The relationships between Americans and Indians began centuries ago with the first settlers and continue to this day, but as we know they certainly have changed. The European Americans were naïve to believe that they could come to this “New World” and take whatever they saw fit as theirs, but without this narcissistic attitude we wouldn’t have the history we study today. In this essay we are going to examine the writings of Alvarez Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Mary Rowlandson, John Smith, and William Bradford to see where their relationships began, how they developed and how they have changed throughout history. For years the Indians lived in this country with little or no problems, but as we read this was soon to change. They were characterized in unflattering ways often described as savages, beasts, and uncivilized and as we examine the texts will see both sides come to light. We are also going to examine the positives and negatives that were experienced, the treatment of both the Indians and the Americans, and the relationships that existed. In The Relation, Alvarez Nunez Cabeza de Vaca writes of a very established and humanized race of Native Americans; they had rules and laws, found ways to benefit from their lack of resources, and established town-like villages. From their customs and traditions, to the way they treated each other they were quite a civilized people. Along with Cabeza de Vaca, Thomas Mayhew helped shine a friendly light upon the Indians as well as John Eliott who spent 15 years preaching and learning from the Algonquin Indians; however these were exceptions to the normal treatment that was experienced. Cabeza De Vaca writes that for the eight months they lived with them “the Avavares always treated us well. We lived as free agents, dug our own food, and lugged our loads of wood and water.” (32). Living among the Indians was not always an easy life but, they were not prisoners and contributed to the village. He also writes of the loyalty that...
Cited: Bradford, William. “Of Plymouth Plantation”. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Abrahms, M.H. 7th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 57-75.
Findling, John E. and Thackeray, Frank W. “Early European-Native American Encounters”. Events that changed America through the seventeenth century”. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. 71-86.
Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvarez. “The Relation”. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Abrahms, M.H. 7th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 28-36.
Rowlandson, Mary. “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Abrahms, M.H. 7th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 117-134.
Smith, John. “The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles”. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Abrahms, M.H. 7th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 43-57.
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