Thursday, December 15, 2011

wisdom of John (Fire) Lame Deer

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison.
Because of this, we had no delinquents.
Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.”

— John (Fire) Lame Deer


  1. Ah yes, the *legendary* "Noble Savage" who never actually existed. . .

    You can do better than this Will.

    Forgive me for saying so Will, but I find this Peacepipe Dream rather lame dear. . .

  2. He existed: John Fire Lame Deer - Wikipedia.

    And what he says here has been said by other American Indians throughout the centuries. Was their way perfect? Of course not. But ours sure isn't either, and there are things we can learn from cultures that believed in sharing wealth.

  3. I was not talking about John Fire Lame Deer. I was talking about the mythical "Noble Savage" that his revisionist Native American "history" conjures up out of thin air. . .

    This post would be rather more Truthfully titled -

    'The BS of John (Fire) Lame Deer'

    Native Americans had various forms of currency.\

    Native Americans had slaves and other prisoners, not to mention sacrificial victims. . .

    *Some* Native Americans most certainly had written laws laid down.

    etc. etc. etc.

    John (Fire) Lame Deer's revisionist "history" can even be thought of as *racist* in that it falsely portrays Native Americans as altogether superior to "our white brothers". . .


  4. Robin, your ignorance is making you sound like a racist asshole. If you wish to do better, you might read 1491 and ponder some of these quotes:

    One does not sell the land people walk on.
    —Crazy Horse

    Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.
    —Chief Joseph

    I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.
    —Red Cloud

    Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.
    —Chief Maquinna

  5. You are the one displaying ignorance Will. Most of what John (Fire) Lame Deer said does NOT stand up to responsible scrutiny of Native American history. The same may be said about the content of the other remarkably naïve quotes you just threw at me. . . At least you didn't make the mistake of throwing any Chief Seattle quotes at me.

  6. Bill Colsher sent this:

    Err… I was going to start with Mississippian culture, but that’s a little too broad a subject so…

    Jumping ahead to the guys you mention:

    Maquinna was not really the peaceful agrarian villager he's portraying. He slaughtered the crew of the trading ship Boston, kept the survivors as slaves and executed others who tried to escape. His rival warlord Wickaninnish (who fought at least one “war” with Maquinna) rather treacherously did the same (over a presumed insult by her captain) with the trading ship Tonquin.

    Crazy Horse and Red Cloud were both skilled war leaders who were hopelessly out manned and out-gunned (and knew it very well) but nevertheless chose to continue throwing their people's lives away while inflicting negligible damage on the US Army. Chief Joseph was essentially the same, choosing to fight a technologically and numerically superior enemy and throwing away hundreds of lives for a result far worse than what he rejected. (And yes, I also understand that the abrogation of treaties by the US government and appalling behavior by US Army commanders had a great deal to do with his choices.)

    This is a common pattern, btw, that occurs when a civilization with a warrior ethos encounters another having superior weapons. The most famous example is laid out in Caesar’s Comentarii. War leaders make war. Unfortunately, they are typically ill-equipped to answer (or even consider) the important question – what will you destroy to maintain the status quo?[1] To his credit, Chief Joseph appears to have understood this in later life.

    By the mid to late 19th C, Native American cultures were under what may be termed “extreme pressure” and the anecdotes told by the elites of those cultures should be taken as no more or less self-serving than Caesar’s reports to the Senate. Context is everything with these sorts of things; under what circumstances a thing is said gives much meaning to the thing said. I’d challenge you to study your quotations in the context of when, where, and why they were made and consider them carefully in relation to the men’s previous behavior.

    To imagine the various native cultures in North America were substantially different than any other culture at the same level of development is simply wrong.

    As always, feel free to post and or rebut.


    [1] This is the core difficulty of “conservatism” – what is the acceptable cost to maintain a culture in the face of overwhelming change? The unwillingness to answer it is why conservatives always end up being wrong and destroying what they claim to preserve.

  7. Will, your "*sigh*" is open to considerable interpretation, including being a "*sigh*" that is reluctantly acknowledging that I am in fact right in what I said here. . .

    You can read all about Chief "Peace & Love" here. . .

    I hereby double-dare you to throw some Chief Seattle quotes at me. :-)

  8. Robin, I hereby acknowledge that you believe you are right. :)

    If you only want wise sayings from people who were saints all their lives, I can't help you. All I can offer are sayings from people who learned their truths by living.

    I do like this quote from your Wikipedia link: “When I was here before, the President gave me my country, and I put my stake down in a good place, and there I want to stay.... You speak of another country, but it is not my country; it does not concern me, and I want nothing to do with it. I was not born there.... If it is such a good country, you ought to send the white men now in our country there and let us alone.”

    As for Chief Seattle, I think I posted years ago about the controversy over the speech credited to him. It's still a grand speech. I've quoted Calgacus before, fully knowing that Tacitus may've invented his words. The words are still true.

  9. Really, I think the way you guys are focusing on these quotes is all wrong anyway. They weren't really talking about their own cultures in a literal sense. They were saying, "We were doing pretty alright for ourselves. Then you guys came along with your promises and your lies and your 'help' and you completely fucked us over. So why don't you take your 'civilization' and shove it up your lilly white asses."

    Only, you know, more polite. ;)