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An Iroquois longhouse
An Iroquois longhouse

Explain the early relationship of the English settlers to the indigenous peoples, or Indians, in North America, including the differing views on ownership or use of land and the conflicts between them (e.g., the Pequot and King Philip’s Wars in New England).

Focus Question: What were the relationships between the English settlers and the indigenous peoples of New England in the period before the American Revolution?

Topics on the Page
Teaching Resources
Native Cultures and Societies
  • Pre-Contact Native American Dwellings
Massasoit statue overlooking Plymouth Rock by Greg Kullberg
Massasoit statue overlooking Plymouth Rock by Greg Kullberg

Cultural Encounters
  • Squanto
Native/Settler Conflicts
Land Ownership and Use
Native American Ideas on Government

Teaching Resources

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.47.54 AM.pngThe Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704 presents a multicultural perspective of the viewpoints of Native American tribes as well as French and English colonists from information about the raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts.

rotating gif.gifSee Dramatic Event page on the Pueblo Revolt of 1680

Ninigret, Narraganssett Chief, Southern New England, 1681
Ninigret, Narraganssett Chief, Southern New England, 1681

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngClick here for a brief overview of New England Colonization

game_icon.svg.png1628 Across the Continent from PBS explores the Native American tribes in North America before European encounters.

external image Red_apple.jpgNative American-European Contact in the Colonial Period from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. See also Native Americans: Original Natives of North Carolina from Documenting the American South.

Multimedia.pngEpisode 1 in PBS's series, We Shall Remain, details colonial interactions between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. You can watch the streaming episode here.

Native American Wigwam, Plimoth Plantation
Native American Wigwam, Plimoth Plantation

Here is a video from crash course explaining English and Native American relationship in both New England and Virginia

Female_Rose.pngClick here for information about the importance of the Native American women and other information of the early Native American Tribes.

Native Cultures and Societies

"The Peoples of the Northeast Woodlands lived across North America from New England to the Great Lakes and south to Kentucky and West Virginia.
  • As many as 100 tribal nations, some 250,000 people, occupied this area until the 1500s.
    • There were two major language groups: Algonquian and Iroquoian" (quoted from a permanent display at the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts).
"Captain John Smith landing in Jamestown"
"Captain John Smith landing in Jamestown"

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 11.29.04 AM.pngHere is a link to the book, "Traditions of the North American Indian vol. 3," written by James Athearn Jones.

Map icon.pngThis Tribal Nations Map shows the different tribes/ language groups that were present before colonization.

In 1607, English settlers built the first permanent settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. When settlers arrived, the Iroquois Indians had already established a powerful Confederacy of the five main Iroquois speaking tribes. This organization of tribes was established mainly for the purpose of trading with the Dutch, and later, the British.

With the arrival of European settlers, many of the tribes were forced westward off of their lands and were also seriously effected by the new diseases and types of warfare Europeans brought with them.

However, Native Americans valued the trade with Europeans because it allowed greater wealth which resulted in newer, more powerful materials and weapons for the Native Americans.

Finally, the new trade opportunities allowed the Native Americans, the Iroquois in particular, to form alliances with European nations in order to control some of the trade.

Image of a Winnebago family, Wisconsin Historical Society
Image of a Winnebago family, Wisconsin Historical Society

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 12.30.24 PM.pngPre-Contact Native American Dwellings

Native American Houses included wigwams, longhouses, tepees, adobe houses, chickees, earthen houses, plank houses, wattle and daub houses, grass houses, pueblos, igloos and more.

  • Native American Housing from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History including Native American Regions and Housing Maps

Here is a link to the home page of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum which features a large scale replica of a Pequot village

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Native American Dwelling in Tinkercad

primary_sources.PNGNot Primitive Al All: Indian Houses from John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages, 1607-1609

Native Housing and Lodging from Pokanoket Ttribe/Wampanoag Nation

Cultural Encounters

external image Red_apple.jpgFor a summary of the events and resources for teachers, click on What Was Early Contact Like Between Europeans and Nativesfrom Great Britain's National Archives Website.

  • Talking about native cultures of any kind can be difficult and culturally inconsiderate. In an attempt to reframe students' thoughts about native cultures, read "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema", an article explaining how prejudiced we can be when observing the characteristics of "primitive" cultures, something that unfortunately appears when discussing the Native Americans.

The indigenous population of the Native Americans in New England were decimated by the diseases spreading north from the Spanish in the south. Many tribes had disappeared before the English came. There were remnant bands of individuals without tribal affiliation.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 1.58.11 PM.pngSquanto

external image SquantoTravels.jpg

Squanto escaped the diseases that affected his tribe by being kidnapped years earlier in a cycle of slavery that was common at this time.

Squanto allied himself with the English who had captured him. He was later instrumental in the success of the first English settlement in Plimoth.

Squanto: The former Slave. History of Massachusetts Blog

For background link to Native Intelligence by Charles Mann, Smithsonian (December 2005)

Here's the Crazy Story about Thanksgiving You've Never Heard, Huffington Post (November 25, 2015)

Multimedia.pngRoger Ebert's Review of Disney Movie, Squanto: A Warrior's Tale

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngFor a few lessons about Plimoth and how to discuss issues with students, click here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.47.54 AM.pngFor an interactive view of the Plimoth settlement as told by the ancestors of both sides, click here for What Happened at the First Thanksgiving?.

Slavery: A Captivating issue

Slavery was an ordinary facet of life for all the cultures of this time, both European and Native American.
  • The fear of disease and slavery made the Native Americans distrust the English.
    • The English were fearful of the kidnappings that were a regular features of Native American life.
  • Tribes would raid other tribes to bolster their populations. Captives would replace those in the tribe lost to raids or any other death.
    • The fate of a captive would depend on their status. Infants were regularly killed. Women and the infirm were killed as well so as not to slow down the raiding party's escape. This was a facet of native life that horrified the English and was considered normal by the Native Americans.

Native People/European Settler Conflicts and Wars

1907 stamp depicting Powhatan
1907 stamp depicting Powhatan


War and Peace with Powhatan's People

Powhattan Indian Attack of March 22, 1622 in Virginia is described by Virtual Jamestown.

What had started in a wary but peaceful manner deteriorated into a spiral of violence as the English developed a siege mentality due to the constant fear of Native American raids that would destroy their existence. It is this mentality that would bear bitter fruit when the English got the upper hand. For more, see Virginia's Early Relations with Native Americans

Pequot War (1636-1638)

Image from Pequot war, Library of Congress
Image from Pequot war, Library of Congress

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngclick on the following link for a timeline of the major events of the Pequot War.

Multimedia.pngClick here to see an overview of the Pequot War on YouTube from the History Channel.

Click here for a summary of more conflicts and Colonial-Native interactions.

For a summary of new research on the Pequot War, click on the following link from the Fairfield (Connecticut) Museum and History Center.

The Great Swamp Fight
    • Scene of a massacre of Native women, children and old men by English soldiers

Slavery and the Pequot War

Massachusetts_state_seal.pngKing Philip's War (1675-1676)
King Philip
King Philip

For background see,

primary_sources.PNGMetacom Relates Indian Complaints about the English Settlers, 1675

Peskeompskut Masscre or Battle of Great Falls (May 19, 1676)

Female_Rose.pngWeetamoo, Female Pocasset Wampanoag Chief

Who? Weetamoo

Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets// Discussion Guide

A Severe and Proud Woman She Was: Mary Rowlandson Lives Among the Indians, 1675

external image Pontiac%27s_war.png

Pontiac's War (1763)

Pontiac's Rebellion from Ohio History Central

Proclamation Line of 1763

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngPontiac's War

The Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794)

Battle of Fallen Timbers from Ohio History Central

Battle of Fallen Timbers, 20 August 1794, U.S. Army History Museum

Fallen Timbers Battlefield

Treaty of Greenville (1795)

The French Factor

Complicating an already deep cultural divide was the issue of religion.
  • Both the English and the French had missionaries to convert the natives to Christianity.
  • The English formed Christian towns and expected that as part of their conversion experience, the Native Americans would embrace the English lifestyle as well. This idea met with limited success.
  • The French embraced the native lifestyle and turned a blind eye to the habit of captive raids. As a result, Catholicism became deeply rooted in the Native Americans.
  • The Jesuit priests formed many Christian villages welcoming tribe-less Abenaki people. These villages became a particular scourge to the English as they were driven to capture young people to convert the heretic English to the true faith of Catholicism.
Rotating_globe-small.gifOne of these villages was St. Francis. This village was a main player in the raid on Deerfield. The population of St. Francis was one of the most diverse of its time. Three of its chiefs were English captive children that had grown up as Native American. There was no racial distinction made in the culture that developed. Once adopted into the tribe, the tribe became your identity. This idea was horrifying to the English who considered the Catholics to be heretics and thought that the captured children would be condemned to Hell.

Female_Rose.pngEunice Williams was a famous captive child who assimilated into the Native American culture and was converted to Catholicism.

Views of Native American and English Colonists on Land Ownership and Use

European settlers had profoundly different views on how to use land, and the resulting conflicts completely changed the patterns of Native life, as Charles Mann reported in National Geographic Magazine, May 2007 about the settlement of Jamestown in Virginia.

For more information on the conflicts between European settlers and the Native Americans, please visit www.angelfire.com

  • Native peoples carefully managed the land and soil. When crop yields fell, they let the forest recover. They burned sections of the forest to keep down the underbrush. With no domestic animals, there was no need for fences. They grew corn, squash and beans, crops that saved the soil's fertility. They would move their villages when they needed new land to cultivate. Native peoples believed that they "owned" the land only as long as they were using it.
  • European settlers, on the other hand, sought to recreate the English landscape. They planted crops and when the land was no longer fertile, used it for grazing, giving no time for the soil to recover. Colonists fenced in their plots of land rather than their livestock so the animals further disrupted the environment by eating native crops and wild foods. The settlers believed in permanent ownership of land.

2009 Native American $1 Coin
2009 Native American $1 Coin

Three Sisters Planting Method

Corn, Squash, and Beans are grown together on the same mound of soil.

How to Plant the Three Sisters from the Cornell University Cooperative Extension and Department of Horticulture

The Three Sisters . . . and That Fourth Sister No One Really Talks About

Native American Ideas of Governance and the U. S. Constitution

external image Iroquois_6_Nations_map_c1720.png

external image Red_apple.jpg
Iroquois Confederacy and the U. S. Constitution from Portland State University offers lesson plans for teachers and students.

Resources http://www.wvculture.org/hiSTory/indland.html