Hunter-gatherers maintained a level of safety through warfare and intimidation of rival groups by:
Ø Being known as having superior militaristic capabilities and a willingness to fight for their land and resources.
Ø Having the willingness to fight to the death.
Ø Launching “war-path” raids on neighboring tribes that encroach on “their” hunting grounds.
Ø Torturing to death any enemy person unfortunate enough to be captured alive.
In hunter-gatherer tribes, teenage boys are initiated into being adult warriors by enduring a painful event during which they cannot cry out in pain. These ceremonies vary from tribe to tribe all over the world.
In some tribes if a boy cannot complete the ritual(s) he is not allowed to marry and have children. This is a hunter-gatherer approach to genetic engineering. Hunter-gatherer males tend to be taller and stronger than males from agriculturally based people.
For example, in the Sateré-Mawé people in South American today, boys must place their hands into a basket sleeve inside of which are bullet ants that cause the most painful stings known. The be considered an adult warrior a boy must do this 20 times. The enemies of these people know that their warriors can endure great pain and will fight to the death.
To see this in video, open YouTube and place this address in the “search” box. https://youtu.be/XwvIFO9srUw
Several other videos are also available on YouTube showing the same ritual with different boys.
A boy experiencing the ritual leaves his hands in the glove from five to ten minutes, but the pain continues for 24 hours. To emphasis the amount of pain involved watch naïve Hamish Blake of the Australian Hamish & Andy comedy team attempt to demonstrate his manhood by placing his hands in the gloves. See https://youtu.be/gAg6v9KYtXk
Although Blake could only endure leaving his hands in the gloves for a couple of seconds it was necessary to take him downriver in a boat to an emergency room where he stayed until the next day.
Although “modern development” has pushed the Sateré-Mawé into a smaller land area they still, to this day, are able to be somewhat isolated from the “outside” world, living their traditional way.
Intimidation through Torturing “Invaders”
During the Jamestown era of American history, the local natives held the English in low regard because they screamed in pain when tortured. The death of George Cassen at the hands of the Chickahominy is an example.
“The natives prepared a large fire behind the bound and naked body. Then a man grasped his hands and used mussel shells to cut off joint after joint, making his way through cassen’s fingers, tossing the pieces into the flames. That accomplished, the man used shells and reeds to detach the skin from Cassen’s face and the rest of his head. Cassen’s belly was next, as the man sliced it open, pulled out his bowels, and cast those onto the fire. Finally the natives burned Cassen at the stake through to the bones.”
Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation, by David A. Price, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, 300 pp. page 60.
Of course, this isn’t much different from what the English did to William Wallace (known as Braveheart) on August 23, 1305. Based on being found guilty of treason he was stripped naked in the Tower of London; dragged through the city behind a horse; hanged but brought down still alive; his penis and testicles cut off; his stomach cut open; his bowels removed and placed in a fire; his body cut into four quarters to be displayed in various parts of the nation; and his head placed on a stake on the Tower.
In The Prince Chapter 17 Machiavelli wrote it is better to be feared than loved.
© Joseph L. Bass, EdD, June 2020