I was horrified to read on the BBC News website today that an A-level textbook has been withdrawn for incorporating a ‘shocking’ Native American question [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-59024961]. The move followed a youth worker at Durham Sixth Form Centre expressing her horror that a question in an AQA-approved book asked students whether the treatment of Native Americans at the hands of white settlers had been exaggerated.
‘It was deeply shocking to see how ingrained racial injustice is’, she told the BBC. An AQA spokesperson apologised, saying that said the exercise ‘doesn’t match our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and should never have made it through our process for approving textbooks’.
To my mind, the text which accompanied the question seemed rather a good one. While acknowledging the dismal experience of the Indians at the hands of white settlers, it asked students to comment on some historians’ suggestion that given the brutal nature of the circumstances, which included captive white settlers being tortured to death by the Plains Indians, the Federal government’s ‘reservation policy’ was a reasonable one.
All the same, the phrasing might have been improved on to reflect modern sensibilities concerning the equality of all cultures. In an open-minded spirit of multicultural levelling up, let me suggest some alternative questions that students might be invited to discuss relating to the Native North Americans (i.e. North American Indians):
- Should cultures that engage in cannibalism be regarded as primitive, or do they in fact possess an advanced understanding of the nutritional value of human flesh?
- Should tribal cultures in which medicine takes the form of witchcraft be regarded as offering an alternative form of healthcare?
- Are cultures that engage in barbaric torture practices and practise slavery thereby culturally enrichened?
- Was the indigenous North American practice of ‘mass bison canyon slaughter’ (stampeding herds of buffalo over cliff edges) an early example of ecological farming?
- Are societies that practise agriculture and metal work, live in towns and have literate cultures more advanced than Stone age hunter-gatherers?
- Does living in houses afford a better quality of life than living in a tent or a cave?
- Are metal tools superior to stone tools?
- Is it correct to describe the invention of the wheel as an example of technological progress?
As for a text, how about this one from Garry Hogg’s Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice, which exemplifies some of these themes:
A Hamatsa demanded that another slave – this time a female – should dance for him. She stood a moment looking at him in terror and said: ‘I will dance. But do not get hungry. Do not eat me!’ She had hardly finished speaking when her master, a fellow member of the tribe, split her skull open with an axe, and the Hamatsa thereupon began to eat her flesh. This actual Hamatsa was still alive towards the end of the nineteenth century, and on interrogation remarked, among other things, that it is very much harder to consume fresh human flesh than the dried flesh of corpses that have been left to mummify in the trees and then brought down to appease the Hamatsa’s hunger. He also said that it was common practice to swallow hot water after a mouthful of flesh taken from a living body, as it was believed that this would cause the inflammation of the wound made by the teeth. All cannibal tribes, of course, file their teeth to sharp points in order to deal more effectively with their food.
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I should add that as the former president of Liberia and the father of 16 children (to my knowledge) my views on human nutrition should count for something in this terrible world…
I’m always surprised how little interest is shown in human gustatory practices; epecially as world population gets out of hand and scarcity returns. Can I suggest an edition of SR devoted to this vitally important matter?
Greetings from Oz. There is plenty of evidence of cannibalism among the Australian aborigines, who had a particular taste for young children and plump women, though curiously there was very little revenge cannibalism of white settlers. Apparently white flesh was much too salty. Chinese flesh on the other hand was much appreciated, which explains why so many unfortunate Chinese were killed on their way to the goldfields in the 1870s.
The Hamatsa is not a tribe but a character in a dance performed by the Coastal Salish and is described in the novel ‘I Heard the Owl Call My Name.’
That said, there certainly was cannibalism in that part of the west coast of Canada.
Excellent, perceptive comment.
A more comprehensive look at what passes for education in UK schoos today would do more than “horrify” Mr Monteith; we would have to send for the smelling salts every few hours.
It all goes back a long way by incremental “agenda-networking” through LEAs, teacher unions and curriculum control. I remember the days in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, before it acquired its present 20+ mosques, when there was plan afoot to rename Leyton Girls (former top-notch grammar) School, the Winnie Mandela High, which was averted narrowly at the last minute – unfortunately because this was shortly before the crimes of the Mother of Matches & Tyres were revealed.
To keep up-tp-date just subscribe to the journal of the National Education Union & The Guardian.
To celebrate and defend a specifically “white” people and culture (e.g. the indigenous English) is “racism”, while to criticise or offend specifically other than “white” people and culture (e.g. any “ethnic minority”) is also “racism”; and “racism” is always evil, and increasingly criminal.
Pity that so many whites encourage various kinds of non-whites to remain in passive, infantile, parasitic states in which they can avoid the reality of their personal pasts, and ignore the reality of the anti-civilisational, anti-empirical nature of their ancestors’ cultures, and avoid responsibility for their own lives in the here and now, and so be blocked from leading a life of proper human flourishing.
And same can be said about the various tranches of parasitic, infantile, passive-aggressive whites.
Bit harsh Percy. Good job I’m in prison (albeit with the consoling prospect of enjoying a few Large African Snails for dinner very soon). Wait until I get out…
Harsh is good, in the situations that call for Harsh.