Critical Review the Way We Lived Chapter 1

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The depiction of Native Americans in films and TV shows as primitive and violent is challenged in chapter 1 of Binder’s The Way We Lived. The chapter describes Native Americans as a civilized and organized group of people who had developed agriculture technology and political relationships. The Algonquians and Iroquoians are described in detail, including their hunting and eating habits and the places they visited to find food. They took advantage of natural resources and performed a variety of activities divided by seasons. The chapter also explains the tribes’ agricultural procedures, which combined crops to help each other out. The weapons used for hunting and war were primitive compared to those of Europeans, but they were technologically improved and showed the intelligence of these groups. The tribes usually had alliances between them to exchange values and goods to survive, showing that indigenous people were not the savage and violent creatures that were commonly portrayed. This chapter challenges the popular culture depiction of Native Americans and shows they had a variety of civilized cultures and knowledge.

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In our cinematographic history is normal to see a common depiction of the Native Americans as primitive, salvage and violent people. Nonetheless, in the chapter 1 The First Americans of Binder’s The Way We Lived, Native Americans are mainly described as a civilized and orgamized group of people that showed certain traits of agriculture, technology and political relationships. In the essay about the Algonquians and Iroquoians included in Chapter 1, it is shown how these tribes used to hunt and eat and which places they visit to find their food, along with the search for places they will inhabit.

Also, the essay talks about how they took advantage of the natural resources and how they used to perform in their daily life. This performance is divided on the book by seasons and it describes the variety of activities they had on each one of them. At the same time, it specifies the place or region where they used to do certain activities. It is in this section of chapter 1 where we can find the first signs of contrast between the film portrait of Native Americans and this book’s portrait. The first strong evidence that Native Americans were not mere primitive individuals is that they had great expericence in agriculture.

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In the main essay, the Algonquian’s and Iroquoian’s agricultural procidures are explained in detail. It is explained how the combination of crops like squash, beans and green corn helped eachother out. The beans added nitrogen to the soil wich the corn consumed, while the stalk of the corn gave support to the bean vines. At the same time the corn gave the shadow needed to protect the squash. This procedure shows that, although not in a scientific way, the tribes knew by experience the good each plant contributed to eachother.

In other words, they refined by observation their agriculture procidures (Binder, p 9). The Second evidence shows that the instruments used for hunting and war, although primitive in comparison to the ones of the Europeans, were somehow technologically improved. From the archaic times, Native Americans developed weapons as the spear thrower using the principle of lever (one of the simple machines). This shows the intelligence of these groups of Native americans and how the knlowledge of common physics was available since archaic times.

The last evidence defeats the idea that the Natural Inhabitants where salvage and violent as described in the document “Of the natural Inhabitants of Virginia” by Captain John Smith (Ibid p. 16). In the essay of chapter 1, on page 10, it is explained that they usually had alliances between tribes to exchange values and goods in order to survive, demonstrating that indigenous people were not exactly the way Smith described them, indigenous people were like any other civilization able to make deals and help each other.

This part of the essay also defeats what is showed in the popular movie Pocahontas were indigenous people are depicted as indefence and almost naive population that were easly swindled or robbed by the English people. Although most of the technology and advantages in social and agricultural knowledge of the Native Americans was not at the level of the one held by the Europeans, these somewhat developed traits show that they were not the salvage and violent “creatures” that fimls and TV commonly portrait. In reality, these tribes had a great variety of “civilized culture’s” knowledge.

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