Essay on Smith, Williams and Rowlandson: Views of Native Americans

Submitted By finluv
Words: 575
Pages: 3

Smith, Williams & Rowlandson – Views of Native Americans
Captain John Smith seems to have been “open-minded towards native peoples”. He was known to describe them as “comely and civil and referred to their chiefs as kings and emperors”. (http://www.smithtrail.net/native-americans/indians-smith/) Captain Smith learned the local language, and was able to carry on almost all of his negotiations without an interpreter. He, being a persuasive speaker and having considerable charm and diplomacy, was frequently able to turn initial hostility into a warm welcome. Captain Smiths’ positive attitude toward native peoples, his talents for diplomacy, and his practice of treating them as equals, led to his many successes in Jamestown and on his voyages.
Roger Williams was very good with language, therefore he was able to start trading with Indians and trying to learn their language. He also negotiated between the English and the Indians as well as between Indian tribes, mainly the Narragansett and the Wampanoag. He was easily the most fluent Englishman in America in the Algonquin language, the language used by New England Indians. Williams had a particularly complex relationship it the Indians which included; “defending their rights, studying them as an anthropologist, and dealing with them as a diplomat”. (http://www.nps.gov/rowi/historyculture/toknowapeople.htm) In 1636, five years after he arrived, he was banished, giving him five years of personal contact with the Indians.
Williams’ idea was that English common law controlled all legal relationships and guaranteed individual rights. He believed that Indians had the same property rights as Englishmen, and the fact that just because the crown gave an Englishman land didn’t mean it had any legal authority.
Mary Rowlandson was held in captivity by Native Americans. The Indians captured her in 1675, and the Puritans did not have a positive view of them at that time. The Puritans had strict religious practices making them feel superior to everyone else, and the Indians had rejected Christianity, giving the Puritans the feeling that it was right to look down upon them. On the day of her capture, Rowlandson described the Indians as "murderous wretches" who "went on, burning, and destroying…