Native Americans and the Colonists

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Explain the various ways in which Native Americans and colonists interacted. In what ways did Native Americans have an impact on the development of the colonies? In what ways were the Native Americans affected by the establishment and growth of the various colonies? How did the Native Americans respond? 

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The Native Americans and the colonists interacted in different ways. The colonists often brought new diseases to which the Native Americans had no immunities, leading to widespread illnesses and death. When the British first arrived, some Native American tribes were suspicious and fought the British. Other tribes, such as the Wampanoag tribe, with the assistance of Squanto, developed a cooperative relationship with some of the British settlers. This tribe showed the British how to farm and how to survive the cold winters. A peace agreement was signed that lasted for many years. The British also had a good relationship with the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Benjamin Franklin liked the structure of the Iroquois Confederacy, and he proposed the colonists set up a similar loose form of government. The Albany Plan of Union proposed that the colonists would unite to be prepared in case of an attack. To Franklin’s dismay, the plan was never adopted.

As time passed after the arrival of the British, more Native American tribes viewed the British in negative ways. Compared to the French, who married Native American women, converted the Native Americans to Christianity, and made it clear they didn’t want to take their lands, it makes sense that many Native American tribes believed the British wanted to eventually take their lands. The Native Americans watched westward expansion begin and realized that the lack of British engagement with them was a sign that the British had no interest in living peacefully with them over the long term. As a result, most Native American tribes supported France in the French and Indian War.

Because of the negative perception that many Native American tribes had of the British, the British had to constantly prepare for and deal with attacks by the Native Americans. After the French and Indian War, the British passed the Proclamation of 1763. Partially as a result of Pontiac’s Rebellion, the British prevented colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. The British believed there would be more attacks similar to Pontiac’s Rebellion, and they wanted to keep the colonists safe. While the colonists viewed the Proclamation of 1763 differently, there were many attacks against the colonists as they began to move westward, both after the French and Indian War and after the Revolutionary War.

As a result of these battles, the British eventually prevailed, forcing the Native Americans to relinquish control of some of their lands and requiring them to relocate to new lands, a pattern that continued after the colonists won their independence from Great Britain in 1776.

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