Re: memetics-digest V1 #1275

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Thu 26 Dec 2002 - 16:20:55 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Origin of Religion"

    I think we shouldn't confuse religion as it exists today, after more than 5,000 years of history, with religion as it was in the days of hunting and gathering. Modern religion is an outgrowth of the adoption of civilization and the spread of memes between civilizations. You don't see anything like that with the plains Indians of America, for example. These kinds of religious fanaticism and other practices only seem to have been obsorbed by Mayan and associated groups who built large cities.

    The civilized tribes of North America, however, had little or no trouble absorbing Christian religion and bringing it into their culture. But they were already farming when the Spanish invaded North America. They not only fought the Spanish to a standstil but also became black slave holders and plantation owners before they were driven to resettle in Oklahoma with the promise that they would govern their own land. Each Indian nation had a governor, a court system, a school system, magazines and newspapers printed in their own language and a legal system based on a constitution they themselves wrote. They carried on commerce with other nations in Europe and argued for their rights in the Supreme court with their own people acting as the legal clouncil. This was all taken away from them by the annexation of Oklahoma into the United States in 1906.

    All this was an outgrowth of the acceptance of missionaries and much of European civilization around the time of George Washington and before. Intermarriage between the Indians and the Byrd family of Virginia in the 1600s, for example, led to William Byrd becoming the Governor of the Chickasaw nation in the 1890s. He was only half Chickasaw. Tribes that did not go through this process of religious and civil conversion had a much harder time coping with the changes brought by the European invasion of North America. Read the books of Angie Debo on the Chocktaw Nation some time. A real eye-opener.


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