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Native Intelligence
November 28, 2013 12:45 AM   Subscribe

On March 22, 1621, a Native American delegation walked through what is now southern New England to meet with a group of foreigners who had taken over a recently deserted Indian settlement. At the head of the party was an uneasy triumvirate: Massasoit, the sachem (political-military leader) of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose coalition of several dozen villages that controlled most of southeastern Massachusetts; Samoset, sachem of an allied group to the north; and Tisquantum, a distrusted captive, whom Massasoit had brought along only reluctantly as an interpreter. Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated. It was all Massasoit could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them. And the only solution he could see was fraught with perils of its own, because it involved the foreigners—people from across the sea.
The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn't enough to save them In addition to providing a beautifully written account of what happened, the article does something subtle but incredibly cool in using a Native centered perspective that really illuminates how dramatically silenced and othered Native voices are in other accounts.

For more check out these two books by Charles C. Mann, this article comes from a chapter in the first,
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
posted by Blasdelb (92 comments total) 169 users marked this as a favorite

 
For another detailed and seemingly even- handed accounting of the Plymouth colony from its inception through King Phillip's War and its aftermath, I highly recommend Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:58 AM on November 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is a stunning and wonderful article. I think it should be required reading in American History in school.
posted by Anitanola at 1:43 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was terrific. Thanks.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:48 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was sit-in-the-parking-lot-of-a-gas-station-at-4AM-until-you're-done-reading-it good.

For those who don't have the time to read the article right now, the bit you're probably most curious about today:
By fall the settlers’ situation was secure enough that they held a feast of thanksgiving. Massasoit showed up with “some ninety men,” Winslow later recalled, most of them with weapons. The Pilgrim militia responded by marching around and firing their guns in the air in a manner intended to convey menace. Gratified, both sides sat down, ate a lot of food and complained about the Narragansett. Ecce Thanksgiving.
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:03 AM on November 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


wow.

Beginning in 1616, the pestilence took at least three years to exhaust itself and killed up to 90 percent of the people in coastal New England.


I mean, wow.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:38 AM on November 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


1491 started out asan article in The Atlantic (the cover story, in fact) which can be found here. Fascinating reading.
posted by TedW at 3:40 AM on November 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this. Happy "thanks but no thanks" giving from occupied Manhattan Lenape territory.
posted by spitbull at 4:12 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Invented traditions: Thanksgiving created by ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ author — not the Pilgrims
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:21 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good post. Thank you.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2013


Reading 1491 was one of my big "aha!" moments in comprehending history. I'd read the basic facts of the pre-contact Americas before (90 percent death rates, complex civilizations, etc) but I had never put those pieces together with the pattern of colonization and settlement in the New World that we all learn in school. It's well worth the read, as this article suggests.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:32 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can also recommend Mayflower .
This is a great post, thank you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:42 AM on November 28, 2013


Thirding (fourthing?) 1491 as a great read. The collective perverted, inverted sense of history isn't true only for North America -- same deal in South America with the Inca. They would have handed the Spanish their asses ten times over if they weren't both decimated by disease and fighting their own intra-family civil war.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:15 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, what an insane twist Tisquantum's life took on Thomas Hunt's boat. You go through all that elite bodyguard training, then you're abducted across the sea, kept as a novelty, you wheel and deal your way back to find 90% of everyone is dead, and those left now view you as an alien.
posted by ignignokt at 5:30 AM on November 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


wow.

Beginning in 1616, the pestilence took at least three years to exhaust itself and killed up to 90 percent of the people in coastal New England.


I mean, wow.


It's been mentioned before that this may be the origin of US pop culture's fascination with the apocalypse and stories set in the post-apocalyptic remains of a dead culture. From Mayflower to the end of manifest destiny, that was what the push westward pretty much was. Except the cultures weren't always already wiped out by disease when we pushed through.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:37 AM on November 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Excellent piece.

British fishing vessels may have reached Newfoundland as early as the 1480s and areas to the south soon after.

It's a bit dodgy calling the Pilgrims "British" in the 1600s, but using the name in the 1480s? Nuh-unh.
posted by Thing at 5:51 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Appropriate reading this today within spitting distance of Pawtuxet as someone who is descended from some of the Mayflower's 50ish survivors.

Sorry about the hepatitis, Wampanoags. My ancestors were kind of jerks.
posted by sonika at 6:19 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yay history! This will be an excellent conversation starter later today.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mayflower really opened my eyes to just how silly the version of history was that I leaned in school.
posted by COD at 6:40 AM on November 28, 2013


I had to stop reading 1491 for a bit because it was making me so depressed. Maybe I'll read some more today while I babysit the smoker.
posted by rtha at 6:42 AM on November 28, 2013


Amazing bit of writing - thanks for sharing it!
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on November 28, 2013


Heh: The Pilgrims’ lack of preparation was typical. Expeditions from France and Spain were usually backed by the state, and generally staffed by soldiers accustomed to hard living. English voyages, by contrast, were almost always funded by venture capitalists who hoped for a quick cash-out.
posted by Slothrup at 7:00 AM on November 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Shorter than the Natives, oddly dressed and often unbearably dirty, the pallid foreigners had peculiar blue eyes that peeped out of bristly, animal-like hair that encased their faces. They were irritatingly garrulous, prone to fits of chicanery and often surprisingly incompetent at what seemed to Indians like basic tasks. But they also made useful and beautiful goods—copper kettles, glittering colored glass and steel knives and hatchets—unlike anything else in New England. Moreover, they would exchange these valuable items for the cheap furs that the Indians used as blankets


Wait. WAIT. My ancestors were IRL Dwarf Fortress migrants?
posted by Slackermagee at 7:00 AM on November 28, 2013 [18 favorites]


More than likely Tisquantum was not the name he was given at birth. In that part of the Northeast, tisquantum referred to rage, especially the rage of manitou, the world-suffusing spiritual power at the heart of coastal Indians’ religious beliefs. When Tisquantum approached the Pilgrims and identified himself by that sobriquet, it was as if he had stuck out his hand and said, Hello, I’m the Wrath of God.
oh hey I think I get a joke now
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:04 AM on November 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, what an insane twist Tisquantum's life took on Thomas Hunt's boat. You go through all that elite bodyguard training, then you're abducted across the sea, kept as a novelty, you wheel and deal your way back to find 90% of everyone is dead, and those left now view you as an alien.

seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:13 AM on November 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, the British Isles were the British Isles before there was a Kingdom of Great Britain. Britannia, and all that. There really isn't a good group name for the inhabitants of the islands for any period, so if there were people from more than one area of the islands doing things you might as well call them British. It's not a winnable war.
posted by Devonian at 7:36 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, 1491 has been on my to-read list for a whlie. Time to move it up.
posted by immlass at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is pretty much the version I learned my right-wing conservative father. He laughed at the schoolbook account, saying it was ridiculous that people would just welcome foreigners out of niceness. They wanted to use them to help kill other tribes, he'd say, that's why any nation makes nice with another. The biggest surprise in this (excellent) piece for me was the news that the Spanish Church, so eager to torture Jews, was against the enslavement of Indians.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:54 AM on November 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fantastic read, thank you!
posted by effluvia at 8:03 AM on November 28, 2013


Even history cannot escape this truism: There is your side, my side, and the truth. It has always been thus. Great article.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:22 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The biggest surprise in this (excellent) piece for me was the news that the Spanish Church, so eager to torture Jews, was against the enslavement of Indians.

My understanding was that they were against enslavement- as long as they converted to Christianity.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:37 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You go through all that elite bodyguard training, then you're abducted across the sea, kept as a novelty, you wheel and deal your way back to find 90% of everyone is dead, and those left now view you as an alien.

Sounds like a Bruce Willis vehicle.

This is a great article, thanks for sharing it. I am reading it in the NE corner of Rhode Island, in the heart of the lands once populated by the people described in this piece. Gives me something to think about while dinner cooks.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:43 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wasn't that change to conversaion over enslavement made after a whole bunch of really bloody native slave riots tho?

I mean the propaganda used to recruit English colonists was " oh no those wicked Catholics are enslaving the Natives or worse, converting them to Godless Papism we must dooooooo something for thier souls."

At least this is going off some foggy memories of American History 101.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2013


The Spanish used more of a de-facto style of enslavement where people weren't necessarily chained down or shipped back to Europe, but we're still oppressively governed & worked to death by colonial landholders. In Central America, it was slavery in every way except by name. But yeah, so long as their souls went to heaven anyway, it's all good, right, Padre?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 AM on November 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


1491 is an amazing book. I've read it several times which is not something i can say for a lot of non fiction.

I'd heard about some of the things he discusses but this book was just eye opening, riveting, and depressing.
posted by sio42 at 8:49 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie

aside from some combination of racism, ignorance, the delicacy of the material, and holy shit what a downer of an ending, that is
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:57 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


...it was as if he had stuck out his hand and said, Hello, I’m the Wrath of God.

"Behold, I am become Shiva, Destroyer of worlds."
- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Some of the people present at history's inflection points are well aware of what's happening around them.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:58 AM on November 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie

Squanto: A Warrior's Tale. It is a somewhat forgotten 1994 Disney film made around the same time as Pocahontas, so may not meet your qualification of being 'great'. I saw it as a kid and don't remember it enough to say if it is any good, but the part where he returns to America and his village is dead was in there.
posted by riruro at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2013


Fantastic read. Thanks for posting.
posted by mwhybark at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2013


This was excellent. Seriously top-notch scholarship and written in an engaging, accessible way. Thanks for posting.
posted by downing street memo at 9:37 AM on November 28, 2013


seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie

it would star a white dude though
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Makeup!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:59 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


it would star a white dude though

Surely they could get Johnny Depp!
posted by sonika at 10:18 AM on November 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Keanu.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on November 28, 2013


it would star a white dude though

yeah, the distance between the movie I'd want to see and the movie that would actually get made is pretty vast

I mean hell, Gandhi
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:30 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The biggest surprise in this (excellent) piece for me was the news that the Spanish Church, so eager to torture Jews, was against the enslavement of Indians.

From what I've been able to tell, Bartolomé de las Casas was influential in Spain in protecting Native Americans from slavery -- and advocated instead for using Africans. He eventually decided that was a bad idea, too, but a little late in the game.
posted by jaguar at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


lbr if it starred a shirtless Jason Statham and was produced by Michael Bay I would totally see it.
posted by elizardbits at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


From this description, Tisquantum almost sounds like a sort of James Bond figure.



Perhaps he could have used a Tisquantum of Solace.





I am so, so sorry.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


lbr if it starred a shirtless Jason Statham and was produced by Michael Bay I would totally see it.

How about the animated adaptation from Lou Scheimer?
posted by Pudhoho at 12:07 PM on November 28, 2013


And I should have said: this is awesome. I am making it a part of my Thanksgiving table.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2013


Also a great read is William Cronon's Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. The bit I remember the most clearly is his discussion of usufruct rights on lands controlled by a tribe (individuals permitted to grow maize on a piece of cleared forest, fish at a certain river bend) and how tribal leaders understood their treaties and contracts with colonists as providing use rights but not in perpetuity rights to the land.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:53 PM on November 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this post, it's fascinating.

Man, what an insane twist Tisquantum's life took on Thomas Hunt's boat. You go through all that elite bodyguard training, then you're abducted across the sea, kept as a novelty, you wheel and deal your way back to find 90% of everyone is dead, and those left now view you as an alien.

We've spent a while today talking about this. What a thing to live through. We create so many imaginary apocalypses in our culture, and he lived through an actual apocalypse.
posted by medusa at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2013


seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie

Seriously, how is it that people don't read more history?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:08 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rtha wrote: Maybe I'll read some more today while I babysit the smoker.

First thought: Huh, didn't know Rtha had kids.

Second thought: Huh, Americans are much more relaxed about infant health.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:00 PM on November 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


Indians were taller than pilgrims? Is this quantified? Suggested?
posted by Colonel Panic at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2013


Indians were taller than pilgrims? Is this quantified? Suggested?

It's why the Pilgrims had such tall hats. It was entirely compensation regarding their height and the height of American Indians they encountered. - Answer from Calvin's Dad.
posted by Atreides at 3:49 PM on November 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm afraid to read this, because it seems like the kind of thing that will leave me weeping from a combination of rage and sorrow.
posted by dogheart at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2013


Joe in Australia: "Rtha wrote: Maybe I'll read some more today while I babysit the smoker.

First thought: Huh, didn't know Rtha had kids.

Second thought: Huh, Americans are much more relaxed about infant health.
"

Dang! You beat me to it, Joe. Also, great post, OP. Thanks!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:37 PM on November 28, 2013


I'm afraid to read this, because it seems like the kind of thing that will leave me weeping from a combination of rage and sorrow.

There's definitely a lot to be sorrowful and angry about, but the piece does a really good job at giving agency back to the Native Americans. It's not just a "Oh, a peaceful nation succumbed to plague!" article; it's a thoughtful discussion of how existing conflicts between Native people interacted with the colonists' arrival.
posted by jaguar at 4:44 PM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


this is really quite incredible. The more I learn about native americans, the more i respect them. What a complicated history.
posted by rebent at 8:00 PM on November 28, 2013


One week ago first read this story in 1491. This most dense volume comes across as a groundbreaking, mindbending work. Suddenly all the so-called "New World" (perhaps actually the Old World?) archeology and pre-Columbian history seem up for grabs. These days, I read on in 1491, stunned, simply stunned.
posted by telstar at 1:42 AM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Colonel Panic Indians were taller than pilgrims? Is this quantified? Suggested?

Don't know about Native Americans specifically; but makes total sense. The Indians would have had a more balanced diet than Europeans, except perhaps the wealthy. Agriculture and heavy dependence on grains is great in terms of calorie-per-acre yield, but wasn't very healthy on the individual level until the 20th century.
posted by spaltavian at 7:31 AM on November 29, 2013


Don't know about Native Americans specifically; but makes total sense. The Indians would have had a more balanced diet than Europeans, except perhaps the wealthy.

The article goes into a bit of detail about this - the Wampanoag diet was much more varied and rich in starches than what the Pilgrims had access to. Corn, for one, hadn't been introduced in Europe and was widely available in North America. One of the key pieces of the Wampanoag diet was a sweet corn paste, which would have been fairly calorie dense. The greater variety of crops available meant better nutrition meant that yes, the Wampanoag were taller than the Pilgrims.

Also the article gives many accountings of European first impressions of Native Americans, all of which mention their stature being "great" or "fine" - which would not be particularly remarkable unless they were taller. Were they the same height, the descriptions would have been much more likely to be of "average" stature.
posted by sonika at 8:05 AM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, taller and leaner than the Pilgrims was a pretty standard part of the Othering of the Natives and part of the whole Noble Savage thing
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 AM on November 29, 2013


Othering of the Natives

Traditionally, this comes one month before the Airing of the Grievences.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:10 AM on November 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


So "indians taller than european explorers" not quantified.
Taller than other natives they had encountered maybe?

Classic revisionist history. But then so was all the Other Sides of The Story from Paul Harvey.
posted by Colonel Panic at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2013


It's really weird to me that that is the thing you decided to focus on in this piece.
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on November 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can't tell if Colonel Panic is joking. You find it hard to believe that the Native Americans were taller than the Europeans because why exactly?

Captain John Smith thought the Indians of the Chesapeake were tall and referred to a Susquehannock man as a giant. In fact, archeology has shown that on average the Indians were only an inch or two taller than Europeans.

The general assumption by anthropologists from that is that the Indians were taller than the Europeans, and much taller than the Native Americans that were discovered in the West Indies.

Usually I go with "hey I learned something new today" but "there's no way my previous understanding could be incorrect" is another way to look at it, sure.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:25 PM on November 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


this is really quite incredible. The more I learn about native americans, the more i respect them.
The successful write history and they usually don't want you to learn and respect the other side.

Great article. The strategic political moves by Massasoit, Tisquantum, et al were fascinating. Oh what a story we would be telling now if the germs had not the issue they were.
posted by Kerasia at 2:46 PM on November 29, 2013


seriously, how is this part of the man's life not yet a great movie

Seriously, Squanto's story has more in common with SF than anything you learn in school.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:33 PM on November 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, a Cracked article I liked made a related point.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:43 AM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Very Chagrin Falls Thanksgiving
posted by homunculus at 3:23 PM on November 30, 2013


"really weird to me that that is the thing you decided to focus on in this piece"

Right. There are many Hmm things in this article that need footnoting. Need to point them all out.

The grade school version of thanksgiving was all a hoax, sure. But this piece doesn't have any ideas about how such a non event successfully perpetuated beyond the failed pilgrim religious movement.

And without such a successful perpetuation and national holiday it wouldn't be so intellectually satisfying to reconstruct it in the form of a basic good vs evil story with GASP european invaders as the bad guys and the brave indians as good. No gray areas.

Tall peoples are always the good guys. Yes its interesting the author needed to say the natives were taller than the europeans. Uniformly.
posted by Colonel Panic at 9:59 PM on November 30, 2013


And without such a successful perpetuation and national holiday it wouldn't be so intellectually satisfying to reconstruct it in the form of a basic good vs evil story with GASP european invaders as the bad guys and the brave indians as good. No gray areas.

This was absolutely not my impression to the point where I wonder if we read the same article.
posted by sonika at 10:12 PM on November 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


doesn't have any ideas about how such a non event successfully perpetuated beyond the failed pilgrim religious movement.

guess you missed the parts about the 90% pandemic, then. easy mistake.
posted by mwhybark at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


"guess you missed the parts about the 90% pandemic, then. easy mistake."


The pandemic perpetuated the Thanksgiving Coda? How?

The pandemic made no excuses neccesary. So then what purpose would the Thanksgiving fabrication serve?

History just happens. Its always wrong to some degree. But the rewrite in this piece is so contradictory it is almost calling out the traditional tomes just to support itself.

You have to be a simpleton not to see the jerking knees with this version.
posted by Colonel Panic at 5:54 PM on December 1, 2013


So then what purpose would the Thanksgiving fabrication serve?

To alleviate guilt among White Americans for stealing land from the Native Americans. Which is such an obvious purpose -- and one alluded to very directly in the article in discussion how "God's will" influenced feelings on both sides -- that I'm both amazed and appalled it needs to be pointed out to you.
posted by jaguar at 6:14 PM on December 1, 2013


There is also the fact that feasts being grateful for the autumn harvest are fairly standard in a lot of different cultures.
posted by jaguar at 6:16 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


More history of colonial thanksgiving celebrations.
posted by jaguar at 6:17 PM on December 1, 2013


But the rewrite in this piece is so contradictory

Can you be more specific? Contradictory of what - the narrative as we have mostly learned it, from the European perspective and focus?
posted by rtha at 7:34 PM on December 1, 2013


"To alleviate guilt"?

Are you sure?

" for stealing native american land"

If the pandemic killed 94 percent of the existing population was there really any stealing neccesary?

And when will we have a version that implies the Euros purposefully brought disease with them for the purpose of land usurpation? Let's stop pussyfooting around.
posted by Colonel Panic at 7:50 PM on December 1, 2013


If the pandemic killed 94 percent of the existing population was there really any stealing neccesary?

No, none whatsoever.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:06 PM on December 1, 2013


The colonists were fully aware there were people already living in the land they decided to settle on. So, yes, they seemed very convinced that stealing was necessary.
posted by jaguar at 8:07 PM on December 1, 2013


[Please drop the "Asking leading and provocative questions?" tactic here. If you have a thesis, explain it. Otherwise, maybe move on? Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:37 PM on December 1, 2013


And when will we have a version that implies the Euros purposefully brought disease with them for the purpose of land usurpation?

Again, it seems that some of the finer-grain details in the main post link may have escaped your notice at the table read, happens to everyone now and again.

Tisquantum makes this claim at least once, and thread commenters have taken note of it. It's cast as a bluff, of course.
posted by mwhybark at 11:22 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Colonel Panic: And when will we have a version that implies the Euros purposefully brought disease with them for the purpose of land usurpation? Let's stop pussyfooting around.

Europeans didn't bring the diseases with them to the New World on purpose, but once they realized what was going on, they certainly used it to their advantage. Have you seriously not heard of smallpox blankets?

But this piece doesn't have any ideas about how such a non event successfully perpetuated beyond the failed pilgrim religious movement.

Yeah, imagine a world where there is still such a thing as "Massachusetts". Absolutely no connection between then and today.

So "indians taller than european explorers" not quantified.
Taller than other natives they had encountered maybe?


Once again, European accounts comment on how tall the Indians were. You don't comment on how tall people are if they are mostly your own height. Hunter-gatherers the world over tend to be taller than farmers. This was a near-universal trend until the 20th century. This has nothing to do with good guys vs. bad guys.
posted by spaltavian at 6:15 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hat Privelege.
posted by Artw at 7:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not headdress-ist.

- - - -
I am reading that book "1491," and it really is as good as people say up-thread: readable, interesting, and fluid.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean hell, Gandhi

So I made this comment a while ago. Did anyone else know Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji? I didn't, and boy is my face a red so deep that the shade itself is also embarrassing
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:56 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I did know that, but only because I had recently recently read more or less that same exchange elsewhere.
posted by jaguar at 6:08 PM on December 10, 2013


I was going to mention it as a weird pick but figured the conversation would probably be utterly tedious.
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on December 10, 2013


That was probably a good call. I owe my new lack of ignorance to my Twitter addiction. Thanks, Twitter™
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:12 PM on December 10, 2013


Thanks to this thread I ordered 1491. It arrived yesterday. All I've read so far are the first two pages of the preface and am already enjoying it. Danke, thread citizens.
posted by Atreides at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


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