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Matthew Guard

US History 1101
Fall Semester 2015
Prof. Wang
Whos Land?
In 1607, English colonists started sailing to North America in order to expand the English
empire and to start new colonies in places such as Chesapeake Bay. They soon discovered that
establishing a place that they could call home on this undeveloped continent would not be an
easy task. Arriving with few supplies, they were not prepared enough to feed themselves, to
survive the harsh winters or deal with another issueinitially. Already Settled into the forests
and prairies of North America were the American Indians. Whose land is this then if both the
Indians and colonists are staking their claim?
The American Indians were the first people to stumble upon North America. Their
ancestors can be traced back to Asia. They became masters of using the land and used both
hunting and planting crops to provide the food they needed to survive. The Indians hunted deer
and rabbits and grew crops such as maize (corn) and squash. While there were different many
tribes throughout America, with different customs, they held common ground on religion. They
often participated in religious ceremonies and believed in spiritual powers. Despite this common
ground, Indian tribes would raid other tribes to acquire supplies or to get revenge for a dead
tribal member. Unlike the coming Europeans, the Indian tribes in America did not think of
themselves as a unified people. The Indians did not believe that they actually owned the land
rather that the land is a common resource for everyone to use. When the colonists started to

colonize America, they also brought diseases with them which the Indians had not encountered
before and the results were devastating. The Indian way of life was also significantly changed
after the arrival of the settlers as it introduced new tools and technology to the Indians, that they
had never seen before. Colonists introduced metal cooking equipment, fishing equipment, metal
cutting tools, and firearms, changing the way that the Indians would live forever. Another item
that was brought with the colonists turned out to be not so good for the Indians, the alcohol that
the colonists had brought along. The Indians tried several times, including the uprising of 1622,
to rid America of the colonists and drive them back into their ships but ultimately the colonist
had better weapons and numbers ( after disease had wiped out a vast amount of the Indian
population already) and defeated the Indians, pushing them further and further west.
The colonist coming over to America were looking for a new life, an opportunity to own
land and to be wealthy. The once abundant work on farms, growing crops, gave way to sheep
herding, taking up the lands used to grow crops. Many people now were without jobs and there
was a major problem with homeless, poor people in the trading posts. The government had a plan
to send these people, plus those looking to branch out and claim new land for England, to the
Americas with the promise of a new life and land. People who could not afford the voyage, they
offered their service as indentured servants, which meant they had to work (usually for seven
years) for whoever was bringing them over, to pay off their debt. The colonists mostly viewed
the Indians as savages and beasts and ridiculed them for their ways. Although the colonists
initially traded with the Indians and bought land from them (usually from treaties forced upon
the Indians) they had no plans to intermingle with the Indians, they wanted to push them out and
settle the land they took over. With many victories over the Indians, due to their growing

numbers and superior weapons, the colonists thought that they had the upper hand and had no
intention to stop taking over the Indians land.
While it is not a noble way to settle on a new land, if the colonists from England had not
came in and took control of North Americas land, calling it theirs, then someone else would
have. This was how things were done in this time period and expansion was on the minds of all
empires struggling against each other in the conquest of expanding by taking new land. A great
influence on the outcome of the battles between the colonist and the Indians were the number of
dead on the Indian side, due to the deadly diseases brought over by the settlers. This combined
with the colonists superior weapons and tools greatly contributed to the English taking control of
eastern North America. The Indians views on land ownership and larger role of women in the
household and in their tribes, helped the English to perceive them as savages and made it easier
to push them out of their homes. In the beginning the colonists depended on the Indians for food,
as they were more interested in finding riches such as gold, and spreading the word of God,
instead of farming and actually being able to sustain themselves. Once the colonists learned how
to grow their own food they saw little need to keep the Indians around. The uprisings of the
Indians was the final straw. After the uprising of 1622, in which the Indian chief,
Opechancanough, led a surprise attack on the colonists that wiped out a large amount of
Virginias settler population, the colonist fought back, decimating the Indians. This momentum
did not stop and the Indians were driven out of their lands and sent west. This was how things
were done, this was how you expanded your empire. The Indians defended themselves and
fought to keep their land, but ultimately the English prevailed. While the theory had not been
established yet, this is a clear case of survival of the fittest. The Indians had the opportunity to
drive away the English and keep their land and they failed.