In History of Plymouth Plantation, how would you characterize Bradford's depiction of the Natives and of the “countries of America”? Why does he depict them in this way?

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Bradford's depiction of the Native Americans in Of Plymouth Plantation is overwhelmingly positive. In light of all the difficulties that were to follow between the Europeans and the Native Americans, it is something of a surprise that relations started off in such a friendly, productive way.

According to Bradford, the first interaction was a little ominous, occurring when Native Americans stole some of the settlers' tools. However, this was soon remedied when Samoset and several others met with the settlers, returning the tools and eventually agreeing to a treaty that remained in force for the next 24 years.

There was another important Native American named Squanto who served as an interpreter and spent a good deal of time with the early colonists. Bradford gave him the highest possible praise from a Puritan:

Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.

This description of the early relationship between the Native Americans and the English settlers is all the more poignant because we know about the violence and hatred that will come later.

As for the American continent, Bradford writes:

And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

This passage was written after the first Thanksgiving, which was also attended by a chief named Massasoit and some of his men. Obviously, Bradford's people feel that their settlement is a blessing, well-stocked with game and a friendly, helpful local population.

Bradford may have several motives for writing such a positive report. First of all, it is probably true, or at least mostly true. Secondly, the Puritans believed they were on a divine mission to establish a Godly settlement. How would it look if the settlement failed? Wouldn't a mission with God's blessing be expected to succeed?

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