How did the English colonists and Native Americans adapt to each other's presence?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The relationship between the English colonists and the Native Americans they encountered when arriving in North America was a troubled and complicated one from the start. When the colonists first landed in Jamestown in 1607, the Native population initially reacted with hostility due to their prior experience with Spanish explorers. This aggression, however, gave way to welcoming efforts, with the Native Americans offering up food to the colonists, who were neglecting their planting and farming duties in favor of seeking out wealth.

Unfortunately, the colonists were quick to take advantage of their native neighbors; when food was no longer freely offered by the Native Americans, colonists would take what they needed by force, subscribing to the notion that the native population ought to be forced to engage in "drudgery, work, and slavery."

Native Americans responded to this affront to their dignity by attacking the settlers, killing their livestock, and burning their crops; the colonists lashed back by destroying Indian villages and their crops. Although temporary peace was established with the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe, the encroaching settlement of colonists on native land resulted in greater conflict. An attack in 1622 left 350 colonists dead, followed by acts of revenge from the colonists, and so the cycle of violence and hostility continued.