British Influence Turned the Indians From Civilized to Savage-Like

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British Influence Turned the Indians From Civilized to Savage-Like

The average British citizen in America during the 17th Century had a preconceived notion of Indians as savage beasts. However, before the arrival of the British, the New England Indians, specifically the Wampanoag tribe, lived a harmonious and interdependent lifestyle. Conflict among the Wampanoag was limited to minor tribal disputes. The war methods of the Indians were in fact more civilized than the British methods. The close living quarters of the British and Indians forced the Indians to adopt aspects of British civilization in order to survive, such as the ways of warfare. Douglas Leach in his book Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in the time of King Philip's
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Leaches narrow-minded attitude towards the natives, however, is the perfect example of the generic view of Indians as savages. Leach's view of the Indians as savage comes from his examination of their warfare. Here, the basis for a civilized society is the type of warfare one practices. However, when comparing British warfare to Indian warfare, British warfare contains more mass destruction and a higher number of deaths.

While Indian rituals seemed like barbaric practices, it must be taken into account that Indian-to-Indian conflict is on a smaller scale than British war. Adam Hirsch writes that New England Indians saw no need in the massive killing of enemies (Hirsh 1191). The fact that the Indians fought to seek revenge and not to kill, shows how the symbolic nature of their warfare out ways the need for violence. Even the ritual of scalping an individual was for symbolic reasons, not cruelty. In the footnotes, Hirsch quotes Williams as saying that there were "seldom twenty slain in a pitch field" (Hirsch 1191). Even though, the Indians scalped their enemies, the fact that rarely more than twenty people died at time shows that the amount of bloodshed was not a concern in Indian warfare.

In contrast, British warfare was fought for economic and religious reasons, which caused their wars to be large scale and violent, opposed to small time Indian dispute. In
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