Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Noble Savage

While it is popular for leftists and anarchists to embrace the Noble Savage ideology of Rosseau, the reality is that Indigenous peoples were no more or less noble than anyone else.

The Six Nations decimated the Huron peoples in a mass genocide.

And the West Coast Salish and other civilized aborginal cultures functioned through slavery.

A reading of Oswald Spenglers
Decline of The West is much needed by some folks on the left.

With his investigation of slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America, Leland Donald makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the aboriginal cultures of this area. He shows that Northwest Coast servitude, relatively neglected by researchers in the past, fits an appropriate cross-cultural definition of slavery. Arguing that slaves and slavery were central to these hunting-fishing-gathering societies, he points out how important slaves were to the Northwest Coast economies for their labor and for their value as major items of exchange. Slavery also played a major role in more famous and frequently analyzed Northwest Coast cultural forms such as the potlatch and the spectacular art style and ritual systems of elite groups. Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America

Northwest Coast societies, at the beginning of the Modern period, were stratified. The coast's élite wielded power over a class of slaves whose labour produced at least some of the wealth upon which high status depended. While it is possible to trace the development of an élite on the northern Northwest Coast back 3000 calendar years, if not more, documenting the presence of slavery has proven far more intractable. Understanding the evolution of slavery is dependent on our understanding of the archaeology of élite formation, labour, warfare and gender. Three key lines of evidence for slavery are burial practices, evidence of warfare and raiding and evidence about changing labour demands. Slavery plausibly developed during either of two periods: c 1500–500 BC or c. AD 500–1000. The data at present do not allow us to eliminate either. Each has interesting implications for our understanding of the evolution of stratification.Slaves, chiefs and labour on the northern Northwest Coast

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