Why is it that American elementary, secondary, and college students do not study the complete history of America’s Indigenous peoples? Why are we taught about the pyramids of Egypt but very little or nothing about the similarly impressive earthen structures that native peoples constructed in what is now the United States? How many Americans know of and have visited Cahokia Mounds state park that is eight miles from St. Louis? (I have blogged on this subject several times.)
This makes one suspect that there is a purposeful blind spot in American history because the displacement of American Indians and their governments and cultures is an unpleasant part of American history and it is perhaps understandable to want to ignore it or downplay it. The federal and state governments and courts, and the American colonists and pioneers and westerners, found it easy to “lie” to themselves and others and to consider that all Indians were nomads and did not put land to a beneficial use and that it was thus perfectly alright for Americans to displace Indian ownership and uses of land.
When the United States Supreme Court repeated falsehoods about tribal nomads and dependency in rendering decisions about the Cherokee Nation and other tribes, it looks like the Court was trying to convince itself or justify its decision that European/American property rights, values, and human rights trumped the rights of the Indigenous peoples.
I have read in several history books and accounts that our Founding Fathers’ and colonists’ favorite Scripture was Genesis 1:28 – “God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” The reason this was their favorite bible verse is because they interpreted to mean that God intended Euro/American to have the earth and its assets and not Indians.
If you know little about the mound building cultures of America’s earliest societies, take a look at this article in Indian Country Today, which states in part:
“Want to peek into Mississippi’s distant past? Visit Indian mounds located across the state.
“The mounds are a real visible reminder that there were people here before us,” said Jim Barnett, director of historic properties division of the state Department of Archives and History.
A trip across the state can bring visitors face to face with a dozen Indian mounds that have been preserved by state officials or National Park Service officials. There’s no admission charge to visit any of the mounds or related museums across the state.
“They’re remnants of an earlier American Indian culture before Europeans came,” Barnett said.
He operates the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a National Historic Landmark that is open here each day to visitors, except holidays. “Grand Village is the only site that was still being used as a ceremonial site when Europeans arrived,” he said. . . .
A dozen miles northeast, just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, is the Emerald Mound, believed to have been built some time before 1600 A.D. It is the second largest temple mound in the U.S., with the first largest being Monks Mound in Cahokia, Ill. . . .
Emerald Mound is one of a number of Indian mounds that can be found along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Pharr Mounds is a group of eight burial mounds, believed to have been built before 200 A.D., that can be seen from the parkway 23 miles north of Tupelo.
Just off U.S. 49 at Pocahantas is the Pocahantas Mound, which was believed to have been built before 1300 A.D. A former village surrounded the site that is now part of the roadside park. . . .
Recent excavations by the University of Southern Mississippi show Indians brought in six feet of dirt to level the area before building the mounds sometime in the 13th century, he said.
The building of the mound appears to have been influenced by the tribe that lived in Cahokia, across the river from modern-day St. Louis, he said. . . .
The dozen mounds that people can visit publicly are just a fraction of the 1,200 or so mounds across Mississippi, said David Abbott, staff archaeologist for the Department of Archives and History. . . .”
Read the entire story.