American frontiers


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American frontiers

  1. 1. American Frontiers<br />Terry Onley, Final Essay #2<br />History 140<br />1528873122777<br />There are many different kinds of frontiers. Sometimes a frontier is a place people go, that they’ve never been before. Sometimes, it’s a new way of thinking about the world. Sometimes a frontier is a place in time and space where people meet and merge for the first time. Often, it is all of these things, and more…<br />Diego Vasicuio: He lived in the 17th century in Peru. He was a Peruvian Indian, priest of the forbidden god Sorimana, the worship of whom was more or less successfully hidden from the Spanish clergy for many years. Sr. Vasicuio kept hiding the idol of Sorimana from the priests. In 1671 he was tried for heresy while he was in his 90s. He and his fellow worshippers feigned remorse for their sins (idolatry), and asked for help and forgiveness from the “true God”, so that they would sin no more. They then handed over a no doubt fake idol (actually, about 20 of them), were freed, and went on about their business as before. (Nash, 1981) One would have to assume that the Spanish just got tired of collecting pet rocks. Diego was lucky; things did not always end so benignly when two religions met on the frontier…<br />Damiana de Cunha: a Christianized Caiapó Indian living in Brazil in the late 1700s-early 1800s, she was baptized as a child around 1780-81, and spent her life acting in every way she could to promote Christianity and the adaptation of a European lifestyle among her people. Even though conditions under the rule of the Portuguese were not ideal, the raiding activities of the Caiapó would have eventually resulted in their extermination, and she worked hard to prevent that. She repeatedly acted as a liaison between the government and her fellow tribesmen, but eventually died of a fever contracted on her last journey to that end. (Nash, 1981) She tried so very hard to adapt her people to the incoming flood of change on the frontier.<br />Cristóbal Béquer: a Spanish priest of high rank, this gentleman served in Peru during the first part of the 18th century. He was infamous for his womanizing and his violent temper, attacking fellow clergymen and rivals for the affection of his ex-girlfriend, who wanted nothing to do with him; he beat and terrorized her and other folk until they went high enough up in the church hierarchy to get him charged with his crimes. There was real concern for the ultimate safety of his chosen victims, as he had murdered a man in his youth. It is unclear exactly how he became a priest in the first place. He managed to delay the proceedings sufficiently to die a natural death. (Nash, 1981) He was a real pain! The frontier was the only place where he could have gotten away with his turpitudes as long as he did.<br />Red Shoes: what a guy! His murder while sleeping by trailside on June 23, 1747 ended a long career of diplomacy and juggling of influence, and helped spark a bloody civil war. There was a French price on his head, for they were none too happy with Red Shoes. To advance the cause of his family, his people, and his political group, he had been playing the French against the English for decades. The French gave him the title “Chief of the Red Warriors” in 1734, and the English crowned him “King of the Choctaws” in 1738. Neither title was recognized by his people (the Choctaws), yet he did not give his loyalty to the foreigners, either. He strove for the advancement of his people always. (Nash, 1981)<br />Francisco Baquero: Born in the mid-1700s, he was a Mestizo shoemaker in Buenos Aires. Baquero spearheaded the movement to create guild of Black and Mulatto shoemakers, in an attempt to get better treatment of this group (including himself) by the primarily white shoemakers guild extant at this time. While he was temporarily successful at doing so, both guilds were dissolved in 1799. He dropped out of public life in 1803. Although he was bitter about the way things turned out, the dissolution of the white guild proved to be a boon to the non-white shoemakers anyway, as trade returned to its dues-free pre guild condition. (Nash, 1981). The creation of a Mestizo population appears to be an inevitable byproduct of a frontier where different peoples meet… boys will be boys, girls will be girls, and it’s a long way from where at least one of the groups originated. As the lovely Sandrine Holt said, “He’s not so ugly.” (Beresford, 1991)<br />Squanto: probably raised as a pniese (a person of exalted physical, spiritual, and moral fortitude), Squanto was abducted and taken to Europe in 1614. A myth arose that he had saved the Pilgrims from certain starvation by introducing them to indigenous foods and friendly Indians; this is probably not true. He did learn to speak English, and was eventually returned to New England to act as a guide-liaison for the English. He found his people decimated by European diseases, his own village completely vacant. The English of Plymouth used him for many years as a diplomat and easer of troubles with the local Indian tribes, eventually freeing him to live at his home at Patuxet, where he attempted to rejoin the shattered remnants of his tribe under his leadership, thus arousing the ire of the other tribes. He died of a fever not too long afterward. (Nash, 1981) Squanto, placed in a situation beyond his control, used his knowledge of both worlds to assist the English in their colonial efforts on the frontier.<br />Deerfield: a pretty typical New England frontier town in the colonial period. These were Puritans, so most were averse to unseemly displays of wealth, bright colors, etc., like any colonial frontier town of the day. Running on the edge of starvation, with a somewhat dilapidated set of stakes and walls to protect the townsfolk against Indian raids, the townspeople were not overly well-to-do in general, and had requested tax relief shortly prior to the events elucidated in the book. “Spare the rod, spoil the child…” was an oft quoted theory of child-rearing. All in all, a very European sort of place, straight-laced and modest, with as little cultural admixture as possible.<br />And that fence wasn’t big enough to put all the houses inside, either. Not that that made all that much difference on that cold morning in February. Not when the French had sponsored a mixed French and Indian raid on Deerfield. (Demos, 1994)<br />Kahnawake, although fairly characteristic of the French-Indian frontier towns of the time, could scarcely have been more different than Deerfield if it had been on a different planet. Most of the population was from various Indian tribes, but there were many French inhabitants, too. There was a great deal of cross-acculturation going both ways between the French and the Indians, in dress, manner and customs. Children were typically treated with great forbearance and love, and there was far more color and variety in the dress of the average citizen of Kahnawake than in that of the inhabitants of Deerfield. (Demos, 1994) These were not Puritans!<br />Part of this acculturation was surely due to the efforts of the Jesuits in spreading Christianity among the indigenous population. The Jesuits did not merely proselytize; they educated the native populations in literacy and medicine. Unfortunately, they, along with the French fur traders, also brought devastating influenzas and smallpox to the Indians, but were happy to baptize them before they died, so they could go to heaven… Cold comfort, since most of those who died wouldn’t have gone to heaven nearly as soon without the plague-ridden attentions of their saviors!<br />Of course, the Jesuits were to a huge degree responsible for the spread of the European way of life into the Native American communities. Although at first disappointing, due to the lack of the coercive power which they had enjoyed in other venues, the Jesuit missions began to show greater success around 1640, when substantial numbers of adult natives (especially Hurons) accepted Catholicism. The Jesuits readily admitted that this was only because so many were dying of disease and suffering from the attacks of other tribes, as well as a growing economic dependency on the French. (A bunch of Jesuits, 2000)<br />Many of the customs of the Native Americans were strange to the Jesuits, such as the amazing Huron feast of the dead, where they dug up all the folk who had died in the last 12 years, carried them all to one place, and reburied them with much ceremony and gift giving. (A bunch of Jesuits, 2000)<br />Many others, such as their ritual cannibalism and sexual license, were vigorously quashed by the Jesuits whenever possible. One chief, when he was told that he and his people were expected to only have one wife per customer, expressed the feeling that this was asking far too much and would probably decrease the number of converts! (Nash, 1981)<br />The relations between the Colonists and the Indians were fraught with misunderstandings and cruelty on both sides, each feeling fully justified in their positions. Many Jesuits were tortured and killed by indigenes, and many Indians were enslaved or killed by Europeans. Hard times for everybody.<br />The collision of cultures is pretty much like the collision of land masses: the frictions as the pieces of world grind together, upheavals, destruction of the world the way it was, and a gradual adaptation into a new landscape.<br />While there are always rumblings and aftershocks from time to time, sooner or later the survivors dust themselves off and learn to live in their new world.<br />Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY A bunch of Jesuits, e. w. (2000). The Jesuit Relations. Boston, New York: Bedford.Beresford, B. (Director). (1991). Black Robe [Motion Picture].Demos, J. (1994). The Unredeemed Captive. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Nash, S. &. (1981). Struggle and Survival in Colonial America. London, England & Berkely, CA: University of California Press.<br />1582036231967<br />`<br />