Native American History

In Daniel Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country, and the primary source readings by Giovanni de Varranzo and John Lok, presents the way the Europeans perceived gender roles and religion with Native Americans, and how Europeans saw Africans as property. These sources presents early American history in the perspective of Native Americans and Africans to rethink the general assumption that Native Americans has no history, based on the lack of written documents from that time period, and the

Europeans tried to convert Native Americans into Christianity. Europeans felt that they needed to throw out Native American worldviews because they believed the Christianity was a better system. However, Daniel Richter reveals that after women were baptised, one of the popes would take advantage of the woman, describing the act “lewdness and lust”. The popes would use their position in power to rape women.

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European men were taking over Native American land. Land ownership was very important to men. If you didn’t own land, you weren’t considered a man. Men sexually assaulted Native American women because they assumed that because they had land ownership of what once was Native American land, they now had the rights to the women’s bodies. This idea is presented in Facing East, where a story was told. It explains that when a Native American family came across Europeans, they took “one of the male children away from the grandmother and lunged for the women”. This passage shows that the men showing they felt power over the Native Americans because they took their land.

Women were also looked at differently by European men because their attire was different. In Foner’s Voices of Freedom, it is explained how men and women were almost nude. They wore little to no clothing. It is explained that “Their women are just as shapely and beautiful; Very gracious of attractive manner and pleasant appearance”. The nudity of indigenous women was also a factor on why European men assumed rights on their bodies. Women in Europe were fully dressed, and in the New World the Native women were almost nude. So when Europeans came to the New World it was a drastic change culturally. So again, there is a constant theme of European men used their position of power over the land to sexually assault women based on the cultural differences of how they are dressed and land ownership.

The European perspective of Pocahontas is entirely different. Instead of being known as Smith’s wife, she was considered his adoptive daughter, even though her father was against it. Based on John Smith’s written document, it can be inferred that Pocahontas “fulfilled a very traditional function in Native politics and diplomacy”. Another reason on how Pocahontas was involved in Native politics was by marrying Rolfe. This was believed as another tactic on creating an alliance between the Englishmen and her village. For many centuries, marriage was a way to combine families for economic or political reasons. In this case Pocahontas was used not to get married for love, but to her village and the Englishmen affiliate.

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