By Chris VE
In American History class, why did we not learn or delve deeper into the all American phrase, “Cowboys and Indians”? What it meant? What it symbolizes? Instead it was blindly accepted as historical Americana; which was later coined into a clever marketing ploy to get kids to nag their parents to buy those plastic six shooters and bow and arrows. To get kids to conform to the “good guy” vs. “bad guy” social paradigm. To get kids, unbeknownst to them, to subtly and subconsciously accept what might be their first encounter with racism.
Reminiscing of my childhood as a young boy, we often played this game of “Cowboys and Indians” with our friends in the neighborhood, it actually had become an after school favorite! More times than not, those who played the role of the “Indian” had not much choice in the matter; it was assigned to them because everyone wanted to be the “Cowboy.” All the kids wanted to emulate the all American “hero” or “do good-er.” No one wanted to play the role of “Indian” or be perceived as the “under-dog” because, what we learned in school and from mainstream societal thinking is they were indeed the “bad guys,” they were the “uncivilized ones”; the “savage ones” and the “Cowboys” just always seemed to prevail.
It seems during our transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, society never asked the question: “What was a cowboy anyways?” At large, in today’s society, the perception of the traditional “cowboy” is the righteous one who once lived the “The American Dream.” The American Dream of prosperity, of good fortune, of frontier life. The “cowboy” is seen as the age old epitome of masculinity, adversity and true grit.
Putting myths aside and pull from the trunk of historical facts, the cowboy was nothing more than a “Capitalist Cattle Baron” or simply put an “English Capitalist.” A capitalist with an interest in cattle; however with a bit less finesse of say, a banker or financier. American history has been perverted and truth has been suppressed, which should come of no surprise. The questions we should ask ourselves today is not only “What was a cowboy?”, but also “What did these cowboys do?”
In hindsight, cowboys would wrangle and corral cattle, that’s what they did; hence the name “cow boy.” Cowboys would keep “their” cattle well fed. Cowboys would protect “their” cattle from natural and unnatural predators or foreseen “problems” or “obstacles”. This means quickly ridding of any problems that should arise. Cowboys like animal agriculture farmers often say they “love” their cattle; but we know this to be false. As a matter of fact, love and exploitation are not mutually cohesive. In reality, these cowboys, like all tunnel vision capitalists in this world; merely love their profits, their money makers.
During these times, there was no such thing as “feed lot operations,” or even established or designated farming areas. Keeping the cattle that was brought west satiated and healthy was a constant uphill battle. Food scarcity and deprivation for humans, let alone cattle was a common thing. When the cattle were running out of food, it meant they were running out of grass or grazing land. This ultimately meant that more land needed to be grasped, seized or claimed; land which was traditionally claimed by Native Americans; aka “Indians,” long before these settlers stumbled ashore. When these situations arose, which was often, this meant trouble ahead for the Cowboys. This meant the potential for cattle starvation, which equated to profit disruption or even worse, profit loss.
The term “Cowboys and Indians” is simply a euphemism for CONFLICT, for THEFT and a subtle expression for GENOCIDE. A brief look over historical recount and you see much of these conflicts and battles arose over “Indian” claimed land or what the cowboys now seen as their pots of gold — “grazing territories.” When the cowboys would become outnumbered, out smarted or simply out-skilled, as the knowledge of terrain was not in their favor; which happened very often, despite the cowboys clear advantage of gun powder and lead; there was always someone to call in. The cowboys would always call for reinforcements with infinite power, infinite armaments, infinite battle skills and the lust for violence: The Calvary.
Not very much has changed from then and now, except technology, policy and tactics. Since the cattle industries very inception, it has much pain, suffering and blood on its hands: Blood it has spilled and taken from Native Americans, over land; blood it has spilled and taken from animals which roamed the land, previously; blood it has taken and spilled from the cattle it uses to turn a profit; and the pain, suffering and blood of those who still, today in 2014 consume its deadly products of torment. An industry built with its own foundation on the blood and bodies of others, yet still remains the most powerful industry in the world to date: animal agriculture. The Calvary has now been streamlined and is now called the federal government, which doesn’t use six shooters and lever-action rifles anymore to protect these cattle barons; they simply use laws and lengthy prison sentences to prevent profit disruption or even worse, profit loss.
As adults, we must ask: “What was noble about a cowboy then and what is noble about the CEO now?”