For Centuries, Indian Nations converted their knowledge into wealth and social order through that process of innovation. The purpose of innovation is to create a new value for a society at large. Indian Nations created those new values in the form of advancements in many fields like Mathematics, Architecture and Religion that modern society continues to build on. Divergent Indian Tribes, throughout North and South America, had been thriving and living for generations with a deep reverence for their God or Spirit, and living in symbiosis with the land. As the new settlers arrived, they introduced their own brand of social order, however, they failed to understand the impact their desire to conform or corral the native people would forever alter, and in some instances destroy, the lives of future generations of Indians. One of the most startling examples of this was the decimation of the Lakota Indians by the 7th Calvary at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890.
Their leader, Big Foot, certainly was feeling the hopelessness and frustration of his people living on the Cheyenne River Reservation having to rely on the handouts from corrupt government officials for survival. It is likely, compelled by the desire to create a better existence for his people; Big Foot left the reservation in late December with approximately 300 of his people to meet Red Cloud, the Oglala Indian leader, at Pine Ridge. Previous to their ill- fated journey, their hopes had been temporarily inspired by Sitting Bull’s Ghost Dance; the Lakota Indians would dance tirelessly and endlessly whereby hoping to restore their nation’s personal freedoms and way of life prior to the intrusion of the white settlers on their lands.
Unfortunately, their efforts would prove unsuccessful and succeeded only in producing further doubts by the white settlers and, likely, the justification for the actions of the 7th Calvary soldiers at Wounded Knee when the Lakota would be summarily executed even as they stood under the white flag of truce. It is possible that many of the soldiers, like the settlers, simply did not understand the desperation of the Lakota and acted in haste wrought from fear of a foreign people and a misguided or presumed belief of their intentions.
However, Nations of Indians existed before these events and their stories are of prosperous civilizations and even vast conquering empires with modern commerce systems, religious and cultural centers and established bodies of governorship and some Nations even had ruling classes akin to a Monarch. For Instance, the Anasazi of the southwest, created Pueblo Bonita in Choco Canyon, near present day Albuquerque. Pueblo Bonita was a central hub or city with 400 miles of trade and mass transit routes extending from its center, wherefore, the Anasazi supplied commerce and food to many towns along that route into Mexico City. Near the Mississippi River, the Cahokia Nation existed under the rule of a single Sun king who spoke simple edicts stemming from never kill anyone except in self- defense, consideration for others above one’s individual self- interests and device- free living habits which are, ironically, similar to many Christian biblical guidelines.
The Mayan Empire, present day South America, contained 60 capital cities and stretch over many miles fueled by an Agricultural commerce and trade system. The Mayan’s development of a true writing language, unlike the ancient Egyptian picture hieroglyphs, and their advancements in Religion, Math and Architecture further united and brought prosperity to the Mayan people until their demise in 800 AD. In Mexico, the Aztecs (1330 AD – 1520 AD) had established a tax system, levying and recording the tributes of subjugated villages within its empire, in order to build their own material wealth but, also, to finance public works and services for the Aztec people.
Before the discovery of the “New World” when European settlers would cross the Atlantic and encounter an indigenous Indian people. The “Native” Indian people were steep with traditions, customs and beliefs different from that of any future, new settlers. They would have societal values, an established social order, and innovations within commerce systems that could easily be the foundation or establishment of modern day society. Alas, for many Indian Nations magnificent stone carvings, pottery and ancient ruins would be the only evidence of their existence and the lasting effigies to their skill as tradesman, artisans and innovators.
Courtney from Study Moose
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