Monday, September 24, 2007

"This day I shot a condor".

Sort of a shocking thing to read. But Darwin is a scientist, so it's all right. It's possible that the condor is on view at the Natural History Museum in London - they seem to still have the specimen.

Regarding the governor of an Argentinian frontier province: "The governor's favourite occupation is hunting Indians: a short time since he slaughtered forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate of three or four pounds apiece". Now this is not just sort of shocking. I have an impression, confirmed here by Darwin, that the crimes of U.S.-Indian policy look a little pale compared to what went on in Argentina. Greed and neglect compared to open genocide. Native Americans and their allies were able to achieve some political success in the U.S., although they lost the fight at most crucial points. But in Argentina, there were no advocates, there was no organization. Just open warfare, or total submission. I need to learn more. A subject for future research.

All about Andean condors: pp. 194-8 of the Everyman's Library Voyage of the 'Beagle', the governor's hobby: pp. 140-1.


  1. The Argentine policy toward the Indians was complex. There were wars of extermination against the fiercer tribes, but at the same time friendly tribes were granted vaccinations and medical treatment.

    One of the reasons the Argentine treatment was harsher was because of the greater ferocity and implacability of certain tribes, which Darwin himself describes.

    As for genocide, you can still see many people today in the cities and towns of Argentina who are clearly of indigenous or mixed descent, but can you say the same of the U.S.?

  2. Daniel - thanks for the information. Any book on the subject to recommend?