Saturday, July 12, 2014

America…Before They Were Republicans

Roger Williams, A Key Into the Language of America. Bedford, Ma.: Applewood Books. (originally published in 1643).

Roger Williams saw Native Americans (whom he called “Natives:) as either “rude or clownish”. Williams believes it was the English “desire to civilize them” He found natives as civil and courteous towards Americans. He wrote what he observed and interpreted about Natives in this book.

It is noted for Lyme, Ct. historians that Williams spoke about religion with Wequash. Wequash is credited as the first Native to convert to Christianity. Williams doubted the degree of the conversation. Wequash lived for part of his life and is buried in Lyme. Ct.

The following are the recorded observations Williams had of Natives:

The Natives found tobacco refreshing and reviving and also useful in curing toothaches.

Natives offered food to strangers. Williams found Natives often were more generous than were Christians.

Natives believed bad dreams were warnings from God. They responded to a bad dream with prayers.

Natives held a brother accountable for a brother’s debt, including murder, If a man murdered someone and fled, his brother could be executed.

Natives took care of fatherless children.

No Natives were beggars.

Natives kept their doors open day and night.

Natives were intelligent and quickly made correct decisions. Williams observed God  “hath not made them inferior to Europeans.”

Natives were capable of wartime treachery. There was a tale of a Native warrior who pretended to desert and then killed the enemy Chief Leader and Captain.

When attacked in war, a messenger would run to nearby settlements and seek assistance.

Williams found Natives as practical.

Natives would pray during droughts and continue praying until it rained.

 Natives had a “revered esteem” for squirrels:,

The Natives believed there is a God would rewarded hose “that diligently seek Him.” Natives believed that the British God created the English people and Earth and Heaven in English. They believed their God created them and their world. Natives believed the souls of murderers, thieves, and liars did not go to Heaven but would “wander restless.”

Natives were unfamiliar with the concept of working six day s and resting on the sabbath.

Natives governed with a monarchy. There were an elder Sachim and a younger Sachim. The elder would not be offended by the younger’s actions while the younger strove to never do anything to displease the elder.

The Sachims were absolute  monarchs. Yet they used gentle persuasion and would do nothing their people would consider adverse Punishments were beatings or executions.

The Natives allowed sex before marriage Marriage occurred upon parental consent and public acknowledgement. Adultery was not permitted. An adulterer would be beaten, something to death.

A husband would pay a dowry to the wife’s parents. If a husband was poor, neighbors would contribute to the dowry.

The Narrigansets usually had one wife per husband A second was sometimes permitted to increase wealth.

The Natives were unaware of the coinage system. They bartered with beads, shell fish, and furs, Many Natives believed the English cheated them when trading, The Natives were willing to take on debt.

The Natives were gamblers. They had dice games that would attract up to thousands. It was believes that holding a crystal-like stone called a Thunderbolt would induct God to help them win.


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