Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
The Indians were the ones who called the New World home. To the Europeans that arrived on the new shores, the land was completely unknown to them. They did not know what crops would grow, how the weather would influence them, or what was behind the next hill. Survival many times came from the Indians.
Europeans looked to the Indians for food many times. When first arriving, the colonists quickly found out that they were not prepared for the harsh winters that lay before them. They either raided the Indianís food supplies or they allowed the Indians to teach them. Both gave them the survival they wanted, but the raiding set a course for trouble that would last decades. Colonies developed smoother and quicker when the settlers worked hand in hand with the natives.
The natives also were there for trading and as military allies. It all came down to survival. A colony that worked with the Indian to learn the land, to obtain the valuable furs, and to protect against other nations found that they grew stronger than the nations that abused the Indians which the French found out quickly. (1)
The English idea of an agreement and working with other cultures as well as the French idea was not in line with how the natives thought and acted. Europeans saw everything with a dollar sign and economic purpose. The natives saw things from a useful and community purpose. No one owned the land in the tribes. No one family had more belongings or money. All was shared to help the tribe survive. Europeans accumulated material possessions and looked to own everything instead of sharing which could be said as to why many of the colonists struggled to survive in the New World. Each man was looking out for himself instead of the colony. Working with the Indians and learning from them would have been the key to the development of many of the colonies. Unfortunately, very few realized this. (2)
(1) Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America, (New York: Penguin, 2001), 48-49.
(2) Ibid, 47-49.