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America's History in the Making

Mapping Initial Encounters

Theme 3

A wide variety of historical records illustrate how differing experiences and expectations shaped initial encounters.

Initial encounters were bound to be diverse, encompassing so much time and space, and so many different European and African and Native American peoples. For indigenous peoples, the arrivals—human, animal, botanical and microbial—brought unprecedented dangers and opportunities. Their responses to these arrivals varied, contributing to the complexity and unpredictability of these early encounters, and the records of these encounters (such as the Katsina doll representing Esteban) are often difficult to interpret. The textbook excerpts and primary sources provided below describe several examples of these many encounters—and the sort of records that we have of them.

Primary Sources

Texts

Text Artifact

Letter from Marie De I'Incarnation

Peter C. Mancall and James Merrell, American Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian Removal, 1500-1850 (London: Routledge, 1999), 79-80.

Text Artifact

Chinookan Account

Jarold Ramsey, comp. Coyote Was Going There: Indian Literature of the Old Oregon Country, 4th ed. (Seattle: Univ. Washington Press, 1980), 174-175.

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