Cannibal 2

carljweber carljweber at MSN.COM
Thu Jan 17 02:17:35 UTC 2002

Cannibal 2

James A. Landau said:

This same source, as I recall, made the statement that the Iroquois, at
the ones that formed the Five Nations, were masters of psychological
so it was a reasonable conclusion that the Mohawk, whether or not they
actually were cannibals, were quite happy to have other Native Americans
thinking they were.

Carl Jeffrey Weber had written:
> All of the Amerindians were anthropophagic.

This statement to me sounds suspiciously like a blood libel.  Aside from the
Aztecs, whose ritual cannibalism seems to be well attested, I will insist on
reasonably good evidence on Native American anthropophagy.  (This includes
the Caribs, for whom I have never seen any well-attested evidence for
cannibalism.  The Caribs must have had a reputation among their neighbors
resembling that of the Iroquois among theirs, and both sets of neighbors
appear to have accepted the legend of cannibalism.  That legend could have
been due either to fear or to denigration of enemies---the Native American
equivalent of "gook"!)

(Rhetorical question:) Why the collocation "ritual" cannibalism??  For all
the prayers of the Conquistadors, shouldn't they not be granted the same
courtesy, i.e.,  ritual "conquest and annihilation"??

One problem is determining WHAT exactly, or more or less, constitutes
"reasonably good evidence"; and another problem is the epistemological
quagmire that beckons when there are irreconcilable differences - the
majority of Black Americans believe that OJ is innocent.

Regarding athropophagic tendencies -- In studying how language grows out of
culture, and how culture grows out of language, who - I ask -- would object
that truth demands attention to, or at least acknowledgement of, the gamut
of proclivities in the smorgasbord of human behaviors - from pastrami to,
well, whatever else is on the menu/womenu.

Going back to original sources - first hand information -- is the only way
one will encounter "good evidence" documentation -- if one's argument is to
be believed. The circumstances, the motives of the players, and the temper
of the times - all need consideration, and I think I have been considerate.
I would very much like to know why I am mis-appraising this, if I am.
These are from Parkman's mention of cannibalism in his French Colonial
history, the best seller for low and high brow alike since 1865.  All his
material is referenced with original source narratives - many of which I
have read, if not exhaustively, at least representatively. Fascinating
adventure and human ordeal! The real stuff of the opening to Europe of the
North American interior. Cannibalism is encountered frequently. There's no
big deal made about it. Life in the state of nature was nasty, short, and
brutish, as said one contemporary commentor. One of the institutions of
paleolithic society seems to have been cannibalism. It's part of the human

Calling evidence of Amerindian anthropophagy merely anecdotal, and not
representative of Amerindian culture, seems the only refutation to my offer
of evidence, but maybe there are others.

Historians like Parkman have fallen into disfavor in academia - I suppose
for harboring those deep values of the Western canon, like a "truth" that is
not relative and contingent.
Like Friend's "contingent slavery". "Contingent" making it  - kind a',  sort
a',  not too not OK.
These are from Parkman, and he cites the sources.

1024 in reference to Henri Joutel, "like nearly all the early observers of
Indian manners, he speaks of the practice of cannibalism"

265 [from Champlain's volumes]
That night, the torture fires blazed along the shore. Champlain saved one
prisoner from their clutches, but nothing could save the rest. One body was
quartered and eaten.
"As for the rest of the prisoners, "says Champlain, "they were kept to be
put to death by the women and girls, who in this respect are no less inhuman
than the men, and indeed, much more so; for by their subtlety they invented
more cruel tortures, and take pleasure in it."

Re Huron
Religious festivals, councils, the entertainment of an envoy, the
inauguration of a chief, were all occasions of festivity, in which social
pleasure was joined with matters of grave import, and which at times
gathered nearly all the nation into one great and harmonious concourse.
Warlike expeditions, too, were always preceded by feasting, at which the
warriors vaunted the fame of their ancestors, and their own past and
prospective exploits. A hideous scene of feasting followed the torture of
the prisoners. Like the torture itself, it was, among the Hurons, partly an
act of vengeance, and partly a religious rite. If the victim had shown
courage, the heart was first roasted, cut into small pieces, and given to
the young men and boys, who devoured it to increase their own courage. The
body was then divided, thrown into the kettles and eaten by the assembly,
the head being the portion of the chief. Many of the Hurons joined in the
feast with reluctance and horror, while others took pleasure in it. This was
the only form of cannibalism among them, since, unlike the wandering
Algonquins, they were rarely under the desperation of extreme famine.

Lalemant, Relations des Hurons, 1639.

The Hurons, this year, had had unwonted success in their war with the
Iroquois, and had taken, at various times, nearly a hundred prisoners. Many
of these were brought to the seat of the new mission of St. Joseph, and put
to death with frightful tortures, though not before several had been
converted and baptized. The torture was followed, in spite of the
remonstrances of the priests, by those cannibal feasts customary with Hurons
on such occasions. Once, when the Fathers had been strenuous in their
denunciations, a hand of the victim, duly prepared, was flung in at their
door, as an invitation to join in the festivity. As the owner of the severed
member had been baptized, they dug a hole in their chapel, and buried it
with solemn rites of sepulture.

572-3 A band of Algonquins, late in the autumn of 1641, set forth from Three
Rivers on their winter hunt, and, fearful of the Iroquois, made their way
far northward, into the depths of the forests that border the Ottawa. Here
they thought themselves safe, built their lodges, and began to hunt the
moose and beaver. But a large party of their enemies, with a persistent
ferocity that is truly astonishing, had penetrated even here, found the
traces of the snowshoe, followed up their human prey, and hid at nightfall
among the rocks and thickets around the encampment. At midnight, their yells
and blows of their war-clubs awakened their sleeping victims. In a few
minutes all were in their power. They bound the prisoners hand and foot,
rekindled the fire, slung the kettles, cut the bodies of the slain to
pieces, and boiled and devoured them before the eyes of the wretched
survivors. "in a word," said the narrator, "they ate men with as much
appetite and more pleasure than hunters eat a boar or a stag."

573  ... with their prisoners. Among these were three women, of whom the
narrator was one, who had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the
first halt, their captors took their infants from them, tied them to wooden
spits, placed them to die slowly before a fire, and feasted on them before
the eyes of the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications, and frantic
efforts to break the cords that bound them were met with mockery and
laughter. "They are not men, they are wolves!" sobbed the wretched woman, as
she told what had befallen her to the pitying Jesuit.

La Salle made five journeys of upwards of five thousand leagues, in great
part on foot; and traversed more than six hundred leagues of unknown
country, among savages and cannibals....

More Parkman:
Traces of cannibalism may be found among most of the North American tribes,
though they are rarely very conspicuous. Sometimes the practice arose, as in
the present instance, from revenge or ferocity; sometimes it bore a
religious character, as with the Miamis, among whom there existed a secret
religious fraternity of man-eaters, sometimes the heart of a brave enemy was
devoured in the idea that it made the eater brave. This last practice was
common. The ferocious threat, used in speaking of an enemy, "I will eat his
heart," is by no means a figure of speech. The roving hunter-tribes, in
their winter wanderings, were not infrequently impelled to cannibalism by

There are many description available like the above, either the actual
sources themselves, or a clear reference in paraphrase.

As far as the Carib being cannibals, I posted the URL of Munster's map
(early 16th century) with Canibalis written where the Carib are These are the people the word came from.
Of course that is not proof - but only one item in the preponderance of

 Some of what has been said here by other participants has its thread going
way back : "The natives live in great fear of the cannibals (i.e., Caribals,
or people of Cariba)"  -- Columbus.
(cited in E. C. Brewer).


There is plenty of evidence, in plenty of in those dusty old books at the
library. However, for some people, this kind of evidence would not be
sufficient to convince. I can accept that. Furthermore,, I hope the
suspicion about "blood libel" is assuaged.


Ontology Recapitulates Philology

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