The Crucial Role of Native Americans Essay

The Crucial Role of Native Americans Essay

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For the better part of American history, the Indians have been viewed and portrayed as dimwitted, helpless victims that aimlessly stood by while the Europeans conquered their land, but this view has recently come under fire and has been overturned, as it was determined to be misleading and inaccurate. Two historians that have questioned the legitimacy of past beliefs regarding the Indians are Charles Mann and James Axtell. Each has made it plainly clear in their articles that the actions of Indians should no longer be treated as useless footnotes on the pages of history. While their articles are on seemingly different subjects, their views and beliefs on the importance of Indians in American history are incontrovertibly the same as both articles showcase the crucial role Indians played in Colonial America.
The article, “Native Intelligence: Squanto and the Pilgrims” was written by Charles Mann and discusses the motives behind the Indians’ actions and their overall significance in the Pilgrims’ lives. Mann addresses why the Indians permitted the Europeans to establish settlements and why some of them (particularly Tisquantum) chose to live among the Europeans and help them survive. He makes it clear that not only did the Indians have motives but that they were trying to manipulate the Europeans at every crossroad and use them as tools to achieve their own goals. The allure of trade let the Europeans get their foot in the door, but what allowed them to stay was the fact that Indian sachems like Massasoit of the Wampanoag confederation believed the Europeans would be valuable to them as allies against their enemies (the Narragansett). Tisquantum had similar motives for ensuring the Pilgrims’ survival. After disease had wiped out h...

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...l manipulate and extort anyone who can help them achieve something because that is what people do. As a race, whether we know it or not, we are constantly scheming and drawing up plans to get one step ahead of our enemies or get more resources or money or something else of the sort. It is human nature to put ourselves first, and these articles both show that the Indians are capable of this because they are just like us. However, they made the mistake so many of us often do and failed to anticipate the consequences of their actions. Helping the Europeans and letting them in proved to be their downfall, and, from the Indians’ perspective, they would have been better off killing every single European that set foot on their land. The Indians weren’t passive victims; they were just like everyone else and simply made one mistake because they surrendered to human nature.

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