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

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  •  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.


      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.

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        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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