“The following pages are a call to common sense, a warning call against the continuous devastating clearing of forests, a desperate cry against the invasion of cobblestone, against houses of six or eight floors, against adulterated food and drinks, against the intellectual strain of universities and the unrelenting factory work. It is also a virulent diatribe against the thined and unhealthy air, against disease and the decay of races, and finally, it is a violent protest against the stupidity and illogicalities created by Civilization, a struggle against Science, Goddess of the present day, against Chemistry, against the Artificial.
We can live without railroads, without cars, without telegraphs and telephones, without balloons and prostitution, without pedophilia and tuberculosis.
We Just want a normal life, the exercise of Life, freedom in salvation can only be achieved through intergal Nature and the abolition of cities, permanent source of inevitable epidemics.”
Henry Zisly, August 1899.
This paragraph was taken from “Towards the conquest of the natural state” written by Zisly, one of the most important representatives of the “Naturien Movement”, pioneers of anarchism and precursors of libertarian naturism in France. The Naturiens (as they called themselves) defended nature and loathed civilization. They saw it and industrial progress as a violent crash into the technological abyss, the adoption of alienation and the distancing from the natural, wild and primitive. It is quite impressive that more than 100 years after what was said by Zisly, the Naturien position, with respects to the criticism of civilization, remains current. His words and his attitude of rejection of the artificial is what we claim, revive and remember.
This is the third issue of the magazine against techno-industrial progress, “Regresión”, a notebook edited and published biannually. The aim of this magazine, as explained in its first issue, is the diffusion of anti-technological criticisms and the defense of wild nature, a defense with violent means that can be undertaken in the present. A defense that, when accomplished, undoubtedly positions the actors as individualists conscious of their reality, desiring to negate and destroy it.
In “Regresión”, we posit individualist extremism as our essence. This is our position when confronted with modern civilization that propagates humanist values and progress, values that are leading us toward the technological cliff. The social dynamics that we are under in this complex system often absorb us as individuals. They make us participate in the mass, in destructive consumerism and the routine life of slaves. We have decided, however, to resist this tide, to resist clandestinely and accept our contradictions from which we sustain ourselves and form ourselves as true individuals and unique subjects. One of our goals that we are trying to achieve in the present is to resist and negate the life imposed on us from childhood and to create a simple and secluded life for ourselves as far away from modern cultural influences as possible. But to make this life for ourselves, far away from big cities and within the depths of nature, it is necessary on occasion to have money, money that we would prefer to steal from wherever we can or to acquire it in the hundreds of possible criminal ways that exist rather than enslave ourselves in life as subordinates as is the case with most people. Having clarified this, that’s why the editorial group of this magazine sympathizes with the re-appropriation of money for concrete ends that helps people live a dignified life, without consideration concerning who has to be shot to acquire it. If an employee doesn’t hand over the boss’s money, he has forfeited his right to live. He is defending his master’s crumbs like a dog. He deserves a punch in the face or a bullet to the head. Similarly, the businessperson, owner, or executive who does not comply with the exigencies of the thief merits the same treatment or worse.
There is no mercy as well in these acts. It is all or nothing, it’s the extremism that we speak of without equivocation. If the money is needed for any individualist extremist end, it should be taken without regard for consequences. It should be mentioned here that money is not everything, but we say all of this as realists. In this world governed by large corporations, it is necessary at times to acquire money to achieve certain ends and acquire certain means. Working is not an option to obtain these resources, but obtaining them by fraud, robbery, or theft is. Our ancestors who saw their way of life affected by the expansion of Mesoamerican and Western civilizations also had to do these things when necessary (pillaging, theft, deception, robbery and/or murder). We are only fulfilling our historical role as inheritors of that fierce savagery.
For the spread of delinquency and terrorism that satisfies individualist instincts!
For the extreme defense of wild nature!
For the physical and moral attack on the structures of civilization!
Long live Wild Reaction and all groups that violently confront modern technological society!
Regresión (Notebooks against techno-industrial progress)
Wild Reaction – Coyote Skin Cloak Faction
The Chichimeca War (first part)
Even with the end of the Mixtón War in 1542, the attacks of the Teochichimecas against the Spanish did not cease. The war officially ended because Spanish troops had taken the land away from the savage tribes. Hostilities between the two sides in the next stage of the conflict would be a continuation of this war, but with greater force and of longer duration.
The Mixtón War had presented a predicament to the conquistadors and their allies. The warlike tribes of New Galicia had put up a fierce defense against the invaders of their lands and way of life.
*An interesting note is that “Mixtón” means, “ladder of the cats,” making allusion to the characteristic of that hill of being so craggy, steep, and difficult to climb that only mountain lions could make the ascent.
History records that, on December 8th, 1546, an expedition of Spanish horsemen, Franciscan friars, and allied indigenous led by Captain Juan de Tolosa, came upon a secluded and unexplored area in northern New Galicia. In the expedition, the Spanish had contact with some Teochichimeca Zacatecos. The two groups exchanged gifts, and, in return for trinkets, the Zacatecos gave the Spanish silver nuggets, indicating that their land had an abundance of that mineral. Shortly thereafter, the Spanish began to dig mines in that northern area (now named Zacatecas). Economic interests drew ambitious men to the region to start lucrative mining businesses where people literally became wealthy overnight.
Juan de Tolosa, with Governor Cristóbal de Oñate and explorer Diego de Ibarra (both wounded in the Mixtón War), as well as Leonor Cortez Moctezuma (daughter of Hernán Cortez and the Aztec princess, Isabel Moctezuma) were some of the first to open mines in Zacatecas, making roads into the area and paying for expensive exploratory trips into the Great Chichimeca. The price for invading the lands of the untamed indigenous peoples was high in many senses of the term.
From that point forward, Zacatecas’ infrastructure began to develop at a frantic pace. Cristóbal de Oñate soon became the owner of a luxurious house, three mineral grinders, foundries, over one hundred slaves, and a church where they could worship. As the years passed, the enriched foreigners became richer at the cost of the exploitation of the earth, the seizure of land, and continuous land invasion, things that were looked at negatively by the hostile tribes of the north.
In 1549, once the mining industry had expanded and become more consolidated, news of the riches of Zacatecas reached the ears of the wealthy in New Spain, in the center of the country. Zacatecas then became a meeting place for those who wanted to get rich or take advantage of the situation however they could.
In order to transport the minerals of Zacatecas to various parts of the country, the Mexico-Zacatecas highway was open. This road became the principal route for the silver stolen from the depths of the earth.
The superhighway divided the Great Chichimeca into two, leaving destruction in its wake as well as the sacking of lands and other crimes against some sedentary Chichimeca peoples, such as some Ixtlachichimecas (Guamares or White Chichimecas, named that way not because their skin was lighter than others, but because they lived in a land had much saltpeter in it). They were expelled from their lands to the mountains of Comanja, Guanajuato by orders of the mining companies. A series of events would drive the sedentary people and the nomadic peoples to become hostile and defend themselves against the invaders.
The war begins
The torture and abuse of the Spanish reignited the spark of rebellion among the indigenous peoples. Starting in 1550, a sudden resistance emerged against the mining projects and those who participated in them. The chroniclers indicate this year as the beginning of the Chichimeca War.
One of the first major episodes of this war occurred towards the end of that year. A group of savage Zacatecos killed a considerable number of indigenous Tarascos who were carrying Spanish silver out of Zacatecas. The tribesmen slaughtered all of them and took their goods.
Afterwards, a group of Zacatecos stole the flocks that were the property of Cristóbal de Oñate and Diego de Ibarra.
The Zacateco Teochichimecas were nomads who lived from hunting and gathering, although some were sedentary, and were brave warriors who were experts with the bow and arrow. They inhabited the Great Chichimeca in the region that stretches from Zacatecas to Durango. Zacatecos were distinguished by their wearing of a rag made of natural fibers worn wrapped around their forehead while walking around partly naked. When the path was especially harsh, they were known to wear something similar to leggings made of animal skin that went from their ankles to their knees. The Zacatecos were greatly feared by the sedentary Chichimecas such as the Cazcans, whom they were at war with constantly before and after the wars against the Spanish. In the Mixtón War there was a tactical union between these two bands as well as others, but after the end of hostilities the Cazcans began to side with the Europeans. From that point forward the Cazcans were considered the allies of those who invaded the Great Chichimeca, and the Zacatecos began to attack their towns. For example, some ancient chronicles indicate that some 50 Zacatecos had successfully sacked and destroyed a Cazcan town of 3,000 people, demonstrating by this act their ferocity in the surprise attack.
After this, Huachichil Teochichimeca warriors began a series of attacks against Spanish flocks, killing shepherds and stealing livestock. The cattle and the flocks were constantly attacked by the savages.
The wild Huachichiles were the most primitive among the Chichimecas. They were isolated and warlike hunter-gatherers, also exceptional with the bow and arrow. Their area of wandering went from Coahuila to Guanajuato, and they continuously disputed a region in San Luis Potosí. Huachichiles usually walked about naked, covering themselves in tanned animal hides in the cold. They wore their hair all the way to their waist and painted their head and bodies with a red pigment (from which comes the name, “huachichil”, which in Nahuatl means, “heads painted red.”) They wore ear-expanding jewelry and bone collars, and they weaved the hair of their dead enemies into their own. They also scarred and tattooed their skin, and the Spanish in particular found their appearance to be terrifying. The Huachichil method of attack was highly individualistic. Their surprise ambushes were always accompanied by the frightening sound of drums and horrifying war yells in their primitive language. Some Zacatecos, who were their traditional enemies before the arrival of the Spanish, said that in times of war and want the Huachichiles were known to consume human flesh and drink their mesquite-based drinks out of the hollowed-out human skulls of their defeated enemies.
The ancestral knowledge of the desert, a dry and hostile place, made them completely immune to any attacks of the Spaniards. Their number and area of occupation made them even more dangerous. They were masters of war, always insisting on and organizing the other tribes into united efforts to fight against the invaders. These temporary tactical unions have been called by historians “The Chichimeca League”, of which we will speak of further below.
Pedro de Ahumada described them thus:
“The warriors of the north were barbarous men, daring and great thieves.”
“The most warlike Indians that I have seen in these Indies.”
“Untamed people and arrogant, with an audacity which increases by the day.”
“So powerful the Spaniards tremble at their very mention.”
The author of the first treatises on the Chichimecas, Fray Guillermo de Santa María, described them thus:
“They are all extremely cruel, which is the greatest sign of their brutality. To the people they seize, whether they be man or woman, first they give a ‘crown’, scalping them and leaving the skin uncovered, as in the crown of a friar. I saw a Spanish man without his scalp, still alive, and also a woman of Copoz, who lived many days without hers. They also take out their tendons and use these to tie their arrowheads to the shafts. They also take out the shinbone from the legs and also from the arms, while the person is still alive, and sometimes even the ribs, as well as a hundred other cruelties, until the soul is separated from the body of the wretch.”
In July 1551, the Huachichiles ferociously attacked a caravan that was the property of Cristóbal de Oñate. In this attack, the driver, a Portuguese, as well as two blacks and five allied indigenous people were killed, and all of the goods were stolen. In September, the red warriors killed a merchant and forty Tamemes (couriers) who took the merchandise to Zacatecas. This act was brought to the attention of the Spanish authorities, who expressed urgency against the new savage threat.
The Guamar Chichimecas (not all of these were nomads, some had become sedentary and practiced agriculture) inhabited the region of the mountains of Querétaro to Guanajuato, and part of Aguascalientes and Jalisco. They also began a violent rebellion against the conquistadors. The Spanish settlements were targets of the warriors, since they were very close to Guamar territory. In 1551, the savages ferociously attacked the property of Diego de Ibarra, killing two colonists and stealing the cattle. The small town of San Miguel was the site of a Franciscan mission, a hospital, a school, and the houses of many peaceful Chichimecas. It was also leveled by the Guamares, killing at least fifteen people in the process.
Afterwards, the Guamar Chichimeca warriors led by Carangano and Copuz the Elder burned buildings and killed all the inhabitants of a Spanish ranch.
The Guamares were brave, warlike, and considered traitors by the Spanish, since some supposedly peaceful Guamares gave information to their savage and nomadic confreres concerning the activities of the Spanish settlements where they lived. This made them all the more vulnerable to tribal attacks.
The Guamares were considered to be a type of Chichimeca who had a more advanced cultural development than the Huachichiles and the Zacatecos, since some practiced agriculture and had temples.
The Guamares maintained their skill with bow and arrow, but were also good with clubs and in hand-to-hand combat. They could go long periods without food or water. These warriors were adapted to the harsh environment, and their nocturnal attacks were a particular problem for the Spanish. The Guamares became more of a threat when they began to ride stolen horses into battle and started wielding the sword.
In 1563, the Guamar Rebellion was one of the most violent episodes of the Chichimeca War, though we will speak of this further below.
In the meantime, the old enemy of the Spanish began to recruit more indigenous people. His men had killed over 120 Spaniards and allies in only a matter of months in that bloody war. We speak of course of the active participant in the Mixtón War, one of the leaders of the Cazcan Chichimecas, Francisco Tenamaztle. Tenamaztle was still free and on the loose in the southwestern part of the Great Chichimeca. The Spanish authorities knew that the savage leader, who had once been at the head of a force that almost took the city of Guadalajara, was still leading his warriors in battle. Killing him had become one of the priorities of the conquistadors.
By that point many of the Cazcans had been domesticated by the Spaniards – in fact, they were among the peoples who helped the Spanish in their campaign against the northern nomads. This was one of the reasons that the Cazcans would become a target of the Zacateco Teochichimecas, as mentioned above.
The Cazcans were sedentary and seminomadic. They were decimated by the colonizers during the Mixtón War, due in part to the preaching of the Spanish friars who pacified them. The most fierce among them were killed or enslaved. Another way in which they broke the Cazcans was exploiting the fact that they were agricultural. The Spanish destroyed their crops, forcing them to surrender and settle among the peaceful Indians. These peaceful Indians served as a buffer in the Great Chichimeca that could also help securing the safety of the roads to the Zacatecas mines.
The organization of the Teochichimecas was not complex. In this war, the bands were led by the most experienced warrior in the group in a campaign of guerilla warfare. This tactic was both effective and devastating at the organizational level, and the Spanish simply could not counter the mobility of the insurgent factions. The great Aztec Empire had fallen to the Europeans in only three years. The elite armies of the eagle and jaguar knights that defended the Great Tenochtitlan had been exterminated. No one at that point thought that it would take the new conquistadors significantly more effort and about fifty years to get rid of the naked primitive barbarians who wandered Chichimecatlalli.
In the area of religious beliefs, the Teochichimecas (Zacatecos and Huchichiles) were animists who believed that all things in nature had a spirit. A change in the environment as well as illnesses were caused by the shaman of another tribe who wielded those spirits for nefarious ends. All Chichimeca tribes had a shaman who was responsible for curing illnesses by means of plants and the invoking of spirits. After a shaman cured some ailment, it was recommended that the encampments be surrounded with thorns and prickly brush, so that the barrier could protect against harmful spirits.
Another typical ritual was at the birth of a first-born son – the members of the tribe would cut the skin off of the father until the baby was covered in it.
The Teochichimecas did not have altars, nor complex deities, nor established ritual centers. Because of their nomadic nature, they only referred to the sun, moon, and stars as spiritual entities.
Before the start of a war or tribal conflict, the tribe came together at night and danced around a great bonfire. Songs and yelps accompanied the banging of the bow, arrow, and drums that were used to make music. They painted their bodies with red pigment and charcoal, and drew animals such as snakes, coyotes, toads, and bears on their chest and back as protection. During this ritual, they drank alcohol made from cactus fruit or aloe vera, and they consumed peyote; they used these substaces as a means to obtain spiritual contact with nature and to achieve greater sensibility in the field of battle.
The Huachichiles believed that if they ate certain animals or people, they could obtain the qualities of the consumed. Even though this was a common practice among them, for the Europeans and certain indigenous peoples who had converted to Christianity, this was seen as a work of the “devil”.
The Teochichimecas defended their beliefs against those who wanted to destroy them. The elders and shamans were those who did the most to incite these efforts, and they organized large meetings even with other tribes to organize resistance against the foreigner and the invader. As in the Mixtón War, the friars feared an evil spirit who they called “Tlatol”, which was merely a translation of the Spanish of the word, “Huehuetlatolli”, a Nahuatl word (which the peaceful Indians spoke and which was understood by the language of the Teochichimecas) meaning, “the word of the elders”. The Tlatol was thus considered as a spirit of evil that the pagan cults invoked, something totally opposed to the Catholic religion.
In many places in the Great Chichimeca, resistance against the Spanish was seen as a sort of Holy War, where tribes defended to the death their beliefs and way of life. So extreme was their defense that many friars and indigenous converts to Christianity were cruelly killed by the northern hunters. They very much deserved this, however, as terrorist violence was the only response possible to the years of slavery, destruction, and humiliation that our ancestors went through.
A large part of the Great Chichimeca is encompassed by expansive and inhospitable deserts. The conquistadors who were accustomed to plentiful food sources in the city thought that food was scarce in the Great Chichimeca, but the Chichimecas were able to find multiple food sources.
The northern nomads depended on gathering done by women and children. They collected roots, tubers, pods, cactuses, seeds, etc. The men were in charge of the hunt, and their game included snakes, toads, rabbits, worms, birds, fish, larvae, hares, deer, rats, etc.
The cactus and mesquite were important sources of food for the indigenous people in the Great Chichimeca. Both the cactus and its fruit were consumed. They also ate the leaves, flowers, and heart of the biznaga (another type of desert cactus). Mesquite pods were collected and ground in large mortars to create a type of flour which could last months and even up to a year without spoiling. Mesquite was also the base of an alcoholic drink.
They also ate honey, and, when water was scarce, they drank the juice of the aloe vera plant. When the hunters came back to the camp with their prey, the meat was shared among all, and the person who had hunted and killed the animal could keep the hide. This description applies only to the wild Chichimecas. The more sedentary tribes depended almost totally on their crops.
The war intensifies
At the end of 1550, Luis de Velazco succeeded Antonio de Mendoza as governor of Mexico. This viceroy put more pressure on the army during the Chichimeca War. Even though he was cruel, he was also capable of partially quelling the conflict with ruses and key decisions. The new governor of Mexico called upon those indigenous people who had previously been warriors (Tlaxcaltecs, Aztecs, Otomies, Cazcans, and the rest) to fight against the Teochichimecas. This was a definitive move that stopped the war for a time, although many of those allied indigenous people would pay the ultimate price of their lives for their support of the Spanish invaders.
Viceroy Velasco would authorize Francisco de Ibarra to undertake a new expedition into the Great Chichimeca in order to expand the kingdom and pacify the warlike indigenous people there. One of the strategies employed by Ibarra was to found small Spanish towns of armed colonists. Each town would serve as a military base that could resist the attacks of the Teochichimecas. These bases would also serve to defend the silver routes and larger towns. Thus, Ibarra held the attackers at bay for some years, until a further change of strategy was needed.
In 1551, the Chichimeca chief Tenamaztle was persuaded by a ruse of the Bishop of Guadalajara, Pedro Gómez Maraver, to put down his arms and cease hostilities. Tenamaztle was one of the few who had resisted after the end of the Mixtón War up to that year (1542-1551). This Chichimeca tlatoani (leader) had kept up his attacks on the Spaniards as well as his robberies of their merchandise and cattle. In 1552, Tenamaztle was caught and imprisoned. He was then taken before the Council of the Indies in Spain to be tried. How the story unfolded is widely unknown, including the ultimate fate of the warrior. What is certain is that the old tactic used by the bishop worked so that Tenameztle was finally captured, and the Spanish thought the war would then cease definitively. That was not the case.
Already in 1552, the Chichimeca warriors had studied the terrain and received important information from allies in the towns, which they used to attack them ferociously. In 1553, in the province of Jilotepec, the Chichimecas had killed more than 300 peaceful indigenous inhabitants of Spanish towns. In that year, they also killed 65 indigenous people and burned the church of the little town of Jalpa, causing great devastation in the land. In 1554, the Chichimeca chief Maxorro had coordinated other Chichimeca groups to carry out more destructive and devastating attacks. “Majurro” was his real Chichimeca name, but he was called “Maxorro” or “Mascorro” by the Spanish. It is said that when Maxorro wounded someone in battle, he ripped out their heart and lifted it still beating to the sky a sign of victory. Maxorro and his men inflicted a severe defeat on the Spanish at the Paso de Ojuelos near Torro Hill. Six carriages under armed escort were attacked by the Chichimecas, and the warriors carried off 30 thousand pesos worth of cloth, silver, and other valuable objects. This was only a small demonstration by the wild savages of their strategic abilities during ambush. This type of action was a frequent occurrence during the war.
An accurate description of the Chichimeca warriors was written by Phillip Wayne Powell in his book, The Chichimeca War (1550-1600):
“The Chichimeca warrior in 16th century Mexico was a formidable fighter, and was among those who most stubbornly resisted the Spanish invasion of the American continent. His way of life, the vast and untamed topography of his land, and his primitive political development made him more difficult to conquer than the sedentary and urban peoples like the Spanish or the Nahuas. By nature, he wandered constantly; he was not accustomed to work, but had a ferocious practice of the art of war and the hunt. They often feared the Spanish horsemen, but they always challenged them. They despised and terrorized their indigenous neighbors who had adopted sedentary lifestyles and Christianity. In summary, many of his cultural characteristics made him a bad candidate for incorporation into the sedentary system. His way of life, combined with certain psychological characteristics, guaranteed his resistance to all forms of subjugation.
Inherent to his nomadic state, other factors contributed to the warlike feats of the Chichimecas. Their encampments and their rancherias were difficult to access. Often, they were hidden in caves, canyons, and valleys protected by the mountains, forests, or craggy landscapes. Once these were located, the Spanish could destroy the rancherias and capture some women and children, but often the warriors escaped to establish another base. Their habit of eating foods native to the Great Chichimeca allowed them better mobility than the sedentary peoples, who needed to be near their cattle, crops, and imported supplies. The nomad could cut off the invader’s supplies and slaughter his cattle, thus paralyzing the economic and military vitality of sedentary society. The reverse was often not the case. The nomad was an expert in utilizing the refuges and the wealth that the landscape offered. The Chichimeca was thus often an invisible and therefore terrifying enemy. The type of war that the Chichimecas undertook against the sedentary invaders not only involved surprising and threatening the Spanish in their northern advance. The Spanish as well as the Tarascos, Aztecs, Tlaxcaltecas, and Otomies all learned to fear and respect the Chichimeca as a formidable warrior.”
The Chichimeca war cry led many other tribes from other parts of the country to start assaulting roads, destroying towns, and demoralizing the Spanish army. For this reason it is estimated that from the discovery of Zacatecas until 1561, more than 200 Spaniards and 2,000 indigenous allies were killed by the hands of hostile natives on the roads of Zacatecas, Guadalajara, México, and Michoacán
Security measures were undertaken to protect caravans of merchandise that were going to and from Zacatecas. For example, reinforced carriages were constructed out of thick wood with holes that could be used as gun ports in the event of a raid. By such measures, the avaricious invaders could protect their merchandise and the silver extracted from the mines. The caravans were also accompanied by heavily armed soldiers, and the entrances of mines were protected by heavily armed miners. However, not even these security measures could stop the Chichimeca warriors who constructed thicker and stronger arrows, as well as bows powerful enough to penetrate the armored carriages. Even the Spanish soldiers who wore heavy armor consisting of suede capes, chainmail armor, and a doublet were not totally protected. Vargas, in his “Description of Querétaro,” described the following:
“Ordinarily the men of this land should travel armed with two coats of mail, or one good one and another one of strong leather, with the horses well protected [with leather]. And even with this there is no certain protection against the arrows that they fire at us.”
While the attacks of the Chichimecas continued, the order of the Viceroy Velazco concerning the founding of defensive towns continued to be implemented. In 1555, the town of San Miguel was founded, which was strategically positioned on the Zacatecas Highway close to the Great Tunal of the Huachichiles. This tribe saw themselves invaded by armed colonists, and they retreated from their native territories to organize further attacks.
After many Spanish defeats at the hands of Maxorro and his men, the Chichimeca leader was finally defeated and imprisoned by Nicolás de San Luis Montañez who was named captain of the province of the Chichimecas in 1557. This territory consisted of fortified towns such as San Miguel, San Felipe, Sichú, San Luis, Rio Verde, and San Francisco. The Viceroy Velasco would order the attack on the savages with the aim of making them withdraw from New Galicia. After the successive founding of these towns, the Chichimeca warriors began a fierce campaign against civilization and the invasion of the Great Chichimeca. In 1561, the great confederation of native warriors made felt their vengeance against the Spaniards and their allies.
The Zacatecos and the Huachichiles torched various Spanish ranches. They killed the owners and their slaves and scalped them. They destroyed crops, pillaged all of the goods, killed the cattle, and intercepted the carriages going toward the ranches, taking all of their merchandise. The warriors killed shepherds and merchants. There was also a mine seizure on the part of the Huachichiles. The indigenous workers fled, and the besieged mines ceased operation. The economy of the region was thus paralyzed. Mining operations in Zacatecas were nearly stopped due to lack of provisions and the Teochichimeca threat.
The place where the general Chichimeca uprising was believed to be consolidated was called Malpaís, a volcanic landscape east of New Vizcaya (Durango). This land was inaccessible to Spanish horsemen, and had an abundance of tunas, yucas, and rabbits.
800 warriors led by 13 leaders were assembled in that place, where they planned their attacks and ambushes. From there, messengers were sent to other tribes, calling on them to take up arms. This is how the Tepehuanes came to join the Zacatecos, Huachichiles, and some Cazcans in the rebellion. After this addition, Malpaís had around 1500 warriors from different clans ready to fight in what would come to be known as the Chichimeca League.
Apart from the attacks on the ranches, mines, and roads, the nomadic warriors organized an assault on the town of San Martín with the aim of making it the first of many targets in their attempt to wipe the nearby Spanish towns and camps off of the map of the Great Chichimeca.
Thus, the Teochichimecas fell upon the town of San Martín in a surprise attack, first attacking during the patronal feast of the church, where the whole town was assembled and there was no means of escape. They also snuck into town and stole all of the horses of the whites; thus the colonists could only pursue the attackers on foot. The Chichimecas were able to rob many horses and arms from the Spanish, resulting in a major victory among many for the indigenous warriors.
Afterwards the royally-appointed Captain Ahumada decided to enter Malpaís in mid-1561 with only five soldiers and an interpreter, with the purpose of entering into negotiations with the inhabitants of the place. The captain asked the combatants to lay down their weapons in exchange for a pardon for past attacks and crimes. The indigenous people agreed to various peace treaties; but knowing that the Spanish could not be trusted and knew their location, they made an important decision.
Ahumada, after the final peace negotiation, decided to prepare to attack the Chichimeca rebels, thinking that they would betray him at the first opportunity. The captain stationed twelve horsemen and 80 foot soldiers at the base of Malpaís to capture any savage trying to flee. Ahumada would then enter the volcanic terrain with his principal infantry to try to drive them out. When he made his entry and arrived where the “peace negotiations” had taken place, he was surprised to find it empty save for a few warriors who refused to abandon Malpaís. These were subsequently killed by the invaders. The Spanish then burned the huts in the encampment and went in pursuit of the rebels who had fled to the Valley of Guadiana and Amantequex.
In Guadiana, a fierce battle took place that ended in the death and capture of 200 savage warriors. The prisoners had their thumbs cut off to hinder their use of the bow and arrow, especially the Huachchiles, as this was their deadly weapon of choice. Seeing the devastating defeat that the Spanish inflicted on the indigenous warriors, the Tepehuanes signed a peace treaty with the whites, who took advantage of the situation to gather information concerning the hiding places of the Teochichicmecas.
It was in this manner that Captain Ahumada pursued the native rebels from Avino, Peñol Blanco, and Mezquital, who had fled 24 leagues from Malpaís.
The savages proved to be far from docile prisoners. The chronicles tell of how fewer than 100 warriors were imprisoned in the Presidio of Peñol Blanco, but they were still able to tear off their chains, destroy the presidio, and attack the Spanish guards with only rocks. They ended up capturing a dozen soldiers and kept them prisoners while resisting the reinforcements that had come to pacify them. It should be emphasized that this resistance occurred in adverse circumstances, as they were unarmed, equipped only with strategy, ferocity, and whatever they had on hand; yet they were still able to put up a fight from midnight until dawn. Since they were greatly outnumbered, they ended up surrendering to the forces that had come from the encampment of Cristóbal de Argüello. Nevertheless, they gave a clear example of the fierce nature of the ancient inhabitants of that land.
In October of that year, Captain Pedro de Ahumada along with his army returned to Zacatecas in search of the Huachichiles responsible for the death of Fray Juan de Tapia. He attacked the encampment of these warriors and killed more than one hundred of them. During the general Inquisition-style interrogation, one of the warriors revealed information concerning the continuation of the Chichimeca League, which alerted Ahumada and his men.
In the place known as El Tunal (in Huachichil territory), around 1500 Chichimeca warriors had gathered as they had in Malpaís in order to plan out their attacks. Through Spanish intervention, it seems that the League was not able to fully assemble, though Ahumada left Zacatecas believing he had dispersed the Chichimeca warriors. He later learned that the information that his prisoners had given him had another purpose, namely, so that those remaining warriors could follow and study the movements of the whites from the hills above. The second attempt to consolidate the Chichimeca League was fomenting in the shadows under warlike audacity.
(…) The coyote howled and there was hail and fire mixed with blood that was thrown against the cities and a great portion of humanity was burned…
The bear growled and like a great mountain on fire it was thrown in the dams constructed by man and a great part of humanity died…
The great black jaguar roared and a great star fell from the sky burning like a torch and this fell on the financial centers of the world and caused misery among humanity for years…
The millenarian eagle beat its wings and contaminated a third of the part of hundreds, so that the miserable people still alive were tormented with greater tenacity…
The great cypress grew again and at the same time I saw a star fall from the sky toward the earth. It gave forth the key to the well of the abyss. And the well of the abyss opened and smoke came out from all of the volcanoes of the earth. The smoke blotted out the sun, preparing the moment when all would rise again from the ashes of progress.
From the depths of the oceans, the giant squid shook itself, and the whole earth was shaken by the movements, and that which man had reconstructed was turned back to dust.
Men who had not yet died during these events learned to survive in the wild, but those who resisted and continued to live in the cities continued to be cursed by nature and continued drinking the poison of progress and modernity. Tragedy followed them until the day of their miserable deaths.
The Evolution of Diet
By Ann Gibbons/NatGeo
Photographs by Matthieu Paley
Some experts say modern humans should eat from a Stone Age menu. What’s on it may surprise you.
It’s suppertime in the Amazon of lowland Bolivia, and Ana Cuata Maito is stirring a porridge of plantains and sweet manioc over a fire smoldering on the dirt floor of her thatched hut, listening for the voice of her husband as he returns from the forest with his scrawny hunting dog.
With an infant girl nursing at her breast and a seven-year-old boy tugging at her sleeve, she looks spent when she tells me that she hopes her husband, Deonicio Nate, will bring home meat tonight. “The children are sad when there is no meat,” Maito says through an interpreter, as she swats away mosquitoes.
Nate left before dawn on this day in January with his rifle and machete to get an early start on the two-hour trek to the old-growth forest. There he silently scanned the canopy for brown capuchin monkeys and raccoonlike coatis, while his dog sniffed the ground for the scent of piglike peccaries or reddish brown capybaras. If he was lucky, Nate would spot one of the biggest packets of meat in the forest—tapirs, with long, prehensile snouts that rummage for buds and shoots among the damp ferns.
This evening, however, Nate emerges from the forest with no meat. At 39, he’s an energetic guy who doesn’t seem easily defeated—when he isn’t hunting or fishing or weaving palm fronds into roof panels, he’s in the woods carving a new canoe from a log. But when he finally sits down to eat his porridge from a metal bowl, he complains that it’s hard to get enough meat for his family: two wives (not uncommon in the tribe) and 12 children. Loggers are scaring away the animals. He can’t fish on the river because a storm washed away his canoe.
The story is similar for each of the families I visit in Anachere, a community of about 90 members of the ancient Tsimane Indian tribe. It’s the rainy season, when it’s hardest to hunt or fish. More than 15,000 Tsimane live in about a hundred villages along two rivers in the Amazon Basin near the main market town of San Borja, 225 miles from La Paz. But Anachere is a two-day trip from San Borja by motorized dugout canoe, so the Tsimane living there still get most of their food from the forest, the river, or their gardens.
I’m traveling with Asher Rosinger, a doctoral candidate who’s part of a team, co-led by biological anthropologist William Leonard of Northwestern University, studying the Tsimane to document what a rain forest diet looks like. They’re particularly interested in how the Indians’ health changes as they move away from their traditional diet and active lifestyle and begin trading forest goods for sugar, salt, rice, oil, and increasingly, dried meat and canned sardines. This is not a purely academic inquiry. What anthropologists are learning about the diets of indigenous peoples like the Tsimane could inform what the rest of us should eat.
Rosinger introduces me to a villager named José Mayer Cunay, 78, who, with his son Felipe Mayer Lero, 39, has planted a lush garden by the river over the past 30 years. José leads us down a trail past trees laden with golden papayas and mangoes, clusters of green plantains, and orbs of grapefruit that dangle from branches like earrings. Vibrant red “lobster claw” heliconia flowers and wild ginger grow like weeds among stalks of corn and sugarcane. “José’s family has more fruit than anyone,” says Rosinger.
Yet in the family’s open-air shelter Felipe’s wife, Catalina, is preparing the same bland porridge as other households. When I ask if the food in the garden can tide them over when there’s little meat, Felipe shakes his head. “It’s not enough to live on,” he says. “I need to hunt and fish. My body doesn’t want to eat just these plants.”
As we look to 2050, when we’ll need to feed two billion more people, the question of which diet is best has taken on new urgency. The foods we choose to eat in the coming decades will have dramatic ramifications for the planet. Simply put, a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating that’s on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the world’s resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing. As farming emerged, nomadic hunter-gatherers gradually were pushed off prime farmland, and eventually they became limited to the forests of the Amazon, the arid grasslands of Africa, the remote islands of Southeast Asia, and the tundra of the Arctic. Today only a few scattered tribes of hunter-gatherers remain on the planet.
That’s why scientists are intensifying efforts to learn what they can about an ancient diet and way of life before they disappear. “Hunter-gatherers are not living fossils,” says Alyssa Crittenden, a nutritional anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies the diet of Tanzania’s Hadza people, some of the last true hunter-gatherers. “That being said, we have a small handful of foraging populations that remain on the planet. We are running out of time. If we want to glean any information on what a nomadic, foraging lifestyle looks like, we need to capture their diet now.”
So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn’t develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease. “A lot of people believe there is a discordance between what we eat today and what our ancestors evolved to eat,” says paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas. The notion that we’re trapped in Stone Age bodies in a fast-food world is driving the current craze for Paleolithic diets. The popularity of these so-called caveman or Stone Age diets is based on the idea that modern humans evolved to eat the way hunter-gatherers did during the Paleolithic—the period from about 2.6 million years ago to the start of the agricultural revolution—and that our genes haven’t had enough time to adapt to farmed foods.
A Stone Age diet “is the one and only diet that ideally fits our genetic makeup,” writes Loren Cordain, an evolutionary nutritionist at Colorado State University, in his book The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. After studying the diets of living hunter-gatherers and concluding that 73 percent of these societies derived more than half their calories from meat, Cordain came up with his own Paleo prescription: Eat plenty of lean meat and fish but not dairy products, beans, or cereal grains—foods introduced into our diet after the invention of cooking and agriculture. Paleo-diet advocates like Cordain say that if we stick to the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors once ate, we can avoid the diseases of civilization, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, even acne.
That sounds appealing. But is it true that we all evolved to eat a meat-centric diet? Both paleontologists studying the fossils of our ancestors and anthropologists documenting the diets of indigenous people today say the picture is a bit more complicated. The popular embrace of a Paleo diet, Ungar and others point out, is based on a stew of misconceptions.
Meat has played a starring role in the evolution of the human diet. Raymond Dart, who in 1924 discovered the first fossil of a human ancestor in Africa, popularized the image of our early ancestors hunting meat to survive on the African savanna. Writing in the 1950s, he described those humans as “carnivorous creatures, that seized living quarries by violence, battered them to death … slaking their ravenous thirst with the hot blood of victims and greedily devouring livid writhing flesh.”
Eating meat is thought by some scientists to have been crucial to the evolution of our ancestors’ larger brains about two million years ago. By starting to eat calorie-dense meat and marrow instead of the low-quality plant diet of apes, our direct ancestor, Homo erectus, took in enough extra energy at each meal to help fuel a bigger brain. Digesting a higher quality diet and less bulky plant fiber would have allowed these humans to have much smaller guts. The energy freed up as a result of smaller guts could be used by the greedy brain, according to Leslie Aiello, who first proposed the idea with paleoanthropologist Peter Wheeler. The brain requires 20 percent of a human’s energy when resting; by comparison, an ape’s brain requires only 8 percent. This means that from the time of H. erectus, the human body has depended on a diet of energy-dense food—especially meat.
Fast-forward a couple of million years to when the human diet took another major turn with the invention of agriculture. The domestication of grains such as sorghum, barley, wheat, corn, and rice created a plentiful and predictable food supply, allowing farmers’ wives to bear babies in rapid succession—one every 2.5 years instead of one every 3.5 years for hunter-gatherers. A population explosion followed; before long, farmers outnumbered foragers.
Over the past decade anthropologists have struggled to answer key questions about this transition. Was agriculture a clear step forward for human health? Or in leaving behind our hunter-gatherer ways to grow crops and raise livestock, did we give up a healthier diet and stronger bodies in exchange for food security?
When biological anthropologist Clark Spencer Larsen of Ohio State University describes the dawn of agriculture, it’s a grim picture. As the earliest farmers became dependent on crops, their diets became far less nutritionally diverse than hunter-gatherers’ diets. Eating the same domesticated grain every day gave early farmers cavities and periodontal disease rarely found in hunter-gatherers, says Larsen. When farmers began domesticating animals, those cattle, sheep, and goats became sources of milk and meat but also of parasites and new infectious diseases. Farmers suffered from iron deficiency and developmental delays, and they shrank in stature.
Despite boosting population numbers, the lifestyle and diet of farmers were clearly not as healthy as the lifestyle and diet of hunter-gatherers. That farmers produced more babies, Larsen says, is simply evidence that “you don’t have to be disease free to have children.”
The real Paleolithic diet, though, wasn’t all meat and marrow. It’s true that hunter-gatherers around the world crave meat more than any other food and usually get around 30 percent of their annual calories from animals. But most also endure lean times when they eat less than a handful of meat each week. New studies suggest that more than a reliance on meat in ancient human diets fueled the brain’s expansion.
Year-round observations confirm that hunter-gatherers often have dismal success as hunters. The Hadza and Kung bushmen of Africa, for example, fail to get meat more than half the time when they venture forth with bows and arrows. This suggests it was even harder for our ancestors who didn’t have these weapons. “Everybody thinks you wander out into the savanna and there are antelopes everywhere, just waiting for you to bonk them on the head,” says paleoanthropologist Alison Brooks of George Washington University, an expert on the Dobe Kung of Botswana. No one eats meat all that often, except in the Arctic, where Inuit and other groups traditionally got as much as 99 percent of their calories from seals, narwhals, and fish.
So how do hunter-gatherers get energy when there’s no meat? It turns out that “man the hunter” is backed up by “woman the forager,” who, with some help from children, provides more calories during difficult times. When meat, fruit, or honey is scarce, foragers depend on “fallback foods,” says Brooks. The Hadza get almost 70 percent of their calories from plants. The Kung traditionally rely on tubers and mongongo nuts, the Aka and Baka Pygmies of the Congo River Basin on yams, the Tsimane and Yanomami Indians of the Amazon on plantains and manioc, the Australian Aboriginals on nut grass and water chestnuts.
“There’s been a consistent story about hunting defining us and that meat made us human,” says Amanda Henry, a paleobiologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. “Frankly, I think that misses half of the story. They want meat, sure. But what they actually live on is plant foods.” What’s more, she found starch granules from plants on fossil teeth and stone tools, which suggests humans may have been eating grains, as well as tubers, for at least 100,000 years—long enough to have evolved the ability to tolerate them.
The notion that we stopped evolving in the Paleolithic period simply isn’t true. Our teeth, jaws, and faces have gotten smaller, and our DNA has changed since the invention of agriculture. “Are humans still evolving? Yes!” says geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania.
One striking piece of evidence is lactose tolerance. All humans digest mother’s milk as infants, but until cattle began being domesticated 10,000 years ago, weaned children no longer needed to digest milk. As a result, they stopped making the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose into simple sugars. After humans began herding cattle, it became tremendously advantageous to digest milk, and lactose tolerance evolved independently among cattle herders in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Groups not dependent on cattle, such as the Chinese and Thai, the Pima Indians of the American Southwest, and the Bantu of West Africa, remain lactose intolerant.
Humans also vary in their ability to extract sugars from starchy foods as they chew them, depending on how many copies of a certain gene they inherit. Populations that traditionally ate more starchy foods, such as the Hadza, have more copies of the gene than the Yakut meat-eaters of Siberia, and their saliva helps break down starches before the food reaches their stomachs.
These examples suggest a twist on “You are what you eat.” More accurately, you are what your ancestors ate. There is tremendous variation in what foods humans can thrive on, depending on genetic inheritance. Traditional diets today include the vegetarian regimen of India’s Jains, the meat-intensive fare of Inuit, and the fish-heavy diet of Malaysia’s Bajau people. The Nochmani of the Nicobar Islands off the coast of India get by on protein from insects. “What makes us human is our ability to find a meal in virtually any environment,” says the Tsimane study co-leader Leonard.
Studies suggest that indigenous groups get into trouble when they abandon their traditional diets and active lifestyles for Western living. Diabetes was virtually unknown, for instance, among the Maya of Central America until the 1950s. As they’ve switched to a Western diet high in sugars, the rate of diabetes has skyrocketed. Siberian nomads such as the Evenk reindeer herders and the Yakut ate diets heavy in meat, yet they had almost no heart disease until after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many settled in towns and began eating market foods. Today about half the Yakut living in villages are overweight, and almost a third have hypertension, says Leonard. And Tsimane people who eat market foods are more prone to diabetes than those who still rely on hunting and gathering.
For those of us whose ancestors were adapted to plant-based diets—and who have desk jobs—it might be best not to eat as much meat as the Yakut. Recent studies confirm older findings that although humans have eaten red meat for two million years, heavy consumption increases atherosclerosis and cancer in most populations—and the culprit isn’t just saturated fat or cholesterol. Our gut bacteria digest a nutrient in meat called L-carnitine. In one mouse study, digestion of L-carnitine boosted artery-clogging plaque. Research also has shown that the human immune system attacks a sugar in red meat that’s called Neu5Gc, causing inflammation that’s low level in the young but that eventually could cause cancer. “Red meat is great, if you want to live to 45,” says Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego, lead author of the Neu5Gc study.
Many paleoanthropologists say that although advocates of the modern Paleolithic diet urge us to stay away from unhealthy processed foods, the diet’s heavy focus on meat doesn’t replicate the diversity of foods that our ancestors ate—or take into account the active lifestyles that protected them from heart disease and diabetes. “What bothers a lot of paleoanthropologists is that we actually didn’t have just one caveman diet,” says Leslie Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research in New York City. “The human diet goes back at least two million years. We had a lot of cavemen out there.”
In other words, there is no one ideal human diet. Aiello and Leonard say the real hallmark of being human isn’t our taste for meat but our ability to adapt to many habitats—and to be able to combine many different foods to create many healthy diets. Unfortunately the modern Western diet does not appear to be one of them.
The latest clue as to why our modern diet may be making us sick comes from Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham, who argues that the biggest revolution in the human diet came not when we started to eat meat but when we learned to cook. Our human ancestors who began cooking sometime between 1.8 million and 400,000 years ago probably had more children who thrived, Wrangham says. Pounding and heating food “predigests” it, so our guts spend less energy breaking it down, absorb more than if the food were raw, and thus extract more fuel for our brains. “Cooking produces soft, energy-rich foods,” says Wrangham. Today we can’t survive on raw, unprocessed food alone, he says. We have evolved to depend upon cooked food.
To test his ideas, Wrangham and his students fed raw and cooked food to rats and mice. When I visited Wrangham’s lab at Harvard, his then graduate student, Rachel Carmody, opened the door of a small refrigerator to show me plastic bags filled with meat and sweet potatoes, some raw and some cooked. Mice raised on cooked foods gained 15 to 40 percent more weight than mice raised only on raw food.
If Wrangham is right, cooking not only gave early humans the energy they needed to build bigger brains but also helped them get more calories from food so that they could gain weight. In the modern context the flip side of his hypothesis is that we may be victims of our own success. We have gotten so good at processing foods that for the first time in human evolution, many humans are getting more calories than they burn in a day. “Rough breads have given way to Twinkies, apples to apple juice,” he writes. “We need to become more aware of the calorie-raising consequences of a highly processed diet.”
It’s this shift to processed foods, taking place all over the world, that’s contributing to a rising epidemic of obesity and related diseases. If most of the world ate more local fruits and vegetables, a little meat, fish, and some whole grains (as in the highly touted Mediterranean diet), and exercised an hour a day, that would be good news for our health—and for the planet.
On my last afternoon visiting the Tsimane in Anachere, one of Deonicio Nate’s daughters, Albania, 13, tells us that her father and half-brother Alberto, 16, are back from hunting and that they’ve got something. We follow her to the cooking hut and smell the animals before we see them—three raccoonlike coatis have been laid across the fire, fur and all. As the fire singes the coatis’ striped pelts, Albania and her sister, Emiliana, 12, scrape off fur until the animals’ flesh is bare. Then they take the carcasses to a stream to clean and prepare them for roasting.
Nate’s wives are cleaning two armadillos as well, preparing to cook them in a stew with shredded plantains. Nate sits by the fire, describing a good day’s hunt. First he shot the armadillos as they napped by a stream. Then his dog spotted a pack of coatis and chased them, killing two as the rest darted up a tree. Alberto fired his shotgun but missed. He fired again and hit a coati. Three coatis and two armadillos were enough, so father and son packed up and headed home.
As family members enjoy the feast, I watch their little boy, Alfonso, who had been sick all week. He is dancing around the fire, happily chewing on a cooked piece of coati tail. Nate looks pleased. Tonight in Anachere, far from the diet debates, there is meat, and that is good.
Lessons for Ancient: Little Big Horne Battle
The Battle of Little Big Horn was one of the most distressing events for the United States Army during the so-called Indian Wars. In the battle, the Native Americans—led by, among others, the [Lakota] Sioux chief Tašúke Witkó or Crazy Horse; the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Sitting Bull; and Chief Two Moons of the Cheyennes—achieved a crushing defeat of the white invaders. What follows is a short account of one of many histories of fighting to the death against civilization and progress, one of many that contains important lessons for us today.
The Little Big Horn is the name of a river in the territories of the state of Montana in the United States. White colonists had mostly occupied the neighboring area, the Black Hills, since the finding of mines replete with gold. In the year 1976, the government of the United States tried to buy the lands for mineral exploitation.
This upset many natives who still lived in the area. The government’s control spread throughout these territories, giving only two options to the ancestral owners of the land: either they could sell their land and be assigned to a reservation, or they would be violating the law. Many chose the latter option, and it was in this manner that the resistance was catalyzed.
The government gave the natives a date by which time they were to leave their ancestral territories. Before the issued date came to pass, in disobedience of the government mandate, military units began to forcefully evict various native villages. The people of Two Moons and Crazy Horse were attacked and had to abandon their positions. It was then that they turned to Sitting Bull, whom they henceforth considered their spiritual leader and who then held the most influence of the whole native community.
Sitting Bull called for unity with other clans to defend themselves against the European menace. Thus, at the command of the new head of the tribe, they celebrated a type of gathering with fifteen thousand natives attending, according to contemporary accounts.
It is said that upon seeing so many people united, Sitting Bull prayed to Wakan Tanka (who was, according to the Sioux’s worldview, the Great Spirit) that the hunting be good for his people and that the men be strong and indomitable. So that this would happen, Sitting Bull did the Dance of the Sun, in which he danced for two days and two nights without food or water, praying and watching the movements of the sun. At the end of the dance, the spiritual leader had a revelation. He saw a large quantity of white soldiers and natives fall from the sky; according to him, the fallen soldiers were offerings for Wakan Tanka and the native warriors should murder them and not take their weapons, hair, or any of their belongings. If they went against this rule, he said, it would go badly for the natives.
With glowing spirits, the tribal chiefs like Crazy Horse got together their men and left in search of the offering for Wakan Tanka and simultaneously to defend their lands from which they would never leave without a fight. On the 16th of June, a small party of native guards spied a column of thirteen hundred white men and allied Indians between the mountains close to their camp in the area by Rosebud Creek. The leader of these men was General George Crook.
The defense had begun, and the men armed themselves for war. If the invaders got any closer there was the possibility that there would be casualties of women and children in combat.
At dawn of the following day, Chief Crazy Horse unexpectedly ambushed the enemy. The white troops were dispersed by means of a rapidly executed war tactic, and the horde of savages divided into small groups in order to hunt down those who had become easy targets while separated from their columns. After repelling the invasion, the nomads camped on the shores of the Little Big Horn.
On the 25th of June in the same year, the Lieutenant General George Armstrong Custer (who was a hero of the Civil War, the youngest general in the country’s army, and the darling of the press, who dubbed him “The Boy General”) divided his column of six hundred soldiers into three groups to try to ambush the warriors who had so demoralized General Crook and his men a few days before.
One of the three groups fired directly at the tipis at the front of the camp—in response, the warriors shouted “Hoka Hey,” which in Lakota means, “Today is a good day to die,” and attacked with their bows and arrows, hatchets, and shotguns. As they killed many of the soldiers by the river, the survivors were forced to flee.
The second group, commanded by Custer, decided to attack from the other flank of the nomadic camp. The spiritual leader Sitting Bull watched over the women and children while the strategies of the savages made the soldiers fall into chaos, defenseless from the mad flight of their horses that were frightened by the natives. In a matter of minutes, the enemies were besieged and reduced.
From atop the high hills, Crazy Horse’s men screamed words of war. The terrorized Americans killed their remaining horses to use hem as shields. The battle was fierce and chaotic. According to the chronicles, one could see the warriors killing the soldiers in handto-hand combat or from horseback with hatchets and arrows fired from point blank range in a scene full of screams, howls, the smell of gunpowder, and the blasts of guns. At the end of the battle, the great
General Custer lay dead with shots to his head and chest, and his men were decimated. The native savages took the soldier’s clothing, scalps, and castrated them as well as taking their belongings, all of which went against what the spiritual leader, Sitting Bull, had told them. Disobeying this vision would later be seen by the natives as the beginning of the end, since with this battle they won the enmity of a large sector of the American society and would be massacred and hunted like animals by the American military.
The third and final group of invaders had gathered with the few survivors of the first group. They called for help, and more soldiers arrived. Crazy Horse could not afford to lose more of his men and so ordered that the camp be packed up so that they could leave victorious. The final great strategy used by the old warriors was to divide the group up into many small groups so as to avoid focalizing forces. Many small groups were more difficult to engage than one large one. It was with this in mind that the natives dispersed in all directions.
There are various lessons that can be learned from this fight against civilization.
First: Strategy is very important when it comes to winning a fight or battle. In our case, the individualist war against the technological system should be approached with tactics and intelligence.
We know very well that saying this does not pretend to take into account winning completely against the system, but rather to deal blows to the mega-machine to the best of our abilities. These actions become individualist victories, and escaping unscathed or undetected should be the goal during terrorist as well as sabotage attacks.
Second: Examining the fight described above, we see the old ones united behind one objective: defending their way of life in nature. Their fierceness played a very important role—though during the battle there were individuals wounded and even killed, the focal point remained the fight against civilization and progress, a fight to the death. Our fight should also be fierce and overwhelming, that is to say, extremist. Those who were not capable of taking a hard stance were not part of this war. Those who are ready to kill and die defending their natural humanity that has yet to be robotized, and their savage nature that remains indomitable, should take this into account. Crazy Horse was assassinated one year later when he led the savage nomads against the US Army. He died under a hail of bullets from Indians allied with the enemy. His body was full of holes from the lead of civilization, but his proud example as a warrior was left like a living legend for the later generations who, like him, defend themselves and resist the advance of that which is alien to their nature.
Third: Falling upon the enemy when they least expect it is another lesson from this episode. To be effective and carry out an attack unscathed, it is not practical to attack when the authorities might be aware of the danger. For example, every 8th of August, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education sends out an alert recalling that in 2011 the eco-extremist group Individuals Tending Towards the Wild sent a package bomb that injured two technologists. On this day especially, were there to be any attempt against the same academic institution, it would be a danger to those carrying it out, and the act would be more likely to fail, given that they employ additional but discreet police around this time. Although I would personally like to see another attack at the same institution on the same day that would mock all of this additional security, I realize that that is not pertinent.
Fourth: Some foolish individuals who are familiar with our stances have asked in the past: “Are you going to fight the system using its own weapons?”
The natives that we cite above went into war with everything that they had on hand: bows and arrows, hatchets and clubs, horses and rifles. These weapons were useful when they fell upon the whites and their indigenous allies. What would have happened if these natives had rejected the weapons of the white people and clung instead to their old implements for hunting and fighting? Maybe they wouldn’t have been victorious at Little Big Horn, among other battles.
The casualties on the side of the army were much higher than those of the natives, and one of the factors that contributed to this was that the warriors used repeating firearms (that is to say, they could fire numerous times in a row without having to reload) that they had previously stolen from the enemy. The Americans and their allies only had single-shot rifles (which could only fire one round before having to be reloaded). The invaders’ time-consuming weaponry meant that the natives could fire while they rode their horses directly at the soldiers, cornering them while they tried to reload their weapons.
Thus in the response to the question of means, we say that we cannot limit ourselves to the old weaponry just because we criticize the technological system. We should use the weapons of the system against itself. Just as the Native American participants did not hesitate to use those repeating firearms, we are not going to hesitate to use any modern weapon that might cause the enemy casualties.
With this we conclude the text. Everyone can draw their own conclusions.