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Now the Dutch soldiers, he said, were killing many of their own children. The sachem’s comment indicates that the children of the sexual encounters between Dutchmen and Indian women were usually raised by the Indian mothers in their own villages.
These children would be an embarrassment to the fathers and would have a difficult time finding acceptance in Dutch society.
There is very little documentation about these encounters, but they were frequent enough to be viewed as a problem by the Dutch authorities. Cornelis Van Tienhoven, a prominent official in Governor Kieft’s council, was accused by his enemies of visiting Indian villages, running about dressed in a loin cloth and lusting after Indian women, “to whom he has always been mightily inclined.” Killian van Rensslear, concerned about such behavior on his patroonship, ordered that anyone who had relations with “heathen women and girls,” would be fined 25 guilders. Such laws were probably impossible to enforce, but they do tell us a great deal about the social relations of the time.
When Indian women began to serve as domestic servants in colonial households, the opportunities for intimate relations across racial lines obviously increased.
Marriages between white women and Indian men, therefore, were viewed with alarm because such relationships undermined the myth of European superiority.
Abstract: This article focuses on an aspect of colonial history that is often avoided by historians.
With the exception of the iconic marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, sexual unions between white men and Indian women were seldom mentioned by historians unless the union was sanctified by Christian ritual.
In 1683 Henry Bell, a resident of Oyster Bay, received a grant for fifty acres of land from a Matinecock sachem named Suscaneman.
The gift appears to have been given because Henry Bell had married “Jane,” a Narragansett woman.