James Axtell's 'Native Reactions To The Invasion Of America'

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Sujan Neupane
Rodolfo C. Villarreal
History 1302
“Native Reactions to the Invasion of America” by James Axtell In his article called “Native Reactions to the Invasion of America”, James Axtell discusses a very important problem of the American history – the treatment of Native Americans by the newcomers. Although Axtell does justify the position of the Natives in many cases, he does not believe that the newcomers were the only cause of the cultural schism between themselves and the locals. On the contrary, he believes that the schism and decline of the local culture was often caused by the choices made by the Natives themselves. Axtell claims that there were several ways in which Indians reacted to the coming of the whites,
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He claims that Indians had had a negative experience with the Europeans even before the Pilgrims arrived. In fact, Indians attacked them with arrows that belonged to the other travelers from the Old World, notorious for ruining Indians’ homes and selling the locals into slavery. Another reason for the outrage of Indians were the diseases that they were not immune to. Smallpox, for example, killed a great part of the local population. Axtell then described how the natives joined and copied the whites’ way of life. Many of them moved to their cities to take advantage of their technological innovations. Many natives sent their sons to study the white man’s ways: this was considered very prestigious, for many Indians were completely illiterate. Some of them even willingly converted to Christianity in order to become more spiritually enlightened. Such peace, however, did not last long: Axtell finishes his essay by mentioning the prophets that appeared among the natives and tried to persuade them to fight the whites’ domination and to return to their old ways. Unfortunately, such way did not bring the locals freedom but worsened their situation with the newcomers. The Natives became outcasts and started drinking excessively. By this Axtell ultimately claims that they influenced their own history as much as the whites
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