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The American Indian, by A.M. Gibson, is a detailed account of native peoples from early physical evidence of occupation to their present state of life in North America. Arrell M. Gibson was a top scholar of the American Indian, well recognized and honored by his collegues. The book is well researched, footnoted and referenced. Information is presented by geographical regions,
chronologically, and not overly technical, but in a quite readable and engaging style. Important and crucial issues are elaborated and written clearly and convincingly. Native peoples are described objectively and with detail regarding subsistance technology, trade relations, social organizations and territory.
The primary distinction of this book, in my opinion, is its unwillingness to avoid an objective portrayal of how natives were treated by various nations in their attempts at garnering fur and marine resources, subjugation of locals for labor, colonialization, settlement and expansion across North America. The earliest of Spanish, Dutch, Russian, French, British and eventual American attempts to gain their share of the lucrative fur trade, land aquisition and colonialization are described in detail. The manner in which each country treated the native peoples of a given region says volumes about that nation's cutural perspectives, their arrogance or understanding when dealing with native peoples, and even their values and priorities in dealing with peoples of other cultures. The French, though not perfect, behaved by far the most honorably in the manner they treated natives peoples. The Russians and Americans were arguably the worst in offenses.
Though American behavior is seldom taught in schools and colleges across the United States, there is no doubt that our primary motivation was an insatiable thirst for land. The earliest (then British) settlers on the east coast of America pushed local indigents out of coveted lands from the very start of contact. Colonies, then states then the federal governent of the U.S. made treaties and broke them. The pattern was repeated many times: promises made, treaty formulated, settlers encroached, natives responded aggressively so militias and cavalry were sent to push natives out and often with fatalities. Up and over the Appalachians, then out of the 'Old Northwest' and 'Old Southwest' ... then west of the Mississippi River, treaties were broken over and over again until the broken remnants of once mighty nations were forced onto a few hundred small reservations
made of up land which was often generally 'unwanted.' The U.S. government had to go through several contortions of strategy and legislation to disguise their intentions by officially cloaking their efforts in terms of 'civilizing' and 'assimilation' so that the great land seizures would appear to be in the best interest of the Native Americans.
Personal Note: Today, there are still many impoverished and despirited native peoples struggling across our country. Native American children are cold and hungry; adults in the grip of alcoholism and diabetes on many reservations such at the once proud Lakota at Pine Ridge Reservation ... just miles from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, land which we took from the Lakota. - MG Million, Nov. 2011
NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURAL FOUNDATIONS
Territories of the Golden Age of Prehistory
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