The “Noble Savage” – Sociology Essay

The term the “noble savage” can carry a positive and negative connotation although it is an oxymoron it is a powerful term such that both Charles Mann and Martha Manchaca wrote of it. The noble savage was used by Holmberg do describe a type of Siriono who

cared about his or her land but did not have any agency or any form of motivation to carry “meaningful” life. To me the term noble savage has no meaning because to characterize a person or a group as having no history or having no impact on their environment is ludicrous.

The idea of a Noble Savage can be dated back into 1530 when Bartolome de Las Casas gave the term Noble Savage a positive depiction where the Indians were essentially the ideal human being, they were “natural creature who dwelt, gentle as cows in the terrestrial paradise”. Although it was first introduced by de Las Casas, Holmberg’s mistake popularized the idea of the noble savage, and to this day many of us have the vivid image of Indians being noble and peaceful, teaching the “white” how to plant vegetation and being a society of conservation. Holmberg’s mistake is still clearly seen in today’s textbooks and all around us as well; as everyday household products like Land O Lake butter where the box depicts an Indian in a terrestrial paradise holding “pure and wholesome” butter.

In Manchaca’s Recovering History Constructing Race Indians were seen as victims agreeing with the concept that Indians lacked agency; the “noble savage” was one whose life had been disturb by the Spaniards, they were not actors of their own lives but just recipients of what they of what the Spaniards did to them. I think the classification of “noble savage” by the Spaniards has a lot to do by how Mexicans or Chicanos are seen in general day to day life. Like Manchaca said the mestizos were seen as lower class brutal just like the barbarian in Holmberg’s mistake.

Manchaca’s reference of the noble savage is to guide the reader right into the depiction of what a mestizo was to the Spaniards. To this day beauty is classified by having light colored eyes or light skin by many, it’s nonsensical how Holmberg classified the Indians as being savages because they did not change, when we refuse to change our ways of viewing our world and viewing ourselves. The general concept of a mestizo is still in practice today, sadly a lot of the crime that we view in our daily world is blamed on color people whether it be the statement; immigrant’s contribute to our economy but because of them the crime rate has gone up. Sad to say but the how the world views a Chicano or Mexican is largely to blame on the media because of the magnification on the crime rate while minimizing other crime.

It is strange how the views of today are greatly influenced by the words of two people. The stereotypes of Mexican, Chicano and Indians have yet to change, but hopefully one day the view of Holmberg will be seen as just an opinion and will not influenced future generations on their views of what people are.