Mythologies of Conquest

Demystifying Amerindian Warfare and European Triumphalism in the Americas
Chapter

Abstract

Despite centuries of scholarship regarding Amerindian warfare, both academic and public narratives that address the European conquest of the Americas privilege the absolute and total conquest and subjugation of the American Indian. As such, the legitimate Amerindian role in the conquest of the New World empires has entered the fray, and this in large part is due to the academy’s failure to consider more fully the role of Indian militias and allies, or indios amigos. In those contexts where Indian militias are discussed, their role is generally treated as cursory, or in the case of Mexican nationalist narratives, as an utter betrayal of Amerindian self determination. In an effort to reassert the role of the Amerindian warrior in assuring self-autonomy and assuming defense against European forces throughout the Americas, this essay will address three primary themes. First, we introduce that pervasive mythology of conquest that reifies the wholesale destruction of the Amerindian past, and one defined solely in terms of its relevance to European triumphalism, and Amerindian subjugation, subordination, and cultural annihilation or extinction. Second, we address the implications of an ascendant body of new and revisionist scholarship that clearly chronicles and privileges the pervasive role of Amerindian militias and allied indigenous kingdoms in the authentic conquest of the Americas. Finally, we review a select sampling of those military engagements in which Amerindian forces won decisive military contests against European belligerents in the Americas. Ultimately, we contend that prevailing public and scholarly narratives that seek to pacify the Amerindian past are in effect predominantly Eurocentric creations that continue to tout an Amerindian past borne of little more than collective martyrology over substance and historical authenticity.

Keywords

Burning Smoke Perforation Trench Argentina 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the ongoing editorial support and encouragement of coeditor Richard J. Chacon of Winthrop University. His collegiality and expert advice, particularly with regard to tracking sources pertaining to the Amerindian civilizations of the Amazon Basin, Ecuador, and Chile, have proven invaluable to the completion of this treatment. We are grateful to the staff of the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library of the California State University, Monterey Bay, for their considerable assistance in provisioning access to interlibrary loan materials and related resources. Emily H. Nisbet of the Science Illustration Program at the California State University, Monterey Bay, produced these maps used in this chapter, and did so under the constraints of a host of competing professional and personal deadlines. We are most grateful to her for her willingness to set aside other pressing commitments to see through those diagrams requested by Mendoza. This chapter was in part made possible by way of clerical assistance provided to Mendoza and facilitated by Social and Behavioral Sciences program Chair Dr. Gerald Shenk, and Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Renee Curry, in the wake of surgery necessitated to treat a carpal tunnel condition and thumb injury. Shari René Harder of the MA Program in Education, and Lilly S. Martinez and Heather M. Wilde of the Social and Behavioral Sciences were invaluable sources of support during Mendoza’s rehabilitation. We, in turn, gratefully acknowledge that modicum of academic and scholarly support made possible through the proactive leadership of CSU Monterey Bay President Dr. Dianne Harrison and Provost Dr. Kathryn Cruz-Uribe. Mendoza and Harder further recognize with utmost gratitude the indispensable support, encouragement, and understanding of each of their respective families: For Mendoza, loving acknowledgment goes to his wife Linda Marie, and daughters Maya Nicole and Natalie Dawn Marie Mendoza. For Harder, her husband Craig Harder, and sons Conrad Nicholas and Brandon Christopher Harder are lovingly acknowledged.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Archaeological Science, Technology and Visualization Social, Behavioral, and Global StudiesCalifornia State UniversitySeasideUSA
  2. 2.Mission Conservation Program, Social, Behavioral, and Global StudiesCalifornia State UniversitySeasideUSA

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