[Marxism] “The Heart of Everything That Is”: The Sioux’s brilliant, unsung leader - Salon.com

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 11 07:53:23 MST 2013


Red Cloud once told a white man that he and his people had fought so 
hard to retain dominion of the Black Hills (“the heart of everything 
that is” in their language) because the gods had delivered the Sioux 
from the underworld via the sacred Wind Cave in those hills. In fact, 
the Sioux originated in the Great Lakes area, where, according to Drury 
and Clavin, they “generally had their way with their Algonquin 
neighbors” until the 1660s, when the Algonquins began to trade furs with 
Europeans for muskets and knives. The classic picture of Plains Indian 
life — the brave, painted and feathered, almost flying across the 
grassland on the back of his painted pony, was largely if indirectly 
shaped by Europeans, who introduced both metal weapons and horses to the 
New World, pushing the Sioux west and supplying them with the animals 
used in their great buffalo hunts.

The Sioux lived by hunting and raiding, and if Drury and Clavin are 
sensible to the flinty grandeur of their culture, they frankly 
acknowledge it was entwined with the Sioux’s “savage and relentless 
subjugation of neighboring tribes.” Red Cloud proved his mettle by 
stealing horses, killing enemies (the Lakota had a particular hatred of 
the Crows) and “counting coup,” a form of prestige accorded to a fighter 
who strikes a foe, with the highest honor going to a brave who landed a 
non-fatal blow and escaped unscathed. A paragon of “steely 
self-discipline” (unlike the more volatile Crazy Horse), Red Cloud had a 
melancholy personal life, having planned to marry two women (first one 
from a prominent family, then the maiden he loved best), but the 
intended second bride hanged herself on the day of his wedding to the 
first, after which he remained monogamous, “an oddity in Sioux culture.”

full: 
http://www.salon.com/2013/11/10/the_heart_of_everything_that_is_the_siouxs_brilliant_unsung_leader/

----

"The classic picture of Plains Indian life — the brave, painted and 
feathered, almost flying across the grassland on the back of his painted 
pony, was largely if indirectly shaped by Europeans, who introduced both 
metal weapons and horses to the New World, pushing the Sioux west and 
supplying them with the animals used in their great buffalo hunts."

The article I wrote for CNS on the Comanches makes a similar 
point,namely that raiding was driven to a large extent by native peoples 
becoming part of the commodity chain. The article is behind a paywall 
but worth reading if you have JSTOR access:

Capitalism Nature Socialism
Volume 24, Issue 3, 2013
Special Issue: Bridging Indigenous and Socialist Perspectives
The Political Economy of Comanche Violence





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