The story of the colonization of Native Americans who once populated the land that is now the US has always been one full of bloodshed, torture, and displacement. Although the retelling of this history has mostly been a biased one – acting as if white Europeans never committed any evils – the truth about the mistreatment and crimes committed against Native Americans has found a way to present itself to many people in our day in age. It is no secret to us that colonizers did horrendous things to the natives like raping their women, killing their children and privatizing their food in order to starve them. Therefore, when I read “The History of the Captivity” by Mary Rowlandson I felt no remorse for the circumstance she found herself in nor did I think it complicated or contradicted the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the colonization period.
The misfortunes that happened to Rowlandson were some that I can admit were horrible and unfortunate but looking past the sorrow I was also able to see that her story was similar to what millions of other natives faced every day at the hands of Mary’s European counterparts. Her story/circumstance to me was one fueled by desperateness from her Algonquian captors and that is when I realized there was nothing in Rowlandson’s story that could contradict history. Aside from the fact that her circumstances were similar to what the Natives were facing, I also could not ignore the initial biased that existed around Rowlandson’s narrative. Because she was a white, Puritan woman in a time of colonization the complication of her credibility and truthfulness can be questioned and that is another factor which enables me to alter my view on the history and encounter between Europeans and Native Americans. The reason why I question her credibility is because in order for her to be a published woman there can be a possibility that she had to alter truths, embellish her actual circumstances, or even leave her actual emotions and actions out of her captive novel.
The complicated nature between the natives and the Europeans is a story that was strengthened nonetheless by Mary Rowlandson’s narrative but it was not a story gruesome enough to alter or complicate the real history that is already known about Native Americans and European colonizers. She was held captive and saw acts of murder from the Natives but it was during a time when Natives were starving, displaced and her circumstance was one that arose due to the Natives desperate attempt to take their land back and their struggle for survival. Although she might not have actively participated in the mass murder of Native Americans, she was still on foreign land and inhabiting their territory along with thousands of other Puritans and she was still an accomplice in the removal of millions of Natives which disallow me to feel like her misfortune could alter the gruesome reality Natives faced and therefore, I see no complication or alteration in the history I knew.
- Beverly Miranda-Galindo