Message #42: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Intro to Amerind (Part III) Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 20:01:59 -0700 Encoding: MIME-Version: 1.0 Source The folktales of Native Americans, as well as their myths, frequently express ideas about the nature of humans, other creatures, and the universe. Among the Mexican nations, detailed historical records are maintained; elsewhere, in general, no sharp distinction was drawn between history and legend. Many Native American folktales are fables, pointing out a moral; others are simply exciting or amusing stories. Translations of Native American stories and myths-like descriptions of native religious beliefs and ceremonies-seldom capture the full Native American meaning; a nonnative reader is rarely aware of the background of ideas that native listeners bring to a story or ceremony. Warfare The common stereotype that Native Americans were extremely warlike arose because, when Europeans first came into contact with them, the Native Americans were usually defending their homelands, either against European invaders or against other native peoples supported by European invaders. Archaeological evidence of fortifications, destroyed towns, and people killed in battle indicates, however, that wars between Native American groups did take place before the European invasions. Most Native Americans fought in small groups, relying on surprise to give them victory. The large nations of Mexico and Peru sometimes relied on surprise attacks by armies, but their soldiers also fought in disciplined ranks. The Aztecs fought formal battles called "flower wars" with neighboring peoples; the purpose was to capture men for sacrifice (the Aztecs believed that the sun would weaken if it were not fed with human blood). Other native peoples, including many in present United States territory, conducted war raids to obtain captives, but these captives were used as slaves, rather than as victims for sacrifice. Some Native American battles were fought for revenge. The most common cause of war between Native American groups was probably to defend or enlarge tribal territory. Before the Spanish colonizations, warfare was conducted on foot or from canoes. Both the Mexican and the Andean nations, as well as smaller Native American groups, employed hand-to-hand combat with clubs, battle-axes, and daggers, as well as close-range combat with javelins hurled with great force from spear-thrower boards (known as atlatls). Bows and arrows were used in attacks, and fire arrows were used against thatched-house villages. When the Spanish brought riding horses to the New World, native peoples in both North and South America developed techniques of raiding from horseback. Languages About a thousand distinct languages are presently spoken by native peoples in North and South America, and hundreds more have become extinct since first European contact. In many areas, among them the Intermountain and Plateau regions of North America, people often spoke not only their native language but also the languages of groups with whom they had frequent contact. In various cases one language served as a common language for a multilingual region; examples include Tucano (western Amazon area) and Quechua (Andean region). Some regions had a traders' language or pidgin, a simplified language or mixture of several languages, helpful to traders of different native languages; among these were Chinook Jargon (Pacific Coast, North America), Mobilian (United States, Southeast), and lingua geral (Brazil). Linguists have grouped many of the Native American languages into roughly 180 families, but many other languages have no known relatives; scholars differ in proposing more distant relationships among families. Grammatical traits, sound systems, and word formation often vary from family to family, but families in a given region often influence one another. Crafts and the Arts Distinctive craft needs and artistic styles characterize each culture area of the Americas. Nearly all the major technologies known in Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 16th century were known also to Native Americans before European contact, but these technologies were not always used in the same way. For example, although the Andean nations had superb metallurgists, they made few metal tools (people used stone tools for most tasks); instead they applied their skills to creating magnificent ornaments. In architecture, the Maya built a few true (known as keystone) arches, but for roofing their buildings, Mayan architects preferred not the true arch but the narrow corbeled vault. Stonework The earliest American art known to archaeologists is flint knapping, or the chipping of stone. Between about 9000 and 6000 BC, stone spear and dart points of sharp beauty, such as the Folsom and Eden points, were produced with great skill. Although flint knapping eventually declined somewhat in other culture areas, in Mesoamerica the art of chipping flint and, especially, obsidian continued to be highly prized. In the Late Archaic period, after 3000 BC, the pecking and grinding (rather than chipping) of stone developed into art. In the region that is now the eastern United States lovely small sculptures, particularly of birds, were made as weights for spear-thrower boards. Between about 1500 and 400 BC in Mesoamerica, the Olmec made small ornaments of semiprecious stones, as well as fine naturalistic and in-the-round stone sculptures that were close to or larger than life size. Jade was a favorite stone of the Olmec, and it continued to be carved throughout Mesoamerican prehistory. Northwest Coast Haida carvings in argillite and recent Inuit soapstone carvings are examples of the continuing expression of Native American art through stone. In architecture, the pre-Hispanic Andean nations developed stone masonry to a high degree, fitting smoothed stone blocks together so expertly that no mortar was needed for walls that have stood for more than a thousand years. The Mesoamerican peoples also built in stone, and they preferred to cover their buildings in stucco plaster and adorn them with murals. Pottery The earliest pottery in the Americas was made about 3500 BC. By 2000 BC several known styles of ceramics had emerged, and in the wares of the following centuries everyday cooking pottery can be distinguished from fine serving pieces. Among outstanding styles are the Mayan vessels painted with scenes of royalty and mythology; the molded vessels of the Moche culture of Peru, reproducing objects and scenes from daily life as well as images from mythology; and the pottery of the Pueblos of the Southwest culture area, painted in geometric or stylized naturalistic designs. Ever since its beginnings as an Archaic-period art form in the Americas (by about 8000 BC or perhaps earlier), basketry continued to develop, reaching its finest levels of achievement in western North America. There, baskets became a true art form, prized as objects of wealth when of highest quality. In most parts of the Americas several basketry techniques were known, among them weaving, twining, and coiling; decorative techniques included embroidery and the use of bright feathers, shells, and beads. Weaving Throughout the Americas weaving of one kind or another was practiced, but the craft reached its highest development in the Andean nations. In ancient South America twining seems to have been in use earlier than true weaving, and this early technique continued in use in both North and South America for bags, belts, and other items. Almost as widespread as twining was the use of the backstrap loom, in which the tension on the threads is maintained as the weaver leans against a strap attached to the lower ends of the warp threads (the upper ends are attached to a hanging bar). On this simple loom a skilled weaver can make extremely fine, although narrow, textiles. Heddle looms appeared in Peru after about 2000 BC, allowing wider cloth to be woven (a heddle is a mechanism that raises and lowers the warp threads in the pattern required). Peruvian weavers, using cotton as well as llama and vicua wool, produced some of the finest textiles known, from filmy gauzes to double-faced brocades. Into their fabrics Native American weavers sometimes wove feathers or ornaments of precious metal, shell, or beads. The Aztec emperor and the Inca wore cloaks completely covered by brilliant feathers of rare birds, or by gold. Metalworking In North America, in the upper Midwest, copper had been beaten into knives, awls, and other tools in the Late Archaic period (around 2000 BC), and since that time it had been used for small tools and ornaments. The use of copper in this region, however, was not true metallurgy, because the metal was hammered from pure deposits rather than smelted from ore. The earliest metallurgy in the Americas was practiced in Peru about 900 BC, and this technology spread into Mesoamerica, probably from South America, after about AD 900. Over the intervening centuries a variety of techniques developed, among them alloying, gilding, casting, the lost-wax process, soldering, and filigree work. Iron was never smelted, but bronze came into use after about AD 1000. Thus, copper and, much later, bronze were the metals used when metal tools were made; more effort, however, was put into developing the working of precious metals-gold and silver-than into making tools. The best-known recent Native American metalwork is that of Navajo and Hopi silversmiths; their craft began when they adopted Mexican silver-working techniques in the mid-19th century. Work in Other Materials Among hunting peoples leather was used extensively for clothing, tents, shields, and containers (quivers, baby carriers, food storage, sheaths, ritual paraphernalia). In North America leather clothing was often embroidered with dyed porcupine quills. After European trade began, quill embroidery gave way to decoration with glass beads. Native Americans in eastern North America copied embroidery designs of the French, and they substituted silk threads for quills and moose hair. Wood carving was a widespread craft among Native Americans. The peoples of the Northwest Pacific Coast developed a truly distinctive art style in their wood carvings, with variations from tribe to tribe; the most famous examples of this style are its totem poles, tall logs carved and painted to represent the noted ancestors of a clan and figures from mythology. Bark was employed in several Native American crafts. In northeastern North America it was used for roofing, canoes, and containers; along the Northwest Coast, shredded cedar bark was woven into rain capes and ornaments; in South America bark was beaten in a felting process into a kind of cloth; and in Mexico bark pulp was made into paper. Among Southwestern peoples such as the Navajo, Pueblo, and Yumans, pollen, pulverized charcoal and sandstone, and other colored powdery materials are distributed over a ground of sand to create symbolic sand paintings that are used in healing rites and then destroyed. In the 20th century a number of Native American artists in Canada and the United States have adopted tempera, watercolor, and oil painting, using both traditional imagery and modern Western styles. The peoples of the Northwest Coast and the Inuit have also adapted traditional pictorial styles to printmaking. Music and Dance In North America six distinctive musical styles or regions have been recognized: Inuit and Northwest Coast; California and nearby Arizona; the Great Basin; Athapaskan; Plains and Pueblo; and Eastern Woodland. The music of northern Mexico has much in common with that of western Arizona; farther south, however, in the regions of the Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations, complex musical cultures existed. Little information has been preserved about the music of these civilizations, and whatever remains of the original styles survived the Spanish conquest principally in the form of highly complex and varied blends of native and assimilated Spanish elements. Elsewhere in South America the music of the native peoples, like that of North America, was relatively insulated from nonnative influence; the South American music, however, has been less extensively studied than that of North America. Instruments and Vocal Styles Among the persisting native musical styles of the Americas, singing is the dominant form of musical expression, with instrumental music serving primarily as rhythmic accompaniment. Exceptions occur, notably the North American love songs played by men on flutes. The native peoples of South America tend to use a softer singing voice than those of North America, whereas a tense vocal production is characteristic east of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout the Americas the principal instruments have been drums and rattles (shaken in the hand or worn on the body), as well as flutes and whistles. In Mesoamerica and the Andes, greater variety exists. Besides rattles and drums, the pre-Hispanic ensembles of the Aztecs are known to have included double and triple flutes; trumpets played in harmony in pairs; rasps; and the slit-drum (known as the teponaztli, a resonant, carved hollowed log struck with a stick). In Panama and the Andes, panpipes continue to be played in harmony. Instruments have often had ritual or religious significance; among some Brazilian tribes, for example, women must not view the men's flutes. In North America the tambourinelike frame drum, and in South America the maraca rattle, were frequently played by shamans. Inuit and Northwest Pacific Coast The Inuit and the peoples of the Northwest Pacific Coast use more complex rhythms than are common elsewhere in North America, and on the Northwest Pacific Coast, songs may have more complex musical forms and may use exceptionally small melodic intervals (a semitone or smaller). Northwest Pacific Coast dance dramas are lengthy, elaborate productions with magnificent costumes and tricky props, and the songs for these dramas are carefully taught and rehearsed. Inuit dance and costumes are simpler, possibly because their communities are smaller, and the dances often feature men using the forceful movements of harpooning while women sing accompaniment. California and the Great Basin The singing of the Native Americans of California and the Great Basin is produced by a more relaxed throat than that of other North American musical areas. The melodies and texts, however, are like those found elsewhere in North America in that the songs are short (although they may be repeated or combined into series) and the texts are often brief sentences. Such texts tend to refer to myths, events, or emotions, rather than telling stories, and sections of text may alternate with song sections sung to meaningless syllables. Listeners must know the background to appreciate the poetry and meaning of a song. Both social dances and costumed ritual dances are found in the Great Basin and in California, where they are more elaborate. Some California (and western Arizona, particularly Yuman) music is characterized by a rise in pitch in the middle section of a song. Songs of the Great Basin often have a structure consisting of paired phrases. Athapaskan Music The music of the Athapaskan peoples-those of northwestern Canada and Alaska as well as the Navajo and Apache of the Southwest-is characterized by melodies that have a wide range and an arc-shaped contour, and by frequent changes in meter; falsetto singing is prized. Costumed ritual dances are unusual except among the Apache, who, like the Navajo, have been influenced by the Pueblos. Much Navajo music belongs to healing rituals designed to restore patients to harmony by seating them in beautiful sand paintings while they listen to poetic songs. Plains and Pueblo Music The music of the Great Plains is the best known of the Native American styles of North America and is the source of the musical styles heard at present-day powwows (social gatherings, often intertribal, featuring Native American dancing). Singing is in a tense, pulsating, forceful style; men's voices are preferred, although a high range and falsetto are valued. Melodic ranges are wide, and the typical melodic contour is terrace-shaped-beginning high, and descending as the song progresses. Plains music is often produced by a group of men sitting around a large double-headed drum, singing in unison and drumming with drumsticks (at powwows, the group itself is called a drum). In Plains dancing, men usually dance solo with bent body (several may dance at once, independently), but there are also ritual dances with symbolic steps and social round dances for couples. The Pueblos add some lower-voiced music; they make more use of chorus, and they perform elaborate costumed ritual dances (often with clowns that entertain between serious dances).Eastern Woodland Styles Eastern Woodland music resembles Plains music, but it tends to have narrower melodic ranges, and Eastern singing makes use of polyphony (multipart music) as well as forms that are antiphonal (with alternating choruses) and responsorial (with alternating solo and chorus). Dances include men's solos, as well as ritual dances and social round dances. In the Stomp Dance of the Southeast, a snakelike line of dancers follows a leader who calls out in song and is answered by the followers. Mexico and the Andes Almost no archaeological evidence exists for prehistoric music in the Americas; all that is known from pre-Hispanic civilizations is a few preserved instruments (such as panpipes and ocarinas in Peru) and painted or carved scenes of musicians and dancers. In Mexico and Peru at the point of European contact, the nobles and the temple personnel maintained professional performers. In Mexico officials organized rituals for each month, with hundreds of richly costumed, carefully rehearsed dancers and musicians. Responsorial singing was practiced; sophisticated scales and chords were apparently used, and compositions seem to have been formally structured, with variety in melody and in combinations of meters. Secular dramas with professional actors were also produced, and bards composed epics. The harps, fiddles, and guitars found in the Native American music of present-day Mexico and Peru were adopted from the Spanish. Other South American Areas Elsewhere in South America, indigenous music was relatively unaffected by European music. The pentatonic (five-note) scale of the Incas spread to some other regions, but earlier scales of three or four notes also survived. Polyphonic singing, characterized by various voices and melodies, developed in some areas, notably in Patagonia. Flutes are still sometimes played in harmony, and the music of some Tropical Forest peoples is often a complex combination of voices, percussion, and flutes. European Contact and Impact As early Europeans first stepped ashore in what they considered the "New World"-whether in San Salvador (West Indies), Roanoke Island (North Carolina), or Chaleur Bay (New Brunswick)-they usually were welcomed by the peoples indigenous to the Americas. Native Americans seemed to regard their lighter-complexioned visitors as something of a marvel, not only for their dress, beards, and winged ships but even more for their technology-steel knives and swords, fire-belching arquebus (a portable firearm of the 15th and 16th centuries) and cannon, mirrors, hawkbells and earrings, copper and brass kettles, and other items unusual to the way of life of Native Americans. Initial Reaction to Europeans Nonetheless, Native Americans soon recognized that the Europeans themselves were very human. Indeed, early records show that 16th- and 17th-century Native Americans very often regarded Europeans as rather despicable specimens. White Europeans, for instance, were frequently accused of being stingy with their wealth and avaricious in their insatiable desire for beaver furs and deer hides. Likewise, Native Americans were surprised at European intolerance for native religious beliefs, sexual and marital arrangements, eating habits, and other customs. At the same time, Native Americans became perplexed when Europeans built permanent structures of wood and stone, thus precluding movement. Even village- and town-dwelling Native Americans were used to relocating when local game, fish, and especially firewood gave out. To many Native Americans, the Europeans appeared to be oblivious to the rhythms and spirit of nature. Nature to the Europeans seemed to be an obstacle, even an enemy. It was also a commodity: A forest was so many board feet of timber, a beaver colony so many pelts, a herd of buffalo so many robes and tongues. Some Europeans perceived the Native Americans themselves as a resource-souls ripe for religious conversion, or a plentiful supply of labor. Europeans, in sum, were regarded as somewhat mechanical-soulless creatures who wielded ingenious tools and weapons to accomplish their ends. Relations with the Colonial Powers "We came here to serve God, and also to get rich," announced a member of the entourage of Spanish explorer and conqueror Hernn Corts. Both agendas of 16th-century Spaniards, the commercial and the religious, needed the Native Americans themselves in order to be successful. The Spanish conquistadors and other adventurers wanted the land and labor of the Native Americans; the priests and friars laid claim to their souls. Ultimately, both programs were destructive to many indigenous peoples of the Americas. The first robbed them of their freedom and, in many cases, their lives; the second deprived them of their culture. Contrary to many stereotypes, however, many 16th-century Spaniards agonized over the ethics of conquest. Important Spanish jurists and humanists argued at length over the legality of depriving the Native Americans of their land and coercing them to submit to Spanish authority. For the Native Americans, however, these ethical debates did little good. The situation for Native Americans was considerably less destructive in Canada, where French commercial interests centered on the fur trade. Many of the indigenous peoples were vital suppliers of beaver, otter, muskrat, mink, and other valuable pelts. It would have been ruinous for the French to have mistreated such useful business partners. It was also unnecessary, as the lure of trade goods was sufficient incentive for the native hunters to transport the pelts to Montral, Trois-Rivires, and Qubec. Another factor favoring the relative independence of the indigenous peoples of Canada was the French need for allies in their wars with the British-both to the south, in the thirteen colonies, and to the north, on the shores of Hudson Bay. Both the French and British employed Native Americans as auxiliaries in their wars. While the French tended to regard the indigenous peoples as equals and intermarriage as acceptable, the English were not so inclined. English scorn for Native Americans no doubt derived in large measure from the tensions and friction generated by the English desire to acquire more and more land. Unlike the French in Canada, the English settled the Atlantic seaboard of the present-day United States on a relatively massive scale, and in the process displaced many more Native Americans. Moreover, Native Americans were not considered nearly as important to the English economy as they were to the French. The result was that the English generally viewed them as an obstacle to progress and a nuisance-except when war with France threatened; at such times the English attempted to purchase the support or neutrality of the indigenous peoples with outlays of gifts. The Ravages of Disease In 1492 the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Andean South America were among the most densely populated regions of the hemisphere. Yet, within a span of several generations, each experienced a cataclysmic population decline. The culprit, to a large extent, was microbial infection: European-brought diseases such as smallpox, pulmonary ailments, and gastrointestinal disorders, all of which had been unknown in the Americas during the pre-Columbian period. Native Americans were immunologically vulnerable to this invisible conqueror. The destruction was especially visible in Latin America, where great masses of susceptible individuals were congregated in cities such as Tenochtitln and Cuzco, not to mention the innumerable towns and villages dotting the countryside. More than anything else, it was the appalling magnitude of these deaths from disease that prompted the vigorous Spanish debate over the morality of conquest. As the indigenous population in the Caribbean plummeted, Spaniards resorted to slave raids on the mainland of what is now Florida to bolster the work force. When the time came that this, too, proved insufficient, they took to importing West Africans to work the cane fields and silver mines. Those Native Americans who did survive were often assigned, as an entire village or community to a planter or mine operator to whom they would owe all their services. The encomienda system, as it came to be known, amounted to virtual slavery. This, too, broke the spirit and health of the indigenous peoples, making them all the more vulnerable to the diseases brought by the Europeans. Death from microbial infection was probably not as extensive in the Canadian forest, where most of the indigenous peoples lived as migratory hunter-gatherers. Village farmers, such as the Huron north of Lake Ontario, did, however, suffer serious depopulation in waves of epidemics that may have been triggered by Jesuit priests and their lay assistants, who had established missions in the area. Wars and Enforced Migrations Without a doubt, the indigenous peoples of Canada suffered fewer dislocations than did the indigenous peoples of Latin or English America. This can be partly explained by the nature of the fur trade, which militated against settlement; the idea was to maintain the wilderness so that fur-bearing animals would continue to flourish. Furthermore, French settlement in Canada was restricted to a thin line of seigneuries (large tracts of land) and villages along the banks of the Saint Lawrence and lower Ottawa rivers. This demographic and commercial legacy continues to be felt in present-day Canada, where numerous indigenous groups may be found living in a more or less traditional manner, at least for part of the year. In contrast, English-Native American relations in the 17th and 18th centuries were marked by a series of particularly vicious wars won by the English. The English exercised the mandate of victory to insist that the Native Americans submit to English sovereignty and either confine their activities to strictly delimited tracts of land near areas of English settlement or move out beyond the frontier. Disease was also a grim factor in the American colonies, where the majority of the Eastern Woodlands people lived as village farmers. Severely affected by smallpox and war and harassed by settlers, many of the peoples indigenous to the eastern coastal areas gathered together their remnants and sought refuge west of the Appalachians. Relations with the United States One of the problems confronting the young United States was what to do with Native American peoples, particularly those in the Old Northwest (today called the Midwest) and South. The Treaty of Paris (1783), which formally ended the American Revolution, had made no mention of the country's indigenous peoples, reflecting Great Britain's ambiguous jurisdiction over them. The United States would have to chart its own course, which it did in Article I, Section 8, of its Constitution: "The Congress shall have Power · To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." This was the law from which more than 200 years of federal legislation and programs would derive. In the closing years of the 18th century, many of these "new" Americans were migrating in search of land across the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge into the Ohio Valley, Kentucky, and Tennessee-areas where various Native American nations were still intact and strong. Once there, many of these migrants squatted on Native American land, with the predictable result: war. A series of battles culminated in 1794 in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio, won by the forces of American General Anthony Wayne; it was followed, a year later, by the forced Treaty of Greenville, establishing a definite boundary between what was designated "Indian Territory" and white settlement. The Trade and Intercourse Acts These were difficult years for the fledgling government of the United States. Dominated by easterners, who were far removed from the brutality and anxieties of the trans-Appalachian frontier, the Congress of the United States was interested in pursuing a just and humane policy toward Native Americans. This was the rationale behind the passage of the Trade and Intercourse Acts, a series of programs at the turn of the century aimed at reducing fraud and other abuses in commerce with Native Americans. In practice, Congress sought to extinguish Native American titles to lands through peaceful negotiation before white settlement.