Native Americans were considered savage in the 18th century by most white settles, who with there technology considered themselves superior and civilised compared to the seemingly wild and unorganized Native Americans. In this essay I am going to put forward the suggestion that they were noble, due to their respect for nature and their effective use of raw materials. However they could also be considered savage due to their rituals such as the sun dance and battle conduct such as scalping.
Due to there nomadic lifestyles and respect for nature they did not believe that a person who was not higher than an animal could own land, so the white settlers view of this was that the Native American most be uncivilised if they didn’t even believe themselves to be higher than a slug, the native Americans believed the white settlers to be the barbaric because the settlers killed and used what they wanted such as the buffalo’s tongues that they made soup out of.
From the begging of the arrival of the settlers in the 15th to 18th century there was an obvious clash of cultures since the Native Americans with there illiterate, caring, ecological people against the foreign strange white settlers with there new harmful and waste full machines. Native Americans highly respected nature, they show this by using every part of the buffalo which is part of there everyday life for example they won’t kill young calf’s or breeders.
They were also a very caring close nit society which looked after it’s elders and children this can be seen in a source where a black elk a Sioux holy man ” The head man went around picking his best warriors and to them he said young warriors, today you shall feed the helpless…. ” This is but one example of the Native American compassion. Native American society did not make much sense do the settlers because they had no visual law and punishment such as jails and police this was untrue since there were punishments such as banishment.
They also had a very well organised government one man did not make the decisions there was in a sense a council of elders to guide him. Horse stealing was not seen as a crime because nobody can own nature and land, so taking what is owned by no one cannot be seen a crime, but since in the white settlers society the more land you owned the higher up and more respected you were.
The white settlers perspective of the Native Americans was not improved by the media against them, comics posters which showed them as a vicious scalping uncivilised society which was quite the opposite to the truth, though they had no written language they did tell stories and had in a way a oral history which was passed on. Scalping was a way to remove the spirit from there enemies body so when they died there enemies could not come after them in the next life.
But this was not what shocked the settlers the most the sun dance ceremony was considered a cruel and barbaric kind have torture since the native American would insert a peg behind each of the young braves nipple and then lift him into the air. In a fight Native Americans will retreat if they cannot win because a dead man is no use to anyone but this was considered cowardly to the settlers, but to the Native Americans the ultimate sign of bravery was to run up to ones enemy and say to them “I am not afraid” but this was considered stupid by the white settlers since there sign of bravery was to die in battle for the country.
The Native American medicine man would have been seen as a strange black magic to the settlers since he called upon spirits to help him. In conclusion, there are convincing evidence to suggest that the Native Americans could be both savage and noble, a caring society who looked after their young and elders but also put there young braves through the agony of the sun dance ceremony.
But the most convincing argument is that they were a noble and cultured ecological society that wasted no raw resources compared to the white settlers who can almost be considered savage themselves due to there wasteful and destructive attitude to all nature believing that it all belongs to them and that the land was there for them to use as they liked.
Though more advance were the white settlers in the sense that they better technology a written language, schools, law and order which they believed that the Native American supposedly lacked, though the white settlers brought upon the destruction of the Native Americans as they were and took a future from them that might have either been advancement or a continuation of what traditions that they possessed, but all we know is that they have now been integrated into the white settlers society no longer nomadic but still keep some of there traditions close to heart.