March 30, 2007

More Fabrication from David Yeagley

from the Bad Eagle Journal

Thank you Robert W. Welkos, Times Staff Writer! We welcome all the new readers to this site, and thank you for taking a moment to learn the facts about the piano doctor.

So this is Yeagley’s latest claim, that Comanche people had NO political structure? He doesn’t insist on “loose” political structure, or “decentralized” structure, he literally declares there was NO political structure, and has claimed as much on several occasions.

David Yeagley — “The Comanche people had no political structure” (Mar. 2007)

David Yeagley — “We were just small bands of roaming hunters, with no religion or political structure” (Feb. 2002)

However, a quick and easy search turns up many counter explanations. Once again, Yeagley is simply stretching the truth to bolster up his own fabricated image as an Indian scholar, while the facts paint an altogether different picture. So Comanches were highly mobile, great. But to use that mobility to declare them without political structure or religiousness is a real stretch of the facts.

I’d say, from a westernized POV, probably 99% of all Indian tribes had no religion, not in the way Christians think of it. But to claim the Comanches existed without political structure is absolutely bonkers. Like most tribes, Comanches had a highly developed network of extended kinship ties, which is at the heart of their political, religious and social life. Yeagley simply does not know what he is talking about, largely because he has few (if any) kinship ties into the Comanche community himself. He is an outsider Comanche wannabe.
As noted above, the political structure was loosely organized, but each band had an elected nonhereditary chief. The most famous of these was Quanah Parker) who led the Comanche on the reservation from the 1870s until his death. Comanche religious practice was very individualistic, with emphasis being laid on the male vision quest. The quest gave power to individuals but entailed restrictive practices and taboos. There were no priests and few group ceremonies. The Comanche believed in a creator spirit and its counterpart, an evil spirit, and accepted the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon as deities. The religion was animistic with natural objects and animal spirits (except for dogs and horses) having various powers. Medicine men served as intermediaries and helpers with the spirits and also served practically as curers. The Comanche had few ceremonies, but had developed or practiced the Beaver Ceremony and the Eagle Dance.
Kristine L. Jones (1998) argues that trade among indigenous peoples and between indigenous peoples and Spanish settlers in the Pampas helped in the process of state-building by fostering increased trade. Pekka Hämäläinen (1998) makes a similar argument for the role of Comanches in the southwestern Great Plains. He argues that trade with indigenous peoples helped strengthen New Mexico while also building a tribal political structure among Comanche bands.
Perhaps the best way to understand the Comanche social and political structure is to start at the bottom. While nuclear families might, for whatever reason, choose to live separately for a while, the normal Comanche residential pattern consisted of groups of related extended families. Those families formed the local, or residential, band. The bands were focused around a core extended family, whose leader was the group's chief. Whereas the local residential band was structured on kin-ship, the widest Comanche social structure—the division—was of local group, or bands, linked into political networks; in historic times in New Mexico, and apparently briefly in Texas, the divisional principal chief was "elected" from amongst the constituent local band chiefs.

Yeagley is pretending to be Comanche and pretending to be an American Indian scholar; he's got a DMA (Doctorate of Musical Arts) for playing the piano. To get his degree, he wrote a "selective" OP-ED essay on a piano piece he liked, and said nothing of definitive importance one direction or another. Yeagley's thesis was another in a long succession of rather meaningless (and somewhat fluffy) piano commentaries:
David Yeagley — "Franz Liszt's 'Dante Sonata': The Origins, the Criticism, a Selective Musical Analysis, and Commentary" (1994)

His equally fluffy knowledge of American Indian people is also limited to what he imagines as he reads stereotyped magazines, inaccurate history publications, and Wikipedia entries. He contends that Indians were not civilized, and whites gave to Indians the 'ability to negotiate.' However, Indians have always been the greatest of negotiators, treating others, including non-humans and the earth, as "people." Bird people, Water people, many kinds of non-human people are what makes up the collective world of the superior negotiating skills of Indian people. Knowing how to relate, and how to 'be related' is one of the better-known strengths of Indian people — mitakuye oyasin!

So what do we make of Yeagley's nonsense?
David Yeagley — "Social skills are a thing of civilization. Trying to get along with others is a western European custom. Plains Indians never had need for such talk. Negotiation generally meant weakness" (Mar. 2007)

Well, for those who still refuse to recognize Yeagley's idiocy, and still get whipped up into some Patriotamentia Attack over Yeagley's phony warrior facade, check those aggressive hormones at the door, engage your brain instead, and understand that American Indians were the greatest of negotiators — including the Comanches — despite Yeagley's personal degradation of the great Comanche people. Yeagley wouldn't know a Comanche if he looked in the mirror.

The 'warlike' nature of Native American peoples was often fabricated to add legitimacy to European aims of conquest (Kroeber 1961); the foraging Comanche maintained their non-violent ways for centuries before the European invasion, becoming violent only upon contact with marauding civilisation.

Yeagley is a paid fabricator, including his own rather "creative" lineage, and continually embarrasses actual Comanches with his stupidity: Trust anything he pontificates about at your own risk. You've been warned.