While the recent blog posts make a compelling argument for the comparison of how the rise of evangelicalism influenced the witch-hunt trials in the years to come; a comparison I find more interesting is the fear of witchcraft between both the colonists and the Indians.
Witchcraft was something that took many of the colonists, mainly those in New England, by storm. The accusations and persecutions of those believed to be witches occurred significantly in the late seventeenth century. Fear led to accusations of any behavior that was remotely out of the ordinary and this led to a period where the colonists’ lives were consumed by the idea of witches that ran rampant. Yet, were the colonists the only ones affected by the idea of witchcraft?
After this week’s reading I felt compelled to write about a various aspect that stems from the collection of essays on American witch trials. Something that struck me was the undeniable similarity between the colonists’ and Indians’ beliefs in witchcraft. Although this may have not been a central argument to the essay it was definitely something that intrigued me and I felt the need to address it. Not only was it a matter of just believing in the presence of witchcraft but the certain reasons to believe in it and how certain accusations were carried out.
For so long the common conception was that the natives and the colonists were so very different. In fact, the colonists went as far as to call the Indians “savages” based on their lifestyles that varied from those of the colonists. Yet one thing that the colonists shared with these “savages” was their belief and fear of witchcraft. This concept or idea pertains to the essay titled American Indians, Witchcraft, and Witch-hunting. In this it is seen how the Indians, most specifically the Iroquois tribe, feared witches and often associated sickness with witchcraft. This is a practice that is carried out by the colonists as seen in the various other essays. Much of the time when someone would die of a simple cold or various illness the colonists were quick to blame witches and their practice of witchcraft. Much of this blame was due in part to the fact that during this time medicine was not very advanced and when a random death would occur the colonists didn’t know how to diagnose it other than it was an act of witchcraft.
Therefore, the colonists and Indians shared this fear of witchcraft and it was a big part of their lives for a short period of time where fears escalated as the popularity of this idea grew. This similarity between the colonists and the Indians is one among others and leaves me wondering how similar were these “savages” and colonists?