calling rum fire-water, and me a pale face, wholly fail to reconcile me to him. I don’t care what he calls me. I call him a savage, and I call a savage something highly desirable to be civilized off the face of the earth.... [H]e is a savage—cruel, false, thievish, murderous; addicted more or less to grease, entrails, and beastly customs; a wild animal with the questionable gift of boasting; a conceited, tiresome, blood- thirsty, monotonous humbug.”

 

According to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, the reduction of the North American Indian population from an estimated 12 million in 1500 to barely 237,000 in 1900 represents a "vast genocide..., the most sustained on record." By the end of the 19th century, writes David E. Stannard, a historian at the University of Hawaii, native Americans had undergone the "worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed, roaring across two continents non-stop for four centuries and consuming the lives of countless tens of millions of people." In the judgment of Lenore A. Stiffarm and Phil Lane, Jr., "there can be no more monumental example of sustained genocide—certainly none involving a 'race' of people as broad and complex as this—anywhere in the annals of human history." [9]

 

Yet even today you can find white scholars who deny that there was any holocaust of the Indians. “The most hideous enemy of native Americans was not the white man and his weaponry, wrote Alfred Crosby, "but the invisible killers which those men brought in their blood and breath." It is thought that between 75 to 90 percent of all Indian deaths resulted from these killers”.[10]

 

What this holocaust denier is hiding is the fact that in many cases the white settlers refused to provide medicine to the Indians because they wanted them to die. The colonialists saw in the epidemics that devastated the Indians the will of god that wanted to give the lands to the Christians.

 

“King James I cited the epidemic-induced depopulation: “Those large and goodly Territories, deserted as it were by their natural Inhabitants, should be possessed and enjoyed by such of our Subjects and People.”… The mortality amazed European colonists. Their responses illustrate many themes that occurred repeatedly as Europeans, and then Americans, witnessed the ongoing health problems among American Indians. As already seen, providential explanations came quickly to Puritan minds. John Winthrop, for example, wrote that “Gods hand hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by the small poxe. [11]

 

For some reason a legend was created that the white colonialists were unable to enslave the Indians who prefer to die than to be slaves. It is not true that the European colonialists did not enslave Indians.

 

A study by Linford D. Fisher, associate professor of history at Brown University, finds that Native Americans, including noncombatants, who surrendered during King Philip’s War to avoid enslavement were enslaved at nearly the same rate as captured combatants.

 

Native American slavery “is a piece of the history of slavery that has been glossed over,” Fisher said. “Between 1492 and 1880, between 2 and 5.5 million Native Americans were enslaved in the Americas in addition to 12.5 million African slaves.”…While natives had been forced into slavery and servitude as early as 1636, it was not until King Philip’s War that natives were enslaved in large numbers, Fisher wrote in the study. The 1675 to 1676 war pitted Native American leader King Philip, also known as Metacom, and his allies against the English colonial settlers….During the war, New England colonies routinely shipped Native Americans as slaves to Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica, the Azores, Spain and Tangier in North Africa, Fisher said. [12]

 

Indians were enslaved in Virginia by settlers and traders from shortly after the founding of Jamestown until the end of the eighteenth century, peaking late in the seventeenth century and providing a workforce for English plantations and households. By this time the Atlantic slave trade was at its peak, flooding Virginia with cheaper African labor. African slavery took nearly a century to develop, however, and in the meantime those white Virginians who required men and women to work as servants or in tobacco fields mostly relied on indentured servants and enslaved Indians. Europeans sold guns for slaves in an existing indigenous trading market, and encouraged allied tribes to provide the slaves by targeting Indian groups on the periphery of English settlements (similar to African participation in the capture of slaves in Africa). While there are examples of continued enslavement of Indians throughout the early settlement period, mass enslavement typically coincided with the upheaval of war that led to Indian prisoners who could be sold as slaves. Virginia's laws were neither clear nor effective with respect to the enslavement of Indians, at times banning the practice and at other times encouraging it. Some scholars argue that Indian enslavement had declined by 1800 because Indians were prone to illness or escape, but others maintain that it was only when Indians, wracked by war and enslavement, could not provide a sufficient quantity of cheap workers that English colonists turned primarily to chattel African slavery. [13]

 

 

 

Indian Victories

 

 

 

There were important victorious wars between the Indians and the US army in addition to the famous Little Bighorn in 1876, when American Indians annihilated George Armstrong Custer’s cavalry.

 

In 1791, settlers and land speculators were eager to get their hands on the rich lands of Ohio but met the resistance of the Indians. President Washington sent General Arthur St. Clair and 2,000 soldiers to destroy the resistance, the villages on the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio.

 

On November 4, about 1,000 warriors from a coalition of Indian nations—Shawnees, Miamis, Delawares, Wyandots, Kickapoos, Ojibwas, Ottawas, Potawatomis, Iroquois, and others—encircled and attacked the American camp on the bank of the Wabash River. When General St. Clair had to retreat, the survivors fled for their lives. The Americans suffered 630 killed and almost 300 wounded; on the Indian side, there were about 25 killed and perhaps 50 wounded.[14]

 

While the American non-Indians are aware of the US’s defeat in Little Bighorn and a famous movie Little Big Man was made about it, they are not aware of the US army defeat in 1791.

 

 

 

Anti-Indian Racism Today

 

 

 

Trump has used racist language to justify further robbery of the Indian lands.

 

"You have a president who constantly uses Pocahontas as a racial slur and also a denigration against the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, because Pocahontas was a victim of child rape and kidnapping. Then you have the president making light and being flippantly dehumanizing and offensive about our genocide here in Lakota Country," said Chase Iron Eyes of Lakota People's Law Project on Democracy Now![15]

 

Native Tribes have advocated and fought for the protection of Bears Ears for years, resulting in it being named a national monument under the Obama administration. About one year ago, Trump approved slashing the protected Bears Ears site by 200,000 acres, and recently announced it will be opened for oil and gas bidding… In one of his first actions as President, on January 24, 2017, Trump signed an executive order that reversed the Obama legislation and advanced the construction of the fiercely-opposed Dakota Access pipeline expediting the environmental review that Trump described as an "incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process. On February 7, 2017, Trump authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, ending the environmental impact assessment and the associated public comment period. These pipelines are a direct attack on tribal sovereignty, clean water, clean air, sacred sites”. [16]

 

“Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet rarely do these deaths gain the national spotlight”. [17]

 

 

 

Indians and Zionist

 

 

 

It is not a mere accident that Prof. Gerald Aranoff of Ariel University (in the 1967 occupied lands) wrote in Arutz 7, the Zionist settlers west bank news: “America had an Indian Savage problem. Before July 4, 1776, the day the USA declared its independence, savage Indians, history records, would sneak into homes of new immigrants from Europe, and brutally stab to death sleeping men, women and children, who never did the least harm to the Indians. History records that these Indians would boast of their heinous cruelties at night-long campfire celebrations. This was Amalek in America. The Amalek that attacked the Israelites after the Exodus were a true horror. The Indians attacked defenseless women and children without mercy, and scalped their victims in battles

 

Then he quoted Benjamin Franklin one of the founders of the US:

 

“The year following, a treaty being to be held with the Indians at Carlisle, the governor sent a message to the House, proposing that they should nominate some of their members, to be joined with some members of council, as commissioners for that purpose. The House named the speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; and, being commissioned, we went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly.

 

As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and, when so, are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any liquor to them; and when they complained of this restriction, we told them that if they would continue sober during the treaty, we would give them plenty of rum when business was over. They promised this, and they kept their promise, because they could get no liquor, and the treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction.

 

They then claimed and received the rum; this was in the afternoon: they were near one hundred men, women, and children, and were lodged in temporary cabins, built in the form of a square, just without the town. In the evening, hearing a great noise among them, the commissioners walked out to see what was the matter. We found they had made a great bonfire in the middle of the square; they were all drunk, men and women, quarreling and fighting. Their dark-coloured bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, formed a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagined; there was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging.

 

At midnight a number of them came thundering at our door, demanding more rum, of which we took no notice. The next day, sensible they had misbehaved in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledged the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, 'The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he designed anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum,' he said, 'Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,' and it must be so.

 

And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.”[18]

 

Yet this right-wing Zionist settler savage is slandering Franklin who organized defense of the Indians from a group of right-wingers vigilantes.

 

On December 14, 1763, fifty-seven vigilantes from Paxton and Donegal, two frontier towns, rode into Conestoga Manor, an Indian settlement, and killed six of twenty Indians living there. Two weeks later, more than 200 "Paxton Men" (as they were now called) invaded Lancaster, where the remaining fourteen Conestoga Indians had been placed in a workhouse for their own protection. Smashing in the workhouse door as the outnumbered local militia looked on, the Paxton Men killed the rest of the Conestoga band, leaving the bodies in a heap within sight of the places where the Anglo-Iroquois alliance had been cemented less than two decades before.

 

Franklin responded to the massacres with the most enraged piece of penmanship ever to come off his press -- A Narrative of the Late Massacres in Lancaster County of a Number of Indians, Friends of this Province, by Persons Unknown. The essay, published in late January 1764, displayed a degree of entirely humorless anger that Franklin rarely used in his writings:

 

But the Wickedness cannot be Covered, the Guilt will lie on the Whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT WILL CRY TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE!

 

As Franklin reconstructed the story, the Paxton Men had gathered in the night, surrounding the village at Conestoga Manor, then riding into it at daybreak, "firing upon, stabbing and hatcheting to death" the three men, two women, and one young boy they found. The other fourteen Indians were visiting white neighbors at the time, some to sell brooms and baskets they had made, others to socialize. After killing the six Indians, the vigilantes "scalped and otherwise horribly mangled," them, then burned the village to the ground before riding off in several directions to foil detection.

 

At considerable length, Franklin went on to reflect on the qualities of savagery and civility, using the massacres to illustrate his point: that no race had a monopoly on virtue. To Franklin, the Paxton Men had behaved like "Christian White Savages." He cried out to a just God to punish those who carried the Bible in one hand and the hatchet in the other: "O ye unhappy Perpetrators of this Horrid Wickedness!"

 

On February 4, a few days after Franklin's broadside hit the streets, the assembly heard more reports that several hundred vigilantes were assembling at Lancaster to march on Philadelphia, and Province Island, to slaughter the Indians encamped there. Governor Penn, recalling Franklin's talent at raising a volunteer militia, hurried to the sage's three-story brick house on Market Street at midnight. Breathlessly climbing the stairs, a retinue of aides in tow, he humbly asked Franklin's help in organizing an armed force to meet the assault from the frontier. To Franklin, the moment was delicious, for eight years before Penn had been instrumental in getting British authorities to order the abolition of Franklin's volunteer militia.

 

During two days of frenzied activity, Franklin's house became the military headquarters of the province. An impromptu militia of Quakers was raised and armed, and Franklin traveled westward to the frontier with a delegation to face down the frontier insurgents. As Franklin later explained in a letter to Lord Kames, the Scottish philosopher:

 

I wrote a pamphlet entitled A Narrative &c (which I think I sent you) to strengthen the hands of our weak Government, by rendering the proceedings of the rioters unpopular and odious. This had a good effect, and afterwards when a great Body of them with Arms marched towards the Capital in defiance of the Government, with an avowed resolution to put to death 140 Indian converts under its protection, I formed an Association at the Governor's request.... Nearly 1,000 of the Citizens accordingly took arms; Governor Penn made my house for some time his Head Quarters, and did everything by my Advice.

 

While his timely mobilization may have saved the 140 Indians' lives, the sage's actions drained his political capital among whites, especially on the frontier.[19]

 

Indeed the similarity of the Zionist settler colonialists with the white American racists is striking. No wonder that the Zionist robbers identify with the robbers of the Indians. The white colonialists did not have any hypnotic powers, they had guns and viruses. They wanted the lands and natural resources, they needed slaves. The reason the other colonialist powers like Spain, Portugal, France did not protest the genocide and the enslavement of the Indians was that they did the same.

 

The reason confused Omar is unable to explain to herself why the US and Europe support Israel is the lack of working class historical perspective and awareness. This however does not make her an anti-Semite. Being a member of the imperialist Democratic Party does not help her solve the riddle. Yet she is a progressive person and should be defended against reactionaries.

 

The Indians are now “small nations” to borrow Lenin’s terminology, who deserve the right of self-determination, not life in reservations that are the equivalents to the Bantustans of South Africa‘s apartheid. When they clash with racist police it is the duty of all freedom lovers to defend the Indians, to protect their lands and their natural resources. This is part of the RCIT program for the socialist federation of North America.

 



[1] Donald L. Fixico: When Native Americans Were Slaughtered in the Name of ‘Civilization, https://www.history.com/news/native-americans-genocide-united-states

[2] Ibid

[3] Andrè RavenSkül Venås: Soul Eaters, Lulu 2019

[5] Harold B. Gill Jr: Colonial Germ Warfare, https://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring04/warfare.cfm

[6] Wounded Knee May 21,2019 History.Com Editor

[7] Ibid

[8] William G. Mcloughlin: Red Indians, Black Slavery and White Racism: America's Slave Holding Indians. American Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Oct., 1974), pp. 367-385 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

[9] Guenter Lewy: Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/7302

[10] Ibid

[11] David S. Jones: The Persistence of American Indian Health Disparities https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1698152/

[12] Providence, R.I. [Brown University]: Colonial Enslavement of Native Americans Included Those Who Surrendered, Too, https://Www.Brown.Edu/News/2017-02-15/Enslavement

[15] Cultural survival Presidents Day Under Trump: Dishonoring Native Peoples, February 18, 2019, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/presidents-day-under-trump-dishonoring-native-peoples

[16] Ibid