Jack D. Forbes

Jack D. Forbes ( born January 7, 1934 in California; † 23 February 2011) was an indigenous American author, scientist, and political activist. His reputation is primarily based on the book " Columbus and other cannibals. The Indian view of things ", which is a prime document of the indigenous critique of civilization.


Forbes was born in 1934 in Long Beach ( California ), the son of a family of Powhatan Renape and Lenape Indians. Even in high school he began his commitment to the rights of the Indians with articles for the school newspaper. His study of history, he finished 1959 with a doctorate. His doctoral thesis and, as his first book was titled The Apache, Navaho and Spaniard. In the early 1960s, Forbes was one of the first pioneers and organizers of the American Indian Movement. Throughout his life he took professorships at various universities in California and Europe (including Warwick, Oxford and Essex in the UK, Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands)

Throughout his life Forbes campaigned for the establishment of the Native American cultures in the sciences and for better study opportunities for young Indians. In 1966 he gave the decisive impulse for the "Tribal College Movement", an initiative to create its own tribal colleges on Indian land. In 1970 he was one of the founders of the (temporarily reconstituted ) DQ University ( Deganawidah Quetzalcoatl University) in California. This university offers Indians a two-year study, the use of alternative methods taught academic knowledge, rooted in traditional cultures, religions and values. In 1975, Robert Redford win him for his participation in the documentary " Broken Treaty at Battle Mountain", which deals with the struggle of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada to the recovery of their amounts collected by the U.S. Indian agency land rights. In a controversial documentary from the early 1990s, among other things, to with the history of the university concerned and the alleged machinations of the U.S. government to prevent the school, representing Jack D. Forbes in an extensive interview, the Indian view of things. ( The movie was only aired in part because he was legally prohibited. )

The Wétiko philosophy

Forbes ' world view comes down hard on the Western civilization into court. His unsparing analysis suggests that the history of the Europeans is inextricably linked with the fascination of evil, which he described as " MATCHI syndrome " ( Cree dialect for devilish depravity ). This leads to a lack of empathy and a corollary to selfishness, greed and violence. Imperialism have this trait spread throughout the world, so that one can speak of the greatest plague of mankind, the " Wétiko psychosis " ( also spelled: Wi'tiko ). Forbes also chose here a word from a Cree dialect. (Originally called the Wétiko disease a psychotic lust for human flesh with the Canadian Indians, which was caused by long fasting, especially in winter. ) The word is in the Cree for such sick people or even for an evil spirit, the other creatures terrorized by diabolical acts through to cannibalism. The association with the cannibalism - that the " eating of conspecifics " - refers to the Native American professor at the legalized excesses of the capitalist market economy, which goes hand in hand with the ruthless exploitation and domination of man and nature in all conceivable forms.

Forbes accordingly represents the world's existing social problems such as poverty and homelessness, hunger and suffering and the destruction of the environment in the context of Western society shape itself " civilized" and " cultured ", " free" and is called "social". In fact, however, the capitalist would - recklessly consume the property, the health and the lives of others, to live well without having to do much for myself - although usually not directly, but through a chain of effects in the system. This is anything but civilized and more comparable to a degenerate form of cannibalism. The negative aspects of the modern world have seen globally by Forbes ' view assumed an enormous extent, and showed a tendency to further aggravation. They conclude that the morbidity of the system or the people as a responsible subjects.

As evidence for his thesis Forbes leads among other things the unimaginable mass murder of millions of indigenous people in Africa, North and South America, the Holocaust, the Inquisition and many others historical events of the "visible pathological inhumanity " on. With countless quotations he occupied the racism and arrogance of Europeans, with which they would put themselves above all others. He cites, inter alia, to to the educators Paulo Freire ( " Pedagogy of the Oppressed ", 1970), Frantz Fanon ( " The Wretched of the Earth", 1961), Claude Levi- Strauss ( " Tristes Tropiques ", 1955) or on B. Traven. For the indigenous world views, he cites well-known personalities such as Black Elk and Lame Deer.

The prospective indigenous cultures describes Forbes as respectful of the entire world, driven by the recognition that the individual can only survive as a member of a networked community of people and a healthy environment. Since the disease was contagious Wétiko - but very many traditional peoples have already been infected. This reached the Europeans on the one hand, by making their own lifestyle palatable and material benefits presented in views, which would then increasingly bound to meet new obligations; and on the other with the help of the church, which was abusing Christian values ​​for the legalization of greed, power and profit motive.

Forbes describes in his work, no solution to the dilemma, but he hopes only on a "cure through insight ".

The " Wétiko epidemic " is considered by some supporters of the anti - civilization movement as a " manifesto ".


  • " Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wétiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism ", Seven Stories Press (2008 ) ISBN 1-58322-781-4 ( German translation: " Columbus and other Cannibals The Indian view of things. " And " The Wétiko - plague A Native American philosophy of aggression and violence. " - 1981)
  • "The American Discovery of Europe", University of Illinois Press (2007 ) ISBN 0-252-03152-0
  • "Only Approved Indians: Stories ," University of Oklahoma Press (1995 ), ISBN 0 - 8061-2699 -X
  • "Apache, Navaho and Spaniard ", University of Oklahaoma Press ( 1994), ISBN 0-8061-2686-8
  • " Africans and Native Americans " (1993), ISBN 0 - 252-06321 -X


  • Before Columbus Foundation, " American Book Award" for lifetime achievement (1997)
  • Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers: " Writer of the Year" (1999)