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Native Americans: Interactions at the Time of Settlement   Tags: primary source world  

Last Updated: May 26, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Explore Primary Sources

Teach about the social traditions of the Pueblo people before and after Spanish arrival through the study of ceramic bowls.

Explore the power of language and the religious conversion of native peoples in New England by studying the Eliot Indian Bible.

Discover the relationship between the Plains Indians and U.S. traders through the materials used in the making of a side-fold dress.


Rationale for Exploring Settler-Native Interactions in North America Through Primary Sources

Looking at interactions between North American natives and European settlers through primary sources offers us fresh and sometimes surprising insights into the fascinating exchanges that took place in early America as peoples encountered others who were different. It allows us to look beyond school textbook accounts of political and military conflicts or alliances to witness the plentiful cross-pollination between cultures. Indians and settlers were often intrigued by one another’s ways, and open to adopting items, ideas and motifs that they found useful or pleasing. We see products of these encounters emerging that are hybrids of cultures – and are no less "authentically" Indian or colonial for being so. Examining remains of these interactions also helps us to dispel the seeming silence of native populations, as their words and ideas have been preserved in many forms. Texts, visual art, artifacts and physical structures all document ways that native peoples interacted with the Spanish, French and British in North America. They offer a richer and more complete story of what the encounters meant to the people involved, and give students a chance to explore those meanings for themselves.

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