Were European Colonialists and Native American People Friends?

pocahontas_668_330_80_int_s_c1This morning my daughter asked, seemingly out of nowhere and initially rhetorically, “Why weren’t the Native American people and Europeans friends?”

“Why do you think they weren’t friends,” I asked.

“Well, I think they were friends, but not all of them.”

I drove in silence, unsure of what to say. I thought about my knowledge of the trail of tears, Indian boarding schools, the Indian Appropriation Act and a few personal stories shared with me when I worked with families living on the Pasqua Yaqui Reservation in Tucson, Arizona. Everything was part of the tragedies and acts of violence inflicted upon indigenous populations by White people on “Turtle Island,” which is what many native people call North America. I was also aware of a few historical accounts of relatively positive relationships between native people and colonialists…however those often relied on native people becoming Christian and “civilized.”

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