Pokagon

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"There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages" (Twain, 213). In this Mark Twain quote from, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World, one can easily substitute the word savage for the concept of civilization. A solid, working definition of civilization is difficult because perspectives on the term vary greatly and allow room for individual interpretation. The word civilization comes from the ancient Latin word civis, which means "inhabitant of a city." Therefore, in its purest sense, civilization is the ability of humans to live together in social groupings. The modern definition of civilization, however, has expanded and come to mean: an advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions. Western European colonists created division throughout history by using their culturally biased interpretations of civilization to preserve and maintain long standing structures of inequality. To better understand the complexity of defining civilization, we will investigate Simon civilized vs. savage lifeways in the book “Queen of the Woods”. Simon Pokagon, a Potawatomi leader from Michigan, did not live permanently in the city. Chicago, however, was the traditional territory of the Potawatomi, lost in a treaty in 1833. Throughout his life Pokagon spent significant time in his ancient homeland. He was among the first modern American Indian leaders to assert his convictions about the status of American Indians and the responsibilities of the U.S. government. He used his role as a traditional leader and respected orator to promote Indian issues and concerns, most publically in 1893. Simon civilization started at the age of fourteen, when he went off to a boarding school to lean the...
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