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In college and afterward, I've heard and read a bit about Native American cultures. I've got some Indian blood in me, though I'm mostly white. It's mostly from the 'civilized tribes' of the eastern part of the US, tribes that farmed corn. There was apparently a relation and trade routes between these tribes going way up north, maybe up into Canada, down into the far South. There were kings and a well developed system of agriculture.
Agriculture is a huge thing Native Americans contributed to the world. Indian food found its way into many cuisines throughout the world. Hot peppers, bell peppers, and all those sorts of peppers originated in and were cultivated in the New World. Korean food didn't have red pepper until the Portuguese introduced it. Just about every dish is red over there. What would Korean food be like without red pepper? Many Asian cuisines eat it.
Indians contributed a wide variety of beans to the world's table, green beans, kidney beans, and many other beans. Indonesians eat pole beans and hot chilis and like barbecued corn. Corn is a crop that has made a major impact on the world. It provides a huge chunk of the calories grown. I was reading that it is the best crop in terms of calories per acre. There are also a large variety of squashes that came from Indian cultures. Corn was cultivated throughout Central America up through North America.
Southern cooking and 'soul food' contain a lot of Indian food. Slow cooked green beans with meat or fat in it, hominy, grits, greens cooked with animal fat, and corn bread are all Indian food. The recipes are different. Europeans introduced pork. Indians used to dry green beans and cook them with a piece of meat in them. Europeans introduced bacon.
Mexican food is a fushion of Indian and European food. There is a record that conquistadors ate tacos in what became Mexico City. It was probably 'soft' corn tortillas with fish and maybe some kind of peppers in it. Spanish later added cheese and pork. The Mejico/Aztecs also used to occasionally eat human flesh after the sacrifices. The Spanish introduced pork. A professor of mine in college said pork was believed to be popular because it tasted a lot like human flesh, just not as salty. Those Indians also used to eat dog and bred Chihuauas to eat. I'd very much prefer a modern taco to an ancient human flesh or dog taco. Aside from the diseases, I suspect the Conquistadors, in spite of the bloodshed and trickery, did the Indians a favor. IMO, the Mexican culture that followed those who survived the diseases was far superior to the previous one, with its human sacrifice, cannibalistic, genital-bleeding religion.
Indians in the eastern US grew corn, beans, and squash and also hunted. After some Spanish horses got loose they multiplied, and certain tribes left agriculture to chase buffalo around the plains. The horse cultures were mostly probably relatively new when the English arrived more than 100 years later.
Eastern Indian cultures had a downside. From what I've read, they were matriarchal. Englishmen used to joke about Cherokee women beating their husbands because when they'd try to work out a deal, the men would first say they had to ask their wives. I've read that pre-marriage some of the 'civilized tribes' were promiscuous, and if Cherokee married women committed adultery, the men considered it beneath themselves to get angry over it. A father didn't have a lot of rights. The culture was matriarchal and the most important man in a boy's life was his mother's brother, since he was a part of the mother's clan. What does that remind us of? It sounds like some families modern American culture... except that men generally get upset about infidelity.
Some of the plains cultures were a lot more macho. The men cut poles for teepees, hunted buffalo, and fought wars. The women did just about everything else. The man was in charge in the family.
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Mr.Man: Very interesting & I agree about a lot of the stuff with Mexico. One thing to make mention of: there is A LOT (I can't make that as large or as bold as I'd like) of bullshit. As I understand it, the asking their wives about things part wasn't so much being whipped as it was consulting someone that (at the very least) would also be impacted by this decision. The women just weren't seen in a negative light in a lot of cultures. I even remember reading about the Mongols deliberately marrying women that were somewhat older than them because they figured they could give better advice!
I never actually got to know too much sexual history about anyone I did anything with (because it wasn't always sex & sometimes it wasn't anything at all). I always figured it was a bit odd for a man to be looking at a naked woman & to be thinking about her ex-boyfriend or husband or whoever. Any guy, really.
The mother's brother thing instead of their father is a bit weird, in my opinion. Not the worst thing I've ever heard of (apparently, in Islam, there is supposed to be consent of the father's brother for a woman to get married- kind of a thing where he's got "dibs" on his own niece).
If you're interested in these things, I know of a couple of good books. Don't know if you'd consider them history anthropology, culture, or what- but they definitely had GREAT insights to things & really made interesting points. I think possibly the most poignant was in Wisdom of the Native Americans (I think it was something Chief Seattle said). It was to the effect of: "Your whole culture is about getting other people to do things for you." I think this trait of always trying to "run" someone or something is at the core of problems. There's a slur "pindo" that's meant to convey that someone is this hapless creature that's very dependant on all kinds gadgets & gizmos, but I figure that urge to INDUCE is at the root of that.