An island of resistance : hegemony and adaptation on Martha's Vineyard, 1642-1727

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Blythe, Patrick G.
Terry, Gail S.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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Recent histories of cultural encounters in colonial America emphasize how interactions between native Americans and Europeans altered both cultures. In order to facilitate such an investigation, scholars employ ethno history-a multidisciplinary approach that uses methods and sources from anthropology, archeology, and history. While it remains the dominant methodology for studying cultural encounters, others are critical of such studies pointing to the dangers of using European sources in order to understand native American culture. Some literary scholars argue that the only information that historians can gain from European texts and images are representations of the indigenous population. Using cultural encounters between English missionaries and Wampanoag Indians on Martha's Vineyard between 1642 and 1727 as my case study, I combine these seemingly incompatible methodologies to analyze relations in three cultural arenas: religion, gender, and literacy. I argue that through their resistance to English power, the Indians were able to continually adjust to life in their ever-changing new world. Even though their culture changed dramatically during this period, there were also able to resist full acculturation by maintaining a distinct Wampanoag identity.