Thursday, August 1, 2013

Smite the Seed of My Brethren – Part II

Continuing with the developments that led both to the treatment of the indigenous natives (American Indians) of the Western Hemisphere, and the creation of the United States. The last post discussed the extent of the treatment after the conquest of the Indians in Central and especially in South America. Here we will turn our attention to the treatment of the Indians in North America after the arrival of the “gentiles.”
According to legend, Native Americans met William Penn under an elm tree at Shackamaxon,  just north of Penn’s Landing. Traditionally, the encounter included words of friendship and maybe the purchase of land. While such a “Great Treaty” meeting may never have occurred, it symbolized the desire for peace on the part of both the Delaware (Leni Lenape) Indians and William Penn
The treatment of the indigenous natives in North America was quite different after the Europeans arrived than that of the lands further south. There is much criticism about how many treaties the U.S. broke with the Indians; however, in Andean South America, there were no treaties—just bloodshed and enslavement! The Spanish Conquistadors never attempted to bargain with, agree with, or involve the Inca in any political endeavor—it was conquer and rule. While the Europeans in North America went back on their agreements land and continued to encroach on Indian lands, they at least made an attempt at negotiations rather than conquest.
As for this different treatment, first of all, North America did not have civilized and advanced Empires as did Mexico, Mesoamerica and Andean South America that needed to be conquered. The Indian tribes of the northern continent were not as organized as what the Spanish found south of the U.S. border (The Six Nations was an amalgamated league, a union of decentralized tribes, or nations, but was more a social and cultural unity than one of government—as an example, symbolically, the Mohawk were the guardians of the eastern door, as they were located in the east closest to the Hudson, and the Seneca were the guardians of the western door of the "tribal longhouse", the territory they controlled in New York. The Onondaga, whose homeland was in the center of Haudenosaunee territory, were keepers of the League's (both literal and figurative) central flame.
1870s Chiefs from the Six Nations reading wampum belts, the beaded devices used by colonial agents to communicate with Indians at treaty councils. No one could expect to engage in diplomacy with the Iroquois without being able to present and interpret wampum belts in councils
Secondly, there were no Spanish invaders of North America seeking gold and fortune, nor exhibiting wanton destruction of those already upon the land, who came not for settlement and migration, but for conquest and pillage. Their intent, throughout all of western South America was to take what they could, especially through thievery and force of arms, deceit and destruction.
The Pilgrims and Indians socialized in the early days of the colonial period
On the other hand, when the Pilgrims landed in the northeast, the first settlers in that land, they befriended the Indians who, in turn, saved them from starvation their first winter. The Dutch settled to the south of the Pilgrims and purchased Manhattan island from the Canarsee Indians, and later Staten island from the Unami, a division of the Lenape. Though this purchase/exchange has been termed unfair to the Indians, modern man simply does not understand the value of this sale/trade, which included several intangibles, such as the Indians considered the sale included the value of the Dutch as potential military allies against rival Indian nations—an intangible that cannot be valued strictly in currency. To the Dutch, the sale included the prospect of future trade. The settlement at Manhattan was to be created, after all, to trade furs with the Indians, with both communities expecting to benefit from the relationship.
There was a Swedish settlement on the lower Delaware River (New Sweden, now Wilmington), among the Lenape (Delaware) Indians (left), and France further north in Canada. England (Britain) founded settlements in Virginia, with Jamestown being the first permanent European settlement in North America, and along the east coast, from New England to Georgia; the French in Louisiana, and from Maine to Quebec in Canada; and the Spanish moved northward from Mexico into the southwestern U.S. and Florida. Other countries had settlements in the islands, with Denmark and Norway in Greenland and the latter in parts of coastal Canada; Russia in Alaska, and Scotland in Carolina and Georgia. All of these people came to settle, and their treatment of the indigenous natives (American Indians) was far more benevolent than what happened to the far south.
One of the factors involved was early European settlers were unfamiliar with the need for self-care, and in many cases neglected planting and harvesting their food in favor of searches for gold, with the Indians promptly stepping in to offer food to these early settlers, not only in New England, but as far south as Virginia. Initially, the relationship between Europeans and Indians was strained at best, but several tribes fought one another in order to gain control over the fur trade with the Dutch settlements. The British secured three treaties with the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca) and the Delaware and Shawnee, which opened the western Virginia frontier to European settlement.
While there were skirmishes and incidents between Indians and whites in the east, with relations often tense, and occasional outbreaks of hostilities that often led to severe results on both sides, partly because the Indians fought among themselves for hunting rights in a territory, but Europeans fought for ownership of the land. On the other hand, the Native Americans in Central and South America felt land was to be owned and extended their empires as far as they could to control both land and people.
Yet, it wasn’t until the French made allies of the Indians to fight the British colonies in America as the Seven Years War between France and England escalated into a world war, that the colonies fought with Indians on a large scale in the eastern lands. These Indians, with French support became a scourge up and down the frontier in the 1750s in what was called the French-Indian War. When Britain defeated the French in 1760, France ceded Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain who lost Florida to the colonies, and France’s colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to a few islands as England became the dominant power in the eastern half of North America.
Problems, of course, increased between the Europeans and Indians as the white settlements continued to spread further west, encroaching on Indian territory. Few Europeans married Indian women, which was an affront to the Indians, and the friendship the Indians frequently offered was not always returned by the whites. It often took several years, but sooner or later, the Indians came to realize the whites were in their lands to stay, and more hostilities broke out.
However, it should be pointed out that these conflicts, battles, and sometimes all-out wars, were fought as equals—that is, both sides had nearly equal firepower as white renegades continued to sell weapons to the Indians. Nor did it take long before the Europeans realized their “British organizing, marching and lines of fire” were almost worthless in the woods and forests where the battlegrounds took place, and they began to adopt the Indian hit and run methods of warfare.
The Conquistadors offered and gave no quarter to the Incas—often rounding them up and slaughtering them
The point of all of this is that Nephi’s vision of the treatment of the seed of his brethren (Lamanites) led him to state: I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:14). We might describe the treatment of the Indians (Lamanites) in North America as being scattered and driven out of their lands, but those in Central and South America, and especially the Inca from Ecuador to Chile, were not scattered, but were smitten. The 1828 dictionary states that smitten refers to “a blow, to kill, to destroy life, the primitive mode of killing, as in a great slaughter.” This should suggest that the “seed of my brethren” that Nephi saw would have been in the land to the south, either Central or South America where the treatment of the indigent natives (American Indians) was far greater, more bloody, and definitely a “great slaughter.”
By inference, then, we should look to Central and South America for the location of “the seed of my brethren” that Nephi saw, and more particularly in the Andean area of South America where the greatest destruction of indigenous life occurred, and where slavery and mistreatment was rampant and the Indians--the seed of my brethren--were smitten.

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