5.27.2008,9:52 AM
Fort McKavett: A piece of history

"Every human organism is born into one culture or another, and quite literally it embraces and envelopes him at the moment of birth.....Different individuals, because of their varied potentialities and the happenstances of their lives, respond in various ways to the cultures in which they find themselves." - W. W. Newcomb, Jr. The Indians of Texas, 1961, University of Texas Press.

Similar to several states in this nation Texas has been, and still is, a melting pot of cultures. Unlike any other region, the southern plains and plateaus were the meeting grounds of the old South, Southwest and Midwest. Before the Spanish influx onto the Texas Edward Plateau, many nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes of indigenous peoples lived off of game and plants, following their food sources. Nearly all these tribes have since disappeared: assimilated into other more powerful tribes, some tribes viscously exterminated, most died from European diseases.

Spanish exploration and conquest into the region from the Mexico interior and, later from the missions of northern New Mexico brought conflicting interests: gold, silver and riches of the land. This was the first wave of change with the introduction of horses, gun powder and arms, different religions, and systematic agriculture. That first wave would be followed by European emigration from the east and south, the forced migration of Indians from the northern Great Plains and battles between them all.

As European and American settlers spilled into Spanish-Mexican Texas and, later, the new Republic of Texas, displaced tribes from the norther plains, plateaus and canyonlands, eastern river valleys and forests, became the new Texas Indians. It was here in Texas that they fought their last battles to hold onto the life they knew and the lands they adopted. This state was a clash of many cultures, fought for and died in pools of blood, honor and dishonor. Some have been lost in Time.

The melting pot boiled over.

A personal interest in my distant past, my Cherokee heritage, has extended into a quest to understand the clash of two cultures: 'white' and Indian. When I learned of the Cherokee story in Texas, my quest expanded to include more than just the Cherokees: the history of all the indigenous people of this continent and the clash with their European conquerors. What I soon realized was history is not about dates of battles, conquests, victories, songs and buildings. The reason history repeats itself is because history is about human nature. It is the story of who and what we are. All of us. No matter what land we live on, our color, language, or age.

It's the story about humanity.

Next: The clash of self-interests.

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posted by Macrobe
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