1647 Diary Fragment of Settlers' Impressions of Indigenous Peoples

1647 Diary Fragment of Settlers' Impressions of Indigenous Peoples

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Manuscript relic of America's early settlers and their observations of the "New World." This later 17th-century diary fragment relates to the Indigenous peoples the settlers were introduced to.

The extraordinary, lengthy 7.25 x 9.5 inch clipping is backed by an additional thin layer of paper mounted onto a larger, almost 9" x 12" sheet of modern paper is dated 1647 and provides a fascinating glimpse at Pilgrim observations of the native population in the rugged New World (likely the Massachusetts Bay Colony). The early manuscript is devoted exclusively to the activities and behaviour of the Indigenous peoples, particularly their methods of hunting and fishing. Included is a reference to the "Powawes" an early term used to describe an Indigenous person who practiced forms of magic.

Neatly penned in an unknown cursive hand, the clipping appears to be a slightly later yet contemporary transcription (c.1685) of the original diary entry, made in an effort to help preserve the writings.

Here are snippets:

"The Indian people in these parts at the English first coming, were very barbarous and uncivilized, going for the most part naked, although the country be extreme cold in the winter-season: they are only clothed with a Deer skin, and a little bit of cloth to cover their privy part. The Women for the most part are very modest, although they go as naked as the Men; they are generally very laborious at their planting time, and the Men extraordinary idle, making their squawes to carry their Children and the luggage beside; so that many times they travell eight or ten mile, with a burden on their backs, more fitter for a horse to carry than a woman. The men follow no kind of labour but hunting, fishing and fowling, in all which they make use of their Bowe and Arrowes to shoot the wilde creatures of the Trees, as Squirrells, gray and black Rockoones; as for Deer they ordinarily catch them in traps, with a pole bent down, and a Cord at the end, which flyes up and stayes their hasty course. Bever, Otter, and Moose they catch with Traps also; they are very good marks-men, with their Bowe and Arrowes. Their Boyes will ordinarily shoot fish with their Arrowes as they swim in the shallow Rivers, they draw the Arrow halfe way putting the point of it into the water they let flye and strike the fish through; the like they do to Birds lesser and great: onely the Geese and Turkies, being strong of wing somtimes flee away with their Arrowes sticking in them; this is all the trade they use, which makes them destitute of many necessaries, both in meat, drink, apparell and houses. As for any religious observation, they were the most destitute of any people yet heard of, the Divel having them in very great subjection, not using craft to delude them, as he ordinarily doth in most parts of the World: but kept them in a continuall slavish fear of him: onely the Powawes, who are more conversant with him, then any other, sometimes recover their sicke folk with charmes, which they use, by the help of the Divell." HISTORICAL

Mild toning, minor spotting, smudging, horizontal fold near end, generally clean with ink bold and legible throughout. Overall VG.

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