Native Americans and the Colonists

Start Free Trial

What actions did the Native Americans take towards the colonists?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For the most part, Native American tribes were hostile towards the English settlers. After all, America was their land, and the newcomers were taking over that land without permission, disrupting the ancient rhythms of life that had endured for centuries.

Tribes would launch regular attacks against the new settlements, sometimes using extreme violence in the process. Outbreaks of violence such as the Powhatan Uprising resulted in the deaths of numerous men, women, and children; something like one-sixth of the entire population of Jamestown was wiped out in a single day. For good measure, tribes like the Powhatan would destroy settlers's crops, angered by encroachment on their ancestral lands.

At the same time, it should be noted that relations between English settlers and the Indigenous peoples weren't always so mutually antagonistic. The Powhatan offered crucial help and support to the Jamestown settlers during their first bitter winter on American soil, bringing them food and showing them how to sow crops. Without such assistance, there was a real danger that the entire settlement would've starved to death. The Powhatan and other tribes were repaid for their kindness by continued appropriation of their territory by English settlers determined to take as much land as they could for themselves.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial