Conflict Between Native Tribes And Europeans Essay

Conflict Between Native Tribes And Europeans Essay

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Early America was founded on the ideas of the early English colonies combined with the beliefs of the indigenous people. Conflicts between native tribes and Europeans characterized the colonial period and significantly impacted both the natives and the Europeans. Political strife, in addition to economic and territorial tensions, was commonplace among the indigenous and the colonists. Pocahontas, the princess of the local Powhatan tribe, played a pivotal role in this early contact between European and Indigenous American cultures. She often fostered peace between the English colonists and the Powhatans by befriending the colonists and eventually marrying one of them. As a result of her position as an emissary and sort of “moderator” between the two groups and her marriage, Pocahontas began to assimilate herself to European beliefs and ideologies by converting to Christianity. The changes that occurred as a result of Pocahontas’ marriage to John Rolfe and her conversion to Christianity led to profound cultural tensions and an ambiguous juxtaposition between her identities as a Powhatan Princess versus the Christian wife of John Rolfe.
Established on May 14, 1607, the colony of Jamestown, located near present-day Williamsburg, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in North America. In contrast, the Powhatan Empire led by Pocahontas’ father, Chief Powhatan, consisted of approximately 28 tribes of the Tidewater region and thousands of native individuals (Price). The Powhatan people idolized their leaders. Pocahontas, the tribes’ princess, was known to the Powhatan’s as Matoaka. She was a young girl of approximately 10 or 11 when she first became acquainted with the Jamestown colonists, and supposedly acted as a mediato...

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...nd the feuding colonists, her marriage to John Rolfe, her conversion to Christianity, and her aid to the Jamestown colonists spawned immense cultural tensions among colonists and the Powhatan people, as well as present day Native Americans. Her acculturation to European society and customs also created a widely debated and ambiguous juxtaposition between her indigenous identity as a Powhatan who was viewed as “savage” and “barbaric,” and her “civilized” and “cultured” identity as the married and evangelized icon of the civilization missions of the Europeans. As a result of the ambivalent contrast between her identities, Pocahontas has come to represent both the untouched Powhatan North American frontier and the civilizing and evangelizing process that the Europeans claim to have brought to the Native American people, and, as a result, the Powhatan Empire.

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