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Native vs. Non-Native Americans
A Summary


Someone suggested my recent Thanksgiving essay, The Myth of Western Superiority, painted Indians as "inferior." With all due respect, I don't think so. If the essay's title wasn't enough of a tip-off, let's review what I've written in the last year or so:

  • The Old World had several geographic and biological advantages over the New World. That was completely due to chance and says nothing about the competence or worth of the civilizations that arose.
  • The myth of Western superiority

  • The civilization that eventually dominated Europe was a mix of Greek and non-Greek influences. The Greeks didn't invent government, religion, science, philosophy, or literature, notwithstanding pro-Hellenic Greek lies to the contrary.
  • Multicultural origins of civilization

  • Despite the head start granted by the whims of fate, Western civilization wouldn't have dominated the world without a philosophical imperative to conquer. The Euro-Christian West had this imperative and the Sino-Confucian East didn't.
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel

  • Of the "guns, germs, and steel" trio Jared Diamond explained in his book of the same name, germs were the only factor that really mattered. Without the advantage of immunity to disease, Europe probably couldn't have colonized the Americas.
  • Was Native defeat inevitable?

  • Even with their historical advantages and their will to conquer, Europeans won many of their victories through luck. Cortés's conquest of Mexico is a prime example. Absent an incredible streak of good fortune, he would've failed and many Indian nations would've survived.
  • Was Native defeat inevitable? (Mexican version)

  • Europeans and then Americans dominated the New World's indigenous people only by a policy of ruthless extermination. This policy involved killing, enslavement, forced relocation and assimiliation, and sterilization, among other things. The correct word for this policy is "genocide."
  • Genocide by any other name...

  • The United States has become the world's leading power because it favors progress, individual glory, and short-term pragmatism. Native cultures emphasize faith, communal solidarity, and long-term preservation. This may explain why people are beginning to question America's values.
  • Hercules vs. Coyote:  Native and Euro-American beliefs

  • From Gilligan's Island and comic books to bioengineering and nanotechnology, Western civilization reflects our relentless drive to change, control, and dominate the world. Instead of glamorizing modern life as a technotopia, we should question its effects on human health, happiness, and peace. Who benefits from progress: everyone, or only those in the driver's seat?

    Technology vs. Native values

  • Despite its eventual world domination, Western civilization is overrated and other civilizations aren't given enough credit for their achievements. The multicultural perspective requires that we see the benefits and drawbacks of each culture. We should stop glossing over our problems and start telling it like it is.
  • America's exceptional values
    This ain't no party:  a Columbus Day rant
    "Primitive" Indian religion
    Etc., etc., etc.

    Does that sound like a view of Indian peoples and cultures as inferior? Again, I don't think so.

    Happy New Millennium,


    Related reading
    Ten Lies About Indigenous Science
    Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford

    Related links
    Journalists and Indians:  the clash of cultures
    America's cultural mindset

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    Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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