In the accounts that describe interactions between the settlers of the New World the Native Americans, a recurring theme are the differences between two groups. For the most part, this ideology is governed by the authors’ religious points of view. More often than not, the writers argue that the differences are heavily ingrained in the differences between the two groups’ general religious beliefs. In “Reply to the Missionary Jacob Cram”, Red Jacket claims that the “Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us different complexions and
different customs” (452). While Jacket argues that the Great Spirit intentionally created the two groups with differences, he implies that the Great Spirit is the same entity worshipped by both groups, despite the fact that the groups may worship Him in various manners. While Red Jacket identifies the differences, he also claims that these differences are worth considering if the Native Americans intend to prosper. He argues that the “white people are like poisonous serpents” (454). While he recognizes that humble treatment of the settlers will lead to the downfall of the Native Americans, he ends his piece with the idea that the Great Spirit will protect the Native Americans from perpetual harm.
Unlike the passages that describe the interactions of the settlers and the Native Americans, Benjamin Franklin’s accounts offer advice and a humorous critique of the power and influence of government. He explains that one of the easiest ways for an empire to crumble is for the government to generate suspicion and ignore the requests of the people. Furthermore, he argues against the idea of the American dream, stating that it is hollow and a mere illusion. He explains that the ideas of America being a place of vast opportunity and wealth is founded on “wild imagination; and those who go to America with expectations founded upon them will surely find themselves disappointed” (471). In regards to the Native Americans, he argues that although they are radically different, “they have acquired great order and decency” (477). Instead of immediately dismissing them as savages, he recognizes that they have their own customs.
In her account, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”, Mary Rowlandson describes her encounters with Native Americans, which she frequently refers to as savage or barbaric. Though she describes her experiences in captivity as brutal and dreadful, we must remember that her views were shaped by her Puritan beliefs. As Rowlandson tries to adapt to her life in captivity, she frequently alludes the Bible and quotes several verses in the hopes of reaffirming her faith. In doing so, she uses her faith as a mechanism of coping with her new life of captivity. For instance, she is extremely pleased when an Indian offers her a copy of the Bible he has plundered. Despite this, she succumbs to xenophobia as she has difficulty understanding the Indians’ way of life and adapts only as she sees fitting for her personal survival. She continuously remains indifferent to the Indians and tries to preserve her family life though she is even separated from her children. Initially, Mary Rowlandson tries to resist adapting with the Indians by starving herself. However, upon realizing that she cannot maintain such a tactic, she reluctantly eats horse liver. In doing so, Rowlandson justifies her act of assimilation by quoting Biblical proverbs. By The Ninth Remove, Rowlandson has become more crafty, revealing signs of her knowledge of nature, though she maintains her family values. She claims that she wishes to visit her son, but loses her way. However, en route back, she ensures that she is well prepared for the journey by securing food, particularly bear. In her following removes, she was continuously separated and reunited with her son and continuously alluded the Bible. Her references often referred to the goodness of the Puritans and Christians upheld versus the disgusting and savage behavior of the barbaric Indians. Even her final words alludes the Bible and illustrate that she strongly believed in her faith to remove her from her difficult and troubling circumstances.
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