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Culture Clash: The Puritans and the Native Americans

Uploaded by Joe_Man500 on Oct 18, 2002

In 1608, a group of Christian separatists from the Church of England fled to the Netherlands and then to the “New World” in search of the freedom to practice their fundamentalist form of Christianity (dubbed Puritanism). The group of people known as the Native Americans (or American Indians) are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern and Southern American continents who are believed to have migrated across the Bering land bridge from Asia around 30,000 years ago. When these two societies collided, years of enforced ideology, oppression and guerrilla warfare were begun. The great barriers of religion, ethics and world-views are the three largest factors which lead to the culture clash between the Puritans and the Native Americans.

Religion played a very important role in both Puritan and Native American society, though their ideologies differed greatly. According to Puritan beliefs, God had chosen a select number of people to join him in heaven as his elect. The Native Americans, on the other hand, believed that everyone was the same; no one was better than anyone else. As Sitting Bull once said, “Each man is good in [the Great Spirit’s] sight. (Quotes from our Native Past). This theory was in direct conflict with the Puritan’s view. The means through which the beliefs of these two groups were carried on also differed greatly. The Puritans had their Bible which detailed their entire religion and held the answers to all possible questions. The Native Americans on the other hand relied on oral transmission of their theology. Thus, while the Puritans had a constant place to turn to when they wanted to figure out what they believed, Native Americans were forced to fill in the blanks between stories they had heard when it came to their basic ideals. This aspect made them both unable to relate to one another. The most prominent difference between the two religions were their gods. The Puritans believed in one God and one God only. The Native Americans, though also worshipping their own almighty “Great Spirit,” took further reverence for all living (and once living) things, worshipping the trees and their ancestors as well as their omnipotent Tirawa (or Wakan Tanka). The Puritans, holding all aspects of the Bible literal and as divine mandate, saw this worship of beings other than their God as idolatry (which was in clear violation of the first commandment). Therefore, the Puritans held the Native American...

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Uploaded by:   Joe_Man500

Date:   10/18/2002

Category:   American History

Length:   4 pages (936 words)

Views:   2489

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