Colonists and Indians Fight for Mutual Interests on the American Frontier

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Colonists and Indians Fight for Mutual Interests on the American Frontier

Since the settling of the English colonies in the early 17th century, pioneers have been destined to expand into the North American frontier and to domesticate it with their Christian faith and progressive nature. In their exploration of the frontier, however, the Puritan colonists often encountered Indians whose savagery challenged their discipline and morals. Just as the colonists expanded, Indians also saw their native lands of many years vanish. The situation naturally compelled the Puritans and the Indians to fight each other for their mutual interests. Thus, while most accounts of Western history focus on the heathen threat, both Indians and colonists experienced the harshness of the captivity myth and its evolution into other mythology that defined American history.

Any discussion of the American culture and its development has to include mythology, because that is where most of the information about early America is found. Mythology is a unique source in that it gives a shared understanding that people have with regard to some aspect of their world. The most important experience for American frontiersmen is the challenge to the “myth of the frontier” that they believed in – “the conception of America as a wide-open land of unlimited opportunity for the strong, ambitious, self-reliant individual to thrust his way to the top.” (Slotkin, 5) In particular, the challenge came from Indians and from the wilderness that they inhabited.

The colonists who first arrived in America came to this land because they saw an opportunity to regenerate their religion and to live according to it without subjugation. The immense size of the land sugge...

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...ard expansion, a person finds information about the essence of American culture. Though the English colonists came to America expecting to renew their lives through the Puritan faith, they instead found their faith and, indeed, their very society in danger from the heathen Indian presence in the surrounding wilderness. But while the Indians threatened the core of the colonials’ lives, the presence of the colonists and their westerly expansion threatened the lives and land that the Indians had held for many years. American history thus began in violence that has no single source, but rather is derived from the Puritans and Indians both fighting for and protecting their mutual interests and desires.

Works Cited

Slotkin, R. Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600-1860. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.

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