Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Peter Farb (1925 – 1980)


American author, anthropologist, linguist, ecologist, naturalist and spokesman for conservation, and free lance writer for 30 years in the areas of the natural and human sciences.
Peter Farb
Voluntary assimilation, known as Indianization in the Americas, is one response that has occurred at other places and in other times when two cultures collided. An unusual manifestation of it is when the whole dominant culture takes up the ways of the conquered. That does not happen very often, but it did occur when the Hyksos conquered Egypt about 1700 B.C. and when the Romans conquered the Greeks in the second century B.C.
Farb quotes
By the seventeenth century, observers had reached the firm conclusion that American Indians were in no way inferior to Whites, and many writers took special pains to salute the Noble Red Man. The Jesuit missionary Bressani, who served in Canada from 1645 to 1649, reported that the inhabitants "are hardly barbarous, save in name. ...marvelous faculty for remembering places, and for describing them to one another." ...can recall things that a White "could not rehearse without writing." Another Jesuit enthusiastically corroborates... "nearly all show more intelligence in their business, speeches, courtesies, intercourse, tricks and subtleties, than do the shrewdest citizens and merchants in France."
Farb
The Puritans failed miserably in their dealings with the Indians of New England, with scarcely a glimmer of kindness to illuminate black page after black page of cruelty and humiliation. There were many reasons that the Puritans were so much less successful with the Indians than were the Spaniards or the French or even the Englishmen. The Puritans insisted upon a high standard of religious devotion that the Indians were unable or unwilling to give. The Puritans lacked any way to integrate the Indians into their theocracy... nor were any Puritans specifically assigned to missionary tasks. The heart of the matter, though, is that conversion of the heathen was not one of the compelling motives--or justifications--for the Puritan settling of New England, as it was for the Spaniards in the Southwest.




Farb Peter quotes
By the time the United States took possession of the Southwest in 1848, after the Mexican War, the Navajo had become the dominant military force in the area. ...The American soldiers who marched into Santa Fe had no trouble with the Mexicans, but the Navajo stole several head of cattle from the herd of the commanding general himself, not to mention thousands of sheep and horses from settlers in the vicinity.
Farb Peter
What most impresses the people around the prophet is the personality change he has undergone. ...when stress reaches a certain intensity in the culture, only certain individuals feel called forth to become prophets while most do not. In any event, the prophet has emerged in a new cultural role, and his personality is liberated from the stress that called his response into being in the first place. Immune to the stress under which his brethren still suffer, he must appear to them supernatural.
Peter Farb quotes
The victory... was complete except for one final indignity. That was to Americanize the Indian, to eliminate his last faint recollection of his Indian traditions--in short, to exterminate the cultures along with the Indians. ...Orders went out from Washington that all male Indians must cut their hair short, even though many Indians believed that long hair had supernatural significance. The Indians refused, and the battle was joined. Army reinforcements were sent to the reservations to carry out the order, and in some cases Indians had to be shackled before they submitted. ...attention of the Americanizers was concentrated on the Indian children, who were snatched from their families and shipped to boarding schools far from their homes... usually ... for eight years, during which time they were not permitted to see their parents, relatives, or friends. Anything Indian--dress, language, religious practices, even outlook on life... was uncompromisingly prohibited. ...They had suffered psychological death at an early age.
Peter Farb
When today's remnants of Indian societies are examined closely, it is seen how well some have worked out a compromise with their White conquerors--acculturation without assimilation.
Farb Peter quotes
...the intensity of the indignation was in direct proportion to a White's distance from the Indian. On the frontier, the Indian was regarded as a besotted savage; but along the eastern seaboard, where the Spaniards, Dutch, English, and later Americans had long since exterminated all the Indians, philosophers and divines began to defend the Red Man.
Farb
Up to 1868, nearly four hundred treaties had been signed by the United States government with various Indian groups, and scarcely a one had remained unbroken. By the latter part of the last century, the Indians finally realized that these treaties were real-estate deals designed to separate them from their lands. In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Indians and Whites skirmished and then fought openly with ferocity and barbarity on both sides. Group by group, the Indians rose in rebellion only to be crushed...
Farb Peter
The Whites were in full control ... remnants were shifted about again and again... All of which led Sioux chief Spotted Tail, grown old and wise, to ask the weary question: "Why does not the Great Father put his red children on wheels, so he can move them as he will?"
Peter Farb
...in 1762... A Delaware Indian prophet appeared in Michigan and preached a doctrine that he said had been revealed to him in a vision. He called for the cessation of strife by Indian against Indian, and a holy war against the Whites to be carried on only with bows and arrows. ...finally a practical man, an Algonkian named Pontiac, arose to lead them. He formed a confederation and attacked English forts all along the Great Lakes until he was ambushed and his forces utterly defeated. But his unsuccessful holy war festered... Forty years later the Shawnee Prophet ... twin brother of Chief Tecumseh, repeated the promises of the Delaware Prophet: liberation of Indians and extirpation of the Whites. Tecumseh established the greatest Indian alliance that ever existed north of Mexico. He and his emissaries visited almost every band, tribe, and chiefdom from the headwaters of the Missouri River in the Rocky Mountains to as far south and east as Florida. Indians everywhere were arming themselves for the right moment to attack the Whites when, in 1811, Tecumseh's brother, the Shawnee Prophet, launched a premature attack at Tippecanoe... the Indians were defeated by General William Henry Harrison, who was later elected President of the United States... Tecumseh rallied his remaining forces and joined the British in the War of 1812. He fought bravely in battle after battle, but in 1813 his 2,500 warriors from the allied tribes were defeated decisively, once again by General Harrison.




Peter Farb quotes
...they were set off on a thousand mile march--called to this day "the trail of tears" by the Cherokee--that was one of the notable death marches in history. Ill clad, badly fed, lacking medical attention, and prodded on by American soldiers wielding bayonets, the Indians suffered severe losses. An estimate made at the time stated that some four thousand Cherokee died en route, but that figure is certainly too low.
Peter Farb
Why did transculturalization seem to operate only in one direction? Whites who had lived for a time with Indians almost never wanted to leave. But almost none of the "civilized" Indians who had been given the opportunity to savor White society chose to become a part of it. ...Nor does this problem relate solely to the American Indian. Some of the first missionaries sent to the South Seas from London, in the eighteenth century, threw away their collars and married native women.
Farb quotes
Within a century or so after the discovery of America, more than fifty new foods had been carried back to the Old World, including maize, turkey, white potato, pumpkin, squash, the so-called Jerusalem artichoke, avocado, chocolate, and several kinds of beans. (Potatoes and maize now rank second and third in total tonnage of the world's crops, behind rice but ahead of what is probably man's oldest cultivated grain, wheat.) The European has turned for relief to drugs and pharmaceuticals the Indians discovered: quinine, ephedrine, novocaine, curare, ipecac, and witch hazel. ...Many historians believe that the Constitution of the United States and those of several state governments were partly influenced by the democratic traditions of Indian societies.
Farb Peter
After the Ghost Dance spread across the Rockies to the Plains tribes it ran amok. ...The fervor attacked the Plains tribes virulently, particularly the Sioux, who were at that time the largest and the most intransigent or them all. The Sioux had been forced to submit to a series of land grabs and to indignities that are almost unbelievable when read about today. At the very time that the news of the Ghost Dance reached them, they were being systematically starved into submission--by the White Bureaucracy--on the little that was left of their reservation in South Dakota. The spark to ignite the Sioux was also present in the person of their White-hating leader, Sitting Bull, a veteran of Custer's last stand in 1876.
Farb Peter quotes
Today's American bemoans the extermination of the passenger pigeon and the threatened extinction of the whooping crane and the ivory billed woodpecker; he contributes to conservation organizations that seek to preserve the Hawaiian goose, the sea otter of the Aleutian Islands, the lizard of the Galapágos Islands... But who ever shed a tear over the loss of the native American cultures?
Peter Farb
A well-intentioned movement had gained support to give the remnant Indian populations the dignity of private property, and the plan was widely adopted in the halls of Congress, in the press, and in the meetings of religious societies. ...the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 ... provided that after every Indian had been allotted land, any remaining surplus would be put up for sale to the public. The loopholes... made it an efficient instrument for separating the Indians from this land. ...The first lands to go were the richest--bottom lands in river valleys, or fertile grasslands. Next went the slightly less desirable lands... and so on, until all the Indian had left to him was desert that no White considered worth the trouble to take. ...Between 1887, when the Dawes Act was passed, and 1934, out of 138 million acres that had been their meager allotment, all but 56 million acres had been appropriated by Whites. ...not a single acre was judged uneroded by soil conservationists.
Peter Farb quotes
From Rosebud, the Ghost Dance spread like prairie fire to the Pine Ridge Sioux and finally to Sitting Bull's people at Standing Rock. The Sioux rebelled; the result was the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre of the Indians (despite their ghost shirts) at Wounded Knee in 1890.
Peter Farb
No sooner did the first Whites arrive in North America than a disproportionate number of them showed that they preferred Indian society to their own. ...Throughout American history, thousands of Whites exchanged breeches for breechcloths.
Farb Peter
Inspired by the teachings of Smohalla, Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé in Idaho rebelled in 1877. Before he was trapped only thirty miles short of refuge in Canada, he had consistently outwitted and outfought a superior United States Army... although he forbade his warriors to scalp or to torture, the Whites massacred his women and children. Finally, with most of his warriors dead, his people starving, freezing, and maimed, Chief Joseph walked toward the White generals, handed his rifle to them, and said: "I am tired of fighting ... My people ask me for food, and I have none to give. It is cold, and we have no blankets, no wood. My people are starving to death. Where is my little daughter? I do not know ... Hear me, my chiefs. I have fought; but from where the sun now stands, Joseph will fight no more forever."


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