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 The Duwamish and other underrated cultures

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Nobiles BarbariƦ

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Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: The Duwamish and other underrated cultures   Sat 31 Dec 2011, 10:55

In the 1850s, when European settlers first arrived in the Puget sound, they found a complex network of seventeen villages occupied by the Duwamish people (Seattle being their chief), with each village constructed around a communal longhouse and with a highly developed local fishing industry in full swing. There was even a hospital of sorts in one of these centres. The area administered in this fashion equated to a country the size of Belgium today. These people they summarily disregarded as "primitive" and in the next three decades the settlers set about relegating the original inhabitants of the area to landless, propertyless "pests" who faced a choice of participating in the culture and industries started by the Europeans or move out. Their network, and the physical elements which represented it, were not used as a logical starting point for further development, but instead were rapidly obliterated. Ironically, over time, the developing European culture in the region mirrored in many ways that which it had displaced, thereby demonstrating the practicality and logic its disregarded predecessor once possessed.

Given that the description of Duwamish society so closely resembled that of Norwegian coastal inhabitants right up to the development of a comprehensive road system (quite recently) and that this ancient system is regarded as the forerunner to the maritime trading centres established by the Vikings (the basis, for example, of the development of the mighty Hanseatic League as well as a network of coastal cities still prospering from trade in Europe), it can be argued that the European settlers effectively arrested a process which, without interference, might have developed in similar fashion and inferred great wealth on its practitioners.

While not being a great fan of the "what if" school of historical speculation, it is intriguing to wonder how many other examples history provides of a culture with everything apparently heading in the right direction being effectively usurped and replaced by one which was probably inferior in many ways. Even to the extent that the original culture has effectively been so dismissed that it is all but forgotten?
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PostSubject: Re: The Duwamish and other underrated cultures   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 00:10

Surely any community which is over -run by another qualifies. It depends where each is on the time line of their development and how the static one is adjusted to growth in its environment. Isolated communties that stagnate - many forest tribes or valley isolated as in Hunza say or the Kalish of the Kush had a finely balanced but working system before intrusion - not going anywhere, agreed, but content and honed to balance.

The nature and quest of the invader is telling; a handful of Spanish militia decimated tribes and culture in South America in search of wealth.

Not specific enough without much research sorry. Others will know much more with detail.

Regards, P.
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PostSubject: Re: The Duwamish and other underrated cultures   Sat 25 May 2013, 19:21

I was going to say the Phoenician and Carthaginian cultures but their names live on quite famously so they probably don't qualify as being 'all but forgotten'.

In more modern history then there is the example of the Empire of Kitara in East Africa which in the 16th century was overrun in large part by the Luo people who established the Kingdom of Bunyoro. In the early 19th century Bunyoro itself was pretty much swallowed up by neighbouring Buganda and by the end of that century both had succumbed varyingly to British, Belgian and German imperialism. The issue is further complicated by the fact the Buganda itself had been founded at a colony of Bunyoro made up of settlers, emigrants and refugees etc from the mother country.

Kitara's wealth and power had been based on salt and on investing profits from the salt trade in metallurgy thus giving Kitara (and subsequently Bunyoro and Buganda) a military edge over their neighbours. This would count for little, however, when the likes of Richard Burton, John Speke, David Livingstone and Henry Stanley etc arrived in the area spearheading direct contact with European civilisation.
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PostSubject: Re: The Duwamish and other underrated cultures   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 23:54

Following an article in the NZ Listener about Jared Diamond and his time in Papua New Guinea, a letter was printed which said in part:

"As a young soldier in the Malaysian rainforests, I was in jungle patrols that brought us into contact with a numbner of Orang Asli (original people), mainly Semai. These peace-loving Animists held themselves responsible for the continual rebirth of the moon, respected all living things and gave thanks to the spirits of any animals they ate. Although they practised slash-and-burn agriculture, they left little impact on their jungle home. Their child-rearing practices would be an example to us all. Years later, I was sad to rediscover Semai groups as victims of "progress", an Islamic sub-culture existing on the edge of remaining forests., I believe Malaysia, and the world, to be poorer for their decline."

Apart from the story he has told, I am rather warmed by the knowledge that young soldiers learn from and appreciate the environment and people they are sent to be among.

Now I have looked up the author's name I see he writes novels one of which is about the Malayan jungle life. http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/markhamturner
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