Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Importance of Family History

Completed multiple choice question from “One Big Happy Family” by Bruce Feller in Parade on February 17, 2010, page 6:  When a team of psychologists measured children’s resilience, they found that the kids who knew the most about their family’s history were best able to handle stress.

“The more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives and the higher their self-esteem.  The reason:  These children have a strong sense of ‘intergenerational self’ –they understand that they belong to something bigger than themselves, and that families naturally experience both highs and lows.” 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The First Concentration Camp Built for Native Americans

Part 16 in the series Are Native Americans Relevant?



In 1862 war broke out between a small group of Dakotas and European settlers in Minnesota.  Below Fort Snelling and Mankato, the U.S. federal government erected the first civilian internment camp for 1600 Dakotas.  The men were sent to Mankato and the women and children to Fort Snelling.  This technique was so successful it was used by British during the Boer War in Africa, the French in Algeria, the Germans in Europe, and the Russians in Siberia.  It was to be repeated continually in the American West where the U.S. government sent up additional similar camps to incarcerate and control Native Americans.  They would later be called reservations.


Native American Slave Labor Opens Up New Spain to Settlement

Part 16 in the series Are Native Americans Relevant?



The Spanish had a long history of slavery in the New World, beginning with Christopher Columbus.  Spaniards began raiding the Athapaskans (the ancestors of the Navajos and the Apaches), the Yumas, the Pimas and the Papagos.  They took their slave raids further into Utah, Nevada and Colorado. Through the 17th century Pueblo Indian villages were continually raided by the Spanish government.  The captured people were usually sold in El Paso and they became servants without liberty for life.  
The Spanish government directed the Franciscan monks to build missions in California to stop the Russians from moving farther south.  Twenty-one missions were built from San Diego to Sonoma on the most fertile land.  Friars and soldiers captured Chumashes and put them on the missions.  Once they were baptized, they were tied to the mission and the authority of friars.  

The friars closely regulated the lives of the Native Americans:  family life, work, sexual relations, celebrations and clothing.  The Native Americans received only food and clothing.  Although they did all the physical work required to keep the mission running, the missions received all the profit. 
The Native American people lived in barracks.  Physical discipline was common.  Despite being paid in food, they were malnourished.  Native women exchanged sexual favors with Spanish soldiers for food, thus creating a new generation of Spanish-Indian people.  There was a high rate of venereal disease.
The number of Native American deaths exceeded the number of births.  After people died they were buried in unmarked group pits.  When the missions began, there were 70,000 Native Americans.  As the missions ended between 1833 and 1835, there were only 15,000.  Those who survived lost their language, religion and culture.  Almost all Californian Indians today descend from those who escaped to or lived in the California interior.
Native American slave labor opened up California to Spain, to Mexico and then to Americans.  Native American slaves were usually laborers in silver mines and on Mexican ranches and plantations of the Yucatan where they were treated no better.  The U.S. Congress outlawed the enslavement of Navajos by Americans and Mexicans through a joint resolution of 27 July 1868.  The slavery of Alaskan Natives still continued.
 From 1850 to 1869 Los Angeles had Native Americans in slave markets on Mondays.  The Mayor’s Court sold the labor of Native Americans convicted of offenses.  An Anglo or Mexican could require him to work twice as long as the prison sentence.  He couldn’t leave without repaying for his keep and was then entered into debt peonage.  In 1884 in Elk v. Wilkins the Supreme Court ruled the 14th amendment didn’t grant citizenship or constitutional rights to Native Americans.  This practice continued on and off ranches and reservations until 1924 when citizenship and full constitutional rights were given.

Native Americans Enslaved From Earliest European Contact

Part 15 of the series Are Native Americans Relevant?




After 1492 until 1620 explorers, traders, fishermen routinely raided the east coast for Native American slaves to make extra profit.  These enterprising men include Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Gaspar de Luxan, Antonio de Espejo, Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real, Giovanni Verrazano and Jacques Cartier. 
In 1492 Christopher Columbus, kidnapped 25 Native Americans to take back to Spain as slaves.  A few years later to raise money he began sending Caribbean Natives to Spain to be sold in the Azores, Canaries, Seville and other mainland cities.  He had the deliberate policy of using Native slaves and labor to finance his conquest of new lands.  Within the first decade, 3,000 to 6,000 Native American slaves went sent to Seville, Spain, for sale. He enslaved the same number to put to work in early mines and plantations in the Caribbean. 


 After Queen Isabella ruled that Native Americans of the New World belonged to the monarchy and couldn’t be sold in Spain, he sold them elsewhere, in the Canaries, Azores, Cape Verdes and the Caribbean.  By 1519 Spanish nearly exhausted the population of Native Americans in Caribbean and had to begin importing African slaves.  In the 1600s when the French couldn’t make an alliance with the Haudenosaunee, they captured them and sold them to work as galley slaves for the king. 
All early colonies on the North American continent enslaved Native Americans.  Male Native slaves were impressed as sailors and soldiers by almost every European nation they had contact with because the laws required slaveholders to furnish slaves for combat in timers of emergency.  In 1778 during the American Revolution, General George Washington requested slaves for battalions.  The Rhode Island assembly sent some who were Native American.
One of the most famous slaves was Squanto, one of the Native Americans who befriended the Pilgrims.  He was captured by English slave trader Thomas Hunt who raided Patuxet and captured him along with 27 more.  Squanto was sold in Mรกlaga, Spain.  He escaped and worked his way back to Massachusetts through England and Newfoundland.  He arrived back at Patuxet to find the village deserted from slave raids and disease.


Beginning in 1634, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth and Saybrook colonies began a war against the Pequots along with their Native American allies the Narangansetts and Mohegans.  In November 1636 they attacked the Pequot village of Mystic.  The survivors were cornered and fought in a Connecticut Swamp.  By September 1638 the 200 survivors had no place to go and surrendered to lives of slavery.  They were divided between Massachusetts where they were sold and Connecticut where they were kept as domestics.
King Philip’s War in New England from 1675 to 1678 was the New England Native Americans’ last major attempt to rid their land of the European settlers.  After the Wampanoag leader Metacom (King Philip) was assassinated in August 1676 Europeans began raiding villages for slaves.  Older males were killed and younger Native Americanss sold into slavery in Spain and the Caribbean.   The widow and son of Metacom were sold in West Indies for 30 shillings each.  Women and children could be and were enslaved.  
One reason slaves were shipped elsewhere for sale was to reduce the danger of Native attacks.  As colonies became stronger and Native communities weaker, the colonies often exchanged slaves with different colonies.  New England settlers used Native American slaves in manual trade:  carpenters, coopers, wheelwrights, butchers.  Native American women learned domestic tasks and usually work in one household for years. 
The colonial governments encouraged the wars for dominance waged by their Native American allies.  The members of the nations unwilling to submit were often sold as slaves.  This was especially true in the Southeast where the Native allies were encouraged to capture others to sell for cheap trade goods.  The Europeans used the profit to finance new wars of conquest.  In 1663 Native tribes raided for slaves along the Carolina coast.  Charleston became the primary exit point for slaves that included Cherokees, Creeks, and Choctaws.  There were long trade lines across southern country to Mississippi River.  Victims were first obtained by warfare, and then by kidnapping.  By the 1760s lines of slaves were marching through the Carolina backcountry to the coast as much as they were filing through the African interior to the trading ports on the African coast. 

Native American Culture Creates European Desire for Personal Liberty

Part 14 of the series Are Native Americans Relevant?


At the time of contact Europeans weren’t truly free.  In the 1500s the vast majority of Europeans lived in monarchies.  Native Americans were free from monarchs and the aristocracy based on property ownership.  For the first time Europeans were aware of the possibility of living in harmony, prosperity and personal freedom.  The principles of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were derived from European philosophers who were envious of the Natives Americans.  Discovery of the Native Americans’ radically different lifestyle spurred on the Age of Enlightenment and the European philosophers such as Thomas More, Michel de Montaigne, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Paine who were read by the elite of the American Colonies.  Thus inspired, the colonists agitated for freedom and the right to self-government, leading to the start of the American Revolution and the publication of the Declaration of Independence, where we find these words.
 
The traditional Native American lifestyle inspired American philosopher Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who in turn inspired Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi developed the principle of non-violent protest and inspired Martin Luther King Jr., thus paving the way for the various Civil Rights Movements that have taken place since the 1950s.


Native American Chief Bolstered American Democratic Spirit

Part 13 of the series Are Native Americans Relevant?


Across North American, Native Americans organized in great variety of lodges and small, locally based organizations that were independent of kinship ties.  During the American Revolution colonists created groups that imitated them.  One was the Tammany Society named after the Lenni Lenape chief Tamanend.  Early in May a celebration was held. They began serious demonstrations for independence and participants began calling themselves Americas.  
 The Sons of Liberty adopted Tamanend as their patron saint and changed their name of Society of King Tammany by 1772.  It spread throughout the colonies.  All societies followed an Iroquoian model of organization.  They formed 13 tribes for the colonies and each had a totem. 
After the American Revolution the society became the first veterans’ organization.  It changed its name to the Constitutional Sons of St. Tammany and continued to identify with Natives.  Members came from the working and middle classes.  The War of 1812, with the majority of Native Americans on the British side, ended the glorification of Native Americans.  The time also coincided with westward migration and opening of the plains.  Ties with the Natives were cut because the Americans wanted their land.  In addition, there was no longer need for revolutionary ardor and the deism espoused was no longer popular.  The New York Tammany Society continued as a political organization.

 Other Sons of Liberty created the Improved Order of Red Men.  It was more radical and had a more strongly American ideology.  The theory was that Europeans had learned democracy from Native Americanss and could improve it by further emulating them.  They prayed to the Great Spirit.  They were anticapitalist and teatotallers.  The members became more concerned with ritual and less with ideals, settling down as a social and fraternal organization.
 The Native Americans inspired Ernest Thompson Seton to form the Woodland Indian Society in 1902. Although it was not successful, the society inspired Lord Robert Stephenson Baden-Powell to create the Boy Scouts, removing most of the American characteristics and making it paramilitary.  The Girl Guides in Great Britain and the Girl Scouts in the United States were subsequently created.