Indian Population on the N. Plains May 14, 2011 2:08:05 GMT -5
Post by fuchs on May 14, 2011 2:08:05 GMT -5
May 13, 2011 18:41:05 GMT -5 @fred said:"Warriors" were considered from about 14 to about 35, though there are examples of some fighters being a bit older.
Yes, that seems pretty clear, but what specifically bugs me is the potentially significant difference between the various definitions/conceptions of "warrior"/"adult male".
Wouldn't it be necessary to get those definitions nailed down before a meaningful discussion over the numbers of fighters available to make life difficult for Custer et al. can take place?
1. We have the colloquial usage of warrior here at the board as seemingly encompassing every male older than 15.
2. We have the "common sense" definition of warrior between about 15 and 35.
3. We have the "adult male" from the census data, with a cutoff age unknown to me.
4. We have the anthropometric literature, where the definition of "adult" seems to be "having finished body growth", with 20 as the threshold.
At first glance one would perhaps assume that the difference between [1.] and [2.] might not be THAT large, due to common misconceptions about the demographics of pre-modern societies. But [4.] indicates that for Plains Indians the age distribution is surprisingly flat, with people older than 40 numbering about 2/3 of those in the age bracket 20-40. And the number of people in the age bracket 15-35 would not be that much larger than between 20 and 40.
So in general the subset [2.], the pool of men from which most of guys who did actually fight were drawn, would only be about 60% of the total numbers of "warriors" [1.].
Now you can argue that we have an unknown and potentially significant number of single men. But exactly how numerous were those? Are there any hard data apart from the estimates of the number of wickiups/sweatlodges/doghouses?
And who were these guys? Probably mostly coming from the "hang-around-the-fort" faction, and wouldn't it be safe to assume that they would be pretty deficient in warrior training/capabilities compared to their wilder cousins?
Another thing to consider: if the tough Plains Indian lifestyle killed off enough men to skew the adult male/female ratio to something like 3:4, just how many "warriors" would be just crippled instead of dead? I doubt that someone shot/clubbed to pieces like for example White Swan would be all that combat effective.
I have the impression that there is some conscious or subconscious shoehorning the Indian Wars into the usual army-vs-army discourse of military conflict, and a lot of important details fall by the wayside if one ignores the fact that it was army-vs-"miniature nation" fighting and all the baggage that entails for the Indian side.
Back to my original problem: What was the definition of "adult" in the countings of the surrendered "Hostiles"?