Undoing slanders against the colonization of America
This is the third in a series of articles on the discovery and colonization of America, countering accusations of leftists and liberation theologians.
Third Accusation: Indians Were Robbed of Their History, Culture, and Freedom
According to this accusation, the European oppressors deprived the Indians of their history, their millennial culture, and their freedom.
The Fifth Centenary of Discovery is “the opportunity to remember the 40,000-year history of native peoples,” says Leonardo Boff (Adista, p. 5). And the Basic Christian Communities of Brazil repeat: “The history of indigenous peoples in the Americas … began approximately 40,000 years ago B.C.” (BCCs, p. 19). In another passage, they add, “The indigenous peoples who lived here had their own history … they were invaded in their history by European domination and forced into their history” (ibid., P. 71).
1. The Indians Had No History Properly Speaking
The truth, however, is that the Indians did not even have “40,000 years of history” or even a history strictly speaking, as science and the common man understand it.
This whole publicity orchestration hides a tribal-communist design to exaggerate ad nauseam the importance of America’s pre-Columbian past to corroborate the accusation against the Church and Christian civilization which we have analyzed.
Scientists are Cautious on the Antiquity of American Man – In less abnormal times, to speak of a 40,000-year-old history of indigenous peoples would be seen as a laughable eccentricity which no one would even bother to refute.
When studying the antiquity of man in America and in the earliest pre-Columbian civilizations, anthropologists and paleontologists are extremely cautious and warn about the uncertain dating of the fossils of human remains found on the continent.
For example, these uncertainties lead an authority on the subject as the French Americanist Paul Rivet to argue that one should not go beyond the mere scope of working hypotheses in dealing with these questions (cf. Rivet, Antiquity of Man in America, Chap. 2, pp. 22-44).
He notes that more than once hurried scientists found what they deemed to be very old skeletons that later proved to be Indians from the time of European arrival on this continent.
In support of his cautious position, Rivet cites three major US researchers. The first, Alfred S. Romer, concludes that the association between animal fossils and human utensils found in North America “does not prove that man appeared in North America more than ten or twenty millennia ago.” The second, “N. C. Nelson, arrives at the same finding.” The third, “John C. Merriam, takes brings forward this date of apparition a little but does not go beyond the Pleistocene” (Rivet, p. 33).
Analyzing the main archaeological discoveries in South America, Rivet limits the appearance of men “to the same time we adopted for North America.” He concludes: “America as a whole is a relatively newly populated continent, geologically speaking” (Rivet, p. 44).
Another great scientist, anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka, claims that the appearance of men in the Americas cannot seriously be set to more than ten thousand years (cf. Pereyra, Brief History of America, p. 78).
In America, the remnants of the most organized indigenous societies do not go back beyond 1500 BC. Nor do we know what happened between American prehistory and the earliest vestiges of more organized indigenous societies such as those of Mexico and Peru. Archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians conjecture that such traces can be set at around 1500 BC.
But no certain concatenated historical picture can be drawn from this date.
Eminent Argentine historian Alberto Caturelli summarizes well the consensus of experts in the field. Considering “the [Aboriginal] civilizations and their chronological development,” he points out that a “distinction can be made between a period called formative (or pre-classical), and a properly classical one.” “The former … runs from the 1500s BC to 200 AD.” To this period correspond the Olmecs in the Gulf of Mexico, “whose civilization contains, as in germ, the features of the other central American civilizations. In Peru … during the same period, you have the Chavín de Huántar culture.” The second period begins in Central America in the year 400 BC with the Zapotecs, Totlecas, and Mayans, and in South America with the Mochicas in the year. 200 AD (Caturelli, p. 107).
Aztecs: At best, a protohistory of less than 200 years – The same historian adds: “Of all the centuries elapsed on the continent from its earliest origins to the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortês, you only can call ‘history’, taking the term very broadly, the one hundred and ninety-six years between the founding of Mexico [circa 1325] and the conquest. Given its characteristics … it would be more accurate to designate these years as Nahuatl protohistory” (idem, p. 115).
Incas: Can a ‘void’ be called “history”? – Regarding the Incas, the same author states that “one has the impression that there is a hiatus, a vacuum between the Chimú culture and the emergence of the Inca civilization that imposed a state and a language, the Quechua” on other tribes and Andean peoples. It was only “thanks to the Spanish chroniclers … who gathered the tradition, that the general lines of the evolution … of this State are known” (idem; p. 124).
How, then, can you call “history” something which is a “void,” an unknown? Would this not be abusing and misusing the term? Consider the definition of history: “1. true narration and exposition of past events and memorable facts taken in the absolute sense as an account of the public and political events of peoples. This name is also given, however, to events, facts, or manifestations of human activity of any other kind: History of Literature, Philosophy, the Arts, Medicine, Legislation” (Real Academia Espanola, entry “Historia,” p. 713).
“It is true that the fact there are chronological “hiatuses” or “gaps” between two past events or “memorable things” occurring in the past of a particular people or area of civilization does not necessarily mean an absence of history. For example, how many voids and unknowns exist between the dispersal of peoples after the Tower of Babel and the moment when these peoples began to document what happened to them, with the consequent appearance of the first verifiable historical facts!
However, no Native American culture ever had its own account “of public and political events,” or otherwise in the form of a “true narration and exposition.” In general, when they did, it was just a vague oral tradition mixed with fanciful myths about their origins. Only the Incas and Aztecs ever kept accounts with some precision, albeit restricted to the brief lapse of time recorded by historians (less than two centuries).
A Great Historical Puzzle – Besides these two civilizations, there was in America a multitude of nomadic or semi-nomadic indigenous peoples, or settled in very primitive clusters, more or less fixed in time, and stagnant in their barbarism. They had diverse but very elementary forms of social organization and spoke over 2,000 different languages, some of which were unrelated to each other. If we also consider the ethnic differences found among the various Aboriginal branches, we are in the presence of a great historical conundrum. For example, how did the men who started the settlement of America come to this amazing atomization of ethnic groups? What other immigration took place and when? Who can know it? Not even their tribes and indigenous groups know it; not having protohistory comparable to that of the Aztecs and Incas, they only keep vague myths about their remote origins.
Other Indigenous Peoples: “Outside and Above History” – Furthermore, even the very inspirers of the tribalist neo-revolution recognize the absence of history among the most primitive peoples. Claude Lévy-Strauss, the most notable pioneer of the so-called structuralist anthropology, states: “Although situated in history, these [primitive] societies seem to … desperately resist every modification of their structure that would allow history to break out into their midst.” These societies, he adds, “could be called ‘cold’ because their internal environment is close to the zero [degree] of historical temperature” (in “Leçon inaugurale,” given at the Collège de France on January 5, 1960; apud Costa Lima, pp. 73 to 75).
Incidentally, according to the new revolutionary model dreamed up by structuralist anthropologists, a “society placed outside and above history” would model itself according to primitive societies. This revolution “would not have even conceived its importance and necessity if men had not stubbornly resisted history in backward regions of the earth” (idem, p. 75).
Unsustainable Episcopal Statement – However, the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference maintains that the Indians “are the original owners of this territory and those who made history in it from ancient times” (CEB, p. 54). This statement is not only improper but, as we have seen, unsustainable in its literal sense. In the first place, the concepts of “owner” (understood as the individual or group that has the full domain and use of a certain good) and of territorial domain (in its current sense) were foreign to South American Indians. Land use was stipulated according to the will of the tyrannical chieftains. Furthermore, they never arrived at this notion of dominion over the entirety of a given territory but only over the human groupings that inhabited it (and sometimes also believed to have a magical-religious power over certain fragmentary portions of it, which is not to be confused with ownership). Secondly, because, as it turned out, the history of the indigenous peoples of America, in the proper sense of the term, is unknown. Not even in the only two possible exceptions to this general rule – Aztecs and Incas – can we speak of a history coming “from ancient times,” because the known chronology of both peoples dates back only a few generations before the Conquest.
2. Pre-Columbian Indigenous “Cultures”: Decadent and Unnatural
On the other hand, how valid is the accusation that the Indians were stripped of their culture and civilization? True, the cultures that existed in America upon the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese have largely disappeared (although many of their elements survive embedded in Ibero-American culture).
The question then shifts to this one: was this disappearance caused by Europeans, or did it result from other factors unrelated to them? The answer, once again, arises from the facts themselves.
Two Fundamental Assumptions – Several Native American civilizations before Columbus reveal a still poorly-studied juxtaposition of a high degree of knowledge – mathematical, astronomical, constructional, and so on – alongside a social fragility impregnated with atrocious barbarism. Some of them, such as the one already mentioned by Chávin de Huántar (Peru), Tiahuanaco (Bolivia and Peru), and Maia (Central America and Mexico), to which could be added the Menhires on Easter Island (Chile), haunt scholars for having disappeared without our even knowing the causes.
Similar phenomena have occurred on other continents, such as the mysterious disappearance of the Khmer civilization in Cambodia.
Although the factors that motivated the sudden disappearance of these cultures are unknown, it can be assumed that they are related to the intrinsic weakness of social bodies which, along with extraordinary achievements in certain fields of human knowledge, have remained endemically rudimentary and with egregious degradations in essential aspects of their institutional structure and daily life.
If these civilizations were to have disappeared as a result of intrinsic fragility or other multiple and varying causes depending on time and place, then why blame solely or mainly Europeans for the disappearance of the American cultures they encountered? They may have been cooperative causes – of greater or lesser significance – for processes already at an advanced stage of decay as they arrived on the continent. As we will see below, there are abundant elements that make this conjecture plausible.
We must therefore carefully avoid confusing what belongs to the domain of historical hypotheses – such as the degree of European participation in the disappearance of aboriginal cultures – with that of historical certainties. Unfortunately, obfuscated by ideological bias, opponents of the Fifth Centenary are not concerned about avoiding this confusion, which is a fundamental assumption for honestly addressing the issue.
Another assumption – this time of a concrete order – which the ideological clan hostile to the Fifth Centenary ignores is the fact that the indigenous cultures and civilizations of America, without exception, were marked by such monstrous and dominant elements of primitivism or degradation that most of them were inevitably bound to disappear even without European interference. And if any valuable elements of theirs remained, it was thanks to the Europeans. One proves this by analyzing the fundamental elements of these cultures:
Universal Slavery – The Indian was born, lived, and died a slave. For example, “the social condition of the Peruvian Indians under Inca domination was that of mechanized slavery within a rigid state organization made up of communities overseen by Inca representatives. The Indians owned nothing, not even their own lives. Nobody escaped the power of public authority. This regime killed the Indian’s very personality” (Sierra, El Sentido Missional…, p.295).
Women reduced to the condition of animals – This inhuman situation was much worse for women, as César Cantu points out: “Women everywhere are slaves, considered as property …. The practice of aborting, abandoning or killing female newborns is common to many [indigenous] nations” (Cantu, pp. 334-335).
Another historian states: “In these peoples, women occupied an almost intermediate place between a human being and a beast of burden … Among the Indians, women were sold, given away, or exchanged as just as naturally as the whites did with slaves” (R. Lafuente Machain, El gobernador Domingo Martinez de Irala, Buenos Aires, 1939, p. 350, apud Sierra, El Sentido Misional…, p. 207).
Annihilating personality and the very sense of freedom – Indians were accustomed to being exploited by their chiefs to such an extent that it was “enough to conquer the chieftain – who would easily sell himself to enslave his brethren (as he was accustomed to exploiting them) for the whole community to sweetly submit to the new master.” In fact, “the Spanish Conquest improved the conditions of Indians, endeavored to endow them with personality and sought to impose on them the sense of freedom, which they absolutely lacked until they became a static people; good, but inert.” (idem, p. 295).
Progressive and inexorable decay – Naturally, this annihilation of personality could only lead to progressive and inexorable decay. Cesar Cantu makes a precise distinction between the barbarian – such as the Tatars of the Asian steppes or members of the ancient Germanic tribes – and the savage. In the latter, he asserts, “the balance of his faculties seems to be so profoundly altered that purely human labor can never restore it” because “only a pale flash of intelligence distinguishes him from brutes.” Moreover, he has an “invincible penchant toward inertia,” lives in torpor, deifies his chief, to whom he devotes “absolute and thoughtless obedience;” he abuses alcohol to the point of shortening his life; “in his eyes, strength is the only virtue, war the only right.” The historian adds that this was the state of many of the American tribes at the time of the Conquest. Those that were not savage were the exception. It “is proof that all [tribes] came from non-savage populations,” “later reduced to a … degradation half-way between wilderness and barbarism” (Cantu, p. 333; the author further develops the theme in the subsequent pages, up to 339). And some tribes descended into utter savagery.
3. Who were the perpetrators of the genocide?
However little may be known about the massacres practiced by the two most advanced cultures, the Aztecs and the Incas, the accusation of genocide against the Spaniards and Portuguese applies instead to the very inhabitants of pre-Columbian America.
“In 1497, during the consecration of the great pyramid of Tenochtitlán, four rows of prisoners, each three kilometers long, were sacrificed by a team of executioners who worked day and night for four days. The demographer and historian Sherburne Cook calculated it took two minutes per sacrifice and found that the number of victims related to this particular event amounted to 14,100. The scale of these rituals could be overstated except for the ranks of methodically ordered human skulls – and thus easy to count – found in the squares of Aztec cities by Bernal Diaz and Andrés de Tapia” (Harris, p. 149).
Thus, the pre-Columbian Indians are those who can properly be called “perpetrators of genocide” and “destroyers of cultures.” “The dedication of the main temple of the Aztec capital was admittedly marked by the sacrifice of 80,000 human victims. The Inca General Huayna Cápac threw the bodies of 20,000 Caranquis into Lake Yahuarcocha. They were massacred a few years before the arrival of the Spaniards. … The scrolls on Aztec conquests are decorated with burning scenes of the temples of annihilated adversaries. The Incas resettled whole populations in places that were foreign to them, in a proportion unknown elsewhere” (Armesto, pp. 47-48).
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This set of examples suffices to prove to what extent the dominant aspect in Indo-American cultures, upon the arrival of the Iberians, was one of extreme savagery, characterized by ignorance of any form of individual or collective rights, and supported by monstrous cults that worshipped satan more or less clearly.
Excerpts from the book, The Fifth Centenary Facing the Twenty-First Century – Authentic Christendom or Tribal-Communist Revolution, pp. 62-74)
 The Otavalo (or Ochavalo) ethnic group, currently located in Imbabura Province, Ecuador, is a characteristic example of these migrations of entire peoples. Originally from Bolivia, belonging to the Quechua-Aymará branch, the tribe incurred Inca displeasure and was deported en masse in the fourteenth century from the southern Inca Empire to its northern confines in a forced exodus of 2,000 kilometers.