In Response to: The Dealmaker

Your excellent article on Princeton alumnus Regis Pecos defusing tensions in Santa Fe unfortunately promotes the Europhobic myth that all in the Americas was harmonious and idyllic until the Europeans came.  The article speaks of “historical fictions” and “an often sanitized history.”  Really, the only way to avoid having an embarrassing history is not to have a history.  In this, the Native Americans are fortunate:  Extremely little of their history was written down and preserved, so they do not need to answer for so much now.

But their history is there.  French Jesuits around Lake Huron recorded the practice by the Wendat of keeping captives from other tribes to torture for sport.  A settler on a wagon train in the mid-1800s wrote in his diary of an attempt by the Sioux to exterminate the Pawnee; since the Pawnee had been ravaging his wagon train, he wished the Sioux success.  And in Meso-America, where a writing system was developed, their history records wars, invasions, and human sacrifice on a massive scale.  There was a reason for the frontier advice when fighting Native Americans to “save your last bullet for yourself.”

I commend Mr. Pecos highly for his contributions to the communities in Santa Fe.  I also acknowledge that Europeans have in the past — and in many cases still do — acted like brutes.  But I must protest their being singled out for criticism.  To focus on the misdeeds of one group while ignoring those of everybody else is itself a grave injustice.