Put the Noble Savage to Rest

Critics of today’s human behavior often point our tribal past as an example of how we should nobly live in harmony with nature. Animal activists sometimes do the same, when decrying today’s vanquishing of the natural world. But this nonsense is becoming particularly tiresome and annoying. The following is therefore a response to the myth of the noble savage.

Our prehistoric ancestors indulged a wide range of murderous and bizarre excesses resembling the insanity of rampaging chimpanzees. Archaeologist Lawrence Keeley provides a detailed account of our ancestors’ war-faring behavior in War Before Civilization. He presents the thesis of a decline in violence—the same picked up and expanded later by Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature, noting that as civilization emerged in the form of established settlements and governments, violence declined and has been declining ever since. Pinker summarizes Keeley’s analysis, along with the work of others, looking at the percentage of male warrior deaths, and states that the likelihood of dying violently at the hands of another a man ranges from a chance of approximately 60 percent down to 15 percent. Using Keeley’s figuring, Pinker reasserts the stark difference between the past and present:

If the death rate in tribal warfare had prevailed during the 20th century, there would have been two billion deaths rather than 100 million.[1]Steven Pinker, “The Surprising Decline in Violence,” TED Talks, September, 2007, http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html; and see Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 93.

Though some pacifist societies existed, if prehistoric human tribes went to war or on a raiding party no mercy was shown and none was expected. As with chimpanzees, the primary modes of assault were deadly raids and ambushes that use surprise and favor victory for the attackers, which was an easy ask as victims were often women and children.

A so-called “bridging” example given in Demonic Males, linking human patterns of war to those of the chimpanzee, is the Yanomamö of South America, whose inter-village wars are usually over trivial matters, unfounded suspicions, or for the deep satisfactions of revenge. Just like chimpanzees, the Yanomamö engage in quick and deliberate raids into enemy territory to kill one or two individuals and if possible abduct women for rape.[2]Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996), 64-69. Like chimpanzees, the Yanomamö enjoy a good scrap, delighting in the hunt, the promise of rewards, the pleasurable feelings of power at destroying their adversaries.

And so it has been for humans the world over for millennia—a heritage of tribal gangs that would slaughter individuals caught unawares, rampage through small communities killing everyone, even if only to steal food, or murder isolated families as a matter of course. Indeed, the war of our primitive ancestors was total war, more frequent, more deadly, and more merciless than later wars between so-called civilized states.[3]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 174.

Fortified settlements, where people had begun farming, show signs of being violently overrun by bow-wielding killers.[4]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 37-38. Genocidal massacres with the intention of erasing entire tribes were not uncommon, as in the example of the South Dakota Crow Creek massacre in the 1300s, where the mutilated and scalped remains of over 480 people testify to the calculation and ferocity of the attack.[5]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 68. Similarly, the goal of the Eskimo, according to Ernest Burch’s seminal account, is to wipe out everyone in an enemy group, either incrementally or through massacres.[6]As related in Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 73-74. See Ernest S. Burch, “Eskimo Warfare in Northwest Alaska,” in Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, 16:2 (1974), 123–45.

Prestige and power was usually attached to killing and kill ratios, and it would not be nearly so rewarding without trophy taking to commemorate the victory. Much as Michael De Montaigne wrote in “Of Cannibals” in 1580, when referring to tribes on a Brazilian coast and their continual war of bloody brutality:

They have continual war with the nations that live further within the mainland, beyond their mountains, to which they go naked, and without other arms than their bows and wooden swords, fashioned at one end like the head of our javelins. The obstinacy of their battles is wonderful, and they never end without great effusion of blood: for as to running away, they know not what it is. Every one for a trophy brings home the head of an enemy he has killed, which he fixes over the door of his house.[7]Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), p. 188.

Modern archeology corroborates the massacring and trophy taking in Montaigne’s report. Of many finds, one in Germany revealed a gruesome collection of trophy heads of 34 men, woman and children.[8]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 38.

Apart from trophy taking, other mutilations of the bodies of those killed were common, with attention to defacing and genital severing or a trademark disfigurement and other postmortem attacks or overkill with excessive axe blows and arrows. Scalping is well known, for example, but few would know that after the Battle of Little Bighorn Indian women used mallets to pound soldiers’ heads into pulp.[9]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 102. The goal was not just to annihilate the enemy but to kill them many times over in a frenzy of overkill. One archaeological find indicated that a group of adults and children had died from being struck multiple times by different axes or projectiles in execution-style killings. This behavior might have been to ensure no reprisals in a presumed afterlife.

Young women were likely spared at the Crow Creek massacre, as sometimes happened in tribal war, for later rape and forced assimilation. But women were not always safe, nor were children, from the savagery of tribal killers. Eskimos did not spare women or children. Maoris were known to have disabled women, if not for rape, for later killing and eating. The Tahitians, sparing no one either, and were known to have skewed children to their mothers with spears.[10]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 87. Children were not safe from the Yanomamö, who again provide the classic example of tribal behavior, as described by an eye witness, a 12-year-old girl:

the men began to kill the children; little ones, bigger ones, they killed many of them. They tried to run away, but they caught them, and threw them on the ground, and stuck them with bows which went through their bodies and rooted them to the ground. Taking the smallest by the feet, they beat them against the trees and rocks. The children’s eyes trembled. They killed so many.[11]Ettore Biocca, Yanomamo: The Narrative of a White Girl Kidnapped by Amazonian Indians (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971), p. 35.

Males were rarely taken prisoner unless for eating purposes. If a male were unarmed or wounded, he would be clubbed to death on the battleground. If male prisoners were taken, they could expect to sacrificed or ritually tortured, perhaps over days and perhaps by children of the tribe, blooding them in the art of killing for future war.[12]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 84-85.

Should they be kept for eating, they would be fattened up beforehand, just as a pig might be prior to slaughter. Cannibalism was common around the world, though the Pacific islands and the Americas offer the most famous examples. The killing and feasting on prisoners was a triumphant and joyous occasion, preceded by rites of insult, taunts and humiliation, often by the women. It was associated to varying degrees with the satisfactions of revenge, the absorption of personal power and prestige, the act of communal bonding, and the appeasement of gods. The notorious Tupinamba of Brazil, famously described by Alfred Metraux, show just how pathological human societies can become. This, after a prisoner has finally been executed, his head caved in with a club:

Old women rushed to drink the warm blood, and children were invited to dip their hands in it. Mothers would smear their nipples with blood so that even babies could have a taste of it. The body, cut into quarters, was roasted on a barbecue, and the old women, who were the most eager for human flesh, licked the grease running along the sticks. Some portions, reputed to be delicacies or sacred, such as the fingers of the grease around the liver or heart, were allotted to distinguished guests.[13]Alfred Metraux, “The Tupinamba,” in Handbook of the South American Indians, Volume 3, Bulletin 143 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1948), p. 124.

Bon appetit! The executioner, meanwhile, conducted himself to a hut for days of cleansing rites, the same for if he had killed a jaguar.

What some might call the behavior of sick societies is not far from the observed behavior of primate cousins. The same way the Tupinamba relished a human prisoner, chimpanzees devour monkeys, sometimes alive, tearing at them, ripping away skin like cellophane from a meat pack, later licking the blood from a flesh torn skull. While it is not called cannibalism, humans today still eat fellow primates, including chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas—so-called manly meats, which are also associated with prestige; the tastiest morsels, gorilla hands and feet, for example, are frequently offered to Cameroon dignitaries.[14]Dale Peterson, In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006), p. 147.

The point of mentioning all this? It should now be clear what uncivilized behavior, the dark side of our inner chimpanzee, looks like. What the savage perversities of human tribal behavior looks like resembles what you would expect from psychopaths and serial killers. Can we assume in all seriousness that animals were treated with any decency by these savages?

Self-Serving Rituals

No question that prehistoric thinkers expressed admiration or awe for the animals around them—the fearsome agility and strength of large carnivores, the flight capabilities of birds, the massive movements of herd animals. But behind any reverence or respects paid was self-interest and covetousness, an egoism supported by anthropomorphic views. Ancient humans were just as guilty of magic thinking as the religious are today, attributing human motivations and characteristics to anything that moved if not to inventing ridiculous phantoms to explain the unknown.

This “anthropomorphic thinking” emerged as an extension to human consciousness around 40,000 to 100,000 years ago, when humans began to infer mental states of other beings.[15]James A. Serpell, “One Man’s Meat: Further Thoughts on the Evolution of Animal Food Taboos,” On the Human, November 27, 2011, http://onthehuman.org/2011/11/one-mans-meat/. In further inferring supernatural states of animate or inanimate objects, we see the rudiments of religion. This period was the when humans began projecting attributes onto animals in a self-interested way and that would continue for tens of thousands of years to this day. They began “rationalizing” their actions with magical thinking.

If you take the legacies of primitive cultures, the arts and oral histories, at face value you might interpret them as advocating a selfless regard for nonhumans and nature. The idea of mutual sharing is expressed in Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks relates the story of a Sioux holy man that speaks of a kinship with animals and nature:

It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit.”[16]Quoted in Paul Waldau, “Religion and Animals,” In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2008), 77.

But Black Elk “made much meat” in his time, killing the fellow siblings of a universal human-based Spirit in great numbers. What we see in reality is the sense of absolution in destiny. Usually intrinsic to this is the belief that you are behaving however magic thinking allows you to behave.

Tim Ingold provides an example of the same kind of self-serving magical thinking among the Cree Indians of Northern Canada:

animals intentionally present themselves to the hunter to be killed. The hunter consumes the meat, but the soul of the animal is released to be reclothed with flesh. Hunting here, as among many northern peoples, is conceived as a rite of regeneration: consumption follows killing as birth follows intercourse, and both acts are integral to the reproductive cycles, respectively, of animals and humans. However, animals will not return to hunters who have treated them badly in the past. One treats an animal badly by failing to observe the proper, respectful procedures in the processes of butchering, consumption and disposal of the bones, or by causing undue pain and suffering to the animal in killing it. Above all, animals are offended by unnecessary killing: that is, by killing as an end in itself rather than to satisfy genuine consumption needs. They are offended, too, if the meat is not properly shared around all those in the community who need it. Thus, meat and other usable products should on no account be wasted.[17]Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (London; New York: Routledge, 2000), 67.

Conservation based on imaginary self-importance and supernatural bonds cannot fail when animals willing to commit suicide are in abundance. And what a small price to pay in the bargain for the hunter. Though Ingold argues that there was prudent environmental management in prehistoric life, this was probably not difficult with plentiful herds. Elsewhere it was an entirely different story, as we will see.

Another example of projecting self-centered ideas on animals is cited in Ronald Marchant’s Man and Beast, concerning Eskimo beliefs and rituals to keep up the meat supply. The Eskimos believed that seals and whales suffered agonizing thirst because they lived in the sea and could not drink fresh water:

They therefore allowed themselves to be caught, knowing that the Eskimos would end their agony by giving them an offering of fresh water. If a hunter neglected to put this water into the mouth of his victim, the other seals or whales would know of his treachery and would never again allow themselves to be caught by him.[18]Quoted in David Nibert, Animal Rights Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation (Rowman & Little field Publishers, Inc., 2002), 198.

Not satisfied with being completely blameless, hunters confer on themselves and their hunts a self-congratulatory sacredness. The advantage of magical logic like this is that all desires are satisfied without any significant outlay. It is stealing without blame or guilt—it’s cheating and getting away with it.

The same pattern of absolution through ceremony is found in the Blackfoot Indian’s dance of the buffalo. In the legend of the dance’s origins, retold by Joseph Campbell, a buffalo bull complains of the death of his relatives to a Blackfoot woman he has taken for a wife.[19]Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 283-286. Though the legend shows that the Blackfoot saw the buffalo in terms of families, they would nonetheless lure them over cliffs into a carnage of broken bones and mass slaughter. In the legend, the bull shows empathy by allowing the his human wife to bring her father back to life, who had been trampled, but insists on reciprocal empathy through a buffalo dance for all buffalo who are killed, a dance that brings all buffalo back to life—resurrecting them, as the father was. Like the Cree, the Blackfoot believed that the animals they killed gave their bodies, not their spiritual essences, which would inhabit new bodies for next season. Hunting and killing was not only in accord with the laws of nature but was a profound sacred duty, essentially a sacrificial rite.[20]Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 292-293. How convenient, all this nonsense.

Before mistaking these behaviors as the mark of magnanimity that contrasts modern disrespect, we should remember that the guiding principles of the ancients was not animal welfare but self-interest. Not solely focused on keeping the supply lines open, prehistoric humans hoped to ward off vengeance, too. Revenge was a powerful motivating force in ancient societies, one of the most common causes of warfare.[21]Napolean A. Chagnon, “Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Population,” Science, Vol. 239, No. 4843 (February 26, 1988), 985-992. In the same way that “magical cleansing” might be needed after killing human enemies to get out of “spiritual danger,”[22]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 144. ceremonies before or after animal kills were as much an antiseptic against spiritual infection as they were to perpetuate a version of reincarnation: “It takes powerful magic…to spill the blood and not be overtaken by the blood-revenge.”[23]Frobenius quoted in Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 297. In all rituals, whether for food or cleansing, any idea of sin or transgression was taken away through magic thinking in which the animal, seen as a symbol more than an individual, is in different ways “erased” or “hidden” by words and ritual.

Another way in which the animal becomes more a symbol than an individual is in their depictions, such as in cave paintings. Not all depictions were devoted to hunting, but they all probably served a ceremonial purpose as battle projections or entreaties for good fortune. They represent positive thought through artwork. The French archaeologist Abbé Henri Breuil hypothesized that such artworks were a form of “hunting magic,” applied to solicit a good hunt and a continuing abundance of animals.[24]Roger Lewin & Robert A. Folely, Principles of Human Evolution (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 481-482. We can therefore think of the caves “as the first churches and the animal drawings the first religious art.”[25]Gerald Carson, Men, Beasts, and Gods: A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972), 7. Ceremonies and art were used by humans to control their environment, and in the reducing of animals to symbolic representations or figures in the landscape, humans reduced animals to how they wanted to see in them, not as how they are in reality.

The same is true in totemic representations, even if they had nothing to do with hunting. You see modern versions of this primitive mentality, in, for example, the American eagle. Cults of animal worship and totemism would single out an animal for special treatment and to be honored if not protected from being killed or eaten. If such an animal was killed, it might be done ritualistically, in ceremonies of high spiritual import and infused with magical power. Either way, meaning is foisted on animals to satisfy the requirements of a tribe, not the animal. Worshiping animals “was primarily for the benefit of the worshipper,” says Rod Preece of ancient myths about animals, “rather than any indication of adoration for the worshipped.”[26]Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 1. If primitive humans saw “no incongruity between animal worship and animal exploitation,”[27]Gerald Carson, Men, Beasts, and Gods: A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972), 7. it was thanks to the ritualized fantasies and fantastic tales of make-believe.

How much nonhuman animals were seen as ends in themselves rather than as moving meat, giving up their bodies for food or returning supernatural favors, is questionable. “All myths and religions extend consideration for the well-being of animals beyond merely self-serving prudential consideration,” Rod Preece argues, in his anthology of writings on animals, “even though they always include those prudential considerations, and even though the interests of the adherents always exceed those of the animals.”[28]Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 2. The extent to which nonhumans were viewed beyond “self-serving prudential consideration” would vary widely from culture to culture. You might argue for the triumph of human compassion, as Rod Preece does:

however much societal forces impose themselves harmfully on animals, and however much some myths and tales distort animal reality, a natural compassion and respect for other species underlies the explicit or implicit imperatives imparted through myth and religion.[29]Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 2.

But Preece is prudent to add that “We should not assume that treating animals well in myth or religion means that they were well treated in fact—in whatever culture.”[30]Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 4. And it cannot be said with confidence in all cases that myth and daily experience were aligned. Often, as we have seen throughout history, spiritual texts or cultural myths are not followed in reality—they’re clung to for self-satisfying identity.

It is true that what we see underlying all of these behaviors is a sense of morality extended to the nonhuman animal world. There is a basic desire not to offend and a belief that offense was possible. Wronging an animal might bring vengeance, the food supply might run out, higher powers might withdraw favor. But then magic thinking, easy ritual and convenient stories—the stuff of mythologies and early religions—help the sense of wrong and the fears disappear, drawing focus away from the animal itself.

Gaining favor from higher powers is presumed to have worked if the hunt was successful. With success comes affirmation and endorsement. In other words, a successful killing is the proof it had higher approval. Circular arguments, of course, began well before the likes of the Bible!

Myths of Natural Harmony

The idea of the judicious primitive taking only his fair share, treating animals with reverence, and living in harmony with the environment is a fantasy denied by stories of yesteryear, archaeological discoveries, and the realities of today. What really occurred was the abuse of nature’s cornucopia;

The blood ebbs in billowing clouds of crimson. In the shallows, a giant green sea turtle lies stricken in its upturned shell, its flippers gouged from the sockets above the carapace and tossed into the water. A marauding reef shark edges closer.

The hunter runs his knife in an arc around the perimeter of cartilage and tears off the plastron, the soft breastplate shell, as dispassionately as if he were peeling the lid from a can. The female turtle, it’s internal organs exposed to the sun and swarming flies, writhes in silent agony.

The choicest cuts of flesh are hacked slowly from with in the seething cavity. Then the eggs, the liver and finally, the long coils of silvery grey intestine plump with undigested seagrass.[31]Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.

It is not over yet for this green turtle, caught and butchered by Australian aboriginals on the island of Mabuiag in the Torres Strait, in what is a daily scene on the foreshore.

After 10, maybe 15 minutes the butchering is done, but still the violated animal clings to life. It draws it’s straining head up from below the waterline, mouth gaping and eyes blinking in a final vain protest. The hunter reaches down and snaps the neck back into the emptied shell, then casts it adrift like a toy sailboat, back out to sea and the waiting sharks.

Some tradition they’ve got there—ghastly for anyone not totally ignorant of animal sentience. The aboriginals of Torres Strait have hunted green turtles for centuries, along with the dugong, an intelligent and social marine mammal that strikes the eye as a close relative of the dolphin or whale but is more closely related to the elephant and can live up to 70 years of age. Like the turtle, the dugong is an integral part of local culture. Its meat is eaten on special occasions, such as at a wedding, and is shared according to strict rules. Young males still hunt the dugong as a rite of passage. But any courtesy for the creature itself, if it ever existed, has degenerated into complete disregard.

Included in this is no thought for taboos which any hunter with a sense of decency would not normally break. Females nursing calves are not even safe.

The fisherman balanced on a platform straddling the bow strikes quickly with his wap, a long hardwood pole tipped with barbed steel spikes. The spike pierces the creature’s hide and embeds itself in the fatty outer flesh. As the dugong dives, it is pulled back by the tethered nylon rope.

A second man jumps into the water and twists another rope around the thrashing tail fins. Hopelessly trapped, the female dugong is unable to surface for air and slowly drowns. A calf, swimming alongside, is easily trapped and pulled aboard.[32]Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.

And even more despicable:

many young islanders are catching turtles and dugongs for sport ..there have been several cases recently of pregnant dugongs being caught and their foetuses cut out and thrown back into the water so their cries will draw other members of the herd.

Dugongs might suffer other torturous treatment such as being beached, baked to death under a searing sun or cut up alive, suffering, as turtles do, “prolonged, excruciating deaths.”[33]AAP, “LNP to Outlaw Barbaric Traditional Hunts,” The Age, December 20, 2010.

RSPCA Australia reported that “live dugongs were often tied to wharves and had parts of their flesh cut off intermittently to keep the meat fresh.”[34]Tom Arup & Peter Ker, “Hunting for Dugong, Turtles ‘Cruel’,” The Age, April 15, 2010. This was still happening over a decade after Humane Society International’s Australian representative urged the Australian government and indigenous community leaders to end the kind of cruelty towards dugongs and turtles that “would appall any normal person.”[35]Mark Baker, “Hunters in Deal to Save Dugongs,” The Age, February 21, 1998. A “normal person” we can take to mean someone not so barbaric and uncaring. So much, then, for the traditional hunting of the indigenous and their view of a sacred natural world.

Indeed, stories of hunters with a concern for nature and compassionate attitudes, such as some told of past Native Americans, are not what one finds from people who have actually spent time with hunter gatherers, even if continents apart. In The Harmless People, Elizabeth Thomas describes a scene of bushmen cooking a tortoise, oblivious to any torture and pain they might be causing.

Gai took a burning stick from the fire and set it against the tortoise’s belly. The tortoise kicked violently and jerked its head, urinating profuse amounts of the brown urine which ran over Gai’s hand, but the heat had its effect, the two hard, central plates on the shell of the belly peeled back, and Gai thrust his hand inside. The smoldering shell reeked and the tortoise struggled violently, but Gai slit the belly with his knife and pulled out the intestine.

The tortoise by now had retreated partway into its shell, trying to hide there, gazing out from between its front knees. Gai reached the heart, which was still beating, and flipped it onto the ground, where it jerked violently for a moment, almost jumping, then relaxed to a more spasmodic beating, all by itself and dusty, now ignored. Gai pinched the gall away from the yellow liver and threw that away, but he left the liver and the surrounding fat because he meant for that to be eaten.

The baby, Nhwakwe, who owned the tortoise, came to sit by his father, leaning on Gai’s leg and watching, looking smiling into the belly of the tortoise. A tortoise is such a slow, tough creature that its body can function although its heart is gone. Nhwakwe put his wrists to his forehead to imitate in a most charming manner the way in which the tortoise was trying to hide. Nhwakwe looked just like the tortoise.

Gai frowned with concentration and worked with his mouth open, pulled down at the corners. When the intestines were removed, Gai stuffed the cavity with green leaves ..The tortoise at this retreated far into its shell with its legs pulled in tightly, and Gai heated the doors again to curl them down. Then he ..put the tortoise into the oven that was prepared for it like a shallow little grave which the tortoise just fitted, a final agony, for the tortoise once more kicked and struggled as Gai raked hot coals over it. The steam escaping from the moist flesh caused the ashes to bubble and boil.[36]Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Harmless People (Vintage, 2010), MOBI file.

If you think an animal might escape less brutality at the center of traditional religious practices rather than hunting practices, you would be mistaken. The Zulu Ukweshwama bull-killing ritual dispels any illusions on that count:

For 40 minutes, dozens trampled the bellowing, groaning bull, wrenched its head around by the horns to try to break its neck, pulled its tongue out, stuffed sand in its mouth and even tried to tie its penis in a knot.[37]Barry Bearak, “Spilling the Blood of Bulls to Preserve Zulu Tradition,” New York Times, December 9, 2009.

About 40 young Zulus males partake in this eye-gouging, genital mutilating, tongue ripping spectacle, eventually killing the bull with their bare hands, suffocating it to death or breaking its neck. Accounts differ on the particulars, such as the time the torture takes, and even tell that the bull is further violated by a macabre sex act:

Among its highlights is a symbolic demonstration by the king of his power and dominance in a process involving his penetration of a black bull, beaten into semi-conscious immobility to ensure its compliant acceptance of the royal touch. The royal semen is then collected by a courtier and stored, for subsequent inclusion in food to be served at Sibaya – traditional councils – and other national forums.[38]Vukani Mde, Ed., South Africa Report, December 8, 2011, http://southernafricareport.com/Member/SecurePages/SecureNews.aspx?niid=12064; also http://nehandaradio.com/2011/12/13/king-mswati-tried-to-have-sex-with-a-bull/.

Should you ever be invited to a Sibaya, be sure to take a packed lunch.

Nauseating torture porn against human and nonhumans has a long history in Africa, a country where devotees of witchcraft still slaughter albinos for their body parts—not that traditions in Africa are any more uncivilized or less brutal than those of tribes past and present anywhere. Behind the fetishistic bull-torturing is the same old magic thinking of the prehistoric past, the same kind of mentality you find behind all shamanistic and cannibalistic practices: at its death the bull’s power and strength is allegedly transferred to the warriors and through them to the king. Such ludicrous nonsense is what traditionalists refuse to part with.

In 2009, Zizi Kodwa, spokesperson of the South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, a Zulu himself, ironically defended bull-torture by asserting that critics were actually the ones without reasoning powers:

The disrespect and contempt for African culture and traditions demonstrated by the debate demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of those who have anointed themselves voices of reason. This is reminiscent of the arrival of the European settlers on our shores who declared that our people were barbaric heathens who needed to be civilised.[39]Sebastian Berger, “Culture Clash Over Bull-killing Ritual,” The National, December 8, 2009, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/culture-clash-over-bull-killing-ritual.

Well, what others call uncivilized animal abuse, Mr. Kodwa and the tradition loving President Zuma call culture. We can only hope “things fall apart” in the name of all that is humane and decent as soon as possible. Nothing at all wrong with being a heathen, but no excuse for animal torturing barbarism. Many opposed to the ritual will nonetheless angrily reject the idea that we should label these bull torturers savages, but we certainly cannot call them noble.

When Animal Rights Africa (ARA) attempted to stop the tradition though the courts in 2009, the ruling went against them, with Judge Nic van der Reyden stating that “Interfering with the ceremony would be like asking Catholics to stop taking communion.”[40]Barry Bearak, “Spilling the Blood of Bulls to Preserve Zulu Tradition,” New York Times, December 9, 2009. Bowing his legal mind to the power of magic mumbo-jumbo, the judge solemnly observed, “If I rule that the bull should not be killed, it means that the power will not be transferred to the king, …Let’s say the king is struck by lightning after the ruling. People will say it is because I have interrupted their ritual.” Freedom to believe in the nonsensical—the freedom of religion, in other words—trumped the prevention of cruelty.

Tradition as an excuse for barbaric practices that are carried over to the present is contemptible for more than just the cruelty. Traditional hunting rights are threatening the survival of species. The classic example is subsistence whaling, as allowed in countries like Greenland for “local aboriginal consumption.” Typically, following the pattern in other countries that allow indigenous hunting, everyone else’s finger is in the whale-meat pie. An undercover investigation by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) in 2012 confirmed that Greenland was flaunting the ban on commercial whaling and marketing whale meat to tourists. Investigators saw whale meat, some from endangered fin whales, openly sold in supermarkets, hotels and restaurants. Strategically released before the 2012 International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, the investigation showed the real reason why Denmark wants to increase its kill quota.

In the case of the green turtle and dugong, Australian legislation allows Torres Strait aboriginals to hunt as much as they like and, up until 2012, to kill however they liked, with self-regulation as the only restraint—all provided that the meat is not commercially sold. But as with subsistence whaling in Greenland—where whale meat ends up in supermarkets and on tourist hotel menus instead of on Inuit plates—hunting rights are abused in Torres Strait. The dumping of turtles and dugong meat without concern for waste, the use of nontraditional weaponry, the commercial hunting to supply large markets in mainland cities—all these abuses are practiced in the name of tradition and under the protected of isolation, no bag limit, thin government resources, and the timid tip-toeing by everyone around the subject of indigenous rights.[41]Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998. The Torres Strait islanders do not have a conservation ethic, either. “They just see this as another food resource that they can go and get whenever they like,” remarked an expert on turtle conservation, “that will be there for ever.”[42]Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.

Eco-Clueless Ancients

Ecologically, ancient humans were just as clueless as their modern tribal counterparts. As we know from the history of extinctions, basing ecological decisions on a selfish beliefs of entitlement, the absence of facts, or magic thinking does not deliver responsible animal or environmental stewardship.

Unfortunately, there is no empirical evidence that early humans were any more conscious of the moral imperative to preserve the environment than the other animals that they shared the environment with. Hunter-gatherers were limited in the ways in which they could damage their environments, but within those constraints they were even more ruthless than modern human beings.[43]Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 88.

It is a myth, Gwynne Dyer writes, that native “hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, or early farmers, were in tune with nature and the guardians of their environment.”[44]Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 87. Early human populations caused extinctions of megafauna as they colonized territories around the world during the late Pleistocene and beyond. While debate is ongoing as to what extent we can attribute blame, no one can question that humans have been responsible for extinctions wherever they have gone—that is, not fitting in but rather exploiting without restraint or any knowledge of their impact beyond immediate needs.

Bird losses tell the tale dramatically: “virtually all birds lost since the last ice age would still be alive if not for humans.”[45]David W. Steadman, “Human-Caused Extinction of Birds,” Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 1997), 157. The classic scenario was when, like a sweeping scythe, prehistoric humans fanned out across the Pacific islands, directly and indirectly cutting down birds and animals to the point of extinction. Infamous mass extinctions took place in New Zealand, where newly arrived Polynesians decimated the moa bird in what is perhaps the most rapid extinction caused by primitive people in history, and Madagascar, where most megafauna was wiped out, including species of giant lemur and hippopotami.

Of course, Easter Island represents an unparalleled example of human disharmony with nature through negligence, overextending, and recklessness. Native bird loss was more dramatic there than on any other similar-sized Oceania islands, assisted by the unrelenting process of deforestation that took around 1000 years to complete.[46]David W. Steadman, “Human-Caused Extinction of Birds,” Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 1997), 149. Multiple missteps including overfishing, overhunting, and other environmental vandalism led to the demise not only of Easter Island’s nonhuman life but human civilization as well. Jarad Diamond in Collapse asks , “what were Easter Islanders saying as they cut down the last tree on their island?”[47]Jarad Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (London: Penguin Books, 2006), 23. Perhaps they said, like capitalist religious thinkers today, that a wealth of resources will come if they only sacrificed another animal, worshiped harder, and prayed to a sky daddy a little longer. Easter Island’s collapse of biodiversity is but one of many examples of human incompetence and willful destruction in the face of all warnings against it.

The “blitzkrieg” hypothesis of human-induced extinction first proposed by Paul Martin in the late 1960s continues to have wide support.[48]See Martin, P.S., Wright, H.E., Pleistocene extinctions: The Search for a Cause (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1967). Originally based on North America, it is a model that basically predicts that as human hunters populate a region, extinctions will soon follow through overkill if not human-induced ecological change.[49]Paul S. Martin, The Discovery of America: The First Americans May Have Swept the Western Hemisphere and Decimated its Fauna Within 1000 Years,” in Science, Vol. 179 no. 4077 (March 9, 1973), 969-974; also, Jacquelyn L. Gill1, John W. Williams, Stephen T. Jackson, Katherine B. Lininger and Guy S. Robinson, “Pleistocene Megafaunal Collapse, Novel Plant Communities, and Enhanced Fire Regimes in North America,” in Science Vol. 326 no. 5956 (November 20, 2009), 1100-1103. After humans arrived in North America around 14,000 years ago, megafaunal extinctions began to occur across the continent, with the loss of large mammals, such as ground sloths, mammoths, mastodons, giant beavers, woolly bison, horses, tapirs, camels, and the list goes on. The human blitzkrieg led to megafauna collapse.[50]John Alroy, “A Multispecies Overkill Simulation of the End-Pleistocene Megafaunal Mass Extinction,” in Science Vol. 292 no. 5523 (June 8, 2001), 1893-1896. And exactly the same blitzkrieg took place across the Australian continent much earlier, some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.[51]Richard G. Roberts, Timothy F. Flannery, Linda K. Ayliffe, Hiroyuki Yoshida, Jon M. Olley, Gavin J. Prideaux, Geoff M. Laslett, Alexander Baynes, M. A. Smith, Rhys Jones, and Barton L. Smith, “New Ages for the Last Australian Megafauna: Continent-Wide Extinction About 46,000 Years Ago,” in Science, Vol. 292 no. 5523 (June 8, 2001), 1888-1892. Now modern humans are doing the same thing on an unprecedented global scale.

Practices based on superstition and religious invention might well have been behind blitzkrieg extinctions. For example, as long as 6,000 years ago humans in what is now the Middle East were widely using triangular shaped rock walls, called desert kites, to funnel whole herds of gazelle into mass slaughter pits.[52]Guy Bar-Oza, Melinda Zederb, & Frank Holec, “Role of mass-kill hunting strategies in the extirpation of Persian gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in the northern Levant,” PNAS, published online before print April 18, 2011: doi:10.1073/pnas.1017647108. The wide spread mass slaughtering explains why gazelles approached near extinction in the area, and artwork on the rocks suggest that these mass slaughters were given a religious significance. No doubt bizarre religious sentiments spurred on most tribes with reassurance and support as they ate their way across the natural world.

The Disneyfication of Tribalism

Accounts of prehistoric human attitudes toward animals would have us believe ancient humans had an empathy and a harmony with nature to such a civilized degree that it stretches credibility. “Sentimentalism begets puerility,” Roger Sandall warns,[53]Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 180. and tales of ancient rituals and respect for nature feature guilt wracked slaughterers paying homage to slain beasts’ spirits. Time to dispel this delusion, as so-called noble savages are more appropriately labeled looting miscreants.

You might say such judgments are remiss without that old excuse, a culturally relative perspective or that, as Montaigne remarked,

each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in.”[54]Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), 185.

True for those in his day wearing the blinkers of religious ethnocentrism. It might also describe the indignant Charles Dickens, for example, who scoffed at the noble savage, “His virtues are a fable; his happiness is a delusion; his nobility, nonsense.” Somewhat harsh, but his view is not altogether different to the conclusion anthropologist Margaret Mead reached following the loss of her earlier delusions:

the whole ‘noble savage’ concept almost made her foam at the mouth. ‘All primitive peoples,’ she said, ‘lead miserable, unhappy, cruel lives, most of which are spent trying to kill each other.[55]Roger Sandall, “What Native Peoples Deserve,”Roger Sandal: Ideas and Argument, May, 2005, http://www.rogersandall.com/what-native-peoples-deserve/. And Dickens was right to mock his age’s romanticizing of primitive life:

[quote style="1"]It is not the miserable nature of the noble savage that is the new thing; it is the whimpering over him with maudlin admiration, and the affecting to regret him, and the drawing of any comparison of advantage between the blemishes of civilisation and the tenor of his swinish life.[56]Charles Dickens, “The Noble Savage,” Household Words, Vol. 8 (June, 1853), 337-339.

Romantic primitivism is the name anthropologist Roger Sandall gives its modern form. It describes a delusion pursued by “culture cultists” smitten with idyllic fantasies of the past—hipsters, New Agers and bohemian middle-class dabblers—exponents of “designer tribalism,” who seek to emulate tribal life under the misapprehension it had nothing to do with barbaric and uncivilized behavior.[57]Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), viii-ix, 19. As some have observed—in mockery of romantics and armchair academics—one’s degree of geographic separation from the primitive or the savage is directly proportional to their attributed nobility.[58]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 167. By not succumbing to the allure of myth and with a clear and skeptical mind, we can objectively and scientifically judge what is uncivilized and barbaric and what is not.

If anyone living today hesitates to deride primitive tribal life or nonsense given the name of ancient custom, remember that little difference exists between them and us. “Today, popular opinion finds it difficult to attribute to tribal peoples a capacity for rapaciousness, cruelty, ecological heedlessness, and Machiavellian guile equal to our own,” writes Lawrence Keeley.[59]Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 170. One need only ask, Where did these all too familiar qualities emerge from in the first place? It should not need to be pointed out that the mentality of ancient humans persists in the modern world, just as barbarous behaviors we see today once persisted no less in the ancient world. When we look back, we paradoxically see where we are now.

That was implicit in Montaigne’s purpose in writing about cannibals, to highlight contemporary barbarism, even more contemptible because driven by a religious reckoning.

I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive than in eating him dead; and in tearing by tortures and the rack a body still full of feeling, in roasting a man bit by bit, in having him bitten and mangled by dogs and swine (as we have not only read but seen with fresh memory, not among ancient enemies, but among neighbors and fellow citizens, and what is worse, on the pretext of piety and religion)… So we may well call these people barbarous, but not in respect to ourselves, who surpass them in every kind of barbarity.[60]Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), 189.

The reminder of our own age’s barbarism is echoed by Dr. Larry Zimmerman, who was project director of the archaeological study of the Crow Creek massacre and has written extensively on the subject: “you have to remember that war-time brutality is not a ‘primitive’ trait,” he observed, “Some of the troops in Vietnam committed the same acts as the Crow Creek attackers. Our veneer of humanity can be very, very fragile.”[61]Quoted in The Bulletin, May 21, 1980, 49. We see little difference save in degrees of civilization between the Crow Creek massacre, the St. Bartholomew massacre of August 1572, the Japanese in Manchuria in 1937, or the massacres of the Sierra Leone Civil War in the 1990s—all were characterized by hoards of armed human primates cutting their victims to pieces. The truth is, regardless of our accoutrements, our technology and cultural embellishments, the deplorable conjunction of magical thinking and uncivilized behavior against nonhumans and humans, so rife in our brutal and unforgiving prehistory, never actually ended.

So let us not accept the Disneyfication of tribal behaviors. How far a custom goes back in history does not automatically make it correct. How long a superstition has existed makes it no more valid than when it began. Nor should the illusory importance of superstitions be allowed to guide public policies. That indigenous people can do whatever they please by using the excuse of tradition is the fault of timid governments doing what they do best, following rather than leading.[62]For example, see Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 14. It is also the fault of people mired in cultural relativism and nebulous pseudo-spiritual sympathies:

a suffocating religiosity now descends on public discussion enforced by priests and judges, journalists and teachers, poets and politicians, all of whom claim that native culture possesses a “spirituality” found nowhere else. Soon the primitive is elevated above the civilized.[63]Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 180.

It is the fault of political correctness taken to an extreme, becoming its opposite. With political correctness you often end up with the same kind of ironic and bizarre logic of bull-torturing apologist Mr. Kodwa, who criticized animal rights people for their “desperation and the desire to impose their civilisation.”[64]Sebastian Berger, “Culture Clash Over Bull-killing Ritual,” The National, December 8, 2009, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/culture-clash-over-bull-killing-ritual. It is the policing of a false reality, where barbarism becomes culture, civilization becomes evil oppression. Such is the twisted logic when cruelty is ignored and objective judgment is cast aside in favor of political correctness, of not questioning a tradition based on superstitious nonsense.

Let us recognize barbarity where we see it and expose its disgrace. We know what cruelty is. We know what it looks like. We should not tolerate barbaric traditions against animals if we are to call ourselves civilized. If anything, old standards, idea and methods deserve skepticism and ridicule. Where there is better knowledge, especially in reducing suffering, every civilized community rightly must model conduct and ensure education based on it. We can admire the primitive their survival skills, but we political correctness when their behavior, guided by tradition, resembles the actions and cruelties of psychotic killers:

As much as humans in various societies, whether urban or folk, are capable of empathy, kindness, even love and as much as they can sometimes achieve astounding mastery of the challenges posed by their environments, they are also capable of maintaining beliefs, values, and social institutions that result in senseless cruelty, needless suffering, and monumental folly in their relations among themselves and with other societies and the physical environment in which they live.[65]Robert B. Edgerton, Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony (The Free Press: 1992), 15.

Critics should not be intimidated by false ancient beliefs, values, and traditions any more than from the equally untenable myths and gods of contemporary religions. No matter what guise it appears in, whether ancient sacred hunt or established religion, magical thinking should have no jurisdiction over the reality of real suffering in the real world.

So vegan skeptics and others, please give it a rest. Humans were just as stupid, rapacious, greedy, self-centered in ancient times as they are now.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Steven Pinker, “The Surprising Decline in Violence,” TED Talks, September, 2007, http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html; and see Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 93.
2. Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996), 64-69.
3. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 174.
4. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 37-38.
5. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 68.
6. As related in Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 73-74. See Ernest S. Burch, “Eskimo Warfare in Northwest Alaska,” in Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, 16:2 (1974), 123–45.
7. Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), p. 188.
8. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 38.
9. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 102.
10. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 87.
11. Ettore Biocca, Yanomamo: The Narrative of a White Girl Kidnapped by Amazonian Indians (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971), p. 35.
12. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 84-85.
13. Alfred Metraux, “The Tupinamba,” in Handbook of the South American Indians, Volume 3, Bulletin 143 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1948), p. 124.
14. Dale Peterson, In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006), p. 147.
15. James A. Serpell, “One Man’s Meat: Further Thoughts on the Evolution of Animal Food Taboos,” On the Human, November 27, 2011, http://onthehuman.org/2011/11/one-mans-meat/.
16. Quoted in Paul Waldau, “Religion and Animals,” In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2008), 77.
17. Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (London; New York: Routledge, 2000), 67.
18. Quoted in David Nibert, Animal Rights Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation (Rowman & Little field Publishers, Inc., 2002), 198.
19. Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 283-286.
20. Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 292-293.
21. Napolean A. Chagnon, “Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Population,” Science, Vol. 239, No. 4843 (February 26, 1988), 985-992.
22. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 144.
23. Frobenius quoted in Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 297.
24. Roger Lewin & Robert A. Folely, Principles of Human Evolution (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 481-482.
25. Gerald Carson, Men, Beasts, and Gods: A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972), 7.
26. Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 1.
27. Gerald Carson, Men, Beasts, and Gods: A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972), 7.
28. Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 2.
29. Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 2.
30. Rod Preece, Awe for the Tiger, Love for the Lamb: A Chronicle of Sensibility to Animals (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 4.
31. Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.

32. Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.

33. AAP, “LNP to Outlaw Barbaric Traditional Hunts,” The Age, December 20, 2010.

34. Tom Arup & Peter Ker, “Hunting for Dugong, Turtles ‘Cruel’,” The Age, April 15, 2010.
35. Mark Baker, “Hunters in Deal to Save Dugongs,” The Age, February 21, 1998.
36. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Harmless People (Vintage, 2010), MOBI file.

37. Barry Bearak, “Spilling the Blood of Bulls to Preserve Zulu Tradition,” New York Times, December 9, 2009.
38. Vukani Mde, Ed., South Africa Report, December 8, 2011, http://southernafricareport.com/Member/SecurePages/SecureNews.aspx?niid=12064; also http://nehandaradio.com/2011/12/13/king-mswati-tried-to-have-sex-with-a-bull/.

39. Sebastian Berger, “Culture Clash Over Bull-killing Ritual,” The National, December 8, 2009, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/culture-clash-over-bull-killing-ritual.
40. Barry Bearak, “Spilling the Blood of Bulls to Preserve Zulu Tradition,” New York Times, December 9, 2009.
41. Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.
42. Mark Baker, “Slaughter of the Innocents,” The Age, February 7, 1998.
43. Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 88.
44. Gwynne Dyer, War: The Lethal Custom (New York: Carrol & Graf, 2005), 87.
45. David W. Steadman, “Human-Caused Extinction of Birds,” Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 1997), 157.
46. David W. Steadman, “Human-Caused Extinction of Birds,” Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 1997), 149.
47. Jarad Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (London: Penguin Books, 2006), 23.
48. See Martin, P.S., Wright, H.E., Pleistocene extinctions: The Search for a Cause (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1967).
49. Paul S. Martin, The Discovery of America: The First Americans May Have Swept the Western Hemisphere and Decimated its Fauna Within 1000 Years,” in Science, Vol. 179 no. 4077 (March 9, 1973), 969-974; also, Jacquelyn L. Gill1, John W. Williams, Stephen T. Jackson, Katherine B. Lininger and Guy S. Robinson, “Pleistocene Megafaunal Collapse, Novel Plant Communities, and Enhanced Fire Regimes in North America,” in Science Vol. 326 no. 5956 (November 20, 2009), 1100-1103.
50. John Alroy, “A Multispecies Overkill Simulation of the End-Pleistocene Megafaunal Mass Extinction,” in Science Vol. 292 no. 5523 (June 8, 2001), 1893-1896.
51. Richard G. Roberts, Timothy F. Flannery, Linda K. Ayliffe, Hiroyuki Yoshida, Jon M. Olley, Gavin J. Prideaux, Geoff M. Laslett, Alexander Baynes, M. A. Smith, Rhys Jones, and Barton L. Smith, “New Ages for the Last Australian Megafauna: Continent-Wide Extinction About 46,000 Years Ago,” in Science, Vol. 292 no. 5523 (June 8, 2001), 1888-1892.
52. Guy Bar-Oza, Melinda Zederb, & Frank Holec, “Role of mass-kill hunting strategies in the extirpation of Persian gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in the northern Levant,” PNAS, published online before print April 18, 2011: doi:10.1073/pnas.1017647108.
53. Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 180.
54. Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), 185.
55. Roger Sandall, “What Native Peoples Deserve,”Roger Sandal: Ideas and Argument, May, 2005, http://www.rogersandall.com/what-native-peoples-deserve/.
56. Charles Dickens, “The Noble Savage,” Household Words, Vol. 8 (June, 1853), 337-339.
57. Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), viii-ix, 19.
58. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 167.
59. Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 170.
60. Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2003), 189.
61. Quoted in The Bulletin, May 21, 1980, 49.
62. For example, see Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 14.
63. Roger Sandall, Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays (Oxford: Westview Press, 2001), 180.
64. Sebastian Berger, “Culture Clash Over Bull-killing Ritual,” The National, December 8, 2009, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/culture-clash-over-bull-killing-ritual.
65. Robert B. Edgerton, Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony (The Free Press: 1992), 15.

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