Extermination of American Indians
In the words of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “… justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England… to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world… and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ.” (sic) [SH235]
On average, two thirds of the native population was killed by colonist-imported smallpox before the violence began. This was a great sign of “… the marvelous goodness and providence of God.” The Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, “As for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.” [SH109, 238]
On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus’s visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204] The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids.
As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69]
The Indian Chief Hatuey fled with his people, but was captured and burned alive. As “… they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell.” Hatuey replied, “If heaven is where the Christians go, I would rather go to hell.” [SH70]
An eyewitness described what happened to his people: “The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties… They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honour of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.” [SH72]
Or, on another occasion: “The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts… Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]
“The island’s population of about eight million people, at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492, already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually, all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other Caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “The Caribbean’s millions of native people were thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. [SH72-73] “In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.” [SH75]
“And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitlan [Mexico City] was next.” [SH75]
Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and meso-american civilisations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).
“When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.” [SH95]
Of course the founders of North America were no different. Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among North American Indians was rather ‘harmless’, by European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than to conquer land. In the words of some of the Pilgrim Fathers: “Their Warres are farre less bloudy…” so that there usually was “… no great slawter of nether side”. Indeed, “They might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]
In the spring of 1612, some English colonists found life among the friendly and generous natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown, “… being idell did runne away unto the Indyans,” to live among them, which probably solved a sex problem.
Governor Thomas Dale had these settlers hunted down and executed: “Some he apointed to be hanged some burned some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe.” (sic) [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow Englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “… when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community down.” [SH105]
On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the “Peqout War”. The killers were New England Puritans, refugees from persecution in England.
When however a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge, they attacked. Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of who they were after, because when Pequot Indians, long-time foes of the Narragansetts greeted them, the troops made war on them and burned their villages.
The Puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished… God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven… Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies.” [SH113-114]
So “the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance”. [SH111]
Because of his readers’ assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow: “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut 20)
Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “… great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers.” Yet he reassured his readers that “Sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents”. [SH114]
Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers’ breasts, in the colonists’ own words: “… Blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them.” This was inspired by Spanish methods of the time. In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near its completion. [SH107-119]
The surviving handful of Indians “… were parceled out to live in servitude.” John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for a share of the captives, specifically “… a young woman or girle and a boy, if you thinke good.” [SH115]
Other tribes were to have a similar fate.
Comment the Christian exterminators: “God’s Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! And How Great is his Beauty! Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!” [TA]
“Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them. When the Indians ‘grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie’, advised the Council of State in Virginia, ‘we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, and cutt downe theire Corne’.” [SH106]
In 1624, sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenceless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]
In a single massacre in “King Philip’s War” of 1675 and 1676 some “600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a ‘barbeque’.” [SH115]
IN SUMMARY: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive, a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920, 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500, 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6,000 were alive, 81% destroyed. [SH118]
These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the ‘New World.’ All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678.
All the above was only the beginning of the European colonisation, it was before the frontier age had actually begun.
Smallpox and other epidemics destroyed a total of maybe more than 150 million Indians between 1500 and 1900, amounting two thirds of the population. This leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.
Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England’s most esteemed religious leaders, in “… 1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs ‘to hunt Indians as they do bears’.” [SH241]
Massacre of Sand Creek in Colorado 29/11/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still an elder in the church (“I long to be wading in gore”) had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs’ waving a white flag: 400-500 killed.
From an eye-witness account: “There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed…” [SH131]
By the 1860s, “In Hawaii the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands’ native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to ‘the amputation of diseased members of the body’.” [SH244]
[DA] K.Deschner, Abermals krahte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962.
[DO] K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987.
[EC] P.W.Edbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985.
[EJ] S.Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, Madison 1977.
[LI] H.C.Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961.
[MM] M.Margolis, A.Marx, A History of the Jewish People.
[MV] A.Manhattan, The Vatican’s Holocaust, Springfield 1986. See also V.Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.
[NC] J.T.Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992.
[S2] Newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany, 10/10/96, 12:00.
[SH] D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.
[SP] German news magazine Der Spiegel, no.49, 12/2/1996.
[TA] A True Account of the Most Considerable Occurrences that have Hapned in the Warre Between the English and the Indians in New England, London 1676.
[TG] F.Turner, Beyond Geography, New York 1980.
[WW] H.Wollschl„ger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zurich 1973. (This is in german and what is worse, it is out of print. But it is the best I ever read about crusades and includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers’ writings).
[WV] Estimates on the number of executed witches:
N.Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch Hunt, Frogmore 1976, 253.
R.H.Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, New York 1959, 180.
J.B.Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Ithaca/NY 1972, 39.