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Week 5

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English Colonization and Indigenous Resistance




October 1: English Colonization



The Virginia Company nominated John Smith as one of the leaders of the new colony and he came into conflict with the other leading men frequently. They arrived along the coast in April 1607 and founded Jamestown in May. The First Charter of Virginia reflects the goals of the Virginia Company—a joint stock corporation established by King James I’s royal charter. The official seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (the Crown chartered the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 and 20,000 English colonists arrived in the New England area from 1629-1643) depicts English perceptions of Native peoples. In 1663 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, John Eliot's translation of the Bible into Massachusett (an Algonquian language) became the first Bible printed in the Americas and is included in this set of readings to demonstrate the different goals of the Virginia Company compared to some of the New England colonists and also to prompt a discussion on translation and contact. 










Study Questions


  1. What caused tension between the English and the Chesapeake Indians? Use the video as a starting point and also consider the primary sources.
  2. How does Smith portray the  Algonquians of the Chesapeake region? Consider what his account tells us about the Algonquians along the coast, but also about  the writer himself and English ideas about gender and about non-European peoples.
  3. How does Smith depict Powhatan? How does Powhatan gain power and how does he maintain it?
  4. What were Powhatan's motives for capturing Smith and then releasing him? What might have been the intended meaning behind the ceremonies Smith witnessed, the abundance of food, and his eventual release? What type of relationship did Powhatan try to establish with the English and how do the English react?
  5. Why do the English and Indians come into conflict? Why do you think these conflicts escalate over time? To answer this question, consider English goals and preconceptions. What does the First Charter of Virginia and the Massachusetts Bay seal demonstrate about English conceptions of land and the people of the Americas? How did these conceptions cause tension with Native peoples?
  6. Flip through several pages of the Bible in Massachusett, what do you notice? What words are not translated? Think about the process of translating words and concepts from English into an Indian language. During Metacom's War copies of this Bible might have been burned by New England Indians who were fighting against the English (and John Green mentions an account of a Bible being stuffed into the body cavity of an Englishman). What were the motivations behind these actions? 



Indigenous Resistance 


October 3: Resistance: The Militant Response to European Expansion




In this module we will think about how various Indian nations (The Six Nations, Wyandots, and Catawbas) responded to the expansion of European empires in the east and in the Ohio River valley. Among others, we will read selections from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744) and the journals of Conrad Weiser and George Croghan. The negotiations of the Treaty of Lancaster were held between the Six Nations (or Iroquois) and the colonies of Virginia and Maryland. The treaty was supposed to settle boundary disputes between the Six Nations and white colonists (and the Six Nations sold their land claims in the Shenandoah Valley), but they were also supposed to settle the conflicts between the Six Nations and the Catawbas. 


Conrad Weiser was an important interpreter for Pennsylvania in their dealings with Six Nations people, and was present as interpreter at the Treaty. In 1748 he was sent to the Ohio River valley on an official diplomatic mission to Indian nations beyond the Alleghenies. The English were increasingly trading with Indians in this "upper country," and the Indian nations there had increasingly strained dealings with the French (their former close allies). The Wyandots at Detroit had even revolted against the French. Aware of these developments, the fur trader George Croghan informed the Philadelphia council that there was now an opportunity for the English to cement alliances with the Indian nations on the Ohio. The documents Weiser and Croghan left behind reveal the ways that both European and Indian nations were asserting power in the eighteenth century. 



Audio File - Context for Tuesday's class: 




 Grande Paix de Montreal. Source: Wikimedia Commons







Study Questions 


  1. According to Brandao and Starna, what do the Iroquois peace treaties of 1701 tell us about the political and military power of the Iroquois at the beginning of the eighteenth century? How successful were they in adapting to the presence of European empires?
  2. Consider the Treaty of Lancaster: why do you think the Commissioners of Virginia were so intent on ending the dispute between the Iroquois and the Catawbas? And why do you think the Iroquois leaders were so reluctant?
  3. According to Weiser's journal, how were the Wyandots positioned between the French and the English? What were the benefits of alliances with either, and how could a friendly relation be successfully established?  
  4. On page 33-34 of Weiser's journal, the speech of the Seneca leader Tanaghrisson (written here as Thanayieson, and also referred to as the "Half King") contains many metaphors. What does Tanaghrisson's language tell you about how he experienced the relations between the English and the Six Nations? 
  5. Judging from Weiser and Croghan's journals, what kind of place was Logstown? Who lived there, who went there, and what does this tell you about the larger political and social world of the Ohio River valley? 
  6. Thinking across these texts, in what ways did Indian nations in the East and on the Ohio adapt to European expansion? 





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