History of the World According to the Movies: Part 50 – Latin America

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I couldn’t think of any other movie that pertains to Latin American history than The Motorcycle Diaries from 2004 which recalls 23-year old Argentine medical student Ernesto Guevara on his life changing journey through South America with his friend Alberto Granado. Of course, given his fame as a T-shirt image, Che Guevara has become America’s favorite Marxist guerrilla commander and revolutionary. However, the truth about Che isn’t as loveable as Hollywood portrays it to be.

Latin America doesn’t have a long history. Well, actually it does since it was once inhabited by indigenous tribes but and then colonized by the Europeans. Still, as independent entities, well, that’s only since the 19th century which is why I put it here. Of course, Hollywood portrays Latin American history as a long era with deserts, jungles, dictators, and hapless villagers. But is this a true portrayal of Latin American history? Not really since it’s more complex than that with interesting historical figures, events most people have never heard of, diverse cultures, and other things. Still, it’s kind of shown in the movies as a Third World travelogue like India and most of Asia you probably never saw in your life. Let’s just say it’s far more complicated than you see in the movies. Nevertheless, there aren’t many movies pertaining to Latin American history that people in the US know despite that it’s only south of the Southwest border like along Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Not to mention, the US Hispanic population is on the rise and it’s the place many of our immigrants are coming from undocumented and otherwise. Nevertheless, there are a lot of things movies get wrong about Latin American history which I shall list accordingly.

Mexico:

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna:

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wore a shako helmet. (His foot soldiers did not him.)

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna attacked the Alamo with 7,000 men. (More like 2500 men.)

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was a much older man during the siege of the Alamo. (He was only 42.)

Mexican general and president, Antonio López de Santa Anna was a villainous man who executed prisoners by cannon fire, puffed a gold braid, ate bonbons on fancy silverware while everyone else starved, and valued a human life as much as a chicken’s but not in a good way. (He was brutal but he’s actually a more interesting case. His hobbies included gambling on cockfights, consuming opium, and dishonoring women. Still, he had a great degree of charm alongside his brutality like a mustache twirling super villain.)

Benito Juarez:

Benito Juarez asked ex-Emperor Maximilian in Mexico to forgive him when the latter was about to be shot by firing squad. (Nice little scene for Juarez but the real Juarez didn’t regret Maximilian’s execution and wrote a manifesto saying it was “just, necessary, urgent and inevitable”.)

Pancho Villa:

Several of Pancho Villa’s associates spoke Quecha. (Quecha is a South American dialect that would’ve been spoken in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina. Pancho Villa was from Mexico.)

Pancho Villa took Mexico City by himself from Victriano Huerta and made himself president. (Actually he took it in a three pronged attack with Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza. After Huerta fled, they ruled the country together but Zapata soon went home Carranza eventually forced Villa out of power and ruled Mexico by himself. But he had Zapata assassinated while Villa retired.)

Emiliano Zapata:

Emiliano Zapata talked like Speedy Gonzales. (Contrary to Marlon Brando’s disastrous performance in Viva Zapata!, Zapata was well known for his high pitched, delicate voice. Still, Brando’s performance as Zapata must’ve been very offensive to the indigenous community in Mexico because it’s really terrible though Anthony Quinn does a hell of a good job as his brother.)

Emiliano Zapata and his followers were pro-American and the US supported Latin American liberation during the Mexican Revolution. (Well, it’s more complicated. True, the Zapistas did have some admiration for the US system of government after spending years under dictatorial regimes. And yes, the United States did provide asylum to rebel figurehead Francisco Madero where he remained unmolested. However, this was the time of US imperialism and America was basically looking after its own interests as said by William Howard Taft: “The day is not far distant when three Stars and Stripes at three equidistant points will mark our territory: one at the North Pole, another at the Panama Canal, and the third at the South Pole. The whole hemisphere will be ours in fact as, by virtue of our superiority of race, it already is ours morally.” Nevertheless, while the US did interfere with the Mexican Revolution, they weren’t above switching sides when it suited their own interests. Madero only suited their interests briefly and there’s an unproven theory that Madero was killed by US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson {he wasn’t} but Wilson seemed to give the impression that the US was fine with Victoriano Huerta bumping off his rival until the US turned against him {still, Huerta was kind of a guy who switched sides as often as he changed uniforms}. As for Ambassador Wilson, well, President Wilson eventually fired him for interfering with Mexican politics.)

Emiliano Zapata was illiterate until he got married. (He may have not been the most educated guy in Mexico due to indigenous peasant background, but he could read and write by the time he was an adult. Still, Zapata’s wedding was interrupted by government troops riding forth against him. Also, contrary to Viva Zapata!, Zapata was assassinated by the forces of President Venustiano Carranza.)

Emiliano Zapata confronted Porfirio Díaz at Mexico’s National Palace. (This is the stuff of legend which has been discounted. Yet, this is in Viva Zapata!. However, while Porfirio Diaz was a bad president in his later years, he had earlier destroyed the brigands that plagued Mexico’s roads and set up the country’s infrastructure so the nation would benefit for years to come. Still, he was senile and surrounded by idiots and yes-men in his later years and should’ve retired.)

Francisco Madero:

Francisco Madero was a naïve idiot who didn’t know he was being executed by firing squad until somebody started shooting. (Madero’s family should’ve sued Elia Kazan for slander for portraying the guy this way in Viva Zapata!. The real Madero wasn’t so daft and knew very well he what was going to happen to him as he said to a loyal officer on his execution, “Adiós, my general. I shall never see you again.” His brother’s death was far more brutal.)

Mexican general Victoriano Huerta was present at Francisco Madero’s execution. (He wasn’t but he did order his execution.)

President Francisco Madero was overthrown in a coup and shot by General Pascal. (He was overthrown and assassinated by Gen. Victoriano Huerta yet he had someone else do the shooting. Also, there was no general named Pascal. Oh, and he was shot in a prison outside Mexico City not at the National Palace.)

Frida Kahlo:

Frida Kahlo seduced Italian photographer Tina Modotti in front of everyone at a party. (Yes, Frida was bisexual. Yet, Modotti might’ve introduced Frida Kahlo to her husband Diego Rivera, though they told several versions on how they met. Still, she didn’t publicly seduce Modotti.)

Leon Trotsky moved out of Frida Kahlo’s house to avoid falling in love with her and went to less secure digs where in which he would shortly meet his end with the ice pick. (Yes, she had an affair with Trotsky. Yes, he lived with her but so did her husband Diego Rivera. Still, though Trotsky and Frida ended the affair, she still allowed him to stay in the house but she left for Paris. Trotsky moved out when she was abroad possibly owing to a disagreement with Diego Rivera in 1939. However, unlike what Frida suggests, her libido had absolutely nothing to do with Trotsky’s murder since he was already Stalin’s #1 enemy by 1940 and Stalin had already killed members of his family and followers. Stalin was going to get him eventually. Also, he was killed by an ice axe not a pick contrary to popular legend.)

Frida Kahlo was completely able bodied before her bus accident. (Actually she had a lot of health problems as a child. She contracted polio at six that left her right leg thinner than her left, which she disguised by wearing long colorful skirts. It’s also been theorized that she may have been born with spinal bifida. Though she recovered from the bus accident, she had relapses of extreme pain for the rest of her life and had spent months of the time bedridden or hospitalized and was never able to have children.)

Frida Kahlo had no facial hair. (She had a mustache.)

Miscellaneous:

Good Mexicans were weak and stupid while bad Mexicans were corrupt, ruthless, and cruel.

Mexican villages had constant problems with bandits ransacking the town who lived much better lives than they did.

Everyone in Mexico was a Mestizo and everyone in other Latin American countries was Hispanic.

Mexicans were lazy workers who took midafternoon siestas. (The reason that Latin American workers took siestas was because they’ve been working all day in the hot sun. They took naps because they were exhausted or they would die, not lazy.)

Three Finger Jack and Joaquin Murieta were a cheery band of California outlaws under Mexican rule in California with Murieta’s brother Alejandro using guile to steal from corrupt soldiers in California’s government. (Three Finger Jack and Murieta were Gold Rush outlaws with a gang believed to be responsible for the murders in the Mother Lode area in the Sierra Nevadas. Alejandro Murieta was made up for The Mask of Zorro yet he ends up naming his kid Joaquin in The Legend of Zorro. Still, Joaquin Murieta and Three-Finger Jack were brought down in 1853. Still, Murieta was said to be a Mexican patriot or “The Mexican Robin Hood” though he probably wasn’t either.)

The US Army fought the French occupiers of Mexico. (Yes, Mexico was occupied by the French during the American Civil War and the Lincoln administration wasn’t happy about it. However, there was never any fighting between the US and the French. Besides, the Lincoln administration was more interested in fighting Confederate forces anyway. Yet, both Union and Confederate forces did battle the Indian tribes at the US and Mexican border as depicted in Major Dundee.)

The war against Maximilian in Mexico was seen as a “revolution.” (From Imdb: “As the Juarez government had never fled Mexico during the intervention, and consistently insisted it was the lawful government, no loyal Mexican would consider the war a revolution; it was the expulsion of a foreign invader.” Kicking the French puppet regime out of Mexico formed the basis of celebrating Cinco de Mayo.)

Leon Trotsky was assassinated by a man named Frank Jacson. (The guy’s name was Ramon Mercader who was an NKVD mole for Stalin and had successfully got close enough to Trotsky to kill him {despite the fact only Trotsky and Mercader’s girlfriend trusted him}. Still, Mercader wasn’t the only NKVD mole in Trotsky’s organization. Nevertheless, Trotsky was a horrible judge of character since he seriously underestimated Josef Stalin and never understood him as a brilliant, calculating, and visionary megalomaniac with an insatiable bloodthirst and a pathological need to get even with his enemies, with Trotsky at the top of his list. It was underestimating Stalin, that got Trotsky exiled in the first place.)

El Salvador:

Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassin shot him while taking communion in front of him with photojournalist Robert Boyle sitting a few pews away. (Romero’s assassin was actually hiding behind a pillar when he shot him. Also, Robert Boyle wasn’t really there contrary to Oliver Stone’s Salvador, which isn’t a good reference source if you want to know anything about the civil war in El Salvador during the 1980. Robert Boyle also didn’t try to get his girlfriend Maria in the United States or photojournalist Jack Casady for that matter {because he didn’t exist}. Seriously, Oliver Stone is as bad with history as Mel Gibson, though his is more along current events.)

Panama:

Manuel Noriega was in hiding while on the run after the invasion of Panama. (Contrary to The Men who Stare at Goats, he never was. In fact, he briefly sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy after the invasion of Panama and the US knew it.)

Argentina:

Eva Peron:

Eva Peron was a beloved figure in Argentina who championed for the people. (She also was a great spokeswoman for her husband’s regime which helped make Argentina a hospitable place for Nazis. Still, Juan Peron’s willingness for having diplomatic relations with Franco Spain had more to do with his country being 1/3 Spanish and Franco being in desperate need for a political ally. Also, while Juan Peron did facilitate the entrance of Nazi criminals to Argentina, Russia, Great Britain, and the US did the same thing and probably for the same reasons such as to acquire advanced technology developed by the Germans during World War II. Of course, those countries took in scientists like Heisenberg and Von Braun but they were nevertheless war criminals. It’s just that after WWII, Britain, the US, and Russia didn’t really care that much. Yet, at the same time, Argentina accepted more Jewish immigrants than any other Latin American country under Peron’s watch.)

Eva Peron had an affair with 36 year old Agustín Magaldi when she was 15. (This is in Evita, yet since it’s 38-year-old Madonna playing a 15-year-old girl, this isn’t squicky. However, the real Eva probably didn’t have a relationship with Magaldi, 15 or not since the guy usually traveled with his wife. Not to mention, he was actually a chubby mama’s boy and far from the suave matinee idol he’s depicted. Also, it’s said that Eva’s family may have traveled to Buenos Aires with her. Unfortunately, when Andrew Lloyd Webber did his musical in the 1970’s, the only English biography of Eva Peron available in English was by a political opponent of the Perons and hasn’t been found very reliable. Rather an American equivalent of Evita would be kind of like a musical about Barack Obama based solely upon his Conservapedia page.)

Eva Peron’s rise to power just consisted of a mere makeover. (Yeah, Andrew Lloyd Webber, except that you left out Eva Peron’s support and campaign for women’s suffrage and social justice causes, her creation of the female Peronist Party, her work in government {overseeing ministries of labor, social welfare, and health as well as eventually became her husband’s vice-president and received the title of Spiritual Leader of Argentina a few months before her death from cervical cancer at 33 in 1952 [even if she did all that in her husband’s discretion]}, and dubious rumors of her links to fascist regimes. Evita just gives us only hats and lipstick and practically says nothing about why she’s so remembered in Argentina and says that her status as a beloved figure wasn’t deserved. No wonder people in that country hated it.)

Eva Peron was an ambitious woman who slept her way to power. (Now I see why Argentinian’s don’t like Evita. She was ambitious and had many relationships with men but it’s said that her success as a radio actress had more to do with her own merit as well as her willingness to take any job she could get {though she did arrive to Buenos Aires lacking a formal education or connections so she probably submitted to the casting couch a few times as many aspiring actresses did in her day}. Her business partner at Radio El Mundo didn’t really like her but admitted she was “thoroughly dependable” and by the time she met her husband, she was earning 6,000 pesos a month. Still, while Eva Peron wasn’t what you called a saint, she wasn’t a bad person either. Not to mention, Eva’s political success most definitely had a lot to do with her marriage to Juan Peron as well as her loyalty to him when he was imprisoned {though she didn’t organize the effort to get him out since she had no political clout with labor unions and wasn’t well liked in his inner circle or in Argentina’s entertainment business}, her effectiveness as a political campaigner, as well as other things. More importantly, Juan loved her or he wouldn’t have married her when he got out of prison. It’s very fair to say she loved him since she stood by Juan during his imprisonment, thanks to his political opponents in government who weren’t happy with his growing popularity. Besides, by the time she got sick, Eva was working as many as 20-22 hours a day and even ignored her husband’s request that she take some time off, cut back, and cool it on the weekends.)

Eva Peron was from a humble rural Argentine family. (Yes, she grew up poor but her dad was actually a wealthy rancher named Juan Duarte who was married and had multiple families. However, he wasn’t married to Evita’s mother Juana Ibarguren and when he died, Juana and her children were barred from attending his funeral. Still, Eva wasn’t destined for a good life not just due to poverty, but also because she was born out of wedlock in the days when illegitimate children were rejected and stigmatized. When Eva grew up and moved to Buenos Aires, she dyed her hair blond {she originally had black hair} and changed her name to Duarte. When she married Juan Peron, it’s said she destroyed her birth certificate and forged a new one. Still, if she had any resentment to the upper classes, then there’s a good reason for it who often depicted her as a low class person who slept her way to the top.)

Che Guevara:

Che Guevara was a heroic figure who stood for civil disobedience, rebellion, and freedom. (He also personally killed hundreds of people to spread communism and “liberate” the poor even Cuban rock fans. He saw rock music as a staple of American imperialism and had a strong dislike for it. Oh, and did I say he hated gay people? Still, he was verbally abrasive toward everyone in his unit which sometimes makes him come off as racist toward black people.)

Che Guevara was clean-cut and handsome. (Well, it’s said that he looked like a movie star when he was groomed. However, he had a lifelong aversion to grooming so that didn’t happen that often. Also, he once wore a pair of underpants for 2 months and gleefully won a bet that they would stand by themselves. Gross! In fact, it was his aversion to grooming in which he earned his nickname “Che” which means “pig.”)

Che Guevara’s girlfriend Chichina gave him $15 to buy her a bathing suit when he reached the US. (The money was actually for a scarf. However, she did dump him though and they never saw each other again.)

Che Guevara and Alberto Granado were chased out of a dance hall in Chile and managed to escape in the nick of time after Che caused a scandal by having a fling with a mechanic’s wife. (Unlike The Motorcycle Diaries, they actually stayed in the town for another night, had lunch with a family next door to the garage, and left without incident in the afternoon.)

Che Guevara gave the $15 to an impoverished Communist couple in Chuquicamata, Chile. (He, Alberto Granado, and the $15 actually made it to Miami where Che spent the money on a scarf he sent to his ex-girlfriend.)

Che Guevara was Eva Peron’s creepy stalker who turned up in various points in her life to remind her of her impending death. (Contrary to Evita, Che and Peron never met though Guevara did send Evita a prank letter asking her to buy him a jeep.)

Che Guevara served in the Cuban Revolution as a mercenary and combatant. (He was actually hired to serve as a medic yet he became a combatant later.)

Che Guevara was shot dead in Bolivia three times. (He was shot 9 times.)

Miscellaneous:

Argentina was a haven for Nazis. (Argentina wasn’t the only country to grant asylum to Nazis but gets a bad name for welcoming guys like Adolf Eichmann and Dr. Josef Mengele. Other Latin American countries did the same thing and so did Russia and the US. Still, many Latin American countries also provided asylum for many Jewish immigrants after the Holocaust as well. It’s a strange place.)

Peru:

The sundial at the Inti Huatana had a piece broken off around the 1950s. (It was in perfect condition at this time and the damage occurred in 2000 when a crane fell on it. Of course, you couldn’t show that in The Motorcycle Diaries.)

Chile:

Journalist Charles Horman’s body was shipped back from Chile after he was killed in the Pinochet’s regime. (While there is a scene of what is believed to be Horman’s body in the final image of Missing, DNA evidence has determined that the remains shipped back to Charles’ family in the United States didn’t belong to him. Still, as of now, they never found his body.)

Pinochet’s coup took place around the 1973 Christmas season. (Contrary to The House of the Spirits, it took place in September of that year, a little early to buy Christmas presents, you think?)

Venezuela:

Carlos the Jackal was a diabolical mastermind who was part of many assassinations and was never caught. (He was just a bumbling terrorist with a huge ego that led to his downfall with his 1994 capture. His past reputation was highly exaggerated and he wasn’t viewed that highly dangerous as movies claim him to be in real life {only said to have killed 11 people and injured 150 during his attacks}. Still, there are plenty of movies made with him as a main villain when he’d already been caught. Seriously, the Bourne series gives him too much credit.)

Paraguay:

Dr. Josef Mengele was a diabolical mastermind who tried to clone Adolf Hitler and launch am elaborate political scheme to recreate the Fourth Reich. (For one, while Mengele was a psychotic State-sponsored serial killer worthy of his nickname “The Angle of Death” he was actually a totally incompetent scientist {to the point other Nazi scientists thought him as a highly unqualified butcher} who wouldn’t be capable of undergoing a cloning project that was at least a century ahead of its time, let alone plan an elaborate scheme to recreate the Fourth Reich. Oh, and while he was in Paraguay for some time, he was actually living in Brazil where he died in 1979, hence the title, The Boys from Brazil from 1978. Still, he could’ve actually seen the movie despite having his health greatly deteriorated by that point.)

Dr. Josef Mengele fled to Paraguay after Adolf Eichmann was captured by Mossad agents in Argentina. (He was believed to be living in Paraguay but actually fled to Brazil.)

Brazil:

Brazil adopted soccer during the 20th century as its national pastime. (Soccer had been introduced in Brazil in 1884.)

Bolivia:

Butch Cassidy spent 20 years living in Bolivia and tried to return to the United States in the 1920s. (It’s pretty much accepted that he and the Sundance Kid killed themselves in 1908. Yet, it’s the subject of a 2011 film called Blackthorn. Still, he probably didn’t have any children with Etta Place.)

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History of the World According to the Movies: Part 24 – Early Colonization

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Of course, Disney’s 1995 Pocahontas is probably the only movie from the early colonization era most people have seen. However, for those who were kids when this movie came out, a lot of what this movie says about the founding of Jamestown is bullshit. For instance, John Smith looked much more like his voice talent Mel Gibson in real life than as a blond stud. He also had a talent for bullshit so some of the accuracy in his writings is sketchy. Also, Pocahontas was only a pre-teen in 1607 and never had any romantic encounter with John Smith at all. Talk about all that ruining your childhood.

Sure I may go back and forth from European history with the rest of the world. Yet, in many ways, history relating to Colonialism and Imperialism runs very much from the 1400s until after the Second World War, which means we’re covering a very large length of time. It is also a time of early globalization but not as we know it since many peoples are subjugated by European powers who may soon use white supremacy to justify it. Also, this era marks the beginning of slavery in the western world with the slave trade which was just unspeakably horrible with terrible implications we’re dealing with today. Many Hollywood movies usually take place at this time since there’s a lot of famous literature from this period in history sometimes told as adventures {like Kipling’s from British India}, pirates, exotic locations, and great white heroes. In fact, many filmmakers like doing movies set during this era because not only can they do an action packed adventure set in exotic locations, but also have a white male protagonist the audience can relate to (well, white audiences in the US or UK at least). Nevertheless, expect the White Man’s Burden to come up a lot in these movies whether intentionally or not, especially in literary adaptations in which the source material can be rather racist.

We begin this era with the Age of Exploration, in which traders tried to find a quicker route to Asia in order to bypass the Muslim middlemen. Though Columbus didn’t really discovered America, he opened the Americas up for business with the Columbian Exchange and the world would never be the same again. The Age of Colonization and international trade had begun. At first it was Spain and Portugal amassing colonial and trading empires but later powers like France, Britain, and the Netherlands would join in and be fabulously wealthy from it. Of course, you have the Spanish Conquistadors colonizing much of Latin America through guns, germs, and steel (as well as native allies who were fed up with their overlords). Areas of the Spanish Empire would include some islands in the Caribbean, most of Central America, much of South America except Brazil, the Guianas, and Suriname, the American Southwest, and Florida. The French would soon amass a colonial empire reaching from Canada all the way down to the Mississippi founding cities like New Orleans, Detroit, Montreal, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Quebec City, Mobile, and Biloxi. Then you have the British who settled in Roanoke in the 1580s (which failed) and Jamestown around 1607 which would be the first permanent settlement of the Americas. Nevertheless, movies sometimes get a lot of facts wrong during the early colonization, which I should list accordingly.

Columbus:

Christopher Columbus sailed to the West Indies to prove that the world was round. (Actually he wanted to prove that sailing west would lead to a shorter route to the East Indies since most people in his day didn’t believe that there would be two mass continents on the way. He was wrong. Also, most Europeans haven’t believed in a flat earth since antiquity anyway {maybe even before Jesus}. The notion that Europeans believed the world was flat around the time of Columbus was just some bullshit made up by Washington Irving, which is rather insulting if you think about it.)

Columbus was the first European to make landfall in the Americas. (The Vikings were about five hundred years earlier, but they didn’t stay long. However, what is significant about Columbus’ landfall in the Americas is that it marks the start of a permanent European presence that changed the world. Thus, even though Columbus wasn’t the first European in the Americas, his voyages made more of an impact on history than the Vikings did.)

Columbus met his friend Diego Arana while on a trading voyage from Lisbon. (He didn’t meet the guy until several years later.)

One of Columbus’ men was eaten by sharks on his first voyage to the New World. (Nobody died during that voyage, at least at sea anyway. The thirty-nine men he left behind were killed by the time he returned to Hispanola.)

Columbus realized he didn’t land in India. (He never realized he actually landed in the Bahamas instead.)

Christopher was nearly executed during a near mutiny on his voyage. (He wasn’t, but he almost had his crew mutiny twice.)

Alonso Pinzon was a supportive sidekick to Columbus. (He was a case-hardened mariner whose support made Columbus’ voyage possible.)

Columbus was a forward-thinking idealist with his good intentions subverted by greedy and evil Spaniards. (He was a failure as a colonial founder and administrator that all his official responsibilities and duties were stripped by 1500 when the crown took charge and sent Columbus and his brothers home in chains. He also blamed everyone but himself for his spectacular fall from grace. Oh, and he systematically enslaved the Taino Indians, introduced Old World diseases to the New World {like smallpox}, and syphilis to bring back to Europe {but unknowingly and on accident}.)

The Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria all made it back to Spain. (The Santa Maria wrecked so only the Nina and Pinta made it back.)

Columbus took three voyages in which he fell out of favor on his second. (He took four voyages with the second tarnishing his reputation and the third leading to his downfall.)

Columbus’ achievements were forgotten until his son Hernando’s biography of him recounted them. (He was named and praised by all 16th century chroniclers.)

Explorations:

Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in 1523. (He sailed to Florida in 1513 and died in 1521.)

Conquistadores:

The Spanish were among some of the cruelest conquerors in history who exploited the Indians for gold via slave labor, destroyed their culture, and forced them to convert to Christianity. (Yes, they did all of that and yes, they were cruel but they were better overlords than, well, the English. At least the Spanish married native women and lived in a society that accepted their mixed race children. Not to mention, they also tried to make Christianity more accessible to the Indians and there were priests who argued that they be treated better {and many Indians converted willingly}. Besides, the Spanish conquistadors wouldn’t have overthrown the Aztec Empire without their Indian allies {who were already sick of the Aztecs by then}. Not only that, but their defeat of the Aztec Empire showed that the Aztec gods have failed them. And though the Spanish had wiped out about 95% of the Indian population in the Americas, they mostly did it by accident usually through the spread of their germs and probably never set foot in most of the areas where Indians died by their diseases. The English gave Indians smallpox blankets and ostracized people for marrying Indians, with the exception of John Rolfe, of course.)

The Spanish conquistadors brought the collapse of Mayan civilization. (Actually Mayan civilization had been nonexistent for centuries before the Spanish set foot and they mostly brought the collapse onto themselves perhaps through environmental destruction. Also, the people the Spanish conquistadors met were Aztecs, not Maya.)

In 1560, the large El Dorado expedition was under Gonzalo Pizarro set off from Peruvian Sierras. The only document surviving from this lost expedition is the diary of monk Gaspar de Carvajal. (Gonzalo Pizarro {half-brother of Francisco, by the way} died twelve years before the Ursua El Dorado expedition. As a matter of fact, he was executed as a famous traitor to the king of Spain. Pizarro’s El Dorado expedition took place in 1541 and came down from Ecuador led by Francisco de Orellana, which Carvajal did accompany him as well as chronicle it but the main body was forced to turn back due to hardships like disease and hunger. Yet, a small detachment {including Carvajal} did press on and managed to follow the Amazon River all the way down to the Atlantic as well as landed on the coast of Venezuela in 1542. Dominican Friar Gaspar de Carvajal wasn’t on the El Dorado expedition but rather living safely at his Lima monastery because he didn’t want to go on another expedition to the Amazon ever again since he had lost an eye from an Indian attack. However, he’s in Herzog’s Aguirre Wrath of God to serve as the voice of reason and narrator.)

Lope de Aguirre went mad and was marooned in the Amazon. (He brought his men down to the Atlantic following the same route that Carvajal had taken nearly twenty years before, reaching the mouth of the Amazon on July 4, 1561 and sailed from there to the Venezuelan island of Margarita where he instituted another reign of terror that matched his ferocity in his behavior in the Amazon. At the end of August, Margarita was devastated, while Aguirre had left for the Venezuelan mainland. He met his death at the hands of royalist forces in Barquisimento on October 27, 1561 since he had killed expedition leader Pedro de Ursua, Don Fernando, and at least forty members as well as launched a reign of terror in the Amazon and incited a rebellion against Philip II and schemed to overthrow Spanish rule in Peru. His body was quartered and thrown into the street and a solemn proclamation was issued requiring any house belonging to Aguirre be leveled and strewn with salt so “no trace or memory….should remain.” Many of Aguirre’s men were offered pardons.)

Lope de Aguirre was a common criminal and a pathological killer who went insane. (He was a middle-aged mercenary soldier who came to the New World in search of riches like many conquistadors and went there at a young age. However, while he did kill a lot of people and instigate reigns of terror as well as may have been crazy, he was also an astute politician and leader of men. He also found on the Amazon theater on what he believed equal to the scale of his vast ambitions, a place he could be in his own words “Prince of Freedom” and “Wrath of God.” He also was a guy who incited a rebellion against Philip II as well as gave a speech calling his men to relinquish their Spanish nationality. He even wrote a letter to the king shortly before his death.)

The Spanish Church sided with the strong during the 16th century. (Spanish missionaries in the New World were among the first people to denounce the conquistadors’ treatment of Indians {dating as early as 1511}, most famously Dominican Friar Bartolome de Las Casas. Many Spanish clergymen were also among some of the most renowned intellectuals of their day bringing old ideas about justice and responsibilities of kingship as well as a new culture of Renaissance driven thinkers like Erasmus and Saint Sir Thomas More. However, don’t get the impression that Spanish missionaries were totally wonderful people, because even the nicest ones had their limits in kindness and had played roles in wiping out Indians and their culture. Like the conquistadores, they also exploited Indians by having them work as slave labor and other abuses. Yet, though we do tend to somewhat blame Spanish missionaries for Indian cultural destruction, we also have to account that more Indian cultures were wiped out through European diseases, many of which never had contact with white people at all.)

Dominican Friar Gaspar de Carvajal died in a native ambush on the Amazon River. (He died of old age in his monastery in Lima in 1584.)

Dominican Friar Gaspar de Carvajal was a cowardly priest as well as corrupt religious fanatic who always sided with the strongest. (He was actually a born survivor who lost an eye during an Indian attack and had dedicated his life to the conversion of Indians {in other words, a missionary badass}. He had a benevolent attitude toward the Indians which was consistent with his fellow Dominican brother Bartolome de Las Casas.)

Spanish conquistadores believed in the lost city of El Dorado. (Actually this may have been based on a myth by the Chibcha Indians of South America. However, sometimes the Spanish authorities used this story to set up expeditions in search of this city of gold in hopes of getting troublemakers out of Peru, never to return.)

The El Dorado expedition of 1560 was lost. (Actually there’s more documentation of the last ten months of Lope de Aguirre’s life than his first fifty years because of this since it’s well documented. Also, people in South America very well knew what happened on this expedition.)

Francisco Orellana was buried in Nazca tomb in a Nazca fashion. (The Nazca culture was already extinct by 800 A.D. before the Spanish Conquistadors ever got to Peru in 1532. However, Orellana is said to have vanished while looking for a lost Nazca city. However, he’s unlikely to have met any Nazca.)

Hernando Cortes sailed to the New World for gold and glory. (True, but he was sent there to trade with the natives. But he overruled his orders and even defeated the Spanish army sent to arrest him.

Hernando Cortes often enslaved Spanish prisoners. (Yes, he took fellow Spaniards as prisoners. But the idea of enslaving a fellow Christian or Spaniard would’ve horrified him.)

Hernando Cortes was a humorless hardass who’d use natives as tools and betray allies at the drop of a hat if he doesn’t get his way. (He was a charming diplomat who forged real alliances with some native groups. For he wouldn’t have taken down the Aztec Empire without them.)

Jamestown:

Pocahontas saved John Smith’s life and carried on a romance with him. (Yes, she might have saved his life but no, she didn’t have a romantic relationship with him unlike what Disney says. Also, she was about ten or eleven at the time and she really wasn’t called Pocahontas but Matoaka. However, they did meet. By the way, when she saw him again, she slapped him in the face. Oh, and he also claimed about being “saved” by powerful women on more than one occasion. Not to mention, he didn’t write about Pocahontas saving his life in his 1608 account and that story first appeared in 1622, possibly to take advantage of her prominence in England. So it’s best to look at it with suspicion.)

Coastal Virginia was filled with mountains and thick pine trees. (Coastal Virginia is actually flat and swampy. Virginia’s mountains are hundreds of miles away from it.)

Governor John Ratcliffe was a villainous man. (He was actually more foolishly trusting than anything. Interestingly, he was flayed and later burned alive by Powhatan Indians in 1609 but of course, you wouldn’t see that in a Disney movie. Oh, and he wasn’t the first governor of Jamestown and wasn’t in charge during the voyage {though he was captain of the ship Discovery}. Nor was he sent back to England in chains after being removed. This was not over Indian treatment, but over enlisting colonists to build a governor’s house, trade with Indians, and handling food shortages. Not to mention, he and John Smith were allies and he didn’t think the Indians were barbaric because he’d been trading with them. Oh, and he died because Indians tricked him with a lure for food which resulted in his family unfriendly death in 1609. However, considering the circumstances Jamestown was facing, you couldn’t blame the guy.)

John Smith was a clean shaven handsome blond guy. (He was actually a short, portly, brown-haired, and bearded man as well as pushing thirty.)

John Smith was a decent guy when it came to the Indians. (John Smith was much more of jerk in real life and actually kidnapped an Indian leader so the guy’s tribe would provide him with plentiful resources. He had a tendency to exaggerate {or just plain make up} things in his accounts. He was also a mercenary and fantasist who could be ambitious, abrasive, self-promoting, and feisty. Still, he was competent even though he was unpopular among the colonists {well, the first wave who saw themselves as his social superiors}.)

The Indians and white Jamestown settlers all managed to make friends. (American history pertaining to Native Americans tells a very different story, very different. Besides, unlike what the Disney movie suggests, after John Smith had to seek medical attention for a “gunpowder accident,” relations between the Indians and settlers at Jamestown would shortly go to hell. Also, while John Smith would see Pocahontas again, he wouldn’t return to Jamestown.)

John Smith went scouting around after landfall in Virginia. (He was arrested and clapped in irons during the voyage {for concealing a mutiny} and wasn’t released until a month after landing at Jamestown. He did most of his exploring and trading after that.)

John Rolfe and Pocahontas had a serenely happy marriage and was easily accepted among the English. (She was probably not as happy or as accepted as depicted in The New World. One letter from an acquaintance said that Rolfe dragged her around as a “sore against her will.” Yet, the marriage did help stabilize native and settler relations. Oh, and Rolfe wasn’t above using his wife’s image to sell tobacco.)

John Smith was nearly executed on top of a bluff at dawn in front of angry colonists who had come to rescue him. (He was going to be executed in Powhatan’s longhouse in front of his warriors and counselors. The colonists didn’t know where he was. Of course, this is coming from the real John Smith.)

Chief Powhatan had a loving relationship with Pocahontas’s mother. (Maybe, but the guy had at least 50 wives each of whom gave him at least one child before being sent back to where they came from. Assuming she didn’t die in childbirth, we can say that Pocahontas’s mother would’ve suffered a similar fate though she’d be supported by Powhatan until she found another husband. So let’s just say that Powahatan and Pocahontas’s mother didn’t have a typical marital relationship.

Chief Powhatan was actually a good father to Pocahontas who was his only daughter. (Pocahontas was his favorite daughter but she was also one of his innumerable children by an estimated 50 wives. And of his kids, Smith also had contact with one of his sons. Also, he didn’t try to save her when she was kidnapped by the English, which led to her berating him and choosing to stay with the British as well as convert to Christianity. Of course, Powhatan had his reasons for not attacking the British camp. His people were also political savvy and very fierce in battle. Oh, and he may have ruled over as many as 34 tribes.)

Kocoum was an Indian who was betrothed to Pocahontas. (Mattaponi tradition holds that Kocoum was Pocahontas’ first husband who was killed after her capture in 1613 or may have not been murdered at all. Yet, there’s another theory that this guy could possibly be an Indian nickname of John Rolfe himself.)

Pocahontas was an Indian princess. (She was a chief’s daughter but she was presented at King James I’s court as one. Thus, she was viewed as a princess in her lifetime, just not among her own people.)

Edward Wingfield was shot and killed by settlers at Jamestown. (He died in 1630 in his eighties and wrote several books about Jamestown.)

Pocahontas was accompanied by her uncle Opechancanough while traveling in England who was to mark a notch on a stick every time he encountered an Englishman. (While the notches story is accurate, she was actually accompanied by her half-brother-in-law Tomocomo who was also sent to search for John Smith. He returned to Virginia with Samuel Argall and John Rolfe in 1617 but he didn’t have nice things to say about the English and was disgraced. Oh, and Opechancanough actually staged a massacre at the Virginia colony years later which killed 350 people in one hour.)

John Smith had tattoos. (The European practice of tattooing was dead for centuries and wouldn’t be readopted until a century later {unless if they were French Canadian soldiers}. However, it’s possible that John Smith might’ve had native tattoos though.)

King James I ordered John Smith to leave Jamestown. (He left for England in 1609 due to a gunpowder accident which resulted in severe burns, yet he recovered.)

Pocahontas was kidnapped by English settlers while John Smith was still in Jamestown. (Pocahontas was kidnapped in 1613. John left for England in 1609.)

Captain Christopher Newport had two fully functioning arms at Jamestown. (He had part of his arm severed before he landed at Jamestown.)

The first Jamestown colonists sailed on the Susan Constant. (They sailed on the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.)

New France:

Jesuit priests proselytized Indians and were accompanied by lay domestics on their missions back in 1634. (At this time, French Jesuit priests were sent in pairs partly to avoid sexual temptation. They only had lay domestics later in which they had to sign a civil contract and take a vow of chastity, poverty, and obedience to accompany the Jesuit priests on missions. And no, they didn’t embark on long journeys so close to winter freeze-ups.)

French 17th century Jesuit priests baptized with saliva. (Saliva has never been a valid matter for baptism and no 17th century Jesuit {let alone any priest} would never have baptized anyone with their own spit.)

Algonquin Indians killed priests during disease outbreaks within their walls. (They never did this even though they knew that missionary priests may have spread the diseases that killed many of them.)

French colonists took Indian wives out of love. (They took Indian wives in order to help bring peace to the tribes and the French. Taking Indian wives also helped French Canadian fur traders do business with their indigenous in-laws, which benefited both parties.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 17 – Pre-Columbian America

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Of course, in one of Mel Gibson’s attempts to bring history to life, here’s his vision of Pre-Columbian America, specifically the Mayans. Still, though the architecture may be historically acceptable, they look pretty drab by most Mayan standards. If these buildings really looked as they did in Mayan times, they’d be painted in bright colors so they could easily be seen like most buildings in Latin America or Southern United States. Also, they Mayans were much more than a civilization that practiced human sacrifice which Mel Gibson fails to show. Not to mention, this movie also contains a heavy Eurocentric bias by including Spanish Conquistadors but that’s beside the point.

Just because the continents of North and South America had to be discovered by Europeans, doesn’t mean that there’s no history in the Americas to be told. While only few societies in the New World had a written language, the Americas had plenty of civilizations in the Pre-Columbian era nonetheless. After all, indigenous peoples had been living in North and South America for thousands of years before the arrival of Columbus explained by the presence of archaeological evidence. Of course, when it comes to movies set in Pre-Columbian America, Hollywood mostly centers on the Mayans since we know more about them than any other such civilization at this time, they had a written language which has been preserved, and that the Mayan people still survive to this day. There can’t really be a historically accurate movie on Pre-Columbian civilizations because there are things we simply don’t know about their cultures and archaeological evidence can only go so far. Still, there are plenty of historical accuracies in movies set in Pre-Columbian America that even archaeologists can say which may consist of putting the wrong buildings in the wrong locations as part of the wrong civilizations, having people speak the wrong language, or what not. Sometimes Pre-Columbian culture on film can consists of mish-mash between cultures. Still, I list some here.

The Mayans:

The Mayans ransacked a village of their own people for sacrificial victims and slaves. (Captives were taken during war and there is not much evidence that they ever did this.)

The Mayans sacrificed captives in mass quantities. (No, that was the Aztecs who did that. When it came to human sacrifice, the Mayans were into quality not quantity. Besides, to the Maya, human sacrifice was a very personal thing.)

The Mayans sacrificed almost anyone. (Again, it’s the Aztecs. The Mayans preferred to sacrifice royals and elites {preferably adversarial} taken from war, which led to a lot of wars in the process. Oh, and there were rituals pertaining to self-sacrifice involving a Mayan king having to draw blood through a barbed thread at either the tongue or his genitals. The 1960s Mayan movie with Yul Brynner is actually more accurate in its treatment of Mayan human sacrifice than the one directed by Mel Gibson since the character trying to avoid sacrifice is a chief who’d be a more likely candidate {despite that he’s the leader of a tribe from Mississippi}.)

The Mayans were a savage people with reckless sewage treatment, widespread slavery, bad rave dancing, and a real lust of human blood. (They were also very concerned with hygiene. They had remarkable astronomy with their calendar being especially good at predicting eclipses and were able to precisely measure planetary orbits. They also had advances in medicine, agronomy, and mathematics. Also, all the Mayan buildings were built by free men who participating in such projects as a civic duty. Yet, we don’t know whether these people did it because they were forced to, as a way of using labor to pay taxes, or voluntarily. Then there was the Mayan ball game which was a combination of basketball, lacrosse, and rollerball, in which either the captain of the winning or losing team was sacrificed, we’re not sure which. Oh, and they were probably one of the most sophisticated Pre-Columbian civilizations of all time, which was an ordered society of maize, kings, and gods, as well as flourished for a thousand years. Nevertheless, they were no violent than other civilizations even if they did practice human sacrifice.)

The Mayans were awed by solar eclipses. (They were accomplished astronomers and therefore, the Mayan elites would’ve known it was coming and planned a ritual all around it.)

The Mayan civilization collapsed with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. (The Maya Civilization collapsed in 900 A. D. which was 600 years before the Spanish ever set foot when their cities were abandoned {yet it’s possible that some of the Mayan cities did survive}. Of course, Spanish disease killed many of the Mayan people, but that’s beside the point  since it took almost 200 years to subdue the people who were left from their remaining cities {while the Aztec Empire fell within a year}. Still, as to what caused the Mayan collapse, many have their own theories like drought, deforestation, disease, overpopulation, warfare, social disruption.)

Mayan villagers were hunters and gatherers in the deep jungles of Meso America. (Actually they would’ve been farmers on manicured land with a very structured social and economic system. Oh, and they had crops like cacao, tomatoes, corn, and avocados long before the Europeans did.)

The Mayans thought 2012 would be the end of the world. (The Mayans never equated the end of their calendar with the end of the world. Also, it’s 2014.)

Mesoamerican jungle people were never aware of Mayan pyramids. (They would’ve since these structures were never too far from anywhere in the Mayan world, occupied or abandoned. If you lived 6 to 12 miles outside a large Mayan community, you would’ve certainly have seen one since such structures were usually 20 kilometers away from anywhere in the Mayan world.)

Lots of Mayans wore jade. (Jade was only reserved for royalty since it was a symbol of royal power and wealth.)

The Mayans were mankind’s earliest civilization. (Actually the Mesopotamians were as far as the historic record goes. And in Meso America, the Olmecs. Also, the Olmecs and the Zapotecs had writing before the Mayans but not much of it survives.)

Mayan sacrificial victims were painted blue and were sacrificed on a column shaped stone. (The Mayans would never paint their victims blue. Rather they would adorn them with special quetzel plumed headdresses. And it’s the Aztecs who were known to sacrifice victims this way, not the Maya. Also, the Mayans used decapitation, heart excision, dismemberment, hanging, disembowelment, skin flaying, skull splitting, throwing kids in wells, and burning.)

The Mayans relished torturing their captives. (Not necessarily, but their victims were their enemies suffering a long tortuous death and being carefully disassembled. These guys were competition and a Mayan ruler may get something to add to his kingdom.)

The Mayas didn’t have libraries. (They did, but the Spanish destroyed most of their books that there are only three or four left {and one may be a fake}.)

The Mayans were tall, slim, ripped, tan, and very European looking. (The actual Mayans were shorter and stocky but I was just ripping off a 1960s movie called Kings of the Sun starring Yul Brynner.)

The Mayans visited the US Gulf Coast. (Well, it could’ve happened since the the Mississippians did grow Mesoamerican crops like corn, beans, and squash but we can’t be sure.)

Mayan kings were bystanders in human sacrifice rituals while two priests did the actual work. (He was usually the central figure who conducted rituals in front of a large audience in a major ceremonial fashion. He was not only the political leader in his Mayan city-states, but a religious one as well.)

Mayan villagers lived in stick huts in the wild jungle. (They would’ve lived in homes with stone foundations near the cleared plazas or in surrounding villages near the capital. Housing on lots were planned and intensively managed spaces where fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants were grown and where some domesticated animals were raised.)

The Mayans were sun worshipers and called themselves “sun people.” (They had a pantheon of gods with the Maize god as the most important deity because he signified the change of the seasons.)

Some Mayan tribes used swords made out of wood or metal. (They usually used obsidian for knives which were very sharp.)

Aztecs and The Triple Alliance Empire:

The Aztecs were a homogenous people. (The Aztec Empire was run by a triple Alliance of three Nahuatl city states Tenochtitlan, Tlateloco, and Tlacopan near the islets of Lake Texcoco. Oh, and they called themselves the Mexica who may have came to Mexico during the 13th century from Arizona {oh, the irony}.)

The main Aztec city was situated in the jungle. (The Aztec Triple Alliance ran their empire from Tenochtitlan which was built upon a lake in a the middle of the Valley of Mexico. When the Spanish arrived, it looked like a Pre-Columbian Venice with a network of canals and bridges. Of course, no filmmaker has a budget to recreate this.)

The Aztecs used gold coins. (They more likely used cocoa beans as currency than gold coins. Besides, Aztec gold coins never existed in Pre-Columbian America.)

The Aztecs mummified their dead. (High-ranking Aztecs were cremated. However, the Andean peoples certainly did.)

South America:

Nazca buildings were made out of stone. They also built their tombs on hills and were mummified in a fashion depicted by Francisco de Orellana. (Nazcas built with adobe, had their tombs in the ground in flat areas, and mummified people by hunkering their knees against their chests before wrapping them.)

Peruvian coastal tribes used blowpipes with poisoned darts. (Amazon jungle tribes did.)

Meso and South America:

All Pre-Columbian cultures in Meso and South America look basically the same. (Despite the fact that many of these societies existed in different environments and have different styles of art and architecture.)

The groups of people who lived in Meso and South America were the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the Incas. (There were many other indigenous groups who lived in the same areas.)

All Pre-Columbian cultures in Meso and South America lived in the jungle. (They lived in all kinds of environments and climates such as deserts, mountains, the coasts, and other areas.)

All Meso American buildings and structures were of just plain rock. (Actually they were painted in bright colors like the works so they could be more visible.)

The Meso and South American Indians sacrificed to Quetzalcoatl more often than any other god. (He’s perhaps the only god in many of his pantheons who didn’t ask for it and abhorred the practice {making him the most bloodless and most merciful god in the pantheon whose sacrifices only comprised of birds, snakes, tortillas, and butterflies}. So it’s very unlikely that even the Aztecs would sacrifice to him. Filmmakers probably use him the most as a god to sacrifice to because his name is easier to pronounce and he’s the most famous in his pantheon anyway {he’s probably the only Mesoamerican god most people know}. Also, the Plumed Serpent is a cool nickname. As for the heart ripping out of a person’s chest and tossing the body down the pyramid stairs, that’s a festive sacrifice for the Aztec war god, Huitzilopochtli, whose name is a mouthful and is nicknamed the Left-Handed Hummingbird, yeah.)

Mesoamericans made and used crystal skulls. (Every crystal skull ever found turned out to be a fake.)

The Meso and South American Indians didn’t use metal weapons because they didn’t have the technology. (They actually did but the fact they didn’t use metal weapons was more out of personal choice because the aim of war for them was to take captives to sacrifice later, not to kill people. Also, they used metals for their figurines but they didn’t see it worth much.)

The Meso and South American Indians bound their infants’ heads with a rope to honor their gods. (It was in accordance with their beauty standards. Also, they liked elongated noses like Adrien Brody’s.)

Quecha was spoken in what is now Mexico. (It’s an Andes language spoken throughout the Inca Empire.)

Meso and South American women walked around in scantily clad bikinis or bare breasts. (No, they didn’t. Many of them simply wore a decorated cloth with holes for the head and arms. Also, many of them were shown in artwork as rather conservatively dressed with their breasts covered.)

Meso and South American Indians lusted after gold as a precious metal. (Mayas used cacao beans as currency, the Aztecs valued feathers and jade much more than gold, and the Incas only saw gold as some metal to make a drinking vessel out of. Let’s just say the Mesoamericans would be more pissed off at you eating their chocolate than melting any of their gold jewelry.)

Meso and South American Indians viewed white people as gods. (No Inca or Aztec Emperor ever mistaken a Spanish Conquistador as a god. Their giving gifts to the Spaniards was more about showing superiority and good ol’ sacred hospitality. The Spanish just assumed this.)

Meso and South American priests were always bloodthirsty men wanting to sacrifice nubile virgins to their dinosaur gods. (Sure they were the ones doing the human sacrifices most of the time. Yet, they usually viewed it as part of their job and most of their rituals do include some sort of sacrifice. They believed that such sacrifices sustained the universe and many of their stories dealt with the importance of sacrifice. Also, most Pre-Columbian sacrificial victims were men.)

Meso and South American Pre-Columbian artifacts are usually cursed. (I’m sure this isn’t the case.)

Meso and South American people could stop sacrificing people whenever. (Being sacrificed was seen as a great honor in these cultures. Besides, to them, not sacrificing people was one way to usher in the apocalypse.)

Meso and South American gods didn’t succumb to temptation. (There’s a story about Quetzalcoatl getting drunk and banging his sister. So Miguel and Tulio didn’t have to worry much about making mistakes in El Dorado.)

North America:

The Indians were noble savages who worshiped nature and cared for the environment. (This is all bullshit for there were many Native American societies that farmed and built structures like houses, temples, and monuments, even in North America.)

The New World was mostly unpopulated, with Native settlements few and far between. (Truth is, the Europeans were keen on spreading diseases they were already immune to {very successfully, I might add}. The native population was decimated by bugs like Smallpox. These sicknesses spread so fast, that when settlers moved west, they found a fraction of the population that once thrived there.)

Native Americans were a backward, childlike people who talked like Tonto. (Never mind the working economy, clearly defined values and morals, deep religion, highly developed language, and well developed justice system. Yes, Native American society was that complex, just ask the Iroquois Nations and the Cherokee.)

The Inuit always wore parkas, carved trinkets, lived in igloos, went fishing with harpoon, traveled by sled and huskies, and ate cod liver oil. They also kissed by rubbing each other’s noses together. (It might have been true at one time but not during the 1920s.)

Indian princesses were gorgeous. (There had to be ugly Indian princesses.)

Mayans and Mississippians spoke similar languages. (Their languages were from completely separate families like the Mayan and the Algonquin.)

The Mississippian peoples lived in tepees and hunted buffalo. (I don’t think this is very likely since it’s more suggestive of Plains Indians. Also, the Mississippian people were an agrarian society as far as I know. But who knows what they lived in anyway. The Mississippians were a mound building culture, however. Yet, I’m sure the Mayans didn’t build pyramids there.)

The Inuit wore metal sunglasses over their eyes. (They didn’t, yet there’s a movie poster of an Inuit who does.)

Indians planted corn in rows. (They didn’t plant corn that way.)

Indian corn ears were far larger than a human hand. (Native corn were about the size of a thumb, rarely ever bigger. Large corn was a product of seed selection and genetic research mostly done since the 1860s.)

Iroquois settled on the Ottawa River. (It was Algonquin territory.)

Indians fought during the winter. (Native war parties usually stayed home during the winter.)

Iroquois gratuitously killed their young prisoners. (They would never have killed a young prisoner who could’ve been adopted into a family to replace a fallen kinsman.)

Indian guards raped female prisoners. (Well, Mary Rowlandson did testify she was raped by one during the Indian Wars in Massachusetts, but there was a strict taboo against raping war prisoners throughout the native East. The Iroquois in particular eschewed sex with future adopted kinswomen.)

Iroquois guards were posted on a scaffold tower on cold of dead winter nights. (No Iroquois guard was.)

Most Indian captives were killed. (Indian captives were mainly adopted and kept alive.)

Indian captives were led by leather thongs around their necks and fully dressed. (They were naked when taken prisoner.)