For so long in American history Indians have been depicted and described as unintelligent, helpless victims who could not offer any form of resistance as Europeans conquered their land. From the historical documentaries, students learn that a meeting between the English colonist and Wampanoag marked one of the most significant moments in the American history. In that meeting, the parties agreed on the services of the Tisquantum (natives who helped Europeans) commonly known as Squanto. Elementary education in America indicates that some Indians collaborated with the Europeans and taught them important tactics helpful in surviving on the edge of the wilderness and how to grow corns. Also, Captain Miles Standish taught the Pilgrims (foreigners) how to defend themselves against attacks from hostile Indians (Mann, 2005). However, historians were discontented with this view and questioned the information passed from one generation to the other and how Indians could help people who had invaded their homeland and under what motive. It is, for this reason, Charles Mann wrote the article, Native Intelligence, to explain that the Indians who first dined with the English colonist were far more enlightened than what is learned in schools. Charles Mann intentions are to correct the wrong information taught to students about the Native since it is not scientifically correct.
Charles tries to answer why European were thought to have had a smooth stay in the Wampanoag confederation. He aims at proving Indians had their own motive by assisting Europeans who had invaded their land. In fact, after Europeans turned against them some resisted despite being outnumbered due to the smallpox epidemic. Therefore the thesis of Charles article was to unmask the fact that Indians were civilized as compared to Europeans who invaded their land and that the fact that they were hospitable to Europeans does not mean they did not resist being colonized.
Some of the facts the author uses to show the superiority of the natives included the rigorous training during the Tisquantum’s regime. Men and women were trained, to be honest, brave, uncomplaining and to poses ability to withstand any pain. After examining some abducted Indians the Europeans termed the People of First Light as absolutely healthy specimens. It is clear from Giovanni da Verrazzano work that natives of New England were robust and taller as compared to those who wanted to move in. It is for this Indians viewed Europeans with disregard and to them, they did not pose any threat. To explain how Europeans got control in New England Governor Bradford terms it as God’s hand as a multitude of natives were swept by a disease believed to be hepatitis leaving the place open for Europeans to occupy (Mann, 2005).
One can conclude that Indians were too strong for Europeans to just have their way on their land without facing any resistance. Indians were conservative and wanted peace despite attacks from the neighboring community they protected their borders and were ready to face any threat. However, the outbreak of hepatitis weakened them making them venerable to external attacks. Europeans took advantage of the situation as Tisquantum was desperate to reinforce his military so as to fight against Narragansett who was determined to conquer their land.
What Charles want us to get from this article is that the documented history taught in school is incorrect. The New England natives had strong administration ready to face any external forces at all cost but the outbreak of diseases and migration of people who run to seek refuge weakened their ability to hold against external forces (Mann, 2005). The only way Tisquantum has assured the native who survived the outbreak were safe was by cooperating with the Europeans who had started occupying the region. Therefore, assumes that Europeans would have found it difficult to raid New England was it not for calamities which struck the natives. By taking Charles reasoning the implications are that elementary education should be scrutinized and facts used to develop accurate accounts of history. Ignoring Charles reasoning would subject the generations to come to inaccurate data. In conclusion, the author indicates that it is true that European won in conquering the Indian natives but it was through massacring the natives by use of European germs. If they were to confront them in a war the People of First Light would have adapted to the European technology.
Mann, C. (2005). Native intelligence. Retrieved from Smithsonian.com: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/native-intelligence-109314481
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