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Impact of Westward Expansion on the Native Americans

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Through the 17th and 18th centuries, the European powers competed for land in the unknown territories of the New World. Despite the different approaches each power used in conquering North American territories, one common problem is consistent in each country’s venture for land: dealing with Native Americans. The European colonies took various approaches in attempt to generate trade, claim land, and impose their religion upon the Native Americans. Through these divergent methods, different relations were established between the colonizers and the Natives; the French colonizers maintained a mutually beneficial partnership, the English a wary and methodical relationship, and the Spanish an imposing presence.

When the French Colonists arrived in the Northern Regions of the New World, they were quickly introduced to the unfamiliar Natives that had already inhabited the region for thousands of years. Although the land was vast, it was inevitable that both groups of peoples had to collide, and they proceeded to do so with grace. The French took a sympathetic approach when communicating with the Indians, believing that their lives were miserable and full of disdain. This resulted in the French colonizers providing a helping hand; Document 1, a personal account by Samuel de Champlain, shows evidence of them making good relations and offering to teach the Natives about agriculture and their language. The author recounts how well the meeting went, as well as the amicable nature of the French’s newfound companions. His perspective is influential as it is firsthand, giving the audience, who were not present at the scene, a good idea of the lack of hatred and difficulty with the Natives and French with trade and working together to thrive as individual societies. Document 3 provides a counter perspective to these words by Champlain, giving the reader a glimpse at the views of the Chieftain of the Micmac Tribe. He, who has also experienced the French's friendliness, views them as ignorant. He states that they are sympathetic towards the Natives, providing them with unwanted help, while claiming that their land is a place of hell, when in reality, the Natives are much happier than the French have ever envisioned them to be. Although the help is appreciated, the Indians feel more free and content with following their original lifestyle, utilizing nature to its fullest potential. Though the French attempted to impose their methods of agriculture and cultivation upon the Natives, they predominantly stuck to their original ideals, as they were satisfied. Both documents create a more complete understanding of the relationship between the French and Natives in the New World. Although the French took a sympathetic approach when conversing with the Natives, the Natives were very well capable of prospering on their own. Both groups were able to benefit one another, whether it be trade or assistance in conflicts such as the French and Indian War in the 18th Century.

The English colonizers certainly were influenced by the Natives upon their arrival. In addition to assisting them in countless ways, inevitably ensuring their survival, the Natives slowly became competition for the English. They fought over land, with one force driving the other East or West. This ongoing battle involved the alliances of various Natives with the English. In Document 2, the author, John Mason, describes events of the Pequot War, where the English utilized the help of the Narragansett Indians to defeat the Pequots. The conquest is yet another example of the land disputes between the two groups, but isn’t as straightforward as that of the Spanish. The English selectively chose allies amongst the Natives to drive out common enemies. The author highlights the acceptance of this method by recounting the joy of all of the men collectively after their victory. Ironically, the English and Natives can rejoice from the downfall of other Natives. This phenomena was the result of Native acceptance. As Document 7 states, the English commonly tried to help the Natives. Their attempt to educate the Natives is similar to the French. The Indians not in direct conflict with the colonists politely decline, as once again, they are happy with their own way of life. The ways of the European are essentially useless to the Natives, who prefer to stick to their old way of life. The author wishes to express this wish to the English people, who do not seem to quite understand the Natives yearning for Independence. Similarly, in Document 5, the author, an Anglican Missionary, states how he has personally heard from Indian traders not to impose such aspects of European culture such as Christianity. Although the trade between the English and Indians was exemplary, the Indians did not endorse their god, as they preferred their



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