The Pilgrims: First Encounter with Native Americans

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The Pilgrims explored the land upon which they settled. They came upon land which had been inhabited by the Nauset people.

The Nauset people had land where they could see who was coming ashore. Usually ships or flee when they approached.

As the Pilgrims moved inland, they discovered more mounds, which contained acorns when exhumed, and graves which they left undisturbed. They Pilgrims discovered the village deserted while the Nauset were at their winter hunting grounds.

The Pilgrims were desperately low on supplies, and helped themselves to a cache of maize, although they left a note in English to pay for what they had stolen. The promise was kept and paid months later.

Camping overnight, they head cries near the encampment.

Bradford described the night as “an even longer night pierced by the “hideous and great cry” of what seemed to be “a company of wolves or such like wild beasts.”

On the following morning, Indians began to shot arrows at them. The colonists retrieved their firearms and shot back, chasing them through the woods. However, they did not find the Indians.

The local Indians were familiar with the English, who occasionally visited the area and traded with the them.

Relations were poor in the Cape Cod area, following a visit several years earlier by Thomas Hunt, who kidnapped twenty people from Patuxet and another seven from Nausett. He attempted to sell them as slaves in Europe.

One of those abducted was Squanto, from the Patuxet tribe. He would become an ally to Plymouth Colony.

found burial mounds and graves

Additional contact was not made for several months.

Around the time the Pilgrims repaid the Nauset’s, the tribe returned a small boy who wandered away from the colony.

Over the years, the Nauset would become the colonists’ closest allies. Many became Christianized and aided the colonists as scouts and warriors.

The Pilgrim’s would decide to settle on the Patuxet land, which was abandoned when they were wiped out.

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