The average British citizen in America during the 17th Century had a preconceived notion of Indians as savage beasts. However, before the arrival of the British, the New England Indians, specifically the Wampanoag tribe, lived a harmonious and interdependent lifestyle. Conflict among the Wampanoag was limited to minor tribal disputes. The war methods of the Indians were in fact more civilized than the British methods. The close living quarters of the British and Indians forced the Indians to adopt aspects of British civilization in order to survive, such as the ways of warfare. Douglas Leach in his book Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in the time of King Philip's War argues that British influence on Indian society turned the Indians from savage to civilized. This paper will argue that British influence turned the Indians from civilized to savage. The examination of Wampanoag behavior from before British influence through King Philip's War proves that Wampanoag beliefs became more materialistic, that land ownership became important, and that unnecessary violence became a part of their warfare.
The way the Indians conducted war, although it appeared primitive and frightening, in actuality was less barbaric than the Puritans way of warfare. Leach describes the Wampanoag way of battle as unsophisticated and dance around a fire beating drums with their faces painted in order to demonstrate their ferocious manners. Then, using bows and arrows, tomahawks, and knives the Indians would send small groups of warriors against their enemy village. As a form of revenge during war the Indians often scalped their enemies as a trophy or captured their enemies for...
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... in reality the Indians showed more civility than the British. It was not until the adoption of British methods that the Indians behavior became uncivilized, ruthless and cruel.
Anderson, Virginia DeJohn. "King Philip's Herds: Indians, Colonists, and the Problem of Livestock in Early New England." William and Mary Quarterly 51.(1994): 601-624 Drake, James D. King Philip's War: Civil War in New England 1675-1676. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.
Hirsch, Adam J. "The Collision of Military Cultures in Seventeenth-Century New England." The Journal of American History. 74. 4 (1988): 1187-1212.
Leach, Douglas E. flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War. NewYork: Norton, 1959
Salisbury, Neal, ed. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God by Mary Rowlandson with Related Documents. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.
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