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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Noble Savage ! - another evil of Colonialism !

Is it not a paradox ! – British came to India as traders, colonized India and ruled us, looted all our wealth, kept our patriots in jail, harmed them – yet we are more loyal to UK and tend to question and criticize our Nationalists, freedom fighters, those who sacrificed their life in quest for freedom !

Colonialism is defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.” It occurs when one nation subjugates another, conquering its population and exploiting it, often while forcing its own language and cultural values upon its people. By 1914, a large majority of the world's nations had been colonized by Europeans at some point.The concept of colonialism is closely linked to that of imperialism, which is the policy or ethos of using power and influence to control another nation or people that underlies colonialism.Modern colonialism began during what’s also known as the Age of Discovery. Beginning in the 15th century, Portugal began looking for new trade routes and searching for civilizations outside of Europe.  In 1492, Christopher Columbus began looking for a western route to India and China. Instead, he landed in the Bahamas, kicking off the Spanish Empire. Spain and Portugal became locked in competition for new territories and took over indigenous lands in the Americas, India, Africa, and Asia.

"Colors of the Wind" is a song written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz for Walt Disney Pictures' 33rd animated feature film, Pocahontas (1995).  A pop ballad, the song's lyrics are about animism and respecting nature, finding its roots in indigenous Native American culture, perspectives which have later been adopted in both transcendentalist literature and New Age spirituality.The son won  the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

Savage is defined in dictionaries as :    not domesticated or under human control; lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings : fierce, ferocious, savage criminal !

Noble would mean : possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties

.. .. and can there be ‘noble savage’ !!

A noble savage is a literary stock character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, an "other" who has not been "corrupted" by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity's innate goodness. Besides appearing in many works of fiction and philosophy, the stereotype was also heavily employed in early anthropological works.  In English, the phrase first appeared in the 17th century in John Dryden's heroic play -  The Conquest of Granada (1672),wherein it was used in reference to newly created man. "Savage" at that time could mean "wild beast" as well as "wild man".  The phrase later became identified with the idealized picture of "nature's gentleman", which was an aspect of 18th-century sentimentalism. The noble savage achieved prominence as an oxymoronic rhetorical device after 1851, when used sarcastically as the title for a satirical essay by English novelist Charles Dickens, who some believe may have wished to disassociate himself from what he viewed as the "feminine" sentimentality of 18th and early 19th-century romantic primitivism.

Pocahontas is a 1995 American animated musical historical drama film based on the life of the Powhatan woman Pocahontas and the arrival of English colonial settlers from the Virginia Company. The film romanticizes Pocahontas' encounter with John Smith and her legendary saving of his life. It is the 33rd Disney animated feature film and the sixth film produced and released during the period known as the Disney Renaissance.Pocahontas received mixed reactions from reviewers, who praised its animation, voice performances, and music, but criticized its story with its lack of focus on tone. The film's historical inaccuracies and racial overtones received polarized responses. Pocahontas earned over $346 million at the box office. The film received two Academy Awards for Best Musical or Comedy Score for Menken and Best Original Song for "Colors of the Wind".

Pocahontas (1596 – 1617) was a Native Americanwoman, belonging to the Powhatan people, notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribes in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia. She was captured and held for ransom by English Colonists during hostilities in 1613. During her captivity, she was encouraged to convert to Christianity and was baptized under the name Rebecca. She married tobacco planter John Rolfe in April 1614 at the age of about 17 or 18, and she bore their son Thomas Rolfe. In 1616, the Rolfes travelled to London where Pocahontas was presented to English society as an example of the "civilized savage" in hopes of stimulating investment in the Jamestown settlement.  In 1617, the Rolfes set sail for Virginia; Pocahontas died at Gravesend of unknown causes, aged 20 or 21. She was buried in England.

Numerous places, landmarks, and products in the United States have been named after Pocahontas. Her story has been romanticized over the years, some aspects of which are probably fictional. Many of the stories told about her by John Smith have been contested by her documented descendants. It actually should have been the story of a woman, captured, taken out of her place, subjected to some humility but presented as a great romance !!  the natives were driven out and their lifestyles changed is the crux !


Colonial powers justified their conquests by asserting that they had a legal and religious obligation to take over the land and culture of indigenous peoples. Conquering nations cast their role as civilizing “barbaric” or “savage” nations, and argued that they were acting in the best interests of those whose lands and peoples they exploited.However, abject  coercion and forced assimilation often accompanied those gains, and scholars still debate colonialism’s many legacies. Who gave colonists the right to change the lives of other people calling them uncivilized ? and changing their culture ! – only because History is written by these invaders, all their acts have been justified – while the fact is they were the cruel, greedy, lustful seekers of other’s wealth eliminating others by crook and crude methods.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th April 2022. 

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