English Colonists vs Native Americans: Property Rights in the New World

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English colonists that came to settle the New World had one conception of what property was; in their minds, property equaled money. This differed greatly from the Native Americans’ perspective, where property equaled survival. When the English colonists took land that naturally belonged to the Indians under the rights of the charter given to them by the English Crown, they misconstrued many of the conceptions of property that the Natives’ had. Even though the English were similar to the Natives in certain aspects, in most, such as who had the right to the land, how the land should be farmed, what value property actually had, and who pre-owned and could distribute the land, both cultures differed greatly, leading to eventual conflict between the English and Native Americans. Although the English and Native Americans were both every different in how they viewed the land, there were some similarities between the two cultures. First of all, both agreed to the terms of a monarchy- the idea that a monarch that ruled over the land was more a symbolic figure of a whole people rather than a rich and wealthy land owner. Even though the English called their monarch a King, and the Indians’ a Sachem, the ideas behind the two were virtually the same. Secondly, if hunters were in pursuit of game, both cultures agreed to the fact that they could cross otherwise strict borders in attainment of the game. This shows that even though both were fairly precise in drawing village borders, food superseded otherwise legal boundaries. Lastly, the English and the Native Americans both were little different in their sense of how land could be bought or sold. Now, this does not mean that they thought viewed property the same or that they us... ... middle of paper ... ...y robbing the Indians of their land, the English upset and hurt many of the Native American tribes, which lead to many disputes over ownership of the land. To many of the English colonists, any land that was granted to them in a charter by the English Crown was theirs’, with no consideration for the natives that had already owned the land. This belittlement of Indians caused great problems for the English later on, for the natives did not care about what the Crown granted the colonists for it was not theirs’ to grant in the first place. The theory of European superiority over the Native Americans caused for any differences in the way the cultures interacted, as well as amazing social unrest between the two cultures. Works Cited Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983. Print.

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