Politics Magazine

How We Fight

Posted on the 23 April 2015 by Calvinthedog

Against these amiable and enlightened traits in the Samoan character must be set their cruelty in war. If they opened hostilities with a great deal of formal politeness, they conducted them with great ferocity. No quarter was given to men in battle, and captives were ruthlessly slaughtered.

Women were sometimes spared for the use of their captors. Nor did death save the conquered the insults and outrages of the insolent victors. The slain on the battlefield were treated with great indignity. Their heads were cut off and carried in triumph to the village, where they were piled up in a heap in the place of public assembly, the head of the most important chief being given the place of honor on the top of the pile.

However, they were not kept as trophies, but after remaining for some hours exposed to public gaze were either claimed by the relatives or buried on the spot. The headless trunks were given to children to drag about the village and to spear, stone, or mutilate at pleasure.

The first missionary to Samoa was told in Manua that the victors used to scalp their victims and present the scalps, with kava, either to the king or to the relatives of the slain in battle, by whom these gory trophies were highly prized. He mentions as an example the case of a young woman, whose father had been killed. A scalp of a foe having been brought to her, she burnt it, strewed the ashes on the fire with which she cooked her food, and then devoured the meat with savage satisfaction.

But the climax of cruelty and horror was reached in a great war which the people of A‛ana, in Upolu, waged against a powerful combination of enemies. After a brave resistance they were at last defeated, and the surviving warriors, together with the aged and infirm, the women and children, fled to the mountains, where they endeavored to hide themselves from their pursuers in the caves and the depths of the forest.

But they were hunted out and brought down to the seashore; and an immense pit having been dug and filled with firewood, they were all, men, women, and children, thrown into it and burnt alive. The dreadful butchery went on for days. Four hundred victims are said to have perished.

The massacre was perpetrated at the moment when the first missionaries were landing in Samoa. From the opposite shore they beheld the mountains enveloped in the flames and smoke of the funeral pile. The decisive battle had been fought that very morning. For many years a great black circle of charcoal marked the scene and preserved the memory of the fatal transaction (Frazer 1922).

If you study native cultures all over the world, you will find that this absolutely savage and vicious way of fighting wars was quite typical. It was certainly par for the course in Black Africa, Oceania, New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. The Amerindians pursued war in the most savage and vicious way imaginable. Instead of being an aberration, this wanton sadism and depravity seems to be the normal human way of war.

These people behaving in this cruel and debased way are not acting like savages. Instead they are acting like normal human beings. Mankind in the wild is as vicious an animal as exists anywhere in nature.


Frazer, James George. The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, Vol. 2: The Belief Among the Polynesians, p. 162. 1922. London: McMillan and Co.

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