Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America

Benjamin Franklin writes about the Native American people and their way of life. In Benjamin Franklin’s essay he shows that the Native American people are far from savages. He explains how they are indeed civilized people. He says “perhaps, if we examine the manners of different nations with the impartiality, we should find no people so rude, as not to have some remains of rudeness. The reason the Native Americans were called “savages” was because their rules of common civility, religion, laws and culture were different from the American culture and being that we were just socializing we did not understand their way of life. Franklin wanted people to know that the Native Americans were far from “savages” he in fact went on to express how they were and still are regular human beings. He explained how the Indian men were the backbone of their culture. The young Indian men were the warriors and hunters, the older Indians were counselors.

He said “for all their government was a counsel of the sages; there was no force, there was no prisons, no officers to compel obedience, or inflict punishment. ” They governed their own community. He explained how the women would dress the food, nurse and raise the children, running the household. It was the woman’s duty to imprint and communicate it to their children being there was no writings. They had their own way to interpret and communicate. This was the way they preserved information and traditions in their culture.

In 1744 the government of Virginia and the Six Nations came to an agreement with the commissioners from Virginia and spoke to the chief Indians telling them in a college will be established in Williamsburg with paid funding for the education of young Indians. All the six nations had to do was send a half a dozen of their young indians to that college and the government of Virginia would of provided all means and they were instructed to learn from the white people. The Indians were always taught to be “polite” in any situation and show respect by taking time to consider any important matter.

It took the Indians one day to respond to the government of Virginia, it was explained that some of their young people were sent to college in the Northern Provinces he says “ they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either the cold or hunger, knew neither how t build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counselors; they were totally good for nothing.

He goes on to decline their offer with great respect to them and asks “if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make MEN of them. Franklin said “the politeness of these savages in conversation is indeed carried to excess, since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of what is asserted in their presence. Of course religion is one of the most important factors in any culture. From the beginning Christians tried to push their beliefs on the Native Americans, even though it was no good their beliefs were all so strong and that it was natural. A Swedish Minister gave a great short speech of Christianity, afterwards the Indian orator shared some main aspects of their own religion. The good missionary was appalled and disgusted by the story and called them idle tales.

The Indian replied “my brother, it seems your friends have not done you justice in your education; they have not well instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who understand and practice those rules, believed all your stories; why do you refuse to believe ours? ” Franklin showed us in this essay the hospitality and politeness of the Indians. The word of an Indian, who said “if a man enters one of our cabin we dry him if he is wet, we warm him if he is cold, we allay his hunger and thirst; we demand nothing in return. And if I enter any home in Albany and ask for food or drink, they won’t give me anything without money in return” It just shows how different two cultures work, while existing one near each other and not have the chance to avoid the influence of the other society.

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