America before the Europeans

Discussion in 'History' started by Meagain, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    It has been argued that the United States was not formed by European emigrants but that the Europeans settled the continent as it was sparsely populated by barbaric nomadic tribes who had little interaction with the Europeans. Thus the land was a wild frontier open to any who would claim it.

    The few Indians present did not comprise a civilization so no immigration could have taken place from one civilization to another.

    The Europeans were not immigrates entering already established nations, but settlers, a new people entering an undeveloped virgin land.

    This hardly the case and the idea stems from a lack of understanding of who and what the Native American Indians were and what they had accomplished before, during, and after the arrival of the Europeans.

  2. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    To understand what the Americas contained when the Europeans arrived in North, Central, and South America, let us begin in what is now Mexico.

    Mexico city is built on the ruin of the Aztec capitol Tenochtitlan. In the mid 1400's Tenochtitlan had a rough population of 200,000 people making it the largest city in the world at that time.

    Cortes estimated that the market place contained 60,000 people and one of his soldiers said,
    It was so large and noisy, according to Bernal Diaz who accompanied Cortez,
    In 1400 the entire city of London had a population of 35,000.

    Moving into the present United States we find the city of Cahokia, across the Mississippi from what is now St. Louis. It covered an area of 6 square miles.
    While cities as large as these were not the norm, the entire Northern continent was inhabited and farmed.
    The Governor of New France, the Marguis de Denonville, reported that he burned 1.2 million bushes of maize, one years harvest of four Haudenosaunee villages. That equals 42,000 tons and between eight and sixteen square miles of fields.

    Hardy an uncivilized land.
  3. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Good idea for a thread.

    Myself, Ive read quite a lot over the years about pre columbian cultures in all of the Americas.
    It has always seemed to me that the europeans just went in and took what they wanted with no regard at all for the Native Americans. The idea that the Indians were not using the land has always struck me as utterly spurious.
    I have also noticed a kind of reluctance even to discuss the matter on the part of many of todays Americans. Maybe its a kind of cultural blind spot.

    A similar thing goes on in the UK if you mention to a lot of peole that the old empire was not only built on slavery, but destroyed indigenous cultures all over the globe, including of course, North America. Generally the excuse is that as good christians we were civilizing savage races, and saving their souls for jesus. Nowadays of course, we know better.......well, maybe.

    I think all us whities should take a good look at history.
  4. jonny2mad

    jonny2mad Senior Member

    hmm most of the empire was built after we abolished slavery bill, and the uk was raided by African slavers before we started going to Africa buying slaves off Africans (who were going to kill or eat them )and then shipping them to the states .

    Human history is about a conflict for resources before Europeans arrived north American Indians and south Americans Indians oppressed each other and committed genocide, in north America you had pretty much constant inter tribal warfare.
    But hey if people with white faces do it that’s terrible what about the guilt of the mayans or the Comanche or all the black Africans involved in the slave trade .
    We have left Africa since we have left you have had various genocides Rwanda etc , you have the racist ANC govt of south Africa driving out the whites at the moment like whites have been murdered and driven out of most of the rest of Africa since independence.
    In Africa you have a thriving slave trade is that our doing bill
  5. jonny2mad

    jonny2mad Senior Member

    "European explorers and invaders discovered an inhabited land. Had it been pristine wilderness then, it would possibly be so still, for neither the technology nor the social organization of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries had the capacity to maintain, of its own resources, outpost colonies thousands of miles from home."
    -- Francis Jennings

    yup they found a inhabited land they also had to fight said inhabitants to take said land , I dont doubt that they had the technology and organisation to build countrys if the place had been uninhabited, if anything having people there was annoying and more of a challenge .
  6. jonny2mad

    jonny2mad Senior Member

    I think all us whities should take a good look at history.

    starting with the barbary states (africans) raiding europe for slaves, the arabs raiding southern russia for slaves .

    You had more slaves taken from europe by non europeans over a longer period than the slaves we took from africa. years ago when african states were trying to get compensation for slavery the russian federation said they supported them but would ask for more money for the 1000 years of arab and african slavers that had been raiding southern russia .

    Barbary slavers raided as far north as iceland taking whole towns of people as slaves to africa, yup whites should learn something of their own history maybe it would get them over the whole white guilt trip
  7. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    I rest my case.
  8. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Hmmm, a little defensive.

    I am not condemning only Europeans for the practice of slavery, in fact I haven't gotten to slavery yet so both of you are a little ahead of me.
    But BBB has hit on what I am trying to highlight...
    Almost all of what we learn in the Untied States about the historic Native American Indian culture is simply wrong, or not even mentioned. Although we are now conscious of the fate of the African Blacks in the U.S., we have barely begun to address the conduct of the Europeans and the citizens of the U.S. toward the Indians.

    I'll post more later.
  9. jonny2mad

    jonny2mad Senior Member

    How much do you learn about the atrocities committed by Native Americans on other Native Americans and Europeans.

    How well would the Inca have treated Europeans if they had taken over Europe, looking at their track record now of the human sacrificing conquered peoples.

    Compare that with the treatment of Native Americans by whites I'd say the whites were pretty nice they stole land at times they killed off tribes, but as far as I know we aren’t still demanding the apache or Comanche or descendents of the Inca give us small children so we can ritually kill them .
  10. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Again, I wish to confine myself to the United States portion of North America and only mentioned Mexico to illustrate the population level in the New World at the time of the Europeans, but let's take a small detour.

    First let's address human sacrifice. Human sacrifice has occurred in many cultures throughout the world, as well as the Americas, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, the Celtic areas, in the Bible, in Germanic areas, Scandinavia, Crete, by the Slavs, China, Japan, Tibet, the Mongols, Scythians, India, Hawaii, and Africa, among others.
    Human sacrifice is not to be condoned anywhere and the Americas are not the only place it has occurred. But we are looking at an ancient practice through modern norms and I am not trying to be judgmental about anything in this post, just trying to state facts. No group is ever entirely guiltless of anything, anyone can form their own opinions as to right and wrong in the conduct of the Indians and Europeans.

    In short the practice, or lack thereof of, human sacrifice is not a condition for determining civilization as it is clear that many civilizations have practiced it.

    I had planned to go into the conditions present in North America at the time the Europeans arrived, but we can skip to atrocities and come back later.

    Next post atrocities.
  11. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    You are completely misrepresenting what I said in that other thread, Meagain. Such tactics, I thought, were beneath you. I never once claimed that North America "was sparsely populated by barbaric nomadic tribes who had little interaction with the Europeans. Thus the land was a wild frontier open to any who would claim it." Nor did I claim that "the few Indians present did not comprise a civilization".

    Instead, what I did say was that those early European settlers established themselves independently of those native populations; they didn't join with them, nor did they come under the political or social authority of those native populations. Instead, those European settlers hacked out an entirely new existence in the Americas, and established their own political and social structures. Those structures eventually gave rise to what we know today as the United States of America.
  12. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    That is pure, unadulterated supposition you're putting forward as fact. There is zero evidence to support a claim that the entirety of the North American continent was inhabited or that is was entirely farmed.

    Good thing I never claimed it was uncivilized, huh?
  13. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Sorry Sig, I don't mean to misrepresent anything you are saying.
    I am not going to go back and parse what was or was not said. But I am trying to establish that North America was not in the condition that many imagine it to be when the Europeans arrived. Further, in order for a region to be "first settled" it must first be barren of human life. I am putting forth the idea that N.A. was not settled by the Europeans in the sense that they were entering a wilderness area, as many believe, but they were in fact invading a populated area.
    I am coming to that, but first I am trying to establish the conditions present at the time of the meeting of these two cultures.
  14. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    Not entirely true. If those doing the settling are independent of those populations already there, they can also be considered to have settled the land. It isn't like those early Europeans found native populations behind every tree. There were vast tracts of uninhabited land for them to settle.

    Did they also invade and conquer lands that were under active use by natives, and then settle those lands themselves? Yes, they did. So what?

    You have established the conditions quite well. In the case of North America is there is evidence to support the idea that there were some large native "cities" and that some tribes/populations engaged in large scale farming.
  15. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    By entirety I am not suggesting that every square mile of the continent was inhabited or farmed, only that the generally accepted idea that the majority of the native Americas were hunter gatherers is wrong. Further the areas of first contact, and beyond, were extensively farmed and were not pure wilderness areas. 42,000 tons of corn harvested in a single season by only four Seneca villages is an impressive act of cultivation and the report comes from a primary source, the Marquis himself.

    Unfortunately records of this time period are sparse and hard to find, that is why I have given examples from Mexico and Canada. While they are not within the present borders of the U.S., I am using them to illustrate the general norms of the time for the entire N.A. continent.

    I am listing sources as I go, as they are not primary sources you can always dispute them with your own examples.

    I will list other examples from the area of the U.S.

    As far as you claiming that the area was uncivilized, I had thought that you were saying that the Europeans could not have been considered immigrates since they hacked out areas of wilderness that were completely independent of the Native American civilizations without any help from the natives in the form of survival, polices, political influences, social interactions, or alliances. I thought you meant that they settled an area independent of Indian influence and there was no mixing of civilizations as immigration would imply.

    Am I wrong?

    BTW, excuse me if I am addressing things you have already responded to as it seems we are posting in real time, I'll check back later.
  16. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    In a way the whole human race (homo Sapiens) living outside of a small area of Africa are all immigrants, on one side I’m Celt (Hungarian possibly) on the other I believe Norman (French that were immigrants themselves from Scandinavia) and along the way I may have picked up a bit of Roman (Italian), Anglo-Saxon (German), Norse (more Scandinavians) etc.

    The language of Britain has been Celt, Roman, German, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, French, old English and English.

    At one time I believe German nearly rival English as the language of the US (it doesn’t have an official language so the most used is the ‘principle’ language) that was due to immigration and now Spanish is catching up also due to immigration.

    Sometimes immigration takes place without conflict and with a certain amount of integration on one or both parts and at other times it causes conflict and cultural imposition.
  17. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    Sig i repeat here -

    They came, carved out their own territories, and settled.

    The very definition of an immigrant - a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.(Random House Dictionary)

    It seems to me irrelevant if they set up their own community or joined an existing one – the thing is they moved from one place to another.

    Why are you seemingly trying to give yourself more legitimacy than others?

    I mean you seem to be suggesting that your ancestors were not immigrants but all others who came after were meaning that they and by extension you are more of a legitimate ‘American’.

    I think is seems a bit silly given that we are all immigrants.
  18. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

    I don't know exactly how typical our situation is among east coast states, but when North Carolina was first established as a colony, Native Americans were making use of all parts of the state, mostly as hunting grounds. There were lots of small Indian villages, with some agriculture going on, but their ability to store seasonal vegetables was limited. Corn was somewhat popular with them, because it could be stored in dry form. Wild game was generally sufficient to feed the native population, and could be hunted year-round. This included elk, which has now been extinct from the east coast for more than 200 years. Coastal tribes also did some fishing.

    The first attempt at an English colony was made at Manteo, on Roanoke Island, NC. The local Native Americans were members of the Tuscarora tribe. After a rough winter, when the colony failed to receive sufficient aid and supplies from England the following summer, the group decided not to attempt weathering another winter in the same spot, which was not great. Modern historians believe that most of them relocated to what is now Chesapeake, Virginia, and lived with the Chesapeake Indians until most of them were slaughtered by a rival tribe, also from eastern Virginia.

    The small number of colonists left at Manteo to await English ships that never showed up eventually merged with the fishing-oriented Hatteras Indians, until a hurricane overwashed all of Hatteras Island and left very few survivors. Some believe that the last of their English DNA survives today in the controversial Lumbee Indians of the Lumberton area, not recognized by the US government as a legitimate tribe.

    The few survivors of the Chesapeake massacre fled back into NC, to the vicinity of the inland town of Roanoke Rapids, where the English taught the natives how to build two-story houses. Genetically, the settlers disappeared into the larger pool of Native American DNA, over a period of several generations, in an area where they had no contact with the ongoing English colony in Jamestown, Virginia.

    The failed effort on Roanoke Island became known as the Lost Colony. Their ultimate fate was unknown for centuries, but they did manage one historical accomplishment that was communicated to England. In that settlement was born the first English baby on this continent, named Virginia Dare. No one knows her eventual fate. No English ship returned to Manteo for three more summers, and later investigations launched from Jamestown turned up no evidence of the original colonists' whereabouts, or signs of violence or other tragedy.

    Further inland and to the south, the burial mounds near Mount Gilead, NC were the most extensive man-made structures created by Native Americans in the state. These are not extensive, by Aztec or Mayan standards.

    The Cherokee Nation was considerably more advanced, structured, and civilized (by the modern definition of the term) than the more numerous Tuscaroras to the east. Cherokee territory covered much of far western NC, but their largest and most important village was just over the state line in the mountains of Georgia. Most of their land was too rocky and steep for agriculture, so this was overwhelmingly a hunting and gathering tribe.

    Though there is evidence of conflict between NC tribes, tribal leaders claimed that this was a mostly peaceful region before Europeans arrived. More than half of all NC natives were either Tuscarora or Cherokee, which generally did not interact.

    In other states that had larger Native American cities, maybe agriculture needed to be a bigger deal because the local wildlife population couldn't naturally replentish itself fast enough. Hunting and fishing seemed to be mostly sufficient here. Early English settlers found vast virgin forests inland, but stone arrowheads still regularly turn up in plowed fields to this day, especially near water. Of course, English agriculture reduced the size of animal habitat areas, and the settlers also hunted, further reducing the natural food supply for the natives.

    Initially, English coastal settlements lining NC harbors and rivers created only limited conflict with the area's Native American residents, who still controlled more than 99% of the present-day state's land area. That relationship radically changed direction in 1711, when a military action was initiated that would eventually result in the relocation of almost all Tuscaroras to Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario. There is currently no Tuscarora reservation in the state of NC, nor is there a significant ethnic concentration here.

    In my opinion, peaceful coexistence with the native residents was possible until 1711. Even after that turning point, the Cherokees tried especially hard to work out functional arrangements with white settlers, but were forcibly removed to Oklahoma in 1838, in a tragic event widely known as the Trail of Tears. Many died en route. Only a small percentage escaped capture and remained in the state.

    Native Americans and black Americans are the only large racial and ethnic groups that have ended up in the USA without their consent. It may appear on the surface that blacks have assimilated much better than the natives, but is that only an illusion? I know of no reliable statistics on how many Native Americans have left Indian reservations (or never went to one), intermarried in that same generation or subsequent generations, and lost their racial identity into the broader genectic pool. It is only their distinct cultural institutions that have surely floundered.

    They were once immigrants themselves, walking across the Bering Straight when it was dry land, thousands of years ago. Maybe the lesson to be learned here is that it is the destiny of all ethnic groups to merge together into one human race. We can preserve the good things from all the cultures, without preserving the rivalries and hatred.
  19. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    I believe you are wrong in how you interpreted what I posted, and in regards to your conclusions.

    First, when I "hacked" I meant it more in terms of "built". These settlers hacked (read built) and entirely new and independent existence for themselves on the American continent. Did they have interactions, both good and bad, with the natives? Yes. We they subject to native law or governance? No.

    Also, "influence" can mean different things. As such, regardless of whether the lands/territories they settled on were hunting grounds of native populations, these settlements existence outside the "influence" of native political and social structures. The settlers, in no way, answered to the tribes whose hunting ground/territory/land they established their settlements on. In every other form of immigration we see the arriving populations living under the authority of the native or original population. That didn't happen when the Europeans arrived in what we call the United States.
  20. laughing-buddha

    laughing-buddha Relax and have fun

    An idol of Hanuman called by the name 'Wilka Huemana' and measuring 50 feet in height and 12 feet in breadth was found in Guatemala. Similar idol was found during an excavation of an Aztec temple in Mexico city and was known as 'Euhectal', a wind God, a monkey God. Buddhism also had a vast influence on pre-Colombian America. Professor F.W. Putnam found in the jungles of Honduras a sculpture which greatly resembles Buddha. According to the July, 1901 issue of American Harper's magazine, it has been proved with evidence that five Buddhist monks had reached Mexico in ancient times, via Alaska.

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