No Surprise That 17th Century Book That Respected Native Americans Also Respected Women—Roger Williams Of Rhode Island
I’ve been reading A New Literary History of the United States.
I read an essay in A New Literary History today about a book written in 1643 by Roger Williams.
(Above–A 1681 painting by an unkown artist of a Narragansett Indian Chief named Ninigret. It is the only reliable image of a Southern New England Indian of the time. This painting is owned by the Rhode Island School of Design.)
The name of the book Williams wrote was A Key To The Language Of America.
Key was about the langauge and customs of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Indians.
A New Literary History says that Williams saw these Rhode Island natives as equal to the New England Puritan colonists.
This angered the leaders of Massachusetts because it set a precedent of treating the natives in a way that might encourage them to be more assertive in their dealings with the colonists.
In A Key To The Language Of America Williams also acknowledged the role of Narragansett Indian women. This was unusual for the times.
Williams wrote that Narragansett women worked at least as hard as did the men and that they never complained no matter how difficult life became.
It is no surprise that a book that was ahead of its time in regard to Native Americans was also respectful of women in a time that women were not treated so well ( Just like today.)
Respect for all people is connected. Regard for one only has meaning when it is regard for all. Roger Williams of Rhode Island had this insight in the 17th century. It is that many people lack in the 21st century.