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The term “savage barbarians” refers to the Native Americans. Bradford says, “but these savage barbarians, when they met with them (as after will appear) were readier to fill their sides full of arrows than otherwise.” In the view of the Puritans, coming from a “civilized” country to the barren shores of Plymouth, the half-dressed Native Americans with their arrows must have seemed a very barbarous group. However, it is important to note that the Native Americans would have been naturally frightened of the Puritans entering their lands, and probably felt they needed to defend themselves. The Puritans were ill-equipped to face these “savage barbarians,” and they knew it. It was not until Samoset came to their settlement, speaking their language and helping them to formulate a treaty with the Native Americans, that some mutual understanding was achieved. After this, Squanto came to the settlement and instructed them how to grow food and where to fish. He also acted as a guide for them until his death. It seems the Native Americans were not the “savage barbarians” the Puritans first thought them to be.
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