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Week 2

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Native North America and the Atlantic World


September 10: The Atlantic World comes to North America


This class focuses on early encounters between the English Pilgrims and Algonquian peoples. The first two texts introduce Squanto and provide an opportunity to consider popular narratives regarding English settlement in comparison to the historical evidence. The last two texts narrate King Philip's War (1675-1678), a deadly conflict between the Wampanoags and their allies against the English colonists and their Native allies, including the Mohegans.


Always be sure to consider how to evaluate the multi-faceted sources, keeping in mind who created these texts and why. Whose perspectives are included? How were these texts created? Who was the intended audience and what is the goal of the text?  These questions will add to our understanding of the texts and to our discussions of history.


William Bradford served as the governor of Plymouth Colony multiple times. Reverend Increase Mather was a Puritan scholar and theologian who believed the Puritans brought the King Philip's War upon themselves due to sinful behavior. William Apess, a Pequot and Methodist preacher, delivered his eulogy of King Philip (Metacomet) in Boston in 1836. Their texts need to be placed into context. For instance, keep in mind the 1830s was the era of Indian Removal in the United States.


Audio File: Context for today's class







  • Neal Salisbury, “Squanto, Last of the Patuxets,” in Struggle and Survival in Colonial America. Canvas module week 2
  • William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation (1630-47). Read pp. 62-86, 176-177. Skim this text, and focus on Bradford's mentions of Squanto and the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Native peoples they encountered. 
  • Reverend Increase Mather, A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England (1676). Read pp. 69 (August 1) and pp.71-72 (Part of August 12).
  • William Apess, Eulogy on King Philip (1836). Start at [40], skip [48-49], read [50-57], skip [58-63], and read [64-66].



Study Questions 


  1. Before this week's readings, what stories about Squanto were you most familiar with? How do the readings compare with these stories? Do they confirm or challenge more familiar narratives?
  2. Instead of a symbol of Native-English cooperation, how does Salisbury characterize Squanto? What was his role in English relations with peoples like the Wampanoag and Narragansett? Was Squanto a product of the Atlantic World, a Native World, or both? Why do you think he helped the English?
  3. How does William Bradford  frame the founding of Plymouth Colony? How does he portray the Pilgrims relationship with Native peoples along this part of the east coast of North America? How did Native peoples react to English settlement? 
  4. What role did disease play in English colonization?  
  5. Increase Mather and William Apess both narrate King Philip's War. How does Mather portray King Philip (Metacomet) in comparison to Apess? What type of history lesson does Apess give his nineteenth-century listeners? Does Apess' text reveal more about King Philip or about Apess?



September 12: Adapting to European Settler Colonies


This class focuses on early Native adaptations to the creation of European settler colonies and the circulation of European goods. The readings describe seventeenth-century contact and European concepts of land and property. 


The third reading is related to the political system of the Iroquois or the Haudenosaunee. In the seventeenth century, the Dutch, English, and French encountered the five Iroquoian nations that made up a league of peace. The Mohawks, Senecas, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas occupied a region encompassing the Hudson Valley and going as far west as Lake Erie. This league of peace was meant to address a violent cycle of killing and retribution that the Haudenosaunee perpetuated through mourning wars in which they tried to replace or avenge deceased family or clan members through warfare and captive-taking (we will read more on this in the second class for this week). According to Haudenosaunee stories, Hiawatha learned condolence rituals from Dekanahwideh (a Huron or Mohawk man) that allowed him to console grief without further killings and these rituals became part of the Iroquois League. The below text is an "official version" of the laws of the confederacy written down in 1900 by the Six Nations Council of Grand River in Ontario (the sixth nation, the Tuscaroras joined in in the eighteenth century).


The final documents was written by John Locke, and it demonstrates circulating ideas regarding property and concepts of civilization. Locke's ideas on property and the formation of societies and governments are important to understanding the ideology behind European settler colonies and European interaction with Native peoples. His text especially will be useful to keep in mind in the following weeks.


Audio File: Context for today's class:







 Study Questions


  1. What do you remember about the story of the purchase of Manhattan? How has it been mythologized? Read Peter Schagen’s letter to learn more about the purchase. What does his letter demonstrate about the purchase of Manhattan from the Lenape and also about the Dutch colony of New Netherland?
  2. In "The Dutch Arrive on Manhattan," John Heckwelder records a story told by Delaware and Mahican individuals that details the arrival of the Dutch on ships. How do you read a story told about an event (or series of events) that occurred over 100 years earlier? What can you learn from this story? What parts of contact between the Dutch and the Delawares (Lenape) and Mahicans stand out and what does this tell us about Indian perceptions of Europeans? 
  3. How did the Iroquois Confederacy work? What are the duties and rights of the chiefs? What role do women play in the Confederacy?
  4. Do the rules and workings of the Confederacy seem similar to other forms of government?  What purpose do the metaphors and rituals serve and what are their meanings? Do any of the symbols seem familiar?
  5. What did John Locke mean when he wrote in Section 49 that "in the beginning all the world was America?"  How does Locke understand the creation of private property? Also, explain the concept of taming the wilderness explicated by Locke.  How did this idea relate to European colonialism and interaction with Native peoples and governments? Compare Grotius to Locke--what does Grotius say about possession and the rights of discovery? Cite specific textual references and elaborate.  





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