Health Problems

Racist Literature

Another way of telling Natives that the Old World diet is superior to their traditional one is reflected in the1987 American Historical Association pamphlet “The Columbian Voyages, the Columbian Exchange and Their Historians,” written by Alfred W. Crosby who ignores the astounding array of foods available in the New World and focuses on the contributions of the Old World by making the claim that “New World people derive all but a fraction of their animal protein, and almost all their wool and leather from Old World animals.” (p. 17) While this may be true for some Natives who have adopted a processed, Americanized diet, many Natives I know prefer to eat New World game meats (elk, deer, antelope, turkeys, in addition to bison—both hunted and domesticated), fish (salmon, cod, bass, trout) and New World fauna (corn, beans, squash, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.) on a daily basis. W. W. Newcomb asserts his feelings of anthropological superiority in his The Indians of Texas (1961) by calling Comanches “blood thirsty” and the Karankawas “savage,” before he proceeds to denigrate the idea among some tribes that raw liver is acceptable to eat by stating that “this does not necessarily mean that human races are exactly equal in inherent intellectual capabilities.” He further elaborates on the virtue of Tonkawa pemmican, that was made by pounding buffalo or venison and mixing it with pecan meal and placing the mix into a length of animal intestine, by stating “Pemmican provided a rich and nutritious food for the skulking warrior or weary traveler, and must have served as the Indian equivalent for a can of Spam.”5 If one is a Native bent on finding accounts of his/her tribe’s past traditions, the reader would do well to steel yourself for racist accounts that will make you feel bad, if not angry.