Thursday, October 20, 2011

English Chaplain in New York

When I speak of converting the Indians by Indians I mean principally those five Nations which lie between Albany & Canada & are called 1) Mohawks or Maquaes, 2) Oneidas, 3) Chiugas, 4) Onundagas & 5) Senecas, of whom though most of the Mohawks are converted to Christianity by Dr. Dellius & Some of the Oneidas by the Jesuit Millet, yet the first not being yet established in any good order at all & the last being converted to Popery, I look upon the work as yet wholly to be done & if what has been already done is not a disadvantage to it, yet that little advantage is gained thereby except a demonstration of the inclination of the Indians to embrace the Christian religion. . . .

This extract is taken from John Miller's account of New York in 1695, John Miller was serving as a chaplain for the soldiers stationed out in New York. I choose this specific account as it shows how the settlers tried to get the natives to participate in their culture, more specifically in the church and western religion.

I found this extract strange as I have always considered the natives Indians resisting any western culture or policies, however this account tells me that not only is John Miller trying to educate the Indians, but also many of these tribes have been confronted and converted before. The Mohawks or Maquaes have already given into western religion and have been 'indoctrinated' with Christianity by Dr.Dellius, this was written in 1695, therefore this educating had been going on, it had already established itself into Indian culture. What we do not know is how this came about? Maybe the Indians believed that the white westerner obviously knows best, therefore we trust him in his ways and religions. However I believe that religion was indoctrinated into the natives, without them knowing, maybe they thought that the settlers were teaching them about tools and guns, but were without knowing force feed these religious ideas and slowly destroying their own culture.

Miller then goes on to say that this teaching is a 'demonstration of the inclination of the Indians to embrace the Christian religion', from this i get the feeling that the teaching isn't for the benefit of the natives (teaching them new ways of living) but as a display or exhibition showing the decline of the Indian culture. This is similar to showboating, whereby the English are presenting how they manged to change these Indians view and policies for their own.

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