'An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States'


This looks like a good’un! Real News interview in 3 parts (two up for now, will post the third when it arrives) with historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:



and here’s a decent review:


The part I found most interesting was her explanation for how the first European settlers repeated the same kind of patterns of colonial exploitation practiced in Ireland (and, I assume, other ‘internal colonies’ like Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and probably other regions under the other colonial powers of Europe). It sounds like not only the oppressors carried on the same work with the Native Americans, but even the oppressees turned on them, failing to see any cause for solidarity in their own history. It’s like the way child abuse gets passed down from generation to generation (see Alice Miller & others). From the review:

European ideas of property also played a crucial role in the colonization of the Americas. Peasantry dispossessed of land and livelihood, especially in British occupied Ireland, comprised the rank-and-file of newcomers who came to make a life of their own. They had little choice in the matter when faced with the alternative of starvation and death at home. With them also came soldier settlers, or Ulster-Scots, who were seasoned and violent settlers in the colonization of Northern Ireland. They also brought the practice of scalping, which they first used on the Irish, and the tools of colonization necessary for violent war making against Indigenous peoples. These Scots-Irish settlers formed the wall of colonization as both fodder for the “Indian Wars” and as militant settlers who pushed frontier boundaries. They willingly or unwillingly cleared the way for “civilization” by transforming the land into real estate. The myth was born that white European civilization was “commanded by God to go into the wilderness to build the new Israel” and “entitled to the land through their blood sacrifice.” (55)

(It was also news to me that scalping was (originally?) a European practice. Bloody savages, eh?)

Also good to see is a challenge to the historians who put the greatest emphasis on epidemic disease as the major cause for the demise of Indian societies:

Dunbar-Ortiz works against the so-called “terminal narratives” to which many U.S. historians subscribe, that Indigenous population decline was mainly due to biological factors such as disease. Conveniently absent from these narratives is over three centuries of colonial warfare waged against Indigenous peoples. “Commonly referred to as the most extreme demographic disaster—framed as natural—in human history,” Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “it was rarely called genocide.” (40)

I like her style: such devastating analysis presented quietly, unassumingly from such a small frame! We need more warriors like that.


Yes, Native Americans Were the Victims of Genocide

history is rich in the info about scalping.

as far making the same mistakes, of course , why, because they knew no other way… most of hem knew very little of their own history so repeated the same goofy ideas.

thanks for the links… interesting…



I have read more about the Scottish immigrants than the Irish, but there are many examples of Scottish immigrants finding they had much in common with Native tribes, and choosing to live with them, and intermarry with them, instead of staying in settler society.

“The native peoples took to the young Scots traders because they admired their manly sports and their willingness to accept native customs, and not look down on native peoples. The young Scots also understood the tribal structure of clans and bonds of kinship, as it was their way also. Marriage among these young Scots to women of Native American background brought these young Scots into their wives clan and ensured acceptance into the tribal group which was a great advantage over French and Spanish traders who tended to stay socially with their own people.” - http://www.tartansauthority.com/global-scots/us-scots-history/the-native-indians/deerskin-trade/

“[Captain Benge was] born around 1760 in the Cherokee village of Togue…was the son of a Scottish trader John Benge and a full blood Cherokee named Wurtah…lived among the Cherokee most of his adult life and was trusted by them as a man of his word…He had a great dislike of white settlers and spent much time dedicated to their removal by any means necessary.” - http://www.tartansauthority.com/global-scots/us-scots-history/the-native-indians/captain-benge/


Thanks for that, Goblin Girl. Good to see that some of the migrants acted differently and did not share the same ideology of manifest destiny imagined (and acted upon) by the elite. It’s curious now to see the same elites giving lectures about integration, multiculturalism etc. to the poor, desperate migrants who dare to cross ‘their’ borders and attempt to make their way in ‘their’ land. I suppose if they came with conquering armies and a mission of genocide that would be okay! But seriously, that impulse to integrate and make peace seems like an important thing to work with in the process of making the dominant invasive culture go native and end its conquering ways.


Oh, on scalping, wikipedia says it ‘independently developed in various cultures in both the Old and New Worlds’, citing the Crow Creek Massacre of 1325 where, out of around 500 bodies ‘90 percent of the skulls show evidence of scalping’.


Part 3:



R D-O does a c-span book reading (mainly from the introduction of the History) and discussion:


Lots of good points. Andrew Jackson was an evil mother£$%*er. You will remember the phrase ‘settler colonialism’, and maybe end up using it in conversation to confound and enrage your more ignorant peers (she uses it about 100 times). The parallels with modern-day Palestine are striking throughout. She cites the UN definition of genocide:

Article 2 of the convention defines genocide as
...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2[2]</blockquote>