Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving, from the Native Perspective

Here's a great article on Smithsonian's site about the colonization of New England by the pilgrims from the American Indian perspective. There's a lot here I hadn't heard before: the system and rules of fealty between the various native villages, the harsh rites of passage to enter adulthood, the natural technology that was superior to the classically "advanced" European homes, and more.

This bit makes me want to paint up some eastern woodland natives for some skirmishes:
Armed conflict was frequent but brief and mild by European standards. The catalyst was usually the desire to avenge an insult or gain status, not conquest. Most battles consisted of lightning guerrilla raids in the forest. Attackers slipped away as soon as retribution had been exacted. Losers quickly conceded their loss of status. Women and children were rarely killed, though they were sometimes abducted and forced to join the victors. Captured men were often tortured. Now and then, as a sign of victory, slain foes were scalped, and in especially large clashes, adversaries might meet in the open, as in European battlefields, though the results, Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island Colony, noted, were “farre less bloudy, and devouring then the cruell Warres of Europe.”

Great article, lots of power struggles and political machinations by the various Native leaders, and fodder for painting up and playing out some conflicts between the two societies.

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