Otto - Chapter 01 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Otto - Chapter 01

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"Those natives of the country ... declare that when they saw [Europeans for the first time], they did not know what to make of them, and could not comprehend whether they came down from Heaven, or were of the Devil."— Adriaen van der Donck, Vertoogh van Nieu Nederlandt1
The opening of the frontier was more than just the meeting of European and native individuals. It constituted nothing less than the meeting of two worlds, two systems of thought, two ways of organizing society, understanding reality, and making sense of human experience. Over the centuries, Native Americans and Europeans had developed unique cultural outlooks and patterns of living that reflected their historical experience, physical environment, and religious and cultural commitments. What would happen when members of two such groups met? Violence? Friendship? Congenial intercourse? Trade? Religious feasts and celebrations? And how would each side of this cultural divide perceive the meeting? If their worldviews had grown from such radically different experiences, surely they would understand the meeting with one another differently. And having once met, what would the frontier they created look like? What choices would they make? How would they resolve their cultural differences? "Those natives of the country ... declare that when they saw [Europeans for the first time], they did not know what to make of them, and could not comprehend whether they came down from Heaven, or were of the Devil."— Adriaen van der Donck, Vertoo
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