Friday, December 19, 2008
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is NOT a 'national monument to genocide'
When I regain speech ability, I will comment.
In the meantime, y'all feel free to peruse the website of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center and comment as you see fit.
Now if they displayed a case of indian scalps, I would change my opinion.
Feodor, while I like the guy -- hey, Feodor! -- sometimes gets his tangue tongled up, as Mama used to day, writingwise, and I don't know what he's trying to say. Said in response to his response to your comment.
That thought came to mind as I was reading it to Dr. ER and she said, "Amen" in response to anti-abortionism being about social control and not about babies.
Now, back to the Cowboy museum.
Geoffrey asked me a question, and I answered it. And I made a side remark about your occasional thinking-writing style, Feodor. Sorry about that.
Anyway, about the whole museum comment . . .
I admire rhetoric, too. Not everyone is good at it, and some people just suck at it. I guess I just think that's a tad over the top, you know? As someone who aims and even hits "over the top" on occasion, I suppose that sounds like sour cheese or something. I guess this is a line I just would not cross.
There is an underlying narrative of conquest in the experience of European-Native American contact, absolutely.
But to claim it as "genocide" so succinctly treats the natives of this continent as ONE other, when they are many, and ignores the fact that many of them, for various reasons, allied with other natives, as well as the various non-native peoples, for their own selfish aims!
Pisses me off to see anyone take such complex experience and turn it into yet another ^&%$%^ false dichotomy.
Not sure what this has to do with a museum about the cowboy and our western heritage. There's a lot more to the story than our conflicts with the original inhabitants.
Obviously the various Indian nations, peoples, tribal groupings, etc. were as varied as can be. Who'd argue that?
I see your point, though. Someone did argue that, implicitly if not explicitly.
Never did get to a place where she actually explained to me how that was so at this museum which she has never seen.
Actually there is no effective argument against anyone who beholds the Westward expansion of the European United States as "genocide". Jefferson's Indian Policy was isolation or assimilation. Of course in Jefferson's day the weapons of warfare held by Indians and Euros were almost even Steven. War was much more a mutually assured destruction than it was in later times.
The weapons of guile, deception, and shifting alliances with tribes and their enemy tribes was much more practical, than open warfare.
The Jeffersonian Indian Policy has been carried down into the 20th century. However, the Sac & Fox case before the SCOTUS a few decades back reversed the power in the Euro/Indian wars.
The first modern scalping (skinning) knife was the automobile tag, then cigarettes were use to attack, and finally slot machines and decks of cards. The tide has turned.
"But se, this is the deal: " the Indian population." There is no such thing."
Well for certain there is no such thing as ONE Indian population.
But there are "Nations" under law with which the U.S. Government has made treaties and those Nations do have populations. I have decide to call them CINCs (Certified Indian Nation Citizen). Neat thing is you can be a 100% United States citizen and a CINC too.
Complex, convoluted, confounding, and sometimes criminal, history shunted aside, will repeat itself and do those things all over again.
RE: George W. Bush
The contemporary phenomenon of the Pow Wow communicates this.
There are all kinds of ways that Indians are not A people. But in the history of conquest, there is deep commonality with local and temporal differentiations.
Just as there is a largely common Cowboy/Western "experience" which encompasses Scots-Irish, English, German, Italian, Poles, Russians, Czechs, French, Scottish, Irish, Norwegian, Swede, etc.
Others tribes I'm not familiar with, too.
But as a whole, to call the results of the European-native encounter "genocide" is overstating it.
Thing is, we did lots of nasty things to the Indians of the Southwest. Remember the Long Walk? Is that characterized fairly in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum? I'll probably go visit it someday while traveling through Oklahoma, but may view it in the same spirit as I viewed the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian so many years ago--as a one-sided take on a national tragedy.
I don't see that in our history. And for every Mandan tragedy, there's a Iroquois treaty with the Colonists against the Crown, or vice versa, or a Creek band siding with Jackson against the Seminole, or the Cherokees siding with settlers against the Osage, or the Crow scouting for Custer.
Systematic extermination of people and their cultures? Sporadic actions and reactions and attempts to take land and get the natives off it one way or another, official policy of assimilation, itself embraced by some of the tribes. Absolutely.
But then: the Indian New Deal, recent amends, more recent economic successes among many of the tribes -- European-native history isn't over.
When Gene Autry was on the board he came close to turning it into the Drug Store Cowboy Hall of Fame.
At one point my old boss was acting director of it after a very intense scandle. In one afternoon he fired 2/3 rds of the staff, change all the locks and had the Oklahoma Highway Patrol guarding it. In all I can count five interations of its character over time.
The tribes of Oklahoma are in the process of building an inter-tribal museum at the intersection of I-40 and I-35. It will take another two years till completion. I'm sure my tribal friends will have a lot to say about history within its exibits.
However, I really can't imagine the Pawnee and Cheyenne, or the Kiowa and Osage, The Deleware and everybody else,or...well, hell, real history is seldom in our books or museums.