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View Diary: Indians 201: American Indians and European Diseases (63 comments)

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  •  Cannot Rec because of zombie myth! (0+ / 0-)

    "Four years later, the United States Army provided the Mandan with smallpox infected blankets. "

    No, no, NO! I don't care WHO you heard it from - THERE IS NO PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION FOR THIS ZOMBIE MYTH!

    When the actual historical facts are sorted out, the US Army had nothing to do with it. One greedy riverboat captain was entirely responsible. He took on passengers at St. Louis, where there was a smallpox outbreak, and when sickness showed up aboard the boat, he kept to his planned route rather than turn back and have to eat his losses. The boat went well into Mandan territory, and, well...

    There were some unsuccessful attempts to control the epidemic, from trying to persuade the Mandans to stay away from the trading posts to an inoculation program that went horribly wrong and was promptly discontinued. Nothing made, or could have made, any difference.

    By the way, smallpox was NEVER as "minor" among the Euro-descended population as you have implied. It could and did still kill, it could and did blind, it could and did scar for life (George Washington's formal portraits never show the smallpox scars). It was an utterly NASTY disease and we are well rid of it. But one consequence of being rid of it is that we don't realize just how nasty it was.

    It also appears that inoculation (using live variola major or minor material) or vaccination (using cowpox material) is almost as dangerous to a virgin population as uncontrolled exposure to the disease. Not to mention the inevitable complications from not knowing thing one about proper storage and handling of said materials, or about proper antiseptic procedures....

    You would do well to bypass oral tradition and "popular histories" and go digging for the primary sources. They do exist. And the story they tell utterly explodes the zombie myth.

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 12:20:19 PM PST

    •  If I were to bypass oral tradition (8+ / 0-)

      I would not be an American Indian, but  simply another European historian attempting to superimpose a foreign concept on Native peoples. It is unfortunate that many people do not understand the nature of oral tradition and its rigors.

      •  Ditto. (5+ / 0-)

        This also ignores the fact that the "non-oral tradition" to which certain folks here keep appealing is the official account written by the victors, who even today have an intense vested interest in whitewashing the genocidal behavior and effects of Europeans on our cultures.

        The issue of the blankets is also thoroughly established, as per your account, cousin, and Ward Churchill has less than nothing to do with that.

        Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

        by Aji on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 05:46:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ward Churchill has EVERYTHING to do with it (0+ / 0-)

          ANYONE who claims a date of "1836" for a "smallpox epidemic" "caused" by the "US Army" "distributing" "smallpox-infected blankets" to the northern Plains Indians is relying ABSOLUTELY on screwed-up misinformation (I might almost say DISinformation) published by Mr. Churchill.

          NO primary source gives a date of 1836 for ANY smallpox epidemic anywhere near the upper Great Plains.

          The US Army wasn't anywhere near the upper Great Plains in the 1830's, either. This can be and has been verified.

          I suppose you think Shakespeare must be an absolutely reliable source for European history, too. He relied on "oral tradition", and on written records of "oral tradition", so he must have the real facts, right? Right? Or is it only your own peoples who have The One And Only Absolutely Real Truth, and everybody else is lying?

          Maybe you even believe Velikovsky's cockamamie theories, since he appropriated Native American oral tradition, among many many many other bits and bobs, to bolster them.

          Believe what you will, but make damn sure you can verify it - by getting as close to objectively checkable primary sources as you possibly can - BEFORE you start trying to convince other people.

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:28:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm in the Pacific Northwest (5+ / 0-)

      and we know better here than to discount oral tradition. Sometime (don't remember when)  in the 1600s or 1700s there was a large eruption of Mt. Rainier, an active volcano not all that far from Seattle. Indan oral history spoke of this eruption and pinpointed about when it occurred. This oral tradition history has been verified two ways: by Japanese history, which records the resukting tsunami, and by the geologic record. The Old Man, as I call Tahoma in a term of great respect, throws rocks, and throws them far. Rocks from that eruption have been found as far away as the Dungeness Spit, and dated to the eruption. Not coincidentally, oral tradition from tribes around here records and passes along the event.

      Don't discount oral tradition. It is a people's record of their own history, and here, we know to give it great weight.

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      by Kitsap River on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:19:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Oral tradition" gave us Shakespeare's Richard III (0+ / 0-)

        which is a monstrous calumny from first line to last. It was Thomas More writing down the "oral tradition" he got from John Cardinal Morton (an implacably venomous enemy of Richard III) that gave Shakespeare his source and all the justification he needed to write his object lesson on How Not To Be A King.

        But practically none of it is true.

        Oral tradition WITH some objective verification, okay. Oral tradition with NO verification - dubious at best and quite possibly worthless.

        How many times do I have to say it? THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE VERIFICATION FOR THE ZOMBIE MYTH OF "US/ARMY SMALLPOX BLANKETS". NONE. NOT A SINGLE SCRAP.

        There is hard evidence to the contrary, in that there were NO military installations on the upper Mississippi in the 1830's. The various "Forts" were privately owned and run trading posts. The nearest US Army installation of any kind was in [Fort] Leavenworth, Kansas - eight hundred to a thousand miles away, depending on where you're measuring to.

        Honestly, I feel like I'm arguing with some diehard Velikovskyites. Remember Velikovsky? He used, abused and misused "oral tradition" - and written myth, and folklore, and everything else he could get his hands on - to "justify" his cockamamie theories - which, when analyzed out, amount to unshakable faith that the Bible is a reliable historical record and whenever established history contradicted it, established history Must Be Wrong. But he "knew" about as much about astrophysics, biochemistry, etc. as my cat.

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:06:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stop. Just stop. (5+ / 0-)

          It is not a "zombie lie," it has nothing to do with Ward Churchill, and just because the genocidal "victors" refuse to acknowledge it does not invalidate either our oral traditions or the many established sources that have confirmed it for centuries.  I'm seriously tired of the dominant culture picking and choosing and ignoring our own histories and experiences because it's uncomfortable.

          You've gone way pasty insulting and now you're being dickish in Ojibwa's diary, and it needs to stop.  Now.

          Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

          by Aji on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:12:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Prove. It. (0+ / 0-)

            If you have any objectively verifiable evidence, please provide it.

            And please don't go the "how do you know there weren't secret orders?" route - I've heard that one, and it's based on the logical fallacy of "proving a negative".

            Ojibwa had a perfectly good diary going, but he just HAD to drag in that old repeatedly debunked chestnut which was oh so conveniently "dated" to the year before a REAL, verified, objectively proven and widely destructive epidemic with a known and verified cause. It "HAD" to be deliberate malice, because stupidity, incompetence, ignorance and greed weren't evil enough.

            Yes there WAS a destructive smallpox epidemic on the upper Mississippi. In 1837, not 1836. And there is hard, verified evidence for where it came from and how it was spread. And Ojibwa told that story TOO, but made it seem as though it was a secondary and lesser cause, when it was quite sufficient all by itself to account for all the known facts.

            If it's
            Not your body
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            AND it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:46:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  In 1832 (4+ / 0-)

              Congress appropriated $12,000 to vaccinate Indians against smallpox. The Secretary of War wasto be in charge of the vaccinations. The Secretary of War notified the Indian agent for the upper Missouri that no tribes upstream from the Arikara are to be vaccinated. This was the beginning of what the Indians on the Northern Plains view as the biological warfare against them.

              This is only part of the evidence that is there and has been widely reported by non-Indian historians.

              •  They also found out inoculation could be dangerous (0+ / 0-)

                to natives who had never been exposed to any European diseases. There's a sad anecdote from the 1837 epidemic, specifically and directly linked to the steamboat St Peters: pus from smallpox lesions on employee Jacob Halsey was used to inoculate (not vaccinate, which at the time involved cowpox) seven white men and thirty native women at the trading post Fort Union. The men lived; the women died. The intentions were good, the results disastrous.

                A few experiences like that would logically discourage both the natives (for fear of dying of the "prevention") and the government (out of anything from feelings of futility to stinginess to hostile indifference).

                There was just too much that nobody knew yet, about how to handle infectious materials and how to induce immunities safely. (Inoculation was highly recommended for new recruits to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War - and with all they knew about it at the time, and all the precautions they were able to take, still there were fatalities.)

                If it's
                Not your body
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                AND it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 09:16:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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