Overview: This lesson uses primary sources to help students understand some ways that Abenakis and European settlers interacted and illuminates some European stereotypes of Native Americans

Focusing Questions

What are some ways that Abenakis and European settlers interacted?
How do stereotypes of another culture impact interactions?

Topical Understandings

Abenaki and European settlers traded goods such as clothing
World views and stereotypes can impact interactions between cultures

Background Information

The Abenaki Couple watercolor depicts a man and a woman wearing both Abenaki and European clothing. The leather hats are decorated with typical Abenaki motifs but they are also wearing woven European blankets and the woman is wearing a woven shift (or shirt).

The New England Prospect, by William Wood was originally published in London in 1634. This was the first book to provide reliable first hand information on British America for prospective colonists. Particular attention is paid to Native culture and the environment.

See also William Cronon, Changes in the Land, p. 102


Abenaki Couple, an 18th-century watercolor by an unknown artist. Courtesy of the City of Montreal Records Management & Archives, Montreal, Canada. This version obtained from Wikipedia Commons

Excerpt from The New England Prospect, by William Wood was originally published in London in 1634

Activity 1

Look closely at this image. Make a detailed list of what you see. Go to this larger image and zoom in carefully.

Descriptive Question: What are they wearing?

Interpretive Question: What do you think their clothing is made from? How can you tell?

Analytical Question: Do you think this couple has had any interactions with Europeans? What makes you say that?

Continue your analysis by examining William Wood’s 1734 New England Prospect

Activity 2

Descriptive Question: Based on Wood’s description, what did the Indians wear in winter?

Interpretive Question: How would you describe Wood’s description of the Indians?
Admiring? Condescending? Arrogant? Sympathetic? Bewildered?

Analytical Question: What makes you say this? How does he explain why they dress the way they do?

Discuss how Wood’s attitudes toward Native Americans colored his description. How might his writing (which was in a guidebook for future settlers) impact future interactions between the cultures?