Analysis of the Relationship Between the American Indians and European Settlers

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The story of the early interactions between European settlers in America with its native populations is often times a skewed history. As children, we grow up and learn in schools about the first Thanksgiving and how the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony made peace with the Wampanoag Indians. As an educator myself, there is a portion of our common formative assessment that pertains to the Wampanoag Indian Squanto and how he aided the Pilgrims by teaching them how to plant corn and capture eels in the nearby rivers. Children learn very early on that many settlers came to New England for religious purposes, but their intentions and values had been perverted in dealing with the Indians. The early Puritan settlers made quick work of the Indians (Vaughan 1995).

Whenever there is a discussion on the delicate relationship between the American Indians and the European settlers comes up, at some point the conversation will shift towards the issue of genocide. Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

a) Killing members of the group;

b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about is physical destruction in whole or in part;

d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” (Stanton 1996).

With these guidelines in mind one must question whether or not the instances of the Pequot War would constitute genocide and how it came to fruition, as any genocide can be avoided. On top of these 5 c...

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International Campaign to End Genocide. “The 8 Stages of Genocide.”

Washington D.C., Gregory Stanton. (accessed November 17th, 2009).

Jennings, Francis. The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant

of Conquest. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1976.

Mason, John, and Paul Royster, editor. A Brief History of the Pequot War

(1736). Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2007.

Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War, DVD. Directed by Charles

Clemmons and Guy Perrotta 2004, Mystic Voices LLC.

Vaughan, Alden T. New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675.

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995

---. “The Causes of the War of 1637.” The William and

Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 21 No. 2 (1964): 256-269.
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