Sunday, October 23, 2011

“Another Race of White Men Come Amongst Us”

Native American Views as British Replace the French in the Lower Mississippi Valley, 1765

Below is a brief quotation, though the link is given below for anyone wishing to read the whole thing.

"When I was Young the White Men came amongst us bearing abundance along with them, I took them by the hand & have ever remained firm to my Engagements, in return all my wants & those of my Warriors & Wives & Children have been Bountyfully Supplied. I now See another Race of White Men Come amongst us bearing the Same abundance, & I expect they will be equally Bountyfull which must be done if they wish equally to gain the affection of my people.I and my Men have used the Guns of France these Eighty Winters Back, I wish I was Young to try the English Guns & English Powder both of which I hope will flourish & rejoice the Heart of the Hunters thro' the Land and Cover the Nakedness of the Women...I am not of opinion that in giving Land to the English, we deprive ourselves of the use of it, on the Contrary, I think we shall share it with them, as for Example the House I now Speak in was built by the White people on our Land yet it is divided between the White & the Red people. Therefore we need not be uneasy that the English Settle upon our Lands as by that means they can more easily Supply our wants.Source: Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History, Mississippi Provincial Archives: English Dominion, compiled and edited by Dunbar Rowland (Nashville, Tenn: Brandon Printing Co., 1911), 240–41."

This account is quite a positive account - and the moments which are written with a negative experience were usually turned positive with a hopeful conclusion. The Native American writes about how generous the settlers are, and how although he hears stories he hopes they have 'no truth' in them, and how he 'could not believe' they would be sent to 'deceive' them. The one story he heard and knew had no truth in, although he hoped it did, was how the 'white men' treated the tribes' women, and how some 'generous' Indian sent his own wife to share with them.

The Native Americans were accepting and seemingly got on with the settlers - not much is written complaining about differing beliefs or ways of life - and were even happy to share their homes with the 'White Men' as it was built by them. Yet the relationship between the two seems to be based primarily on fair trade and trust, which can be easily broken.

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