There is a myth that we often hear that the Native Americans were peaceful people who lived in a virtual utopia and loved the environment and one another until the evil white man came along (in fact, they often warred with one another; they were, after all, human beings). But this myth was created to counter the equally absurd claim that white Europeans came here to civilize the savages. Unsurprisingly, David Barton prefers the latter myth:
You have to deal, a lot of it, with how the enemy responds. It’s got to be based on what the enemy responds [to,] you cannot reason with certain types of terrorists; and see that’s why we could not get the Indians to the table to negotiate with us on treaties until after we had thoroughly whipped so many tribes … What happened was the Indian leaders said “they’re trying to change our culture” and so they declared war on all the white guys and went after the white guys and that was King Philip’s War. It was really trying to be civilized on one side and end torture and the Indians were threatened by the ending of torture and so we had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said “oh, got the point, you’re doing to us what we’re doing to them, okay, we’ll sign a treaty.”
Take, for example, what happened in the western plains wars in the late 1800s when we were taking on the plains Indians. I’m not talking about treaties, I’m not talking about behavior of Americans toward Indians or vice versa, there were violations on both sides of nearly every treaty. I’m talking about what happened in ending those wars after Custer and everything that went on.
People complain about the fact that the American military and buffalo hunters went out and wiped out all the buffalo in the western plains. Doing that was what brought the Indians to their knees because the Indians lived on those wide western plains where there were very few towns; Indians didn’t go into town to buy supplies, they went to the buffalo herds, that’s where they got their meat, that’s where they got their coats, the hides provided coats, they provided covering for their teepees.
If you don’t have the buffalos, those Indians cannot live on the open western plains without those buffalo and so what happened was the military wiped out the supply line by wiping out the buffalo. That’s what brought those wars to an end, that’s what brought the Indians to their knees and ended all the western conflict.
No, the Native American were not terrible savages that needed to be civilized by Christian crusaders. They also weren’t noble savages who lived in perfect harmony with nature and one another. They were (and are) human beings, prone to all the same tendencies, good and bad, that all human beings are. The difference is that the white man really was an invading force. And like all invading forces, they convinced themselves that they were fighting a holy crusade for everything that is good and right against a savage enemy that might as well have been the devil himself.