For the purpose of this essay I am taking first contact as the 1607 settlement in Jamestown, as it ‘marked the beginning of permanent English presence in North America. Henceforward, Indians and Englishmen would be in continuous contact.’1. I am also using ‘colonist’ to refer to British colonists rather than the other Europeans also in the New World in the period. In particular this essay will look at preconceptions, cultural differences of colonists and the indigenous, first contact, effects of the starving times, the role of tobacco, slavery, Protestantism, intertribal rivalry and warfare in colonist-native.
The Native Americans and European colonists had distinctly different social, political and cultural structures. Native societies were not static and were subject to change based on agricultural patterns and trade networks. This meant that Native settlements were fluid often moving geographically. The Natives did not think in terms of owning land, viewing it as communal whilst for the Virginia Company explorers land acquisition was key. These views often led the colonists to perceive Native land as unused and available for expansion. These differences are also key in explaining the tensions which ensued after first contact.
(USE IMAGE SOURCES TO DISCUSS PRECONCIEVED IDEAS OF THE NATIVES?!)
The colonists arrived in the new world with preconceptions about the natives, partly due to works such as Nova Britannia and Hariots A Briefe and True Report. These early colonist reports were often conflicting in their attitudes towards natives. Those who wished to attract new settlers would generally portray the Indians in a more sympathetic manner, as Nash states ‘It was only a friendly Indian who could be a trading Indian’2. In addition to this early European images of the indigenous were heavily influenced by the Spanish Conquistadors who needed to describe the natives as uncivilized to justify their harsh treatment and enslavement3 It is important to keep in mind the preconceptions colonists arrived with about the Natives as it was these ideas of superiority that led to the exploitation of natives.
Early colonists views were effected by their personal experiences with the natives. Some that saw natives as savages may have witnessed native warfare; Natives often participated in warfare to replace deceased members of their community with captives as a way to ease heartache.45 (GIVEN A SOURCE FOR SEMINAR WHICH TALKS ABOUT THIS!?) This was a bizarre concept for the colonists. In addition
Religion was an important factor in determining relations between colonists and natives throughout this period, particularly in New England. Religious differences caused tensions between the two groups although a degree of successful conversion brought about limited improvement within the praying towns. The Indians belief in direct communication with deities and their rituals were seen as witchcraft and blasphemy by the Puritans.6 These practices were deemed unacceptable by the Christian colonists. Religious differences therefore had implications for the Puritan attitudes towards Indians.
The colonists in New England, unlike those of Virginia, were motivated by religious refuge. The majority of these colonists came in family structures with women and children and were largely puritans. There is evidence of early positive relations with indigenous as the struggling settlers encountered two Algonquian natives who were able to speak English aided the colonists in establishing friendly relations and in planting. (REFERENCE FOR THIS?). In addition to this, the Colombian exchange caused death and disease amongst the natives, they were therefore in no position to resist the settlers when they first arrived. (CITE CROSBY)In social and economic terms the puritan settlements were more stable than those founded on the…