The Pennsylvania Magazine Of History and Biography: Transculturation

The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography published an interesting article/research on Transculturation of the Anglo-American and American Indian that went in both directions.  The influence and adoption of food, cooking, farming, and building.  The below is an excerpt, the full publication can be read by following the link below.

The Pennsylvania Magazine

Of History and Biography

Pennsylvania Captives among the Ohio Indians,  1755- 1765

THE    PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY Vol. CXXV, No. 3 July 2001

…Pennsylvania captives were fully integrated into Indian society. Most captives were adopted to replace deceased family members and even acquired their social status. Peter Lewney, for instance, was adopted by a Detroit headman to replace a deceased relative and was soon fully integrated into his new family. He was regarded as a respected warrior and encouraged to attend important diplomatic meetings with the French. Several captives even rose to positions of influence in their new homes. George Brown became “one of the chief Men among the Shawnese” and Joshua Renick a Miami headman. Hugh Gibson was adopted to replace a brother of Pisquetomen, an influential Delaware headman.

Their central place in the families of the Ohio Indians meant that they were able to acculturate their families into Anglo-American practices. Although captivity accounts arc often very vague on the routine of the captives’ daily lives, it appears that on a day-to-day level they repeatedly influenced the lives of their captors.35Captives were used in a wide variety of tasks, particularly around the home where they were in close contact with their captors. Mary Jemison reported that she was “employed in nursing the children, and doing light work about the house.”36  Marie Le  Roy and Barbara Leininger were similarly employed planting crops and washing and cooking. Captives also served as teachers of English to their new families. Indeed, by the 1760s many Ohio Indians appear to have mastered the English language with a reasonable degree of fluency. On occasion, the Ohio Indians also took advantage of their ability to read. Robert Rutherford, for instance, a British soldier captured during Pontiac’s War, was ordered to translate British documents for his captors. Taken individually these instances may not amount to a dramatic cultural transformation of the lives of Ohio in clans. However, when compounded hundreds of times, with captives present in the majority of  Ohio villages, and when added to the flow of captured household goods, captives served to introduce European customs into the Ohio Valley. In Mary Jemi son’s case, for instance, this might have amounted to no more than showing her adopted family how to use a fork seized from a colonist’s plantation.

The skills of captives were important because the war brought so many new items to the Ohio Valley. Raiders bought back with them household utensils, clothing, agricultural implements, almost anything that they, or the horses they seized, could any. Captives played an important role in showing the Ohio villagers bow to use their new booty. Before the war, domesticated cattle had been very uncommon in the Ohio Valley. The Moravian missionary David Zeisberger commented that in general the Ohio Indians “do not care to keep c-.itd e, for in that case they must remain at home to look after it [sic] and are prevented from going into the forest. 38 However, captives such as Susanna Johnson, captured by the Iroquois, who reported how she  spent  much  of  her  time  tending  cows,  may  have  played  an important role in informing the Ohio Indians about the core of such animals.39 By the early l 760s James Kenny was able to report how one Delaware headman living on the Ohio River had even constructed “several Stables & Cow houses under one Root” and had  become  widely  known  for his skill in making butter. By the late 1760s Anglo-American travelers to the region where commenting on the numerous cattle and pigs that roamed  the Ohio woods, and even on the Ohio Indians’ skill in producing butter and cheese.”°

Captives may also have facilitated an even more fundamental cultural transformation. James Kenny related how in 1761 he came across a village of houses with “Stone Chimneys &several frame Buildings,_,,. Captives like Hugh Gibson, who was employed in producing clapboards, may have played a crucial role in teaching the Ohio Indians these new construction skills. By the late eighteenth century, many Ohio Indians had abandoned traditional building techniques and were living in clapboard houses of European style. Thomas Cape told how some Shawnees even sowed the wheat that they had obtained during raids on the backcountry and attempted to produce their own wheat and bread.42 By the 1760s David Zeisberger reported that the Ohio Indians had even begun to forge their own iron and make hatchets and axes. The adoption of European housing, forging, and agricultural techniques represents a fundamental acculturation of the Ohio Indians. Indeed, Alden T. Vaughan and Daniel K. Richter have argued that” adoption of English-style housing seems to have been one of the last steps in transculturation.”43

https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/viewFile/45458/45179

THE PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY Vol. CXXV, No. 3 July 2001

Piqua Shawnee

www.piquashawnee.com

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