Indians And Colonists Relations

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Reflecting on the colonization of North America is an uneasy topic for most Americans. The thought of war between the Indians and the early settlers creates an image of clashing cultures between the well-armed Europeans and the hand-crafted weaponry of the native Indians. We tend to have the perception that the early colonists came and quickly took away the land from the Indians but, in reality, the Europeans did not have this power. Though French explorers and English settlers had a different perception of land ownership than that of the Native Americans, the fate of the Europeans rested in the hands of the Indians. Either from self-preservation, civility or curiosity, various American Indian tribes assisted the early European colonies through the sharing of resources, by befriending them as allies and, ultimately, by accepting them as permanent neighbors. The French were one of the first to explore the New World in the last half of the 16th century. King Henry IV of France sent an expedition, led by Samuel de Champlain, to secure exclusive fur trade routes and agreements with the native Indians near the St. Lawrence in present day Canada. In this endeavor, trading posts were built in an area known as “New France”. The native Montagnais tribe were quick to realize the importance the French and other Europeans placed on beaver pelts and for their own benefit, they began “withholding furs to force the Europeans to compete for them” (Anderson, 8). Eventually, the French and the Montagnais’ came to an understanding through an alliance that gave the French exclusive control of the fur trade in exchange for their promise to fight with the Montagnais and their allies against their enemies, the Mohawks. English se... ... middle of paper ... ...ent day Pennsylvania. Penn chose to deal with the local natives respectfully in order to cohabit peacefully and create an independent society based on his Quaker principles. It is obvious that without the aid of the local Indian tribes, many of the colonists in the New World would not have survived. Sharing their resources, befriending the newcomers and accepting them as permanent residences were literally the difference between life and death for the Europeans. Without question, the distinction between the European concept of owning land and the native idea of sharing the land was never understood by either group and the land controversy continues to this day. Ironically, by offering protection, cooperation and friendship to the European newcomers, Native Americans ensured the preservation of the English while assuring the destruction of their own peoples.
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