painted by Graeber & Wengrow in The Dawn of Everything1 is rather economical with the truth. The pair claim that [emphases added throughout]:
"[Native] Americans, by contrast, were equal insofar as they were equally free to obey or disobey orders as they saw fit."
"That indigenous Americans lived in generally free societies, and that Europeans did not, was never really a matter of debate..."
"[A]n office holder could give all the orders he or she liked, but no one was under any particular obligation to follow them."
"Europeans were constantly squabbling for advantage; societies of the Northeast Woodlands, by contrast, guaranteed one another the means to an autonomous life – or at least ensured no man or woman was subordinated to any other."
And while they dismissively acknowledge:
"...[the Wendat] had formal political offices and a stratum of war captives whom the Jesuits, at least, referred to as ‘slaves’..."
the academics knew (assuming they read their primary source2) that Kandiaronk himself3 described such "war captives" in no uncertain terms:4
"...the young Warrior will not embarque in a married State till he has made some Campaigns against the Iroquese, and took some Slaves to serve him..."
"If any one of us have a Mind to build a Canow or a Hut, we all send our Slaves to forward the Work, without being ask'd."
"Besides, our Slaves take all the Drudgery off our Hands..."
"If you lived after our Manner, all of you would be equally Masters ; your Riches would be of the same Stamp with ours, and consist in the Purchasing of Glory by military Actions, and the taking of Slaves ; for the more you took of them, the less Occasion you would have to work : In a word, you would live as happily as we do."
Graeber, D., & Wengrow, D. (2021b). The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Quotes are from pages 45, 40, 43, 48, and 40 respectively.
Cited as "the 1735 English edition of Dialogues"; since no such title exists, they must be referring to Lahontan's New Voyages to North-America of the same year (which appears in their bibliography and contains the dialogues). While the first French and English (1, 2) versions of Nouveaux Voyages de Mr le Baron de Lahontan dans l’Amérique Septentrionale were both published in 1703, only the English edition contained the dialogues (as alluded to on its title page: "Done into English. In Two VOLUMES. A great part of which never Printed in the Original."). The dialogues appeared the following year in French with the publication of Suite du Voyage de l'Amérique, ou Dialogue de Monsieur le baron de Lahontan et d'un sauvage dans l'Amérique.
Graeber & Wengrow argue that Lahontan's work reflects actual "conversations between Lahontan and Kandiaronk" as opposed to being a fiction invented by himself; in fact, they go so far as to replace the pseudonym "Adario" with "Kandiaronk" when quoting passages from the book.
Lahontan, 1735. New Voyages to North-America. 2nd ed. London: J. Walthoe, et al. Quotes are from pages 114, 156, 145, and 144 respectively.
/misc | May 11, 2023
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