Watchman Willie Martin Archive


        RE: [ID‑L] The Invented Indian, Anyone have a copy?


        Sun, 3 Jun 2001 19:41:37 ‑0700


       "Andy" <[email protected]>


        identity‑[email protected]


       <identity‑[email protected]>

Noble Savagery

James A. Clifton, The Invented Indian, Transaction

Publishers, 1990, 388

pp., $29.95

Reviewed by Jared Taylor

>From December, 1991, issue

In America, virtually all non‑whites can trade on

their skin color and on

tales of past victimization in order to extract

benefits from guilt‑ridden

whites. Blacks are recognized experts at this game,

but American Indians

have been perhaps even more successful.

At the heart of their success has been the creation

of a mythical past

inhabited by Indians who never were. The Invented

Indian, edited by veteran

anthropologist James Clifton, is a brilliant

dissection of the myths that

have been so widely circulated by Indians and their

white apologists. Each

of the collection's 16 authors demolishes an aspect

of the myth or describes

the cynical purposes it has served.

This book so brazenly flouts America's unwritten

rules on how to talk about

minorities, that it is a wonder it was ever

published. It would be

impossible to bring out a similar book about blacks

or Hispanics, and it is

a joy to find serious scholars who are willing to

write the truth as they

see it, without regard to political consequences.

The Myth

The great myth is essentially borne out by whatever

one is likely to hear

about Indians from non‑specialist sources. Professor

Clifton devotes several

pages to fleshing it out, but it can be quickly

summarized: Indians were

spiritual, egalitarian, innocent people living in

perfect harmony with the

earth. They welcomed the white man, taught him the

secrets of the

wilderness, and shared with him the wisdom of their

social institutions. In

return, the white man enslaved and slaughtered the

Indian, afflicted him

with hideous diseases, and tried to destroy his


Nevertheless, runs the myth, the Native American has

survived. Though he has

been dispossessed and politically emasculated, his

spirit remains pure. As

the white man begins to acknowledge the horrors he

has wrought upon the

Indian, so has he begun to study and appreciate the

age‑old wisdom and

natural virtue to which all Indians, everywhere, are


Like all myths, this one leaves certain things out:

in this case,

cannibalism, infanticide, ritual torture,

geronticide, slaughter of

prisoners, slavery, and the like. Such practices,

though well substantiated,

are seldom written about by historians and

ethnographers for fear of

violating what Prof. Clifton calls the Eleventh

Commandment of the Indian

business: Never Say No To An Indian. One of the

Commandment's corollaries

prohibits writing or saying anything that Indians

might not wish to hear.

Most Indians know very little about their ancestors

of centuries ago, and

would vigorously deny accusations of slavery or


In Canada, certain agreeable fictions have semi‑legal

status. Whenever work

crews find human bones at ancient camp sites, for

example, they must take

special measures not to violate the sacred dead.

Broken or burnt human

bones‑‑evidence of certain now‑embarrassing

practices‑‑can be treated like

animal bones.

Stressing the Positive

On the stress‑the‑positive side of the myth we find

the wisdom that the

white man is supposed to have learned from the

Indian. Every school child

has heard of Squanto, the Algonquin who taught the

Pilgrims to fertilize

their corn with fish. As Lynn Ceci points out in a

fascinating essay, there

is no evidence that any North American tribes used

fertilizer of any kind.

Squanto, who had a very interesting and

well‑documented career, probably

learned about it in Newfoundland, where he lived for

some time among English

settlers who routinely fertilized with fish.

School children do not learn that Squanto had lived

in both England and

Spain, spoke fluent English, and was hardly the

noble, simple savage the

history books make him out to be. As Dr. Ceci points

out, the image of

generous Squanto tends to obscure the more accurate

picture of Indians who

often attacked and killed settlers.

Another part of the great Indian myth that has

recently been picking up

steam, is that early Americans learned about

democracy and the advantages of

unity by studying the Iroquois Confederation. One of

the authors traces the

origins of this myth, and explodes the idea that the

Constitution could have

been influenced, in any way, by the matrilineal and

hereditary form of

representation practiced by the Iroquois.

One reason such preposterous notions make any headway

at all is that it has

become nearly obligatory to describe Indian societies

as idyllically

egalitarian, even "non‑sexist." Of course, there were

hundreds of different

tribal societies with different customs, but all of

them had well defined

sex roles that would horrify Gloria Steinem. Often,

women were treated

scarcely better than beasts of burden.

As for egalitarianism, it is difficult for bare

subsistence‑level hunters

and gatherers to practice anything else, but as soon

as material surplus

appeared, some people got more of it than others.

Leland Donald writes about

the Tutchone of the southern Yukon, who lived on land

so harsh as to be

nearly uninhabitable. Nevertheless, their society was

divided into

hereditary classes of rich, poor, and slaves. As Dr.

Donald puts it, "even

in conditions that seem ideal for the presence of the

classic egalitarian

Indian society, it is possible for marked

inequalities to emerge."

The potlatches and ruinous gift‑giving that were

required for status among

the more prosperous Northwest Indians are well known,

but somehow coexist

with the myth that Indians all lived in innocent

classlessness. Even well

known expressions like "low man on the totem pole"

fail to puncture the


Another important part of the image is the perfect

harmony with nature in

which Indians are said to have lived. Once again,

sparsely scattered,

stone‑age people have very little choice about the

matter, but "Mother

Earth" is central to the myth. All Indians, it is

said, saw the earth as

their beloved mother. Hills were he r breasts,

streams were mother's milk,

and vegetation was her lovely hair.

Astounding as it may seem, one of the authors

explains that the entire

Mother Earth story can be traced to a single

statement made by a single

Indian in 1885. There is virtually no other evidence

that Indians thought of

the earth as mother. Nevertheless, the Mother Earth

belief is now so widely

attributed not only to American Indians but to all

primitive peoples that it

is frightful heresy to point out how unsubstantiated

it is.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of

entrepreneurs‑‑Indian and

non‑Indian‑‑who have parlayed the notion of the

noble, nature‑wise Indian

into a means of parting gullible whites from their

money. People with names

like Rolling Thunder and Spotted Fawn do a brisk

business promoting sweat

lodges, sun dances, purification ceremonies, or

whatever else aging hippies

can be made to pay for. These ceremonies bear only a

vague resemblance to

anything the Indians of the past ever did, but there

is a steady market for


According to another author, the same can be said for

the pottery sold on

the Pamunkey Indian reservation in Virginia. The

Pamunkey stopped making

pottery in the 1890s and started up again in the

1930s only because the

state of Virginia paid to establish a pottery school

on the reservation. Now

tourists happily buy "Indian" pots, decorated with

stick figure "writing"

that is likewise a 20th century invention.

The High Counters

Minor frauds like these are relatively harmless.

Deliberate attempts to

manipulate thinking about Indians are more serious.

David Henige of the

University of Wisconsin reports that there is a small

academic industry

devoted to inflating the population estimates of

Pre‑Columbian America. If

evidence can be found that tens of millions of

healthy, happy Indians were

living on the continent before the white man arrived,

then the reduction of

their numbers through warfare and disease can be made

to seem all the more


The High Counters, as Mr. Henige calls them, pore

over ancient accounts,

pick the most exaggerated population estimates they

can find, and solemnly

pass them along as wholly credible. One scholar, for

example, believes that

a single energetic priest actually baptized, and

counted, 14,000 Indians in

a single day‑‑one every six seconds, 'round the

clock. Others think that

when Cortes said he faced an army of "more than

149,000" men, he can be

relied on to have counted them accurately.

As Mr. Henige points out, numbers like these are just

another way of saying

"a lot," but it is the scholars who are prepared to

believe the worst of the

colonizing white man who have the deepest faith in

his ability to count

people in crowds. Other High Counters would have it

that European diseases

swept through native tribes before the white man

found them, killing up to

half the population before Europeans could even start

counting them.

If, by whatever means, the High Counters can gin up

enough pre‑Columbian

Indians, they can then trot out the great, anti‑white

totem word,

"genocide," when they talk about the legacy of

Columbus. The University of

Oklahoma has even published a book called American

Indian Holocaust and


Indian Givers

Present descendants of invented Indians have woven

the strands of myth into

a mighty whip with which to beat the white man. They

have, for example,

mobilized reservoirs of public sympathy for huge land

claims. Allan van

Gestel, who has defended current owners against such

claims, estimates that

since 1970, Indian law suits have clouded the title

to 35 million acres in

the Eastern United States alone. This is an area the

size of Austria or


Indians can always call on teams of eager whites who

will work for them pro

bono. Clever lawyers have based most land cases on an

obscure Congressional

proclamation of 1783 that forbade the states to buy

land from Indian tribes

without federal permission. This was six years before

the Constitution even

went into effect, and several state governments had

bought land from Indians

even before the proclamation. This has not stopped

tribes from trying to get

back land that was duly purchased‑‑and that has been

enormously improved in

the last two hundred years.

Public sentiment, stoked by tales about the invented

Indian, is such that

Indians can virtually monopolize the services of

scholars and historians; to

testify "against" Indians can ruin a career. Some

Indian claims have cost

current land‑owners hundreds of millions of dollars.

Today, the federal government has primary

responsibility for dealing with

Indians, but states and Canadian provinces also

manage publicly funded

Indian programs. According to Steven Feraca, a

long‑time worker at the

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), all of these

bureaucracies have long been

given over to race‑based hiring and promotion.

Preferences at the Bureau are

so blatant, and career prospects for non‑Indians so

bleak, that although

Indians are only 1/2 percent of the US population,

they hold 75 percent of

the jobs at BI A.

In the last few decades, the "Indian desks" of

virtually all branches of

government have been turned over to Indians, so that

decisions that are

supposed to be made in the names of larger

jurisdictions are in the hands of

unabashed partisans. Tribal "leaders" are now often

indistinguishable from

Indian‑affairs bureaucrats, with no way to sort out

the resulting conflicts

of interest. What is more, as another author points

out, chronic lateness

and absenteeism in these offices are routinely

excused by the notion that

Indians work according to mysterious earth rhythms

rather than by the white

man's clock.

In sum, both in Canada and in the United States,

Indians have succeeded in

becoming a kind of Uber‑citizen. Off the reservation,

they have all the

usual legal rights, in addition to the strenuous


preferences that are now obligatory. On the

reservation, they enjoy a kind

of extraterritoriality, which exempts them from many

taxes and laws, and

entitles them to a complete array of Indians‑only

health and welfare

benefits. They have suckled at the public teat for

longer than any other

group in North America, and bear the stigmata of

listlessness and squalor to

prove it.

Next year will mark the 500th anniversary of

Columbus' discovery of America.

What, by all rights, should be a proud celebration of

the spread of

civilization to the New World, has already been

hijacked by cultural

relativists who see in the white man nothing but

wickedness. The October

issue of National Geographic begins a series of

"quincentenary" articles, in

which the editors flatter themselves on letting

Indians write from "the most

intimate ‑‑and perhaps truest‑‑perspective of all."

Such a series is likely to be filled with the

exploits of invented

Indians‑‑more of what Prof. Clifton calls "perfectly

enchanting fiction . .

. that is both believed by its impresarios and

presented as believable to

others." His book, impressively researched and

stuffed with fascinating

details, is the perfect antidote.

‑‑‑‑‑Original Message‑‑‑‑‑

From:   owner‑identity‑[email protected] [

mailto:owner‑identity‑[email protected]] On

Behalf Of Bill Kalivas

Sent:   Sunday, June 03, 2001 19:28

To:     identity‑[email protected]

Subject:       [ID‑L] The Invented Indian, Anyone

have a copy?

A while back a review was posted on a book called

"The Invented Indian."

Where can I get a copy? Living here in the land of

the "Native America",

Oklahoma, I might need to have a balanced perspective

at my fingertips.


Bill Kalivas


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