Why were the Europeans so intent upon “civilizing” the Native people, which is a politically correct word for destroying their existing cultures and way of life?

One answer lies in the fact that they feared the Indians.  Beginning in 1622 with the Jamestown massacre, the Native people after being pushed just so far, would rebel and would raid the European complexes in an attempt to rid themselves of the European infringement and the implied threats associated with the encroachment.  What threats?  Further encroachment, primarily, but that compounded with broken promises, enslaving children and cheating the Indians in business dealings was enough for them to not only distrust, but dislike, the European settlers.  The Europeans were interlopers on the Indian land and they wanted them gone.

The Europeans were prone to bouts of panic.  Some of it quite justified, as in the 1711/1712 timeframe when the Tuscarora of NC decided they had had quite enough, following the sale of their village land by an unauthorized European to settlers.  Indeed, they sought revenge and over 100 settlers were killed. 

So settlers, especially those living on or near the borderland with the Indians were particularly nervous and often sought refuge in forts constructed for group protection when word came that the Indians were on the warpath again.

Often, warnings came though the slaves who were in much closer contact with the Indians than most white people.  In fact, a slave could earn his or her freedom by reporting a potential uprising of either Natives or slaves.

Here’s an actual example, found in the court records of Prince George County, Maryland in March of 1729, page 414 in the deposition of Eleanor Cusheca aged about 22 years.  Unfortunately, her race is not noted.

The court record of her deposition states “that a small time after Christmas last past she was in company with some of Captain Richard Smith’s Negroes and other Negroes belonging to some gentlemen living near the said Smith in the said Smith’s kitchen and Quarter and they were discoursing of a negro man of Mr. John Miller’s (then in company) being returned from the Monocosy Mountains whose name is Harry had absented himself for considerable time from his Master’s service and had come home with an intent to visit his ship mates and he the said Harry informed the company that there were many Negroes among the Indians at Monococy. A Negro man of Mr. Thomas Brooks named Geo: and a negro woman of Colonel Darnall’s named Beck acquainted the rest of the Company that the Indians would shortly come down among the English inhabitants and would kill all the white people.”

The next entry, on page 415, states that the information is groundless, although it doesn’t say how they came to that conclusion.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in History, Jamestown, Powhatan, Tuscarora. Bookmark the permalink.

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