Early Colonial Lit.

Week 1

Native Americans

  1. Indigenous people of present-day North America, parts of Alaska, and Hawaii
  2. Number of tribes: Thousands down to 562 federally recognized tribes today
  3. Each tribe has/had its own language and customs
  4. Chiefs were selected by the senior woman of the tribe, and heredity and property passed through the matriarch’s line
  5. 18 million Native Americans down to 250,000!!! (1890)

Crucial Native American Topics (1776)


•Religion and Government


•Oral history (Creation Story)

•Cultural Hero—Trickster

American literature was orally transmitted in the following manner:

*myths *epics

*legends * poetry

*fairy tales * lyrics

*chants *riddles

* incantations * proverbs

*dreams *visions

The Pilgrims; William Bradford


  • Bradford (1590) was born in Yorkshire, England. He was a sickly child born of a wealthy farm owner. His frail childhood led to his love of reading and intellectual curiosity.
  • Alone at 18, he moved to Amsterdam for religious freedom as a separatist, but at 21, after his great inheritance, he had a strong desire to break away. He felt that this society was strongly influenced by his native country that he had fled.
  • Bradford served as governor of Plymouth in the Massachusetts Bay.

Mayflower Voyage and Facts

-The Pilgrims (Separatists) felt that there were irreconcilable differences with the Church of England, and that the Netherland morals were too libertine, so the New World became the next option as a place to live and worship as they pleased.

-The Separatists believed that worship should be organized independently in a place that would not draw children into the dark side of society such as luxury and the easy life.

-There were 102 passengers and 30 crew members that departed on the 100 foot ship in September of 1620. Only two died during the voyage.

-The second month of voyage led them through strong winter gales and steered them from their course—they were on their way to the Colony of Virginia.

-Instead, they arrived in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they lived on the ship during the winter while building their homes.

-Half of the them died during this first, harsh winter due to a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

-Native Americans helped them in cultivation of various vegetables and aided in the skills of hunting and fishing. In fact, they saved the remaining pilgrims from a frosty death that first winter.