Culture and interactions of Native Americans in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, before it was discovered by the Europeans was occupied mainly by Native Americans. By the seventeen century, some Native American tribes had already occupied the land. The tribes were the Delaware who resided near Delaware River, the Susquehannocks who resided near Susquehanna River, the Shawnee who lived in the Ohio Valley and the Eries who lived near Lake Erie. The life of this Indian groups was mainly reflected on Stone Age backgrounds, particularly in material expressions and artworks. Devices, weapons, and household hardware were produced by using stone, wood, and bark. Transportation was by walking or by canoe. Houses were made of bark, clothing from the skins of animals.
The Lenape were sorted groups of Native American people with shared social and linguistic characteristics, who were the tenants of Delaware, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Southern New York. Their language was known as Lenape or Delaware. Their main economic activity was the practice of large-scale agriculture- by planting maize crop and kidney beans to supplement to their hunting and gathering activities. Delaware was cultivating their fields of vegetation through slash and burn technique and was mainly done during the summer, where they would slash the vegetation and use fire to clear the remaining pieces of plants or agriculture. During various seasons they occupied campsites, facilitating them get access to a small game that was found in the region such as birds, shellfish, fish and deer. Due to this, they were able to develop great hunting techniques and management of their resources. The abandoning of the land would also help the fields to return to a more natural state and recover native plant and tree species. The family was the major unit of classification and there were solid ties amongst parents and kids, and among all the related families that made up the clan. The Lenape had three clans – wolf, turtle and turkey – who followed their descent through the female line.
According to (Snow, pg. 345), the Susquehannocks were a powerful Iroquoian-speaking tribe who practised extensive farming. They planted maize, beans and squash during spring near their residential places. After this, they would engage in fish and shellfish gathering during summer and would return to their initial grounds in the fall to harvest their crops and hunt. They also had a military advantage over their peaceful Algonquian neighbours, often attacking the tribes along Delaware River, and travelled down the Susquehanna where they terrorized the Nanticoke, Conoy, and Powhatan living on the Chesapeake Bay.
The Shawnee were Algonquian-speaking tribe, who originally lived in southern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania. They later on spread in all directions to Carolinas, Tennessee, Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern Illinois. Their major economic activities were farming mainly practised by their women, hunting and gathering. According to (W.L.Mundell, pg. 112), the men were hunters and warriors while the women of the tribe mainly engaged in domestic labour. The women, in addition, made clothing and blankets, waved baskets, made clay vessels and cared for ailments within the tribe as they were well skilful at mixing herbs and setting fractured bones.
The first European contact with the Indians was between the Susquehannock and Captain John Smith from the Jamestown Colony was exploring the northern end of Chesapeake Bay. The English who settled in Virginia interacted with the Powhatan- who were not opposed to English settlement as they wanted protection, and the Susquehannock. The English in Virginia became intrigued by the hides exchange with the Susquehannock, and William Claiborne set up an exchanging point on Kent Island in the upper Chesapeake Bay in 1631. The Susquehannock at that point began exchange with the French in Canada, the Dutch on Delaware Bay, and the English in Virginia. The trade relationship became strained after the settlement of Maryland by English Catholics began in 1634, but the desire to trade kept the two sides from open warfare but eventually there arose various incidents and confrontations. The Susquehannock tried to strengthen their ties with the Dutch but they remained neutral. The Swedes continued supplying them with what they wanted but the Dutch conquered the Swedes which forced the Susquehannocks to ask for peace. They later fell victim to smallpox and new diseases brought by European settlers which destroyed them as a nation.
When William Penn came upon the Native Indians, he had decided to deal with them how they were and he dedicated a regulation of trade that set up protection rights for the Indians. In addition, he introduced a policy that extended equal rights and privileges under English law to the tribes in the area. These diplomatic parameters made long peace possible and allowed Pennsylvania to avoid destructive wars that other places were facing such as The Chesapeake and New England. In the mid seventeen century, Britain and France were anxious to take control of western Pennsylvania, because it was an area of vital significance and had immense economic potential. The general attitude within and outside Pennsylvania changed and tension was high. The Americans no longer wanted to learn the ways of the Native Americans and wanted to get rid of them and acquire the fertile Indian land. The United States arrangements towards Native Americans did not depend on William’s concept of regarding them as equals but however depended on American apprehensions of the alliances between the Indians and the British and Spanish. American strategies were also persistent weights from American pioneers tingling to settle further West and all the more critically in view of racial attitudes of superiority over the Indians.
The government acquired land through treaties but after the American Revolution was ended by the Treaty of Paris land was given back to the Americans without the consent of the Indians which created a lot of tension. To create peace the U.S created the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix with the Six Nations -Iroquois League. The article claimed the six nations to give their land claims to Ohio Valley. Pennsylvania managed to deal with Iroquois and persuaded them in surrendering land settled inside the state.
The different instances that involved the interaction between the natives of Pennsylvania and the Europeans that were trying to inhabit the area led to different reactions from the two parties. The Europeans that invaded the Pennsylvania land were ambitious for the different achievement of colonization of the people of Pennsylvania who were comprised of mostly the Indian inhabitants, there was a great political rift between the colonialists that were ruling at that particular time and the Philadelphia’s Quaker community. There was a great misunderstanding between the two members of the community, this would lead to the different relations between the two members of the community. This rift was mainly caused by the common interests that the two community members had on the different natural resources that were found in the specific regions.
The main components of the political state of the Pennsylvania region were mainly constituted with the different factors that evolved around the colonialism that the country was currently undergoing. The numbers of the main Pennsylvania natives was greatly affected by the different instances of colonialism and the invasion of the colonialists. The Europeans that invaded the area with a motive of colonializing the people of the area led to the reduction of the population of the different numbers of inhabitants in the area of Pennsylvania. Most of the main inhabitants who lived in the Pennsylvania region were displaced by the arrival of the colonialists. The Delawares who were the main people living in the river valley in the region were greatly disposed from their main homeland by the colonialists due to the access of the natural resources in the region. This caused a great misunderstanding and conflict between the people of the region and the different colonialists that arrived in the region. However this was not all, some of the main inhabitants of the area did not fully move from the regions and instead settled in an area close to the Moravian missions. On the other hand, others left the Lehigh Valley and chose to settle in small towns that were situated in the central and southern New Jersey.
According to research in 1754, some of the lands were purchased by some of the Iroquois Indians who were from New York. This group of people ceded some of the significant portions of the land that was on the western side of Pennsylvania. This was done without any approval and consent of the people living there who were mostly comprised of Indians. The French also built forts between lakes with an aim of marking the place as a territory that they owned. The land ownership issue brought about various conflicts and this led to the attraction of other parties that had similar interests of the same resources that were found in the area. The other counterparts that greatly showed concern on the land was the French. This means that the people living in these areas were very concerned with the continued interests in the land. This led to the continued activities and efforts of the different French people to ensure that they secure the land by every means possible. The French used different means to ensure that the land was secure for their personal gains. The French built forts between The Ohio River and Lake Erie. This move by the French was a significant move to show their possession of the land. The British were defeated by the French and this led to the final outcome of the French occupying this land. The land that the French people took over from the British was a clear indication that they had officially taken over the land that the British formally had.
The benefits and delimits of interaction with the whites by the Native Indians.
Interactions between the Powhatan and the English who settled in Virginia guaranteed them protection from the Susquehannock who mainly attacked their villages.
The English in Virginia engaged in the fur trade with the Susquehannock.
The arrival of the Europeans led to the adoption of European metal tools to be used in breaking the soil mainly by the Lenape who were extensive large-scale farmers.
The interactions exposed the Native Indians to new diseases. The Susquehannock, for example, were eliminated due to attack from a new disease from interactions with the whites.
The interactions with the whites eventually led to the displacement of the Native Americans.
Swanton, John Reed. The Indian Tribes of North America. No. 145. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1952.
Zeilik, Michael. “Time in Native North America.” Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (2008): 2141-2143.
Snow, Dean. “Northeast Late Woodland.” Encyclopedia of Prehistory. Springer, Boston, MA, 2001. 339-357.