American History: A New World Clash of Cultures
During the thousands of years of Indian use, the natural environment was Interactions between Native Americans and European Settlers. Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in semi-independent nations, as they generally lived in communities separate from British settlers. .. Natural society. Both groups found this relationship to be successful. On several The first permanent European settlers in New England began arriving in sixteen twenty. They wanted to live in The American Indians lived with nature.
The slave trade was also extremely lucrative, and many of those who survived the immediate effects of conquest were kidnapped and transported to the Caribbean slave markets. Some indigenous communities relocated to Catholic missions in order to avail themselves of the protection offered by resident priests, while others coalesced into defensible groups or fled to remote areas.
The Northeast Indians The Northeast Indians began to interact regularly with Europeans in the first part of the 16th century. Most of the visitors were French or English, and they were initially more interested in cartography and trade than in physical conquest. Like their counterparts in the Southeast, most Northeast Indians relied on a combination of agriculture and foraging, and many lived in large walled settlements.
However, the Northeast tribes generally eschewed the social hierarchies common in the Southeast. Oral traditions and archaeological materials suggest that they had been experiencing increasingly fierce intertribal rivalries in the century before colonization; it has been surmised that these ongoing conflicts made the Northeast nations much more prepared for offensive and defensive action than the peoples of the Southwest or the Southeast had been.
The discussion below considers two broad divisions: The mid-Atlantic Algonquians The mid-Atlantic groups that spoke Algonquian languages were among the most populous and best-organized indigenous nations in Northern America at the time of European landfall. They were accustomed to negotiating boundaries with neighbouring groups and expected all parties to abide by such understandings.
Although they allowed English colonizers to build, farm, and hunt in particular areas, they found that the English colonial agenda inherently promoted the breaking of boundary agreements. The businessmen who sponsored the early colonies promoted expansion because it increased profits; the continuous arrival of new colonizers and slaves caused settlements to grow despite high mortality from malaria and misfortune; and many of the individuals who moved to the Americas from England—especially the religious freethinkers and the petty criminals —were precisely the kinds of people who were likely to ignore the authorities.
Secoton, a Powhatan Village, watercolour drawing by John White, c. Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum The earliest conflict between these Algonquians and the colonizers occurred near the Chesapeake Bay. This region was home to the several hundred villages of the allied Powhatan tribes, a group that comprised many thousands of individuals. In this populous area was chosen to be the location of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, the Jamestown Colony.
Acting from a position of strength, the Powhatan were initially friendly to the people of Jamestown, providing the fledgling group with food and the use of certain lands.
By friendly interethnic relations had ceased. Powhatanthe leader for whom the indigenous alliance was named, observed that the region was experiencing a third year of severe drought; dendrochronology the study of tree rings indicates that this drought ultimately spanned seven years and was the worst in eight centuries.
In response to English thievery mostly of foodPowhatan prohibited the trading of comestibles to the colonists. He also began to enforce bans against poaching. These actions contributed to a period of starvation for the colony —11 that nearly caused its abandonment.
It is not entirely clear why Powhatan did not press his advantage, but after his death in his brother and successor, Opechancanoughattempted to force the colonists out of the region.
His men initiated synchronized attacks against Jamestown and its outlying plantations on the morning of March 22, Within five years, colonists were flouting the new boundary and were once again poaching in Powhatan territory.
Given the persistence of the mid-Atlantic Algonquians, their knowledge of local terrain, and their initially large numbers, many scholars argue that the Algonquian alliance might have succeeded in eliminating the English colony had Powhatan pressed his advantage in or had its population not been subsequently decimated by epidemic disease.
The Iroquoians of Huronia During the 15th and early 16th centuries, warfare in the Northeast culture area fostered the creation of extensive political and military alliances. It is generally believed that this period of increasing conflict was instigated by internal events rather than by contact with Europeans; some scholars suggest that the region was nearing its carrying capacity.
Two of the major alliances in the area were the Huron confederacy which included the Wendat alliance and the Five Tribes later Six Tribesor Iroquois Confederacy.
The Huron were a relatively tight alliance of perhaps 20,—30, people who lived in rather dense settlements between Hudson Bay and the St. Lawrence Riveran area thus known as Huronia.
This was the northern limit at which agriculture was possible, and the Huron grew corn maize to eat and to trade to their Subarctic Indian neighbours—the Innu to the north and east and the Cree to the west—who provided meat and fish in return. The Huron confederacy is believed to have coalesced in response to raids from other Iroquoians and to have migrated northward to escape pressure from the Five Tribes to their south and southeast.
The alliance comprised the MohawkOneidaOnondagaCayugaand Seneca peoples; the Tuscarora joined the confederacy later. Evenly matched with the Huron alliance in terms of aggregate size, the Iroquois were more loosely united and somewhat less densely settled across the landscape. While the Huron nations traded extensively for food, this was less the case for the Five Tribes, who relied more thoroughly upon agriculture. Before colonization they seem to have removed southward, perhaps in response to raids from the Huron to their north.
The alliances among the Five Tribes were initiated not only for defense but also to regulate the blood feuds that were common in the region.
By replacing retributory raids among themselves with a blood money payment system, each of the constituent nations was better able to engage in offensive and defensive action against outside enemies. The Northeast was crisscrossed by an extensive series of trade routes that consisted of rivers and short portages.
The Huron used these routes to travel to the Cree and Innu peoples, while the Iroquois used them to travel to the Iroquoians on the Atlantic coast.
The Huron alliance quickly became the gatekeeper of trade with the Subarctic, profiting handsomely in this role. Its people rapidly adopted new kinds of material cultureparticularly iron axes, as these were immensely more effective in shattering indigenous wooden armour than were traditional stone tomahawks.
For a period of time the new weapons enabled the Huron confederacy to gain the upper hand against the Iroquois, who did not gain access to European goods as quickly as their foes. By about the long traditions of interethnic conflict between the two alliances had become inflamed, and each bloc formally joined with a member of another traditional rivalry—the French or the English. Initially the Huron-French alliance held the upper hand, in no small part because the French trading system was in place several years before those of the Dutch and English.
The indigenous coalitions became more evenly matched afterhowever, as the Dutch and English trading system expanded.
These Europeans began to make guns available for trade, something the French had preferred not to do.
American Indians at European Contact | NCpedia
The Huron found that the technological advantage provided by iron axes was emphatically surpassed by that of the new firearms. French records indicate that a smallpox epidemic killed as many as two-thirds of the Huron alliance in —38; the epidemic affected the Iroquois as well, but perhaps to a lesser extent. The Iroquois blockaded several major rivers in —49, essentially halting canoe traffic between Huronia and the Subarctic.
The combination of smallpox, the collapse of the beaver population, and the stoppage of trade precipitated an economic crisis for the Huron, who had shifted so far from a subsistence economy to one focused on exchange that they faced starvation. Decades of intermittent warfare culminated in fierce battles in —49, during which the Iroquois gained a decisive victory against the Huron and burned many of their settlements.
Native American Clashes with European Settlers
In the Huron chose to burn their remaining villages themselves, some 15 in all, before retreating to the interior. Having defeated the Huron confederacy to their north and west, the Iroquois took the Beaver Wars to the large Algonquin population to their north and east, to the Algonquian territory to their west and south, and to the French settlements of Huronia.
They fought the alliances of these parties for the remainder of the 17th century, finally accepting a peace agreement in With both the Huron and the Iroquois confederacies having left Huronia, mobile French fur traders took over much of the trade with the Innu and Cree, and various bands of Ojibwa began to enter the depopulated region from their original homelands to the south of the Great Lakes.
The Subarctic Indians and the Arctic peoples The European exploration of the Subarctic was for many decades limited to the coasts of the Atlantic and Hudson Bayan inland sea connected to the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans. The initial European exploration of the bay occurred in It was led by the English navigator Henry Hudsonwho had conducted a number of voyages in search of a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The Subarctic climate and ecosystem were eminently suited to the production of fur-bearing animals. This circumstance was well understood by the Huron alliance, which maintained a virtual lock on trade between this region and the French posts to the south until about Although the French colonial administration purported to encourage entrepreneurial individuals, its bureaucracy could be difficult to work with.
The English hired the men and sponsored an exploratory voyage in The expedition was well received by the resident Creewho had relied upon the Hurons for trade goods and found their supply greatly diminished in the wake of the Beaver Wars.
Company traders spent the remainder of the 17th century building relationships with the local Cree, Innuand Inuit peoples. By about the company had built a series of trading posts around the bay. These posts were staffed by company employees who were instructed not to travel far afield.
As a result, indigenous peoples came to the posts to trade, and particular bands became associated with particular posts. Band members with limited mobility might spend most of the year at a post communityand all of the population would usually reside there for some part of the year.
Accustomed to the difficult conditions of the boreal forest and the tundra, the InnuCreeand Inuit could easily defend themselves against potential depredations by Europeans. Many bands chose not to form an exclusive alliance with either colonial power. Instead, they played the French and the English against one another in order to gain advantageous terms of exchange, profiting as the two colonial powers squabbled for control over the northern trade.
The chessboard of empire: Had victory been based on military skill and tenacity alone, Native Americans might well have avoided or significantly delayed colonization. However, epidemic diseases, the slave tradeand a continuous stream of incoming Europeans proved to be more decisive elements in the American narrative. Eastern North America and the Subarctic During the 17th century the Iroquois Confederacy and the English had created a strong alliance against the competing coalitions formed by the Huron, Algonquin, Algonquian, and French.
The tradition of forming such alliances continued in the 18th century. Some of these coalitions were very strong, while loyalties shifted readily in others.
Indigenous leaders often realized that they could reap the most benefit by provoking colonial rivalries and actively did so. Many also recognized that the Europeans were no more consistent in maintaining alliances than they were in observing territorial boundaries, and so they became wary of colonial opportunism. Such was the case for the Iroquois: Colonial administrative decisions of the 18th century were thoroughly coloured by issues in Europewhere the diplomatic and military milieus were characterized by constant tension.
EnglandFranceSpainAustriaPrussiaand other countries engaged in several conflicts that either spread to or greatly influenced events in eastern North America during this period.
The most important of these conflicts are discussed below. It set an alliance of the English and some Southeast Indian nations, notably the Creek and the eastern Choctaw.
Some Native Americans now believe that traditional non-Christian Native Americans were not counted by the Colonists and so the numbers were much higher.
Historical records indicate that as many as one-half of Native Americans died of starvation, exposure, and lack of appropriate medicines in what has been called a concentration camp. The General Court of Massachusetts, referring to Native Americans on the islands, proclaimed "that none of the sayd indians shall presume to goe off the sayd islands voluntarily, uponn payne of death.
After the war, those who survived the island internment continued to face dire relations with the colonies.
Records indicate that the colonial government sold some Native Americans into slavery, or indentured them to English families. Other praying Indians, who were released, moved into and strengthened Christian Native American settlements.
Praying Indians also dispersed to other Native communities including the Nipmucks, Nipmucs, Wampanoags, and Abenakis Penobscots and to communities farther south, west, and north in Canada. However, the events referenced above are those most directly associated with Boston Harbor Islands. The island focus stems from the park's enabling legislation which highlights the importance of understanding the history of Native American use and involvement with the islands, and calls for protecting and preserving Native American burial grounds, particularly those connected with King Philip's War.
This Congressional recognition of the importance of Native American history and of King Philip's War has raised public awareness around these topics. It has also raised park managers' sensitivity to the complex issues surrounding the management and interpretation of island resources associated with Native American use of the islands.
This recognition and awareness complements a broad range of federal and state initiatives to protect Native American sacred, cultural, and historic sites in collaboration with Indian tribes. The Indians had no concept of "private property," as applied to the land. Only among the Delawares was it customary for families, during certain times of the year, to be assigned specific hunting territories.
Apparently this was an unusual practice, not found among other Indians. Certainly, the idea of an individual having exclusive use of a particular piece of land was completely strange to Native Americans.
The Indians practiced communal land ownership. That is, the entire community owned the land upon which it lived. English troops under a young commander, George Washington, were overwhelmed by the French at Fort Necessity, beginning a lengthy war for control of the American colonies.
While the English had made it clear they intended to settle the frontier, the French were more interested in trade. This influenced the Delaware and Shawnee to side with the French. Although the Six Nations officially remained neutral, many in the Iroquois Confederacy also allied with the French.
The following year, French troops lost Quebec, crippling their military strength. The loss of French military support temporarily calmed tensions between Native Americans and settlers in western Virginia.
Native Americans in the United States
In the summer ofPontiac, an Ottawa chief led raids on key British forts. Shawnee chief Keigh-tugh-qua, or Cornstalk, led similar attacks on western Virginia settlements in present-day Greenbrier County. However, many land speculators such as George Washington violated the proclamation by claiming vast acreage in western Virginia. The next five years were relatively peaceful on the frontier. With the frontier again open, settlers flooded into western Virginia and the speculators made small fortunes in rent on the lands they had acquired.
Battle of Point Pleasant The Shawnee had never given up their claims to western Virginia and interpreted the rapid settlement as acts of aggression. Hostilities reached a climax in when land speculator Michael Cresap led a group of volunteers from Fort Fincastle later renamed Fort Henry at present-day Wheeling and raided Shawnee towns in what became known as Cresap's War. One of the worst atrocities of the conflict was the murder of several family members of Mingo chief Tah-gah-jute, who had been baptized under the English name Logan.
Logan, who had previously lived peacefully with the settlers, killed at least 13 western Virginians that summer in revenge. Dunmore drew up a plan to trap the Shawnee between two armies. The governor personally led the northern army while land speculator Andrew Lewis led a smaller force from the south.