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Land purchased from the Indians

Rather than honoring and celebrating the early settlers of America, in today's "politically correct" - but literally incorrect world, we often hear of "white man" coming to America and stealing the land from the Indians. Like most propaganda, this is a stereotype, not always true. However, the truth has a way of resurfacing, especially when you're a genealogist digging through old historical documents and books .

First of all, Native Americans didn't believe in the individual's right to own land. They believed all land belonged to the "Great Spirit". They were peaceful and often friendly to the settlers upon arrival and some maintained good relationships with their new white neighbors. Yes, conflicts arose, as they do with all people, but there is more to the story than most people know.

In my research, I have found evidence of several sales between the whites and the Indians. One great example was William Penn. He was granted the land of Pennsylvania by King Charles II of England, for money owed to his father. Still, Penn and his sons paid the Indians for the land, possibly to avoid conflict or maybe just out of the goodness of his heart. The Indians traded for things they didn't have, such as a wheelbarrow. This may seem like an unfair trade but the logic behind it was simple. The Indians knew there was much more land to be had in America. The white men had no idea at that time and the Indians were glad to have a new wheelbarrow!

In another documented example, a deed of sale between Roger Ludlow and the "Norwalke Indians", shows that Norwalk was purchased in exchange for eight fathoms of wampum*, six coats, ten hatchets, ten hoes, ten knives, ten scissors, ten jewse-harpes*, ten fathoms of tobacco, three kettles, and ten looking glasses (mirrors). * Click the bold links to find out what these items were.

From "Norwalk", by Charles Melbourne Selleck, 1896. [Link]



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