To want extent did native people take part in founding the colonies that would become British North America? Essay
To want extent did native people take part in founding the colonies that would become British North America?
The land that is called Canada today was largely inhabited by Native aboriginal people, prior to the invasion of the Europeans - To want extent did native people take part in founding the colonies that would become British North America? Essay introduction? The natives, were homogenous in nature, and spoke many languages and dialects. By the fifteenth century, sea-navigation techniques had improved and fuelled the European monarchs to expand their domains. In the year 1497, John Cabot, who was sponsored by King Henry VII of England, reached what was then called “the New World”( Bumsted 2002:13). However, it was Frobisher, who on his on his Artic expedition, successfully captured an Inuit family consisting of a man woman and child and brought them back to England in 1577. They, unfortunately, died a month after their arrival there. Naturally, the Native aborigines who had hardly been exposed to any other human beings were frightened and took up arms. The “desperate battle with the Inuit, at Digges Island” (Bumsted 2002:16) stands testimony to this fact. Through repeated voyages taken by the Spanish, French and English sailors, by the sixteenth century, it was ascertained that there was hardly any wealthy or rich ancient civilization in the ‘new world’ to be conquered, nor rich mineral deposits to be exploited. Instead they were sure of abundant fish and fur, and hence both English and French rulers shifted their attention to colonization of the region. These were the very first steps in ‘founding’ of Canada.
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Lack of understanding of the aboriginal languages, and the difficulties in communication were compounded by the air of condescension of the European settlers, including the English. The latter thought themselves superior to the aboriginal people and the term “Savages” denoted the Natives (Bumsted 2002:24) Hence, though it is now clear that the Natives did help the settlers directly or indirectly in the development of the region, it was hardly won any recognition. Serious English colonization began in the early seventeenth century, and in 1610, “the Newfoundland Company” with interests in fishing, was started, and by 1629, the first settlement was established in Cupid’s Cove island, by the English settlers (Bumsted 2002:31)
In all these activities involved extensive geographical knowledge of the territory. The natives supplied the geographical knowledge, sometimes even as maps, and played the role of “interpreters, guides” and canoe peddlers, in the exploration activities of the settlers. Furthermore, prior to Columbus, the invasions of the Icelandic Norsemen in what is believed to be Baffin’s island as described by Jones (1964:181-3), point to early encounters with the natives, which have helped map “the Vinland” (Bumstead 2002:7-8) even in the fifteenth century.
Furthermore, some of the Missionaries were successful in converting a few aboriginal people to Christianity and they learned the language of the settlers. There were some skirmishes in which the women of the settlers were taken away by the Natives, and the subsequent offspring that emerged understood the native tongue and the language of the settlers. They further facilitated fur trade with the traders by adapting and communicating through what is know as “pidgin languages” which was a mixture of both Native tongues and “were a complex amalgam of French, Gaelic, English, Cree and Assiniboine.” (Bumstead 2002:23-4)
Importantly, being the original dwellers of the land, they could have denied ownership of lands to the new comers. But, the culture of the aboriginal people focused on “usage” more than ownership; moreover, their lack of political structure and aggressiveness in related issues, facilitated the English settlers to expand their territory under the ruse of trading fur with them. It was only much later did the Natives realize their collective might and gathered together to demand their rightful place in the history of Canada.
In summation, one can perceive the role of the native aboriginal participation in founding of British North America as having been essential, though unrecognized by most historians.
Bumsted, J.M (2002). A History of the Canadian Peoples. Oxford University Press.