For research discussions purposes, a possible fair look at how Mystara treated American Indian culture as represented by “humanoids” as years advanced to 1994, a peek at the Savage Coast presentation of the Yazi. Even central Asian cultures by the Yazak, FWIW.
That's a useful suggestion. I'll post a bit of my research on the Yazi goblinoids of the Savage Coast, some of whom, like you say, are Indigenous American analogs. In contrast, the Yazak goblinoids appear to have Central Asian Turkic motifs (Yazak ~ Kazakh). For this post I will focus on the American Indian parallels.
The Yazi being the plains and southwestern American Indian representation in the setting expansion. Without too much spoiling DM knowledge PCs wouldn’t know, the Yazi gnolls didn’t adopt any culture but the goblins would have adopted the settled gnolls’ culture. They’re not shown with the mocking that Orcs of Thar does. But they are presented as a raiding threat to the colonizing cultures of humans and demi-humans, with the gnolls now said to be recently peaceful and willing to conduct trade. The humans/demi-humans of Cimarron are shown more humorously than the Yazi, fwiw.
To do a proper job would require a diachronic analysis of how the Yazi goblinoids have been depicted in four eras:
1) The original Voyage of the Princess Ark (VotPA) stories from DRAGON magazine. (1990-1992)
2) The collected and edited VotPA stories in the Champions of Mystara boxed set. (1993)
3) In the AD&D 2E Red Steel boxed set. (1995)
4) In the AD&D 2E Savage Coast downloads. (1996) Freely available here
Yet, for the moment I'll stick with the 1996 depiction in the Savage Coast Campaign Book.
1) I didn't not find any reference to racial slurs (such as "red" or "yellow" persons) in this product. Which is an improvement.
the Yazi gnolls didn’t adopt any culture but the goblins would have adopted the settled gnolls’ culture.
2) In regard to what you said: I didn't find any statements in the Savage Coast Campaign Book
on how the cultures of the Yazi gnolls or Yazi goblins came about, whether they adopted a neighboring culture, and if so, from whom. Maybe you're referring to an earlier source - if so, would you post that?
They’re not shown with the mocking that Orcs of Thar does.
3) In regard to a mocking tone: the Savage Coast Campaign Book
is nowhere near GAZ10 in that regard. The AD&D team seriously toned down the "comedic" aspects. Also, there are no illustrations in the book, so there can be no slip-ups there!
However, even in this AD&D book, there are still problematic aspects (see below).
4) The word "Yazi" appears to be based on the common Diné (
Navajo) surname and male given name "Yazzie" (in Navajo spelling: Yázhí)
Yazzie - Wikipedia
A personal aside: When I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the only Diné man I knew was named Yázhí.
Though my research is not inherently opposed to fantasy adaptations of real-world cultures, it's unfortunate that the Indigenous American cultures are assigned to goblinoid "raiders", while the "civilized" nations (Hispanic, Portuguese, and Anglo-Texan) are human. That is a thoughtless structural prejudice.
5) Though the overarching term "Yazi" is Navajo in form, the various tribes of goblinoids (a term which includes gnolls, goblins, and orcs) appear to be based on several real-world cultures:
Gnolls of El Grande Carrascal (3 nations):
1) Long Legs (I haven't identified a real-world basis)
2) Chiriquis < real-world Chiricahua Apache: Chiricahua - Wikipedia
3) Dead Yuccas < The plant name "yucca" is from Taino, a Caribbean language. However, the word "yucca" is part of several placenames in the southwest U.S. ...And more saliently, the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Site was in the national news in the 1990s when the Voyage of the Princess Ark stories were first written. Yucca Mountain is in Western Shoshone territory, and the Western Shoshones have bitterly contested the site.
See: Yucca (disambiguation) - Wikipedia
Goblins of the Badlands (two nations):
1) Black Bellies Tribe < real-world ʔɔʔɔɔ̋ɔ́niinénnɔh Nation, conventionally known as the Gros Ventre ("Big Bellies"). Note: a Blackfoot friend of mine in Montana who has ʔɔʔɔɔ̋ɔ́niinénnɔh friends said to me that this nation does not like to be called "Gros Ventre" anymore. The Black Bellies name is also vaguely reminiscent of the Sihasapa (Blackfeet Sioux, a clan of the Lakota Nation) and the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation.
2) Flat Noses Tribe < appears to be vaguely evocative of the real-world Salish "Flathead" Nation and the Báxoje "Dusty Noses" Nation (a.k.a. Ioway):
Goblinoids north of Robrenn (3 nations): (BTW, the bordering human land of Robrenn is a Gaulish analogue. These goblinoid nations are Celtic-based, not American Indian.)
1) Carnax Orcs < Iron Age Continental Celts (i.e. Gauls). The word "carnyx" is an ancient Celtic horn, and comes from a Gaulish rootword.
See: Carnyx - Wikipedia
2) Cassivellonis Orcs < Catuvellauni, an Ancient Brittonic tribe: Catuvellauni - Wikipedia
3) Pyctis Goblins < Picts of North Britain, and/or the Pictones of Poitiers, France. In traditional legends, the Picts of Britain founded Poitiers (the city of the Pictones tribe) on their way to Britain. Pictones - Wikipedia
Also of note, the Tortles of the Savage Coast appear to be mostly based on the Indigenous Mexican and Guatemalan "peons" (subjected peasants) following the Spanish conquest. The post-conquest Maya culture appears to be the main tortle motif.
6) There is a parallel of Custer's Last Stand. The Goblins of the Badlands slew General Cimarron at "Longhorn's Last Stand." Note: though there are several "badlands" in the U.S., the most prominent is Badlands National Park, which is located in Lakota (Teton Sioux) country. The Lakota Nation was the chief combatant versus the U.S. forces of Major General Custer.
See: Badlands National Park - Wikipedia
General Cimarron is a D&D parallel of Major General Custer, who is a very problematic figure in U.S. and Indigenous American history. See: George Armstrong Custer - Wikipedia
"General Cimmaron, died in 1008 at Longhorn's Last Stand, leading his tiny force of Cimmaron irregulars against hordes of Yazi goblins.
"Old General Cimmaron died in 1008 fighting Yazi goblins from the Badlands at the battle known as Longhorn's Last Stand."
"The goblins who killed General Cimmaron came from the Badlands, a rocky area west of Bushwhack Prairie. Goblins rule the Badlands; their two major tribes are Black Bellies and Flat Noses. Though some Yazi gnolls actually engage in commerce, Yazi goblins of the Badlands are savage destroyers who live by preying on others."
This last statement clearly states that General Cimmaron (i.e. Custer) was the "good guy", since Yazi goblins (i.e. Indigenous analogs) are "savage destroyers."
This is the second usage of the "Battle of Little Bighorn" motif, after the "Little-Big-Snout" orcish name from GAZ10.
7) Whereas the Goblins of the Badlands are described wholly negatively, there are five positive-ish statements about the Yazi gnolls of El Grande Carrascal:
-"Gnolls are actually relatively civilized; they both negotiate and engage in honest trade, and they do not immediately attack humans or demihumans."
-"Having lost too many of their people, the gnoll tribes went back to a reasonably peaceful existence except for the few remaining Long Legs, who still raid now and again."
"While the Long Legs are a savage tribe, the others trade with humans of the region and are willing to negotiate."
-"some Yazi gnolls actually engage in commerce."
-"Surprisingly, the gnolls are relatively civilized compared to the other Yazi. They will negotiate, they engage in honest trade as well as
raids, and they do not always attack on sight."
But note the loaded terms "savage tribe" and "civilized." And the term "actually"; as if it's surprising that Indigenous American analogs could be "actually relatively civilized" and "actually engage in commerce."
Unfortunately, even these 5 "positive-ish" statements are quantitatively undermined by the fact that 12 other mentions of the Yazi gnolls involve them "attacking" the human/demihuman nations:
-"963 AC: Yazi gnolls attack Saragon and Aranjuez." p.28
-"1007 Yazi gnolls attack the baronies, which have been severely weakened by previous conflicts." p.29
-"Like so many forts, towers, and castles in the baronies, this one was sacked during the recent wars. It fell to the same formidable band of Yazi gnolls that laid waste to Castillo de Tordegena in Almarron." p.50
-"the Castle of Tordegena that wards the nation's western border against Yazi gnoll raids." p.53
-"Almost destroyed by Yazi gnolls during the recent wars, Tordegena has still not been restored for habitation." p.53
-"In 962, Yazi gnolls attacked Montejo and Aranjuez, and the two baronies worked together to defeat the invasion. The humans met the gnolls in the forest west of their baronies, their battle ranging through hundreds of square miles of woodland. Eventually the humans defeated the gnolls, but so many lives were lost that the river draining through the forest ran with blood." p.54
-"In 1007, several Yazi gnoll tribes gathered together to attack the baronies. They moved along the western borders of Almarron and Gargoña, destroying Castillo de Tordegena in Almarron and Castillo de Pardalupe in Gargoña."
-"especially Yazi gnolls who sometimes raid the fertile Rio Copos region." p.55
-"in 963 when humans from Saragon and Aranjuez united to defeat raiding Yazi gnolls. Another marks the Battle of Morrion, where Saragon avenged Almarron and Gargoña by slaying the Yazi gnolls who had destroyed Almarron's Castillo de Tordegena and Gargoña's Castillo de Pardalupe." p.57
-"Except for periodic troubles with Yazak goblinoids to the north and Yazi gnolls to the southeast, Guadalante has had few conflicts." p.59
-"Sir John remains fit and active. He is still prompt to lead a posse after a bandit leader or to mount campaigns against Yazi gnolls from El Grande Carrascal in the north and Yazi goblins from the Badlands in the west." p.64
-"The easternmost Yazi are the gnolls of El Grande Carrascal. These are generally mounted nomadic warriors who ride the plains (on horses) and raid any outlying settlements." p.92
8) As if Custer wasn't enough, General Cimarron's son is a parallel of John Wayne: "Sir John of the Wain." Of Sir John's tenure, it is said: "[General Cimmaron] was succeeded by his son, John, who is the small nation's current ruler
. Except for a minor Tortle Revolt just after he took office and a few problems with Yazi goblinoids, Sir John has had a peaceful two years in charge of Cimmaron."
Clearly these are evocative of real-world "revolts" and "problems" from subjected Indigenous peoples. Yet Sir John seems to be assumed to be a "positive" figure in the narrative despite these "problems." He's a paladin! And he is the leader of Cimarron, which is an analog of the Anglo-American Republic of Texas.
"The present ruler of Cimmaron is Sir John of the Wain, known to his people as the Duke of Cimarron. He is a calm, unwavering paladin[.]
Note: John Wayne's real-world nickname was "Duke."
See: John Wayne - Wikipedia
"He is still prompt to lead a posse after a bandit leader or to mount campaigns against Yazi gnolls from El Grande Carrascal in the north and Yazi goblins from the Badlands in the west. He typically dresses in rough canvas trousers, an open cotton shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat.
He is seldom seen without his pair of fine wheellock pistols. Since the death of his father, Sir John has shown a particular hatred of
goblins. Over the last two years, he has overseen the construction of Fort Whitestone, strategically placed at the end of the Bugle Trail on the edge of the Badlands. A desolate cavalry outpost, Fort Whitestone sends out regular patrols to look for goblinoid raiders and other drifters and thieves."
There's no indication that it's wrong for this national hero and paladin to "show a particular hatred of goblins" (who are primarily Lakota analogs), since these "Lakota goblins" slew "D&D Custer", and since the Lakota goblins are "raiders" and "thieves."
This is not to say that fantasy parallels of Custer and John Wayne "couldn't" be done somehow. But it'd better be done sensitively. To call the "Lakota goblins" who fought and slew Maj. Gen. Custer: "savage destroyers who pray on others"
...that is unfortunate.
Elsewhere, the book states: "These warlike goblins cause many problems for the Savage Baronies."
Now, I can well imagine warlike fantasy goblins who are destructive and cause many problems. Though I favor the 5E approach to humanoids, where no alignment is stereotypical, having "warlike", "destructive" goblins is no real problem.
The problem is that these Badlands Goblins are clearly equated to real-world First Peoples (Lakota/Dakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne) who fought in the Battle of the Greasy Grass (a.k.a. Little Bighorn). And then these "Lakota goblins" are called "warlike", "savage destroyers" and "thieves."
And furthermore, "D&D John Wayne" (the son of "D&D Custer"), who is a paladin and hero of the "D&D Texan nation"...is portrayed as rightfully harboring "a particular hatred for" these "Lakota goblins" because they killed his father "Custer"...who was invading their homeland...the Badlands.
It's not right.