That was the Wild West part 2

The threat posed by the whites is growing

 (Published in GralsWelt 28/2003)

In the American consciousness the word “border” has a special, almost mystical meaning. The limit is the place of probation, adventure and success beckon here, and progress is fought for. For example, President Kennedy spoke of a “new frontier” when the US had to overtake Russia in space travel and be the first to land on the moon. In the “Wild West” the successes of the “border guards” were at the expense of the Indians and nature - a fact that is often suppressed even today.

In the second part of our seven-part series on the Indians of North America, Siegfried Hagl describes how in the course of the "Conquest of the New World" (Part 1 of the series) the threat posed by the whites grew bigger and bigger - and how the Indians gambled away their great chance to come together on the right side in a tough jungle war between the English and the French.

By the end of the 17th century, the English colonists (Virginia 1607, Massachusetts 1620, Maryland 1632, Pennsylvania 1683) had established themselves in the "Wild West". Their settlements expanded, the Dutch possessions were conquered.
To the dismay of the French, in whose colonies only a few immigrants from France lived, around 1700 traders from New England became tough competitors in the extremely lucrative Indian trade. English goods were of better quality and cheaper than French products. The lead of the English industry had an impact, as did the insufficient support of the French from home and the plundering of New France (Canada) by corrupt colonial officials.

In order to eliminate the unpleasant English competition, the French strove to fix the boundaries of the areas they claimed. Since a lucrative trade cannot be prevented by imaginary borders in the jungle, conflicts were inevitable.

In the first part of this series we talked about the first bloody clashes between whites and reds. Further battles followed, which affected almost all parts of New England as early as the 17th century. When Indians fought against English colonists, they were supported by the French, who wanted to secure their colonial claims and push back the English. But these too had Indian allies. A struggle between the English and the French for supremacy in North America seemed inevitable.

Pontiac (Oh-pahn-tee-yag, 1720-1769) and the first "bio-weapons":
The chief of the Ottawa, according to contemporary reports of tall, sturdy build and "lofty, regal appearance", had loyally on their side during the war in which the French lost Canada (the "War against Indians and French" 1754-1760) confessed; the Marquis Montcalm, killed in defense of Quebec, was his personal friend. After the lost war, Pontiac saw bad things happen to the Indians. He tried to persuade them to take unified action against the English and hoped for the support of France, which was still present in Lousiana on the Mississippi.
In 1763 the allied Ottawa, Hurons, Delawars, Potawatomis, Shawnees and Miamis succeeded in conquering eight of twelve strategically important English forts in surprise attacks. However, they failed at the most important, Fort Detroit, because the planned raid was betrayed. Here they had to embark on a longer siege; a way of fighting the Indians did not like. Detroit was liberated after hard weeks. For a while the Indians used guerrilla tactics to harshly attack the border guards, but then many Indian warriors lost their interest in fighting, and in 1766 Pontiac had to make peace. Three years later he was murdered by a Peoria Indian out of personal enmity.
In this war, in which the Indians were accused of treachery and treason, the English were not squeamish either. By order of the Commander-in-Chief Lord Jeffrey Amherst (1717-1797), biological weapons were deliberately used against Indians for the first time.
For example, when Delawaren asked Fort Pitt to surrender, the commanding officer refused and had gifts presented to them. These Danaer gifts were a precious handkerchief and two blankets that were taken away from people with smallpox. The unsuspecting Delaware merchandise accepted the gifts. Soon many of them died of smallpox.
(1) Dillon, Richard H .: "Indian Wars", Lechner, Limassol (Cyprus), 1994.
(2) Eckert, Allan, W .: "The Conquerors", Bantam Books, New York, 1981.
(3) do .: "Wilderness Empire", Bantam Books, New York, k 1971.
(4) Oth, René: “The true story of the Indians”, Battenberg, Munich, 1999.

A tough war in the jungle

The tensions in Europe that erupted in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) also had an impact overseas. The French territorial claims not only hindered the Indian trade of the English, they also cut off "New England" from the hinterland. Clear demarcations were missing, as is to be expected in a hardly explored jungle area. But the French tried to secure their territorial claims with a chain of forts.

As they advanced east from the Mississippi and claimed the entire Ohio Valley, the New Englanders felt threatened, especially since French officers wanted to imprison any English they encountered on their territory. In 1754 a protracted, tough jungle war began, which in America is called the “French and Indian War”.

In Europe, armies of tens of thousands of men clashed and fought great battles, which nevertheless changed the European map very little. In America, the deployment of a few thousand soldiers decided whether to gain or lose an area larger than Central Europe. The importance of these disputes was not recognized by European governments, and the colonies were given insufficient support.

the end England came generals who despised Indians and did not take border guards experienced in the jungle war seriously. A case in point is General Edward Braddock (1695-1755), who did not listen to the advice of experienced Indian fighters and deployed his troops as if on a European battlefield. His red coats got caught in a murderous crossfire by Canadians and Indians, who, hidden behind bushes and trees, offered no targets for the English riflemen. Braddock, as brave as he was unreasonable, lost two-thirds of his soldiers and was killed himself.

Far from learning from such defeats, the English suffered further setbacks, especially the French in the Marquis de Montcalm (1712-59) received an excellent commander-in-chief who was able to adapt well to the Indian mentality.
The Indian agent was initially a total debacle for England William Johnson (1715-1774) turn away. He managed to pull the Iroquois to the side of the English and win two important battles. The fortunes of war went back and forth for years, until at last the greater economic power and population in New England was the decisive factor. The conquest of Montreal in 1759 decided the war, and New France became English in the 1760 peace treaty.
The Spaniards, who decided too late to support the French, lost Florida and in 1763 they received the parts of Louisiana west of the Mississippi.

In harmony with nature?
Not only since the “Speech of Chief Seattle” (1, p. 85 f.), The authenticity of which is more than questionable, became a cult script of the ecological movement, the Indians have been regarded as role models for ecological behavior. They supposedly didn't let anything go to waste, used their resources moderately and lived in harmony with nature. The “seven generation rule” of the Iroquois is also considered exemplary. It says that every decision should be made in such a way that it can last for seven generations without being detrimental.
Unfortunately, this romantic image of the ecological Indian is not tenable.
The harshest criticism of this comes from Paul Martin, an American paleontologist who sees Indians responsible for the extermination of many animal species towards the end of the Pleistocene, around 11,000 years ago:
“The fama of the noble savage, a child of nature who lived in an unspoiled Garden of Eden until the discovery of the New World by Europeans, is obvious untrue, for before Columbus the destruction of fauna, if not of habitats, was greater than at any time afterwards. " (2, p. 29).
Martin believes that it was not environmental influences that caused this “Pleistocene extermination”, but the immigration of big game hunters. The large animals living in America had no experience with human enemies, and could therefore be slaughtered en masse by them. Mammoth, mastodon, elephant, various types of giant sloth disappeared, as did horse, camel and many others.
Martin's theses are controversial.
But the fact that Indians did not always act ecologically can even be found in a "UNESCO World Heritage Site":
In the Canadian state of Alberta, near Fort Macleod (near Lethbridge), there is the "Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump", which demonstrates the hunting methods of pre-Columbian Indians. For about 6,000 years they drove herds of buffalo over a cliff; a "crash hunt" as it was also practiced by European Stone Age hunters. With this lavish hunting method, significantly more animals were slaughtered than the Indian tribe in their nearby camp on the Bad Man River could use. Especially since not a single member of the herd was to escape; the hunters had the idea that surviving animals would warn other bison.
The cliff to which the bison rushed to crash in a stampede triggered by the Indians of the Great Plains is still ten meters high today. The remains of the many thousands of animals that have crashed over thousands of years tower up at its foot, twelve meters high.
There are other well-known "buffalo jumps" that were overexploited in the same way; eg in Montana the "Madison Buffalo Jump" on I-90 between Butte and Bozeman.
The "Anasazi" (the "old", pre-Columbian Indians) built cave settlements in Colorado, the most famous of which is the "Mesa Verde"[2] is. They had a highly developed culture that was on the way to becoming a high culture. Then suddenly in the 13th century they left their settlements. According to recent research, they caused climate change by cutting down the forests. Agriculture collapsed for two almost rainless decades. The Anasazi farmers became cannibals and finally had to leave their land.
After the Prairie Indians came into possession of horses and firearms, they developed a new way of life on the Great Plains and made themselves almost entirely dependent on the buffalo herds. They did not think about sparing the stocks. They were of the opinion that these "herds of the great spirit" came from the underworld as an inexhaustible gift to the Indians:
“During the period in which they lived freely on the prairie and were not bothered by the land claims of white settlers, that is, between 1700 and 1850, the Indians were great for a century and a half Spendthrift been. They wasted large quantities of goods that the traders delivered to them, such as black powder and kegs, because they enjoyed the crack of the explosions and the powder clouds. They were the first buffalo hunters who shot down entire herds by the hundreds and thousands just to be able to deliver the coveted bison tongues to the traders. They exterminated beavers and otters in the river valleys long before columns of trappers started to catch fur in the grass steppe (they had to go to the mountains of the Rocky Mountains). The Brule Sioux, for example, who in 1800 found the whole valley of the White River thickly overgrown with Cottonwood trees, carelessly fed the sweet Cottonwood tree bark to their countless horses for ten years during the winter, so that all these trees died and that White River Valley was silted up after another ten years.
It happened to the same Brule Sioux as early as 1830 that they had exterminated the bison in their hunting grounds and had to go in search of new herds, which they then slaughtered with the same carelessness because of the skins coveted by the traders and - of course - the largest by far Let part of the meat rot. (4, pp. 76/77).
The careless handling of the fire by the Indians (who also have to be blamed for white hunters) led to forest and prairie fires and destroyed large amounts of game and the already sparse tree population in the river valleys.
(1) Gruhl, Herbert: "They will be happy ...", Erb, Düsseldorf, 1984.
(2) Krech III, Shepard: "The Ecological Indian", WW Norton, New York, 1999.
(3) Martin Paul S .: "Pleistocene Overkill", Natural History 76 (December 1967), p. 32f.
(4) Stammel, HJ: “As long as grass grows and water flows”, DVA, Stuttgart, 1976.

The chance was lost

This end was a disaster for the Indians. As always, they were at odds with each other, and both warring parties had their allied Indians. Actually, all Indians should have sided with France. Because the Catholic French got on well with the Indians. The French rulers were sparsely populated, and immigration from Europe was so low that the Indians did not have to fear the new settlers' hunger for land. The English Protestants, on the other hand, were hardly ready to accept Indians as fellow human beings, and the border guards wanted to drive them out. New England was comparatively densely populated, and new settlers kept coming looking for land, especially Indian land. It was foreseeable that the “border” would continue to shift to the west.

The French and the Indians had gambled away a great opportunity: in Versailles no one had recognized the importance of this war on the “edge of the world”. New France received too little support, and an incompetent colonial administration could shamelessly enrich itself. According to Eckert (3, p. 730), a profound expert on the history of the border in the 18th century, it was ultimately corruption that caused Canada to be lost to the French.

The Indians could not bring themselves to jointly and resolutely support the French. A victory for France could have made their fate more favorable for a few decades. The French, less land-hungry, would have met their allies after a war had been won and would have given them reasonable living space. Often and often French emissaries had pointed out these facts to the Indians, warned them of the "English danger" and asked them to fight on the side of France. But as always, old tribal feuds stood in the way of the Indians, or friendships with one or the other white man, or they had to be bribed with gifts and promises for one side or the other without thinking about their long-term chances of survival.

The Indian tribes that had once settled the coastal regions were already decimated, displaced and exterminated. Now the same fate awaited the forest Indians west of the Appalachians. Could you have avoided this cruel fate? Had they been on them supposedly from Montezuma[1] hear the warning sent in the form of a “black wampum” (5, p. 87), and should expel or kill every white person who entered your country?

Perhaps they could have delayed their end, but stopping the conquest of North America was impossible. The pressure from the new settlers from Europe and their so much superior technologies was too great.

[1] Montezuma = the (1520 murdered) ruler of the Aztec Empire, which was conquered by Hernando Cortez (1485-1547) in 1520/21.
[2] Mesa Verde = now a national park on US-160 southwest of Cortez (Colorado)
(1) Cooke, Allistair: “History of America,” Pawlak, Herrsching, 1975.
(2) Dillon, Richard, H .: "Indian Wars", Lechner, Limassol (Cyprus), 1994.
(3) Eckert, Allan, W .: "Wilderness Empire", Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
(4) Stammel, HJ: "Indianer", Bertelsmann, Gütersloh, 1977.
(5) Steuben, Fritz: "Tecumseh - Strahlender Stern", Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart, 1965.