The White Indians of Colonial America

TitleThe White Indians of Colonial America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1975
AuthorsAxtell, James
JournalWilliam and Mary Quarterly

Captive-taking by Native Americans was surprisingly common in Colonial times. It was also common for captives to choose their Native communities over their Colonial families. James Axtell, historian at Sarah Lawrence College, explores the possible reasons that captive whites would choose their captors over a return to a white European lifestyle. The great majority of white Indians left no explanations for their choice. Forgetting their original language and their past, they simply disappeared into their adopted society. Axtell turns to the narratives published by the captives who returned to colonial society, in order to deduce the motivations of those who chose to stay behind and disappear into their adopted society. 

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