A Long and Terrible Shadow
White Values, Native Rights in the Americas 1492-1992

Berger, Thomas R.
Publisher:  Douglas & McIntyre, Canada
Year Published:  1991
Pages:  183pp   ISBN:  1-55054-057-2
Library of Congress Number:  E91.B47 1992   Dewey:  323.1'197--dc20
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6359

Against the odds, Native peoples have waged a tenacious struggle to survive and the re-emerge as distinct cultures.

Berger, a lawyer and native rights advocate, gives an account of native disenfranchisement in Central, North and South America as he celebrates the survival and rejuvenation of indigenous peoples' distinct cultures despite their experiences of inhumanity. This account is crucial today when native peoples advocate for themselves and fight for land claims. In the past, Europe brought Christianity and civilization to the new world's natives. Similarly, now indigenous populations are pressured by technology and the dominant way of life in society based on modernity and the autonomy of the individual.

The history of the Americas is the encroachment of the Europeans on native populations. The encounter of Europe and the Americas raised moral and philosophical questions that we still face: ideas of assimilation and natives' connection to land as the heritage of their community. Berger notes that although "we" (Europe) prevailed, natives, who were here before the arrival of the "new world, survived. Although he does not denigrate European achievement, he tells the other side of the story in which indigenous populations waged a battle to remain a distinct society. 'In the past they (natives) refused to die, today they will not be assimilated."

Bringing forth questions of human rights, Berger proclaims that European theories for the new world are incomplete until they account for the rights of indigenous collectivities. In addition he advocates for native self government and challenges the supremacy of loyalty to the nation state. Why should natives shed their other loyalties to kin, tribe and family? We must remember the natives' suffering and celebrate their courageous triumph of the human spirit as much as European "achievement." Finally, Berger proclaims the present as a time in the history of the new world in which we should find a rightful place for natives and their culture.

[Abstract by Amanpreet Dhami]

Table of Contents


1. Las Casas And The Rights of the Indians
2. The Debate at Valladolid
3. Disease and Death
4. Indian Slavery: Brazil and the Carolinas
5. Indians as Allies: The Iroquois
6. John Marshall and the Indians
7. Wars Against The Indians: The United States and Argentina
8. Reserves, Reservations and Reducciones
9. Guatemala: Rebirth of the Black Legend
10. The Last Redoubt: The Survival of Subsistence
11. Native Claims and the Rule of Law

Chapter Notes

Subject Headings

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