In order to put more content on this page, and also to focus the eco-extremist point of view, once in a while we will be putting up reviews of books here. Mostly these will be of books that perhaps are inaccessible to the majority of eco-extremists and their accomplices in the Spanish-speaking world. Here we begin with the recently published book from the Mexican-“American” professor at the University of California, Davis, Andrés Reséndez, entitled, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. This book addresses many of the themes that have been discussed in Revista Regresión and similar venues, which are also themes that are well-known in Latin America but no so well-known in the English-speaking world. For that reason, we are not going to give a summary of the entire book here. Much of that content is taught at universities and even high schools in Latin America as the history of the colonies and the Viceroyalty. For example, almost everyone knows about the slavery of the Indians in Mexico and Peru. There’s no need to tackles those themes again in this review.

It should be noted, however, that there has been much revisionism in recent years among theorists concerning the progressive march of civilization in what is now known as “the Americas”. The U.S. authors Charles Mann in the book, 1491, and Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, can give the impression that colonizing violence may have been exaggerated in some historical sources. In this book at least, Reséndez refutes that revisionism. The conquest was just as bloody as Bartolomé de las Casas and others wrote it.

Nevertheless, we don’t want to dwell on the role of the “poor Indians” as “martyrs”, which leftist discourse often does in its cult to the “noble savage”. Here we want to focus on the parts of the text that significantly complicate the question at hand. In the chapter, “Powerful Nomads”, Reséndez describes the effect of the introduction of the horse into hunter-gatherer tribes. The author writes:

“The most dramatic instances of Indian reinvention occured in what is now the American Southwest. Multiple factors propelled the Indians of this region to become prominent traffickers. The royal antislavery activism of the Spanish crown and the legal prohibitions against Indian slavery dissuaded some Spanish slavers in northern Mexico, leaving a void that others filled. Moreover, the Indian rebellions of the seventeenth century that culminated in the Great Northern Rebellion restricted the flow of Indian slaves from some regions and led to the opening of new slaving grounds, creating new opportunities. Most important, the diffusion of horses and firearms accelerated at this time, giving some Indians the means to enslave other people. The new traffickers, new victims, and new slaving routes emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some native communities experienced a process of “deterritorialization,” as Cecilia Sheridan has called it, becoming unmoored from their traditional homelands, fusing with other groups, and reinventing themselves as mobile bands capable of operating over vast distances. They made a living by trading the spoils of war, including horses and captives.”

In the Southwest of what is now known as “the United States,” but even more so in the Great Plains, there was a “revolution of the horse.” This was not a question of introducing warlike behavior in peoples who were historically hunter-gatherers. On the contrary, pedestrian Indians did everything Indians on horseback did: move about, hunt, trade, and wage war. It was only a question of “doing it better.”

Some tribes benefitted more than others. These tribes generally enslaved the others, including hunter-gatherer nomads and agricultural peoples. The Comanches were an example of a “minor” tribe that became a great “hunter-gatherer empire,” obtaining its wealth through plunder acquired in raids. The most profitable plunder was in their capture of slaves, even though slavery was technically illegal in the Spanish Empire, though this law was generally ignored.

Comanches in particular hunted slaves in order to trade them for horses, rifles, and metal knives. But they also absorbed slaves into their society. In general in a raid, the Comanches killed all of the adult males but they took the women and children who could help augment their numbers. As a polygamous society, a warrior could have many wives, up to ten or more if he was successful in warfare. Women served not just for prestige or sexual gratification. Having many wives had benefits in that a warrior could kill many buffalo in only an hour, and it was the task of the women to process the meat, which was a time-consuming process.

Reséndez describes the preparation for a raid stating that a group of warriors would parade their horses and themselves publicly, so that others would be invited to join. Great shows of horses and personal finery would be seen at this time, and the strength and bravery of the warriors were assessed to determine the raid’s potential success. A war dance would precede the attack, which could stretch far into Mexico some distance away from Comanche territory. Reséndez describes one significant raid in the middle of the 19thcentury:

“Witnesses emphasized the stealth of these Indian attacks, which in an instant could turn a placid night into a surreal scene of mayhem, complete with screams of “Los bárbaros!,” gunshots, galloping horses, and arrows flying. Outlying ranches, isolated houses, and shepherds plying their trade in remote areas were easy pickings. But Comanche warriors sometimes targeted large Mexican towns as well. In December 1840 and January 1841, a group of Indian attackers spent two weeks raiding ranches in the vicinity of Saltillo, the capital of the state of Coahuila, moving from one ranch to the next, as if in complete defiance of any Mexican retribution. In a feat of ‘inconceivable audacity’ as the Mexican press labeled it, they appeared right on the outskirts of the city before being driven away by a hastily assembled Mexican force. Similarly, in August 1846, during one of the most daring and brazen raids of all, some five hundred Comanches cut a swath through Chihuahua and Durango. George F. Ruxton, an Englishman who was traveling through northern Mexico at the time, left us a bleak portrayal: abandoned ranches, impassable roads, and barricaded towns living in dread of Indian raids. When he reached the city of Durango in September, he was astonished to learn that the talk of this town of some eighteen thousand inhabitants was not about the ongoing U.S. – Mexican War, but about the possible Indian invasion by Comanches who had been ravaging haciendas to the northeast of the city.”

The Comanches were not the only tribe that carried out raids. Reséndez speaks of the Apaches and Utes who also preyed on other Indians and non-Indians alike. The stories of Mangas Coloradas and Geronimo are widely known and require little description here. The Apaches differed from some other tribes in that, until the 18th century, they were some of the worst victims of enslavement by the Spanish to work in the silver mines of northern Mexico. The coming of the 19th century and the Mexican Republic saw them make efforts to become somewhat sedentary and agricultural, but due to the decline of the military presence on the Mexican frontier, they quickly began to take up raiding as a way of life like many of their neighbors. They fought vicious battles with the Mexican military which often degenerated into hand-to-hand combat, and as in many other instances, captive men were either killed or outright enslaved, while women and children were often absorbed into the Apache community.

Captives were not always treated very “humanely”, however. There is the story of Matilda Lockhart captured by the Comanches who, when she was “returned to civilization,” “…had bruises and sores all over her body, and her nose had been cut off, her nostrils ‘wide open and denuded of flesh, especially to her nose, and how they would shout and laugh like fiends when she cried.” Many times these prisoners, especially if they were of means, were held for ransom. The Mormons, upon arriving in Utah in the mid-nineteenth century encountered the Ute chief Walkara who, according to Mormon leader Brigham Young, was never without “a quantity of Indian children slaves”. Young commented that, “I have seen his slaves so emaciated that they were not able to stand on their feet. He is in the habit of tying them out from his camp at night, naked and destitute of food, unless it is so cold he apprehends that they will freeze to death.” Walkara’s children were literally described by another witness as “living skeletons,” “literally starved to death by their captors.”

Walkara was called, “the Hawk of the Mountains,” who sold Indian children from tribes such as the Paiute for guns and other goods from civilization. He would ride and trade as far away as California, and was known to steal cattle and horses, as well as raid caravans. The recently arrived Mormons both feared and dealt with Walkara and the Utes, but were often powerless to stop their barbarism. In trying to prevent the sale of Indian children, the Mormons were witness to the following gruesome scene when Walkara’s brother, Arapeen, was told that they refused to buy the Indian children he was selling:

“Several of us were present when he took one of the children by the heels and dashed his brains out on the hard ground, after which he threw the body toward us telling us that we had no hearts or we would have saved its life.”

The Utes also participated in the destruction of the Navajo tribe in conjunction with U.S. government forces, though with a great deal of autonomy so that they could steal from and enslave the Navajos.

There are of course other parts of this book that we won’t discuss here that cover such aspects of history like the Pueblo Revolt and even a section on the Chichimeca War, which was very thoroughly described in Revista Regresión. The reason we discuss this particular theme of the book is to deal another blow to the myth of the “noble savage”. The naysayers will of course say that tribes like the Comanches, Apaches, Utes, etc. didn’t become warlike and cruel until they domesticated the horse and were enticed into becoming so by the promise of Europeans goods (guns, knives, horses, etc.) That’s true to some extent, but it also perhaps raises the question of if they were “always like that,” and the introduction of the horse and other novelties only made this fact all the more manifest. Civilization isn’t the stain of original sin in the soul of the “noble savage,” it’s the means to amplify and carry out something that is already there, making it all-consuming and out of balance.

Nevertheless, our tendency doesn’t shrink back from the savage legacy of these tribes, on the contrary. A savage cannot choose the “ideal time” to be a savage, he is one wherever he is, and acts accordingly.

To the green anarchist, perhaps Mangas Coloradas and Walkara are “villains” who fell for the bait of civilization, enslaving and selling prisoners. Eco-extremism renounces such “morality of attack”. Victims are not “saints of our devotion,” we don’t shrink back from the inevitable cruelty of life. These things must be so, and blows must be returned with blows.

What is even more telling is how all of this reflects on the utopian “green anarchist future primitive”. I am sure that we will give ourselves a lobotomy in order to de-domesticate the horse, forget how to use guns and metal, and become completely nomadic on foot only, because any other way would lead to “hierarchy,” and we can’t have that. Also we will forget about nuclear reactors, drones, space ships, etc. etc. Thus, a “future primitive” band would never devolve into selling emaciated children on slave markets and dashing toddlers’ skulls open when people refuse to buy… No, I am sure that these “green anarchists” will preserve their “purity of heart,” in a techno-industrial world after collapse, unlike the unworthy sinners of history such as Geronimo, Mangas Coloradas, Walkara, and the rest of the reprobate in anarchist salvation history….

Eco-extremists are wild in the here and now, they attack in the here and now, using tools of the present to fight against that which seeks to enslave and domesticate them. That may make them hypocrites, but whatever, at least they’re in good company. Like any sensible people, they use the weapons at hand to fight the enemy. I end this reflection with a passage from an article in Revista Regresión number 3 related to this theme:

And with this we reply to the question presented in the fourth reading: we cannot limit ourselves to using ancient weapons just because we criticize the technological system. We should use the arms of the same system in order to fight it. Just as the Native Americans who participated in the slaughter at Little Big Horn didn’t refuse to use repeating rifles, neither do we refuse to use modern weaponry that can inflict damage on our enemy.

-Arco de Huizache (Huizache’s Bow)

– Chicomoztoc, Full Moon of July, 2016