Manataka® American Indian Council
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[Most creation stories of the original people do not acknowledge the opinion expressed below. To the contrary, the creation stories say the origins of the indigenous people are located within the North, Central or South American continents. ~Editor.]
Origin of North Eastern North American Indians
By Ed (Eagle Man) McGaa, JD, Teton Oglala
The Mongol or Northern Chinese migrants swept down from the North in scattered groups. A lesser group came from Viking land, Scandia much later. The Eastern North American tribes bear strong Nordic facial features mixed in with the parent Mongol blood: Wherein Asian facial characteristics are flatter, especially the nose. Scandia features have quite prominent noses as do the Eastern North American tribes. The Lakota/ Dakota came to the Great Plains from the East and also bear prominent noses as the pictures of the old time warriors depict. To detractors and dissenters, I simple offer a welcome to come to our Sioux Indian reservations and see for yourself. View our Full-blood (100% Native) folks.
Across Asia into Alaska
We have introduced North American Man’s spectacular ceremonial communication; now let us probe where these people came from.
Man had lived in eastern Asia at least half a million years at the onset of the Ice Age, slowly moving farther east and north. By perhaps seventy thousand years ago, expanding ice sheets had lowered ocean levels enough to expose a land bridge linking Siberia and Alaska. Animals had used such a bridge before, and man, too, would drift across in search of game, unknowingly occupying the Americas. (Insert) Natl Geographic-10/79.
When did Humankind first cross the land bridge and into the Americas? This highway to the east was open during several periods, as the world’s ice cover and sea level varied over millennia to expose or drown the land that today lies under the Bering Strait. But scholars disagree as to when man first traversed it. Some say there is no conclusive evidence for humans in the New World earlier than about 12,000 years before the present (B.P.- Before Present). Other scholars argue for a date of about 30,000 B.P.; still others speculate that dates far more remote will eventually be proved. Recent finds in the Yukon’s Area Old Crow Basin—ice free during even the most severe glacial periods—support an occupation date of at least 27,000 B.P.
From where in Asia did the migrants come? A number of Old World sites have yielded tools and other artifacts that suggest a people who may have been ancestral Americans. (Author’s Note: The pictures within of Native Americans cast little doubt as to where we Northern Indigenous originally came from, unless of course the Bering Strait was a two way ‘street’ and/or the possibility of a east/west migration.)
Only fifty-six miles of water separate the continents of Asia and North America at their closest point. Even this stretch of water is divided by the Diomedes Islands, two tiny hillocks of rock that lie almost in the middle of Bering Strait. With the islands as stepping stones it seems logical to suppose that man may have entered the New World by this route. 113- The Lost Americans, Thomas Crowell Company, 1946, Frank .C. Hibben
Down through time, Glacial ice caps covered vast areas of the planet during various Ice Ages resulting in a considerable moisture tie up worldwide and hence depriving and lowering the oceans. These glacial ice periods rivaled the size of Antarctica which we can view today; hence the shallow Bering Strait Sea disappeared and a land bridge existed. Even when the ocean existed there is little doubt that crossing over by man or animals were feasible but a few thousand years ago. In this day and age, the ice becomes thick beginning in October and eventually freezing over enough for animals and man to cross over. Before U.S.S.R. prevention, Eskimos from Siberia and Alaska traded freely with each other by crossing over. If ancient man did not walk over or back and forth over the Strait on dry land, he could easily do so on the ice.
Academics and Wind Cave Myth
Some scientists and including a known Native American Indian author, Vine Deloria, have debunked the idea of a Bering Strait originated land crossing, holding out the massive, restrictive, glacial ice barrier moving slowly southward would prevent any further human passage. Numerous Indian Academics have jumped on board with Deloria; as his is a rather ‘Chic’ and popular stance among academic circles who would rather accept superstitious or mythological theories as to a tribe’s beginnings. Many North American tribes hold to a; ‘We came out of the ground; or from the ocean; or from a particular mountain.’
Many members of my tribe, the Sioux, claim that we emerged out of a cave now called Wind Cave in the Black Hills of Western South Dakota; named thusly from its small opening when it was discovered by a White Man on horseback in the latter 1800’s. This then was our earliest beginning concept. The small fist size aperture (opening) increased the velocity of the wind mysteriously coming from it and he claimed it blew his hat off and upon investigating the small opening was discovered. In time, excavation followed and it is now a state tourist attraction where seasonal tourists can explore several underground miles of its expanse.
I guess, in their estimation, we milled around in that cave for quite some time. In this academic created mythology, humans do not have to fulfill their biological needs when they have to wait in caves for a century or so or more. As long as it is ‘Chic,’ they can question and condemn what we common sense approaching types conceive. Few, if any, learned scientists uphold such anti-biological theories.
No provisions or
water is needed to be consumed. No heating or cooling system is needed in their
cave origin theory. I think all caves are fairly dark, actually totally dark;
must have been a bit difficult for the tribe to hold council meetings. One’s
excretory system would have had to shut down totally otherwise the cave would
become a rather unpleasant place to live in while waiting, especially over a
period of a century or two; maybe much more. This alone would have to diminish
the ‘Chicness’ of such a situation, is my mere opinion. I personally refrain
from visiting some countries wherein I discovered a degree of foul smells
emanating from their sewage system regardless of how ‘modern,’ so-called, was
the hotel I would be staying in. Waiting in that cave would have proven fairly
difficult for me.
It is indeed puzzling how my ancestors theoretically emerged through that small aperture before its excavation and began our reign complete with, somehow, magically, suddenly supplied horses and weapons beginning in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Later, in this writing, we will discover that the major source of our horses came from the Arikara. The Bering Strait migration is vehemently denied by these folks. As of yet, however, I do not believe or at least hope that the majority of tribal membership does not ascribe to their theory. One has to wonder how all of these people waiting in such a dark cave could exist for eons obviously. Such is Mythology however for it conveniently ignores the common sense essentials of every day life’s demands and obviously which Nature demands. I just cannot place, what mythology would like for me to believe, no matter how farfetched, over, obvious and observable Nature. I do not believe in taboos either but almost feel it is a tad sacrilege to ignore or worse, deny Nature’s demands. I do not consider mythology, when I write about the Sioux, as anything more than passing fantasy. Such information is not offered as a historic happening.
Mythology followed the horse man’s discovery as Mythology often gets created by human upon events and discoveries. Would I consider the ‘Original Parents’ – Adam and Eve as mythology. Certainly! Some readers will not want to hear that but… when their offspring simply goes over a hill so to speak to meet and beget their wives then the story, myth, fable becomes no less illusory than the Wind cave myth. In my opinion, Mythology is mere superstition. It is quaint and can be made into richly fictitious story telling but nevertheless to honest men of reason and I might add- common sense; it is simply entertaining superstition. It often becomes dangerous superstition because down through time huge wars have been fought, won or lost over purely mythological superstition and which were instigated by narrow minded, power crazed religious zealots who came to believe their own mythical creation. To this day we see the violent schism between the Sunni sects and the Shiites of Islam. It has been ongoing for centuries. Not long ago the Catholics and Protestants of the Christian faith, likewise, were physically at each other’s throats. For centuries, thousands (hundreds of thousands) of Europeans were tortured to death for centuries over superstition of the victims (mostly innocent women) being ‘possessed’ by this Devil or Satan that Organized Religion still vehemently proclaims.
The National Geographic Magazine’s extensive article on the Bering Strait migration (1979) was based on scientific study which seems to reasonably portray what did occur several thousands of years ago. If one has to choose between the two theories, I think that those who have nurtured a bit more of the term ‘common sense;’ well, I will have to side with those folks. Modern photography of we American ‘Indians’ is firm evidence that we earlier Northern migrants definitely descended from Asiatic blood- namely the Mongolian people and Northern Chinese who crossed over when, during that period of time, the ocean receded significantly to allow a bare strip of crossable land to connect both continents.
Glacial ice barriers were confined to the edges of the Alaskan Peninsula and the mountainous areas to the north and south, however. The central section, including the Yukon Valley, was almost entirely open and ice-free. The whole arctic slope also was free of glacial ice. Men and animals lived in close proximity to these ice masses, flourishing from the increase in vegetation at their edges which in turn flourished from the moist seasons. During the last glacial periods, early American entered from the Bering opening, crossed over into the Yukon Valley and then onward into Canada and points East and South. 15-TLA. How long ago is debatable. Estimates now generally vary from a few thousand years up to 50,000 years and with some exceptional estimates claiming several hundred thousand years.
Scientific fact and evidence, however, points to the front door for ancient America, which was Bering Strait. Man crossed over and first lived in what is now called Alaska. His footprints would eventually lead down or southward into Saskatchewan, Alberta and on into the Great Plains. From the Great Plains he would discover more abundant lands and easier living, warmer and more comfortable. In time, many would become sedentary and plant crops. Others would never give up the hunt. Most would combine the two occupations; food planting and hunting. Some would become ardent fishing people and or coastal food gathering supplemented by hunting forays inland. Kentucky, for example, the ‘dark and bloody grounds’ would abound with arrow heads, spear points, pottery and a host of implements as this hunter man would turn to agriculture and become sedentary yet always supplement his food supply with the hunt and or fishing. His new invention which would come much later - the bow and arrow- which he could also use while stalking ponds and streams, was his major game provider except when he had to tackle big game. Then, the spear performed the task. More artifacts would be found in those areas obviously where the climate was less hostile and more comfortable which meant that the southern states of America would someday have the most numerous Indigenous populations along with the most abundant, easier accessible game but this would be a long time coming, if we study the migration trail out of Asia. It would be a very slow process.
Eastward Chino/Mongol bands would migrate; breaking off from parent bands or tribes and travel eastward, thence south and southeast into what is now Canada. It was not mere centuries they would wander, steadily following the migratory game but millennia they would travel. Into what is now America, some would head south but if size is any indication, the larger Mongol descendants (when compared to what would cross an ocean and land in Peru and Ecuador) would find their way east and southeastward. Finally the long journey for these bands, from a Bering Sea shore, the descendants would end their long journey at the Atlantic. All along the Atlantic coast many would settle as well as inland throughout the South and mid- North America, mostly, generally where the winters were not too harsh and relatively free of the dangerous blizzards and heavy snowfall of the more northern areas. It was a big land with plenty of room.
American Indian Faces
At this point I want to state that
this was the most probable migration for which would be the Northern Tribes who
are larger in stature than the Southwestern Indians and on down to South
America, who are smaller yet. Regardless of size, the Asiatic features would
still remain. Sioux were often well over 6 feet when they fought so successfully
against the U. S. Army in the 1800’s. Incidentally, the early European was not
much over five and a half feet when he first came here. Look at the Civil War
uniforms. The White Man is loathe to admit this fact, however and wants to
picture himself as a self-assured image of the cowboy/western movie star- John
Wayne, a former college football player. The White Man’s movies have severely
distorted the image of the more modern American Indian of but a century or so
ago. In time, after the White Man would consume a steady supply of higher
protein not available in Europe during the Dakota/Lakota westward migration
times, he too would become larger and taller. In these modern times this same
feature is happening in Japan where more protein is available. In America, the
situation has evolved out of proportion wherein such a high ratio of obesity is
There were many, many tribes settled across North America when the White Man first came ashore so much later but in the east we will focus upon one particular tribe because that tribe (or Indian Nation), the Lakota/Dakota (and later termed Sioux) offers the most information for us to delve into and explore. Most important is the hard fact that this tribe was still ‘Traditional’ and resisted the White Man’s ‘Assimilation Policy’ which means they still lived and practiced their tribal ways complete with retaining their own religion and language and not being confined to a Federal ‘reservation’ until but barely over a century ago.
Come to our Indian reservations among the larger tribes, Chippewa, Sioux, Canadian Cree and Cheyenne where the full lineage still runs strong and observe for yourself. Search our early photographs, the black and white footage of early cameras. Go to Canada as well and observe. The strong Asian resemblance relationship is clearly evident. It will be difficult to question that most of the Northern Tribes came from the plains of Mongolia and/or Northern China. Our southwestern tribes of America, smaller in size, may not be from Mongolia or Northern China but instead could have migrated from Southern China up through South America as many scholars contend. These southern tribes are much smaller in stature than the Northeastern Indians of North America as are the southern people of China, Vietnam and Thailand etc. in comparison to the Mongolian people and Northern Chinese who are larger, taller people. The Sioux, Cheyenne and Iroquois are taller than the Southwestern Navajo and Pueblo and the Aztec and Mayan of Central America. Was it our heavy protein meat diet that was also the primary ingredient of the Mongols? Could the southern tribes have come by boat across the broad Pacific and landed on the western shores of South America? A theory exists that this was a possible migration, landing boats or rafts in Ecuador or Peru, as was the Bering Strait for the Mongols theory. Regardless of detractive theories, size and resemblance of facial characteristics along with simple common sense is direct observation.
The Indios of South America do bear a resemblance to the Southern Chinese. For one, both are smaller people and facially there are strong Asian features among the South American Indians. Either way, the migrating people entering South and North America clearly bear a far closer resemblance to the Asian people than they do the European people or the Africans or the Australian Aboriginals. The west coast Indian tribes of America and the Eskimos of the far north have the strongest Asian features of all. Besides our physical traits, we are of those undying traits (or should we say Values?) that are proven unaffected through changing Time and long duration and which seem to remain immune to complete evolvement regarding complete assimilation despite being surrounded by what we call ‘The Dominant Society’ and its constant attempts to suppress our cultural values and even our true history. Many, many tribes in America and Canada however, have been forced to abandon their true heritage (and mainly through little or no fault of their own, my opinion).
The White Man reader audience is little interested in Asian connections other than how much money he can make from it. He also ignores what the American Indian has to say despite the exemplary and proven Track Record we have demonstrated down through time especially in the realm of these dangerous, ominous environmental times fast upon us. Truthfulness, loyalty, good family ties, a deep appreciation of Nature, so much that we learned from it more so than following what Man who was more consumed with his own ego would write down as primary life’s directives. If there is a Creator: Wouldn’t Creator’s ongoing Creation- Nature, be more meaningful?
I have a close writing friend, Jack Weatherford who won the blessings of the Mongolian government and wrote a very interesting book on the Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan. Its main research material came from the Mongolian archives untainted by the Western world. Even the cooperating Prime Minister of Mongolia has read his book. It is what I would call- ‘a Wake-up book.’ Some Americans have read it and found their opinions of the famous leader to be extremely altered toward a far more positive view. I will quote the history and actions of Genghis Khan at times throughout the book where I see a relationship to what the American Chino/Mongolian descendants, the American Indians have accomplished.
You must understand that much of
what we Americans know about China and Mongolia becomes severely distorted by
our government and our so-called free and Democratic media. Basically- most
American news or reporting regarding China and its surrounding countries in
league with China becomes slanted toward the age old European characteristic we
call Euro-centricism. Basically this premise holds all things European based and
now American based are superior to whatever the other side can do or has done.
Asian inventions somehow wind up as their inventions. Rare credit is ever
recognized from great leaders such as Genghis Khan who changed the world in so
many positive implementations and ways. Historically I have now received a much
different view of China regarding the great struggle between Chiang Kai-shek and
Mao Tse Tung.
As a young teen age student, I recall that my high school history class held out that it was somehow China’s fault which led to the occupation of China by several European countries and including Japan. This was in the era just prior to WWII. The Boxer Rebellion was all blamed on the Chinese even though it was held in their own country. Later, in high school, I was ridiculed for standing up for the Chinese and sincerely asking why the foreign countries were meddling there in the first place. Hmmm, was that my ancient Asiatic based blood that caused me to speak up? Later yet, in college, I asked more related questions regarding Eurocentric historical presentations and received similar ridicule.
It was in the latter 50’s and five “Greatest Issues’ affecting America was given to selected scholars by my University to write upon. None of these concerned the brutal segregation over the American Negroes practiced primarily in the southern states of America. Wouldn’t have, shouldn’t have that been the key issue? Why were not our Indian Boarding Schools at that time been an issue? There were not many American Indian students who sided in with me as I went on through seven years of advanced education culminating in a law degree. Those Indian students who ‘laid low,’ on the subjects of the Indian boarding schools, religious freedom and the corruption of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs staffed mostly by paternalistic Wahshichu; many would go on and become Masters Degree holders and take up academic employment in the Universities or federal government Indian service related positions. None of them would speak out on the Euro-centricism so rife within the Academic world and our related governmental supported bureaucracies. I termed them ‘Indian Academics’ and these cowards will receive their due in later chapters.
To this day I have not seen one
book by them mentioning the Banning of our Spirituality or an expose of the
federally operated Canton Indian Asylum erected primarily to eradicate our
Spiritual Leadership wherein not one White Man was ever incarcerated there. I
have actual pictures of this Gulag for American Indians, mostly incarcerated
Indian medicine and spiritual leaders in several of my books. When my tribe
struggled during the Dr. Martin Luther King civil rights awakening era in the
60’s these tribal based Academics were not there in the ‘Trenches of Change’
with the Traditional bent tribal Indians to support us who were openly
challenging the unconstitutional restrictions placed upon our Spirituality and
actively participating in the revival of our tribal Sun Dance and related
ceremonies not to mention to severely alter the ‘Indian Boarding Schools’ into
day schools for Indian youth wherein they would no longer be carted away for
nine months of the year. The white non-reservation youth had yellow school buses
that picked them up for school and later in the day brought them home to their
families. We simply wanted the same for our youth.
It is a free country and I have no objection to what people choose to believe, as long as they do not get over zealous and attempt to cast harm on those who will not join in their views. Superstition has killed millions down through time along with unimaginable mental and social suffering fostered against the non-superstitious. If I enter a Spirit World beyond, if there is one, I want to proudly look back and reflect that I allowed few superstitions to guide my trail. What I can directly observe from my surroundings and/or become influenced from plausible scientific theories is the basis of my beliefs and that includes origin as well.
I have worked closely with the Chinese and Mongolians regarding a certain agricultural partnership implementing large diaries even larger than those we have in America. They will provide more needed milk especially for their youth which is a positive goal. This interest has allowed me an inside look at these two countries government and economic modus operandi. Much of our old Indigenous leadership traits and governmental values I see reflected within their working philosophy which is successfully unfolding in those countries in these modern times. They would not be where they are at as a world leader had Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek won the Great Chinese Revolution. The change his regime brought to Taiwan (primarily with enormous American aid) is highly touted by Western media, scholars, pundits and our politicians. They use Taiwan as a showcase to claim Western style democracies’ superiority over China.
Their false ego and Euro-centricism
erroneously ignores the size difference and magnitude of mainland China’s
situation following the Great Civil War, in comparison to a much smaller Formosa
(Taiwan) with constant infusion of American foreign aid.. Where is China at now?
Economically, China is a giant among nations. Patience, Discipline, Sacrifice
and Time is beginning to reverse the field of play. In America, our future
generations of children are ‘mortgaged’ so to speak, due to the national debt’
and that economical yoke is due mainly to financing America’s constant wars.
China does not ‘mortgage’ their future generations.
Tibet and China
Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth by Michael Parenti. This article appeared on AOL Internet, December 26, 2011 and under Huffington Post and Kansas City Star. (updated and expanded version, January 2007) by Michael Parenti
I. For Lords and Lamas:
Along with the blood drenched landscape of religious conflict there is the experience of inner peace and solace that every religion promises, none more so than Buddhism. Standing in marked contrast to the intolerant savagery of other religions, Buddhism is neither fanatical nor dogmatic--so say its adherents. For many of them Buddhism is less a theology and more a meditative and investigative discipline intended to promote an inner harmony and enlightenment while directing us to a path of right living. Generally, the spiritual focus is not only on oneself but on the welfare of others. One tries to put aside egoistic pursuits and gain a deeper understanding of one’s connection to all people and things. “Socially engaged Buddhism” tries to blend individual liberation with responsible social action in order to build an enlightened society. A glance at history, however, reveals that not all the many and widely varying forms of Buddhism have been free of doctrinal fanaticism, nor free of the violent and exploitative pursuits so characteristic of other religions. In Sri Lanka there is a legendary and almost sacred recorded history about the triumphant battles waged by Buddhist kings of yore. During the twentieth century, Buddhists clashed violently with each other and with non-Buddhists in Thailand, Burma, Korea, Japan, India, and elsewhere. In Sri Lanka, armed battles between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils have taken many lives on both sides. In 1998 the U.S. State Department listed thirty of the world’s most violent and dangerous extremist groups. Over half of them were religious, specifically Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist.
In South Korea, in 1998, thousands of monks of the Chogye Buddhist order fought each other with fists, rocks, fire-bombs, and clubs, in pitched battles that went on for weeks. They were vying for control of the order, the largest in South Korea, with its annual budget of $9.2 million, its millions of dollars worth of property, and the privilege of appointing 1,700 monks to various offices. The brawls damaged the main Buddhist sanctuaries and left dozens of monks injured, some seriously. The Korean public appeared to disdain both factions, feeling that no matter what side took control, “it would use worshippers’ donations for luxurious houses and expensive cars.”
As with any religion, squabbles between or within Buddhist sects are often fueled by the material corruption and personal deficiencies of the leadership. For example, in Nagano, Japan, at Zenkoji, the prestigious complex of temples that has hosted Buddhist sects for more than 1,400 years, “a nasty battle” arose between Komatsu the chief priest and the Tacchu, a group of temples nominally under the chief priest's sway. The Tacchu monks accused Komatsu of selling writings and drawings under the temple's name for his own gain. They also were appalled by the frequency with which he was seen in the company of women. Komatsu in turn sought to isolate and punish monks who were critical of his leadership. The conflict lasted some five years and made it into the courts.
But what of Tibetan Buddhism? Is it not an exception to this sort of strife? And what of the society it helped to create? Many Buddhists maintain that, before the Chinese crackdown in 1959, old Tibet was a spiritually oriented kingdom free from the egotistical lifestyles, empty materialism, and corrupting vices that beset modern industrialized society. Western news media, travel books, novels, and Hollywood films have portrayed the Tibetan theocracy as a veritable Shangri-La. The Dalai Lama himself stated that “the pervasive influence of Buddhism” in Tibet, “amid the wide open spaces of an unspoiled environment resulted in a society dedicated to peace and harmony. We enjoyed freedom and contentment.”
A reading of Tibet’s history suggests a somewhat different picture. “Religious conflict was commonplace in old Tibet,” writes one western Buddhist practitioner. “History belies the Shangri-La image of Tibetan lamas and their followers living together in mutual tolerance and nonviolent goodwill. Indeed, the situation was quite different. Old Tibet was much more like Europe during the religious wars of the Counterreformation.”
In the thirteenth century, Emperor Kublai Khan created the first Grand Lama, who was to preside over all the other lamas as might a pope over his bishops. Several centuries later, the Emperor of China sent an army into Tibet to support the Grand Lama, an ambitious 25-year-old man, who then gave himself the title of Dalai (Ocean) Lama, ruler of all Tibet.
His two previous lama “incarnations” were then retroactively recognized as his predecessors, thereby transforming the 1st Dalai Lama into the 3rd Dalai Lama. This 1st (or 3rd) Dalai Lama seized monasteries that did not belong to his sect, and is believed to have destroyed Buddhist writings that conflicted with his claim to divinity. The Dalai Lama who succeeded him pursued a sybaritic life, enjoying many mistresses, partying with friends, and acting in other ways deemed unfitting for an incarnate deity. For these transgressions he was murdered by his priests. Within 170 years, despite their recognized divine status, five Dalai Lamas were killed by their high priests or other courtiers.
For hundreds of years competing Tibetan Buddhist sects engaged in bitterly violent clashes and summary executions. In 1660, the 5th Dalai Lama was faced with a rebellion in Tsang province, the stronghold of the rival Kagyu sect with its high lama known as the Karmapa. The 5th Dalai Lama called for harsh retribution against the rebels, directing the Mongol army to obliterate the male and female lines, and the offspring too “like eggs smashed against rocks…. In short, annihilate any traces of them, even their names.”
In 1792, many Kagyu monasteries were confiscated and their monks were forcibly converted to the Gelug sect (the Dalai Lama’s denomination). The Gelug school, known also as the “Yellow Hats,” showed little tolerance or willingness to mix their teachings with other Buddhist sects. In the words of one of their traditional prayers: “Praise to you, violent god of the Yellow Hat teachings/who reduces to particles of dust/ great beings, high officials and ordinary people/ who pollute and corrupt the Gelug doctrine.”
An eighteenth-century memoir of a Tibetan general depicts sectarian strife among Buddhists that is as brutal and bloody as any religious conflict might be.
This grim history remains largely unvisited by present-day followers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Religions have had a close relationship not only with violence but with economic exploitation. Indeed, it is often the economic exploitation that necessitates the violence. Such was the case with the Tibetan theocracy. Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet, most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs.
These estates were owned by two social groups: the rich secular landlords and the rich theocratic lamas. Even a writer sympathetic to the old order allows that “a great deal of real estate belonged to the monasteries, and most of them amassed great riches.” Much of the wealth was accumulated “through active participation in trade, commerce, and money lending.”
Drepung monastery was one of the biggest landowners in the world, with its 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 great pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. The wealth of the monasteries rested in the hands of small numbers of high-ranking lamas. Most ordinary monks lived modestly and had no direct access to great wealth. The Dalai Lama himself “lived richly in the 1000 -room, 14-story Potala Palace.”
Secular leaders also did well. A notable example was the commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army, a member of the Dalai Lama’s lay Cabinet, who owned 4,000 square kilometers of land and 3,500 serfs.
Old Tibet has been misrepresented by some Western admirers as “a nation that required no police force because its people voluntarily observed the laws of karma.”
In fact. it had a professional army, albeit a small one, that served mainly as a gendarmerie for the landlords to keep order, protect their property, and hunt down runaway serfs. Young Tibetan boys were regularly taken from their peasant families and brought into the monasteries to be trained as monks. Once there, they were bonded for life. Tashì-Tsering, a monk, reports that it was common for peasant children to be sexually mistreated in the monasteries. He himself was a victim of repeated rape, beginning at age nine.
The monastic estates also conscripted children for lifelong servitude as domestics, dance performers, and soldiers.
In old Tibet there were small numbers of farmers who subsisted as a kind of free peasantry, and perhaps an additional 10,000 people who composed the “middle-class” families of merchants, shopkeepers, and small traders. Thousands of others were beggars. There also were slaves, usually domestic servants, who owned nothing. Their offspring were born into slavery.
The majority of the rural population were serfs. Treated little better than slaves, the serfs went without schooling or medical care, They were under a lifetime bond to work the lord's land--or the monastery’s land--without pay, to repair the lord's houses, transport his crops, and collect his firewood. They were also expected to provide carrying animals and transportation on demand.
Their masters told them what crops
to grow and what animals to raise. They could not get married without the
consent of their lord or lama. And they might easily be separated from their
families should their owners lease them out to work in a distant location.
As in a free labor system and unlike slavery, the overlords had no responsibility for the serf’s maintenance and no direct interest in his or her survival as an expensive piece of property. The serfs had to support themselves. Yet as in a slave system, they were bound to their masters, guaranteeing a fixed and permanent workforce that could neither organize nor strike nor freely depart as might laborers in a market context. The overlords had the best of both worlds.
One 22-year old woman, herself a runaway serf, reports: “Pretty serf girls were usually taken by the owner as house servants and used as he wished”; they “were just slaves without rights.”
Serfs needed permission to go anywhere. Landowners had legal authority to capture those who tried to flee. One 24-year old runaway welcomed the Chinese intervention as a “liberation.” He testified that under serfdom he was subjected to incessant toil, hunger, and cold. After his third failed escape, he was merciless beaten by the landlord’s men until blood poured from his nose and mouth. They then poured alcohol and caustic soda on his wounds to increase the pain, he claimed.
The serfs were taxed upon getting married, taxed for the birth of each child and for every death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals. They were taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing and drumming, for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax. When people could not pay, the monasteries lent them money at 20 to 50 percent interest. Some debts were handed down from father to son to grandson. Debtors who could not meet their obligations risked being cast into slavery.
The theocracy’s religious teachings buttressed its class order. The poor and afflicted were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.
The Tibetan serfs were something more than superstitious victims, blind to their own oppression. As we have seen, some ran away; others openly resisted, sometimes suffering dire consequences. In feudal Tibet, torture and mutilation--including eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation--were favored punishments inflicted upon thieves, and runaway or resistant serfs. Journeying through Tibet in the 1960s, Stuart and Roma Gelder interviewed a former serf, Tsereh Wang Tuei, who had stolen two sheep belonging to a monastery. For this he had both his eyes gouged out and his hand mutilated beyond use. He explains that he no longer is a Buddhist: “When a holy lama told them to blind me I thought there was no good in religion.”
Since it was against Buddhist teachings to take human life, some offenders were severely lashed and then “left to God” in the freezing night to die. “The parallels between Tibet and medieval Europe are striking,” concludes Tom Grunfeld in his book on Tibet.
In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, breaking off hands, and hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling. The exhibition presented photographs and testimonies of victims who had been blinded or crippled or suffered amputations for thievery. There was the shepherd whose master owed him a reimbursement in yuan and wheat but refused to pay. So he took one of the master’s cows; for this he had his hands severed. Another herdsman, who opposed having his wife taken from him by his lord, had his hands broken off. There were pictures of Communist activists with noses and upper lips cut off, and a woman who was raped and then had her nose sliced away.
Earlier visitors to Tibet commented on the theocratic despotism. In 1895, an Englishman, Dr. A. L. Waddell, wrote that the populace was under the “intolerable tyranny of monks” and the devil superstitions they had fashioned to terrorize the people. In 1904 Perceval Landon described the Dalai Lama’s rule as “an engine of oppression.” At about that time, another English traveler, Captain W.F.T. O’Connor, observed that “the great landowners and the priests… exercise each in their own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal,” while the people are “oppressed by the most monstrous growth of monasticism and priest-craft.” Tibetan rulers “invented degrading legends and stimulated a spirit of superstition” among the common people. In 1937, another visitor, Spencer Chapman, wrote, “The Lamaist monk does not spend his time in ministering to the people or educating them. . . . The beggar beside the road is nothing to the monk.
Knowledge is the jealously guarded prerogative of the monasteries and is used to increase their influence and wealth.”
As much as we might wish otherwise, feudal theocratic Tibet was a far cry from the romanticized Shangri La so enthusiastically nurtured by Buddhism’s western proselytes.
II. Secularization vs. Spirituality
What happened to Tibet after the Chinese Communists moved into the country in 1951? The treaty of that year provided for ostensible self-governance under the Dalai Lama’s rule but gave China military control and exclusive right to conduct foreign relations. The Chinese were also granted a direct role in internal administration “to promote social reforms.”
Among the earliest changes they wrought was to reduce usurious interest rates, and build a few hospitals and roads. At
first, they moved slowly, relying mostly on persuasion in an attempt to effect reconstruction. No aristocratic or monastic
property was confiscated, and feudal lords continued to reign over their hereditarily bound peasants. “Contrary to popular
belief in the West,” claims one observer, the Chinese “took care to show respect for Tibetan culture and religion.”
Over the centuries the Tibetan lords and lamas had seen Chinese come and go, and had enjoyed good relations with Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek and his reactionary Kuomintang rule in China.
The approval of the Kuomintang government was needed to validate the choice of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. When the current 14th Dalai Lama was first installed in Lhasa, it was with an armed escort of Chinese troops and an attending Chinese minister, in accordance with centuries-old tradition. What upset the Tibetan lords and lamas in the early 1950s was that these latest Chinese were Communists. It would be only a matter of time, they feared, before the Communists started imposing their collectivist egalitarian schemes upon Tibet.
The issue was joined in 1956-57, when armed Tibetan bands ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received extensive assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and numerous airlifts.
Meanwhile in the United States, the American Society for a Free Asia, a CIA-financed front, energetically publicized the cause of Tibetan resistance, with the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, playing an active role in that organization. The Dalai Lama's second-eldest brother, Gyalo Thondup, established an intelligence operation with the CIA as early as 1951. He later upgraded it into a CIA-trained guerrilla unit whose recruits parachuted back into Tibet.
Many Tibetan commandos and agents whom the CIA dropped into the country were chiefs of aristocratic clans or the sons of chiefs. Ninety percent of them were never heard from again, according to a report from the CIA itself, meaning they were most likely captured and killed.
“Many lamas and lay members of the elite and much of the Tibetan army joined the uprising, but in the main the populace did not, assuring its failure,” writes Hugh Deane.
In their book on Tibet, Ginsburg and Mathos reach a similar conclusion: “As far as can be ascertained, the great bulk of the common people of Lhasa and of the adjoining countryside failed to join in the fighting against the Chinese both when it first began and as it progressed.”
Eventually the resistance crumbled.
Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa.
Heinrich Harrer (later revealed to
have been a sergeant in Hitler’s SS) wrote a bestseller about his experiences in
Tibet that was made into a popular Hollywood movie. He reported that the
Tibetans who resisted the Chinese “were predominantly nobles, semi-nobles and
lamas; they were punished by being made to perform the lowliest tasks, such as
laboring on roads and bridges. They were further humiliated by being made to
clean up the city before the tourists arrived.” They also had to live in a camp
originally reserved for beggars and vagrants--all of which Harrer treats as sure
evidence of the dreadful nature of the Chinese occupation.
By 1961, Chinese occupation authorities expropriated the landed estates owned by lords and lamas. They distributed many thousands of acres to tenant farmers and landless peasants, reorganizing them into hundreds of communes.. Herds once owned by nobility were turned over to collectives of poor shepherds. Improvements were made in the breeding of livestock, and new varieties of vegetables and new strains of wheat and barley were introduced, along with irrigation improvements, all of which reportedly led to an increase in agrarian production.
Many peasants remained as religious as ever, giving alms to the clergy. But monks who had been conscripted as children into the religious orders were now free to renounce the monastic life, and thousands did, especially the younger ones. The remaining clergy lived on modest government stipends and extra income earned by officiating at prayer services, weddings, and funerals.
Both the Dalai Lama and his advisor and youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, claimed that “more than 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a result of the Chinese occupation.”
The official 1953 census--six years before the Chinese crackdown--recorded the entire population residing in Tibet at 1,274,000.
Other census counts put the population within Tibet at about two million. If the Chinese killed 1.2 million in the early 1960s then almost all of Tibet, would have been depopulated, transformed into a killing field dotted with death camps and mass graves--of which we have no evidence.
The thinly distributed Chinese force in Tibet could not have rounded up, hunted down, and exterminated that many people even if it had spent all its time doing nothing else.
Chinese authorities claim to have put an end to floggings, mutilations, and amputations as a form of criminal punishment. They themselves, however, have been charged with acts of brutality by exile Tibetans. The authorities do admit to “mistakes,” particularly during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when the persecution of religious beliefs reached a high tide in both China and Tibet. After the uprising in the late 1950s, thousands of Tibetans were incarcerated. During the Great Leap Forward, forced collectivization and grain farming were imposed on the Tibetan peasantry, sometimes with disastrous effect on production. In the late 1970s, China began relaxing controls “and tried to undo some of the damage wrought during the previous two decades.”
In 1980, the Chinese government initiated reforms reportedly designed to grant Tibet a greater degree of self-rule and self-administration. Tibetans would now be allowed to cultivate private plots, sell their harvest surpluses, decide for themselves what crops to grow, and keep yaks and sheep. Communication with the outside world was again permitted, and frontier controls were eased to permit some Tibetans to visit exiled relatives in India and Nepal.
By the 1980s many of the principal lamas had begun to shuttle back and forth between China and the exile communities abroad, “restoring their monasteries in Tibet and helping to revitalize Buddhism there.”
As of 2007 Tibetan Buddhism was still practiced widely and tolerated by officialdom. Religious pilgrimages and other standard forms of worship were allowed but within limits. All monks and nuns had to sign a loyalty pledge that they would not use their religious position to foment secession or dissent. And displaying photos of the Dalai Lama was declared illegal.
In the 1990s, the Han, the ethnic group comprising over 95 percent of China’s immense population, began moving in substantial numbers into Tibet. On the streets of Lhasa and Shigatse, signs of Han colonization are readily visible. Chinese run the factories and many of the shops and vending stalls. Tall office buildings and large shopping centers have been built with funds that might have been better spent on water treatment plants and housing. Chinese cadres in Tibet too often view their Tibetan neighbors as backward and lazy, in need of economic development and “patriotic education.”
During the 1990s Tibetan government employees suspected of harboring nationalist sympathies were purged from office, and campaigns were once again launched to discredit the Dalai Lama. Individual Tibetans reportedly were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, and forced labor for carrying out separatist activities and engaging in “political subversion.” Some were held in administrative detention without adequate food, water, and blankets, subjected to threats, beatings, and other mistreatment.
Tibetan history, culture, and certainly religion are slighted in schools. Teaching materials, though translated into Tibetan, focus mainly on Chinese history and culture. Chinese family planning regulations allow a three-child limit for Tibetan families. (There is only a one-child limit for Han families throughout China, and a two-child limit for rural Han families whose first child is a girl.) If a Tibetan couple goes over the three-child limit, the excess children can be denied subsidized daycare, health care, housing, and education. These penalties have been enforced irregularly and vary by district.
None of these child services, it
should be noted, were available to Tibetans before the Chinese takeover.
For the rich lamas and secular lords, the Communist intervention was an unmitigated calamity. Most of them fled abroad, as did the Dalai Lama himself, who was assisted in his flight by the CIA. Some discovered to their horror that they would have to work for a living. Many, however, escaped that fate. Throughout the 1960s, the Tibetan exile community was secretly pocketing $1.7 million a year from the CIA, according to documents released by the State Department in 1998.
Once this fact was publicized, the Dalai Lama’s organization itself issued a statement admitting that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s to send armed squads of exiles into Tibet to undermine the Maoist revolution. The Dalai Lama's annual payment from the CIA was $186,000. Indian intelligence also financed both him and other Tibetan exiles. He has refused to say whether he or his brothers worked for the CIA. The agency has also declined to comment.
III. Exit Feudal Theocracy
As the Shangri-La myth would have it, in old Tibet the people lived in contented and tranquil symbiosis with their monastic and secular lords. Rich lamas and poor monks, wealthy landlords and impoverished serfs were all bonded together, mutually sustained by the comforting balm of a deeply spiritual and pacific culture.
One is reminded of the idealized image of feudal Europe presented by latter-day conservative Catholics such as G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. For them, medieval Christendom was a world of contented peasants living in the secure embrace of their Church, under the more or less benign protection of their lords.
Again we are invited to accept a particular culture in its idealized form divorced from its murky material history. This means accepting it as presented by its favored class, by those who profited most from it. The Shangri-La image of Tibet bears no more resemblance to historic actuality than does the pastoral image of medieval Europe.
Seen in all its grim realities, old Tibet confirms the view I expressed in an earlier book, namely that culture is anything but neutral. Culture can operate as a legitimating cover for a host of grave injustices, benefiting a privileged portion of society at great cost to the rest.
In theocratic feudal Tibet, ruling
interests manipulated the traditional culture to fortify their own wealth and
power. The theocracy equated rebellious thought and action with satanic
influence. It propagated the general presumption of landlord superiority and
peasant unworthiness. The rich were represented as deserving their good life,
and the lowly poor as deserving their mean existence, all codified in teachings
about the karmic residue of virtue and vice accumulated from past lives,
presented as part of God’s will.
Were the more affluent lamas just hypocrites who preached one thing and secretly believed another? More likely they were genuinely attached to those beliefs that brought such good results for them. That their theology so perfectly supported their material privileges only strengthened the sincerity with which it was embraced.
It might be said that we denizens of the modern secular world cannot grasp the equations of happiness and pain, contentment and custom, that characterize more traditionally spiritual societies. This is probably true, and it may explain why some of us idealize such societies. But still, a gouged eye is a gouged eye; a flogging is a flogging; and the grinding exploitation of serfs and slaves is a brutal class injustice whatever its cultural wrapping. There is a difference between a spiritual bond and human bondage, even when both exist side by sideMany ordinary Tibetans want the Dalai Lama back in their country, but it appears that relatively few want a return to the social order he represented. A 1999 story in the Washington Post notes that the Dalai Lama continues to be revered in Tibet, but . . . few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him in 1959 and thatcomprise the bulk of his advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power. “I’ve already lived that life once before,” said Wangchuk, a 67-year-old former slave who was wearing his best clothes for his yearly pilgrimage to Shigatse, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism. He said he worshipped the Dalai Lama, but added, “I may not be free under Chinese communism, but I am better off than when I was a slave.”
Not all Tibetan exiles are enamored of the old Shangri-La theocracy. Kim Lewis, who studied healing methods with a Buddhist monk in Berkeley, California, had occasion to talk at length with more than a dozen Tibetan women who lived in the monk’s building. When she asked how they felt about returning to their homeland, the sentiment was unanimously negative. At first, Lewis assumed that their reluctance had to do with the Chinese occupation, but they quickly informed her otherwise. They said they were extremely grateful “not to have to marry 4 or 5 men, be pregnant almost all the time,” or deal with sexually transmitted diseases contacted from a straying husband. The younger women “were delighted to be getting an education, wanted absolutely nothing to do with any religion, and wondered why Americans were so naïve [about Tibet].”
The women interviewed by Lewis recounted stories of their grandmothers’ ordeals with monks who used them as “wisdom consorts.” By sleeping with the monks, the grandmothers were told, they gained “the means to enlightenment” -- after all, the Buddha himself had to be with a woman to reach enlightenment.
The women also mentioned the “rampant” sex that the supposedly spiritual and abstemious monks practiced with each other in the Gelugpa sect. The women who were mothers spoke bitterly about the monastery’s confiscation of their young boys in Tibet. They claimed that when a boy cried for his mother, he would be told “Why do you cry for her, she gave you up--she's just a woman.”
In Conclusion, Parenti states: One common complaint among Buddhist followers in the West is that Tibet’s religious culture is being undermined by the Chinese occupation. To some extent this seems to be the case. Many of the monasteries are closed, and much of the theocracy seems to have passed into history.
Whether Chinese rule has brought betterment or disaster is not the central issue here. The question is what kind of country was old Tibet. What I am disputing is the supposedly pristine spiritual nature of that pre-invasion culture. We can advocate religious freedom and independence for a new Tibet without having to embrace the mythology about old Tibet. Tibetan feudalism was cloaked in Buddhism, but the two are not to be equated. In reality, old Tibet was not a Paradise Lost. It was a retrograde repressive theocracy of
extreme privilege and poverty, a long way from Shangri-La.
My Conclusion? For human; Myth is difficult to give up. For an intelligent human; what should be the truthful, unbiased, non-distorted observation of history? Just another example of dangerously groomed false promises. Organized Religion: Superstition, Ignorance – Power and Control. It starts with superstitious Myth, then,… perpetuated Ignorance. Those who do the manipulating, wreak their new found Power over the unquestioning Ignorant. Lo! – we have complete control.
Native Sun News Aug 10 -
Folsum Man material herein is excerpted: The Lost Americans, Frank C Hibben Thomas Crowell Company, NY, 1946, revised 1968
About the Author
Ed (Eagle Man) McGaa, JD, is a registered Teton Oglala, born on the Pine Ridge reservation. Following his childhood ambition, he became a Marine Fighter Pilot and flew 110 combat missions in Vietnam. He holds a law degree from the University of South Dakota and is the author of 9 books; including Mother Earth Spirituality (Harper &Row Publishers, 45 times reprinted), Nature’s Way (Harper/Collins) and Native Wisdom (Council Oak Books). He has finished his 10th, 11th and 12th books, a Series for Spain (In Castilian Spanish), Spirituality for Spain – Rebirthing Celtic Wisdom from the Indigenous. Spirituality for the British Isles – Rebirthing Celtic/Arthurian Wisdom from the Indigenous and Spirituality for America – Needed Earth Wisdom from the Indigenous. Eagle Man participated six times in six years as a sun dancer under the tutelage of the holy men Chief Eagle Feather, Chief Fool's Crow and Ben Black Elk. He speaks internationally on Gifts of the American Indian; their Track Record of proven Wisdom from the past - now desperately needed for modern society… and charges no honorarium…as do the Indian Academics.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: 07-01-12
I just read the interesting response to the article Northeastern Indian Origins by Ed "Eagle Man" Gaa. The reply was entitled "Academics and Wind Cave Myth". It always amazes me when I hear someone purporting to be intelligent ranting on and on against something that everybody else knows is a metaphor or a legend or some such. Years ago I watched a documentary where a noted cardiologist "went off" on the term "heart". Seems this "brilliant" individual believed that terms like "the heart of a matter" or "something coming from a persons' heart" meant the physical human heart. I remember his condescending comment, " It's a pump, for God's sake!" He completely missed the metaphorical meaning of heart as the deep place of the human psyche.
The brother responding to the Northeast Indian Origins article seems to have the same problem. Does anyone really believe that any tribe just "emerged" from a cave somewhere? Isn't it painfully obvious that such stories are designed simply to pass along ideas that the ancients didn't understand yet felt the need to communicate? Seriously! Who believes that Indians just showed up one day? His article goes on and on attacking the idea of a genuine origin via Wind Cave. I'm thinking that, perhaps, he is the one missing the point.
As far as that old Bering Straits noise about the introduction of ethnic peoples into the US, let's just say that that theory, while "accepted", is questionable. National Geographic, who he mentions, completely ignores the possible Polynesian origins of Indians in this country (which, by the way, makes a lot more sense than the lost meanderings of groups of nomadic tribes). The Polynesian sailors were great adventurers, very strong, undaunted by circumstance and some of the best navigators that ever graced this planet. They traveled thousands of miles in all directions in search of new lands and, frequently, found them. The chief of the island nation of Tonga claims to have proof of the discovery of "America" by ancient Polynesians. Indigenous peoples on this continent resemble South Seas inhabitants as much, if not more than, Chinese or Mongolian peoples.
It seems to me that the Bering Straits arguement is just another convenient explanation of history. Science does that a lot with various subjects. In this case, they seem to forget that history often does not flow logically or conveniently. It often lurches, taking unexpected and difficult to follow twists and turns. This makes it challenging, if not impossible, to pursue accurately, especially when you are working backwards from 10,000 or so years later. The easy explanation is not always correct. Frequently, not even close.
It seems to me that the brother's response was one of agreement with the original article about Northeast Indian origins. As I wrote last month, it is a pity when people who claim to be Indian spend their time and writing skills supporting a non-Indian agenda, thus showing again that it is possible to be "red" on the outside but decidely "white" on the inside.
United Cherokee Republic
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