Monday, October 18, 2010

account of an early settler to America

"From the said rock came towards us a Biscay shallop with sail and oars, having eight persons in it, whom we supposed at first to be Christians distressed. But approaching us nearer, we perceived them to be savages. These coming within call, hailed us, and we answered. Then after signs of peace, and a long speech by one of them made, they came boldly aboard us, being all naked, saving about their shoulders certain loose deer skins, and near their wastes seal skins tied fast like to Irish dimmie trousers. One that seemed to be their commander wore a waistcoat of a black work, a pair of breeches, cloth stockings, shoes, hat and band, one or two more had also a few things made by some Christians; these with a piece of chalk described the coast thereabouts, and could name Placentia of Newfoundland; they spoke divers Christian words, and seemed to understand much more than we, for want of language could comprehend. These people are in color swart, their hair long, uptied with a knot in the part of behind the head. They paint there bodies which are strong and well proportioned. "

The above quote was taken from an account by Gabriel Archer in which he describes the voyage to Gosnald’s Point – 1602

This extract describes the events of a meeting between Gabriel and some natives. What I found interesting is that unlike in other accounts such as George Percy’s, Gabriel reports that one of the natives was wearing clothes they would wear in England at that time, such as breeches and cloth stockings, and they also held items made by Christians and spoke some Christian words. This is an example of the natives being contacted and influenced by the early settlers to America, which is also a contrast to the natives in George Percy’s account who had either not been influenced or had not met many settlers before, and therefore had no items of “English clothing” etc. However, although the natives Gabriel met did use clothes given to them by settlers, they “also paint their bodies.... their hair long, uptied with a knot in the part of behind their head” . This shows that despite using items settlers would use, they also did things which we would assume all natives did, such as use body paint, which means that even though some natives met settlers and used things given by them, they still retained their culture. Therefore they are an example of the combination between the “civilised world” back in England, and the unknown world in America.

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