Tusken Raiders: Misunderstood Natives or Savage Beasts

I know what you’re thinking, “but Bryan, there weren’t any Tuskens in The Force Awakens, that was Jakku, not Tatooine, who cares?” Well, I do. And, therefore, you should too (yeah, I’m egotistical like that sometimes). But, seriously, I happened to see a Twitter reply from the man himself, Pablo Hidalgo, concerning the impetus behind the Tusken Raiders’ capture of Shmi Skywalker, and it lead me to some deep contemplation about just who the Tusken Raiders really are (or were…we don’t know how busy Vader was on Tatooine in the comics when he’s laying waste to them for the second time…maybe he wiped them out?).

Let’s Start at the Start 
Until yesterday, I’d always thought of the Tusken Raiders, aka Sand People, as misunderstood natives that just wanted to live their primitive lives and be left alone by the outsiders and off-worlders. Not that I thought they were pacifists, mind you, they were clearly rife with violent tendencies, but I reckoned if they hadn’t been encroached upon they wouldn’t have made it a point to go out of their way to attack anyone (yeah, I know, they’re legendarily called “Tusken Raiders” because they raided Fort Tusken, but they also showed the capacity to be reasonable). Then, as I mentioned, whilst browsing Twitter I saw this in response to “Did the Emperor organise the sand people kidnapping of Shmi Skywalker or did it just happen?”:
Dark Serendipity 
I’ll readily admit that I held the same assumption that @SirBenKenobi did about Palpatine’s involvement in Shmi’s abduction. Because of the way I used to think about them, I just couldn’t see Tuskens as a group that would randomly capture someone, tie them up, and allow them to die. Had they killed Shmi in a random attack, then sure, I’d have been on board with that being deemed Tuskens being Tuskens, but Shmi being held in a way that allowed Anakin to have his heart-wrenching reunion with his mother literally drips with Palpatine’s influence. I do agree that Anakin seeking revenge on his own accord without being manipulated into it creates a telling example of his personal propensity toward darkness, but this seemed like way too big of a coincidence…that is, until I started doing a little Tusken Raider research and saw this:
The Tatooine Inferno
from the film The Green Inferno
“Ritually tortured?” Dang…and that’s direct from the StarWars.com Databank, folks, not Wookieepedia or some other such site. So, in a matter of mere minutes, my opinion of Tusken Raiders went from misunderstood natives to savage beasts primed for the sequel to The Green Inferno. I used to feel bad for them for the way Anakin went berserk and decimated them in Attack of the Clones, but, while it was still an extreme reaction, I find myself much less sympathetic toward them than I used to be. They executed an unprovoked attack on a mostly-helpless, non-threatening woman of their own volition for the sake of using her as some sort of sacrificial lamb for a torture ritual. That definitely paints a drastically different picture of Tusken Raiders than I’d ever expected to see. I’m really starting to wonder now if Vader left any of them alive on his return trip to what we know now is one of at least two dust bowl worlds. Previously, I would have said it’d be sad to know there were no more Tusken Raiders, but now…I guess I’d still be bummed because they’re such an iconic group, but, again, dang…it’s hard to say they didn’t have it coming.
So, what do you think? Are Tuskens misunderstood natives or savage beasts? Or something completely different? Did anything in this post change your view of the single-file-riding dune dwellers, or am I some kind of loser for not knowing they were so vicious to begin with? Whatever the case, I just hope it got you thinking about our beloved galaxy far, far away because that’s the ultimate goal…if you’re feeling froggy, chime in below and we’ll keep the topic going; otherwise, may the Force be with you…

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