Native American Essay
The series We Shall Remain chronicles the arrival of the Pilgrims in America, the lives of the Native Americans already living there, and how the meeting of the two peoples affected each society. It shows the historical events surrounding the landing at Plymouth Rock, as well as what occurred prior to and after the Pilgrims began colonizing North America, from the perspectives of both groups of people. I enjoyed the fact that the historical account was given a relatable tone through interviews with current members of historical societies and cultural preservation groups that contributed information I didn’t know before.
One of the things I didn’t know prior to watching the first episode, “After the Mayflower” was the structure of the Native Americans along the eastern coast. They were all Algonquit, but they were divided into tribes that were separate, but intertwined. Groups like the Naragansett and the Mashpee each had specific areas of land that were considered theirs and each spoke with distinct dialects, but they also intermarried and interacted in political situations, so they were more like subgroups in a large population.
They also came together and put differences aside to celebrate the Green Corn Festival to give thanks to the Creator, a tradition that is still practiced today. Also, there was an epidemic between 1617 and 1619 that decimated much of the Native American population. The actual disease that caused the epidemic is still unknown because the symptoms recorded could be one of many diseases. Whole villages were wiped out because the Native Americans believed illness was caused by an invasion of hostile spirits and when their medicine men couldn’t heal the sick but instead died themselves in the process, they didn’t know what else to do.
In addition, I didn’t realize the effect that the animals the Pilgrims brought with them had on the lives of the Native Americans. The Pilgrims brought livestock with them and let the animals run free because they had few natural predators in America. As a result, pigs and other livestock ate a lot of the grains, nuts and other native foods harvested by the Native Americans to feed their own animals and themselves. The food supplies of the Native Americans were strongly affected by this and many struggled or starved.
I think the history of the Native Americans is largely ignored by the media because most Americans want to forget about the negative events that took place in order to establish America. We are taught as Americans to be proud of our country, but it’s harder to be proud when one knows that the country was founded through actions fueled by selfishness, bigotry and greed. We want to think of America as a place that was established for the sake of freedom and to make men free from tyranny, but that freedom becomes less impressive when the actions against the Native Americans is taken into account.
History is more pleasant if the plight of the Native Americans is ignored. Also, Native Americans have been largely ignored in today’s society because the majority of them live on isolated reservations, which also makes it easy to ignore their place in history and the injustices done to them. It is easier to not talk about them than to admit that early Americans, our ancestors, committed acts of hate and greed against the Native Americans. But the truth remains, and thanks to specials like this one people can still find out what really happened when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans interacted.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 14 February 2017
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