Notes for Early Native Americans/Puritans

Notes for Early Native Americans/Puritans
American Literature
Native Americans : in the 15th and 16th centuries (1400’s to
1500’s) had over 700 different tribes in N.Am.
peaceful, settling through negotiations, not war. Each
tribe had its own rich mythology and folklore, a body of
oral literature for the purposes of: entertainment,
teaching tribal mores, reinforcing traditions. Most common
concept to all tribes: the intimate relationship between
humans and nature, seen in a very mystical and deeply
religious reverence for the land.
Most perceived the
elements of nature as ancestors and relatives.
English Colonists: The early Jamestown settlers came from
England (in 1607) for purely monetary gain.
Unrealistic in their beliefs, they came to realize that
they HAD to depend on the land to survive.
Without the
N.Am. help, more would have surely died.
They had a hard
row just to survive, but they had brought with them
perfumers and tailors.
Puritans: Arrived in Plymouth in 1620, facing hardships,
too: famine, disease, severe weather, and with the N. Am’s.
surrounding areas were known as the Mass. Bay Colony in the
Boston area. Called Puritans because they wanted to purify
the C. of Eng. Because they felt they were too close to the
Roman Catholics. Puritans believed in theocracy, or gov’t
organized according to religion.
Three imp. Doctrines:
1) Bible is the sole source of God’s law (led to
simplifying religion, removing all worldly trappings, so
individuals could have their own ‘covenants’ or contracts
with God.
2) Belief in original sin or the inherent evil
in all human beings. 3) Belief in Predestination, which
meant that to them God had decided long ago who would
achieve salvation and who would not, that salvation came to
a select few as a free gift from God, not as a result of
human effort.
Why then were they so concerned with
morality and good works when they believed that humans had
no control over their own fates? No good answer to today’s
minds: they felt that those who had God’s grace would be so
obvious by their shining goodness, etc., thus they strove
to establish themselves as members of the elect in the eyes
of the world.
Puritans are often stereotyped as intolerant, sour and
Some undoubtedly were, but many were not.
trials dealt the final death blow to them.
They were
highly educated, appreciated art and literature (mostly
practical and devotional). Women were recognized and given
say in important matters. They were the first to insist on
free public education.
They founded the first college in
Am., Harvard, in 1636. They established the first printing
press in the colonies in 1638.