Wikiquote:Transwiki/American History Primary Sources Settlers and Native Americans

Relations with Native Americans


“I, that we might form great friendship, for I knew that they were a people who could be more easily freed and converted to our holy faith by love than by force, gave to some of them red caps, and glass beads to put round their necks, and many other things of little value, which gave them great pleasure, and made them so much our friends that it was a marvel to see.... In fine, they took all, and gave what they had with good will. It appeared to me to be a race of people very poor in everything....”

Christopher Columbus, on the Native Americans who he found on San Salvador Island (October 12, 1492).


“We saw their houses made in circular or round form 10 to 12 paces in compass, made with half circles of timber... covered with mats of straw.... They move the... houses from one place to another according to the commodity of the place and season wherein they will make their abode....

“They observed in their [planting] the course of the moon and the rising of certain stars....

“Moreover they live by hunting and fishing. They live long, and are seldom sick, and if they chance to fall sick at any time, they heal themselves with fire without any physician, and they say that they die [from old] age.”

Giovanni da Verrazano, on the Indians of the Carolina coast.

King Philip’s War in New England


“I am resolved not to see the day when I have no country.”

Metacom (called King Philip by the English), chief of the Wampanoag Indians of Massachusetts, to an English friend.


“I told them it was Sabbath day and desired them to let me rest, and told them I would do as much more tomorrow. To which they answered me, they would break my face.”

Mary Rowlandson, from The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, an account from 1682 of her 11 weeks as a captive after her village was taken by Narragansett Indians.


“The last wars .. have reduced them to a small number, and consequently they are incapable of defending themselves.”

French visitor, describing the Indians of southern New England.

William Penn in Pennsylvania


“The king of the country where I live hath given me a great province, but I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbors and friends....”

From William Penn, Letter to Native Americans.

Pontiac’s Rebellion


“They are my enemies. They are your brothers’ enemies.”

Neolin, the Delaware Prophet, urging the Western tribes to drive out settlers. 1763

“[The British are] dogs dressed in red, who have come to rob [our] hunting grounds and drive away the game....

“[We must] exterminate from our lands this nation which seeks only to destroy us.”

Chief Pontiac, leader of rebellion against the British


“Could it not be contrived to send them the small pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.”

Major General Jeffrey Amherst, commanding British forces in North America, on using biological warfare against tribes supporting Pontiac’s Rebellion.


“[The Proclamation of 1763 was] a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians.”

Colonel George Washington.


“Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of these Aborigines having from choice become Europeans.”

Hector St. John Crèvecoeur

c. 1804

“There was a time when our forefathers owned this great land. Their towns extended from the rising to the setting sun.... Our towns were once large and yours were once small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets.”

Chief Sagoyewatha to white settlers.


“Brothers — The white men are not friends to the Indians; at first, they only asked for land sufficient for a wigwam; now, nothing will satisfy them but the whole of our hunting grounds, from the rising to the setting sun.

“Brothers — My people wish for peace;... but where the white people are, there is no peace....

“Brothers — if you do not unite with us, they will first destroy us, and then you will fall an easy prey to them. They have destroyed many nations of red men because they were not united.... [W]e must fight each other’s battles.”

Tecumseh, appeal to the Osages.