A Sour Relationship
Religion was fundamental to the Puritans who settled in the northern colonies. It served as the precedent for the structure of their society, and it also governed their relations with the Native Americans. At first, Puritans and Indians held sound alliances as the Indians aided the “newcomers’” in their initial survival. However, these collaborations quickly deteriorated. What could cause such a promising friendship to dwindle? Religion and its fervent practices and beliefs led to the onslaught of wars and rifts between Indians and Whites for years to come. There is no doubt that religious beliefs and values played “the” major role in Indian-white relations in the northern colonies.
One feature in which religion affected the Indian-white relations in the northern colonies was the ideological difference between the Puritan’s religious views and those of the Native Americans. In Puritanism, God chose an elect group of people to enter into heaven. In contrast, the Native Americans held a more equitable belief that no one stood above the rest, all were the same. In addition, their religious practices differed greatly. The Puritans based their religion around the Bible and what was written in it. The Bible served as their guide in both their spiritual lives and on all general matters. Indians did everything orally and without written records. Because of these two sharp disparities between their religious views and practices, Indians and whites could not relate to one another. Puritans saw Native Americans as savages and solely referred to them as such. Quite quickly, Indian-white relations began to deteriorate. As the term “savage” implies, the Indians did not worship God, rather many; thus, the Puritans saw this act of idolatrous worship as a cardinal sin in which Indian culture was satiated with sin.
Consequently, sin became a major barrier in the Indian-white relations. The distinctions between the two groups’ moral and ethical values...