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Chesapeake: A Native American Tribe’s Challenges Essay

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During the 16th century, Europeans colonized American and occupied two main regions, the Chesapeake and New England. The Chesapeake involves the following lands: Virginia, Maryland, the New Jerseys, and Pennsylvania. New England was located along the James River and included Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Haven. Despite similar initial conditions and historical developments, these regions differed greatly in their experiences and traditions.

Thesis Despite the difficult destiny of the Chesapeake, it preserved its folks and traditions transmitted from generation to generation.

Difficult destiny of the Chesapeake

The Chesapeake’s folks survived in an oral tradition kept by black slaves. In contrast to New England, marked by national diversity, The Chesapeake was populated by black slaves as a core of the regional economy. The black population often practiced both their native religion and Christianity because they believed both followed the same general principles. Native religious activities at home perhaps were less prominent, but slaves composed new songs and held numerous ceremonies. Probably no region had maintained its religious traditions more than the Chesapeake, and this was strongly reflected in their experiences. Virtually no serviceman left home without a ceremony to protect him against misfortune (Brinkley 23).

In contrast to the Chesapeake, New England’s life was based on religious traditions and values. The main religion of this region was Puritan Separatists who valued freedom and free choice. These early Americans lived a wholesome migratory life and enjoyed a communal form of government. Where ownership of land or property prevailed it was vested in the tribe rather than in the individual. Whatever tribal or religious organizations they had were of a primitive kind.

The settlements had little intercourse with one another, and hence different traditions grew up which made impossible a community of thought and of ideals such as might have welded them together as a race into a homogeneous whole (Brinkley 24). The economic successes of New England proved to be a double-edged sword for Indians. While many welcomed it and lessened isolation, they often found the adjustment to the new environment difficult. Through a variant interpretation of Christianity, which rejected the reintegration into their faith, some of the Africans found an ideological expression for dissent.

Perhaps the most important result of the Chesapeake’s experiences was the development of new attitudes that remained strong after slavery. The most pervasive of these was unquestionably their almost universal support for education, both for themselves and the younger generation. This doubtlessly grew out of the broadening experiences of free life and the realization that educational deficiencies handicapped blacks. The black population also demanded greater equality.

Since blacks readily achieved leadership roles, they often translated new ideas and beliefs into action. Although the regional economy remained, two basic changes occurred in the region during the 17th century. First, the areas of greatest population increase significantly increased their political influence at the national level, and, second, economic growth in the more populous states broke many earlier restraints. The Chesapeake organized their lives around the keeping of traditions (Brinkley 23).

The Chesapeake folks

The Chesapeake folks deserved to survive because they were the only source of African roots and the origin of the population. The blacks’ tightly circumscribed world gave them a unique outlook on the world. Again diversity is based on several factors—acculturation, culture, and work—figured importantly. In contrast to New England, the vast majority of the black population were those who had no religious or philosophical grounds. In many cases, they lived in remote areas, held migratory jobs, or did not know about political and social changes. Their folks survived because they reflected the main religion and cultural beliefs valued by black slaves.

For the Chesapeake, folks were the main source of resistance and opposition to white supremacy and oppression. New England was not faced with slavery resistance and racism. Folks evolved naturally enough from the comfortable belief in the superiority of their own culture, plus the readiness with which they often welcomed non-whites who accepted their civilization. Whatever the outward results of these beginning stages of protest, the experiences gained in the initial efforts in organizations directed against the colonial rulers had at least continued the traditions of resistance, leaving a residue of knowledge and personal experience in folks (Brinkley 25).

In New England, religion helped them to adapt themselves to new conditions. In many cases blacks of the Chesapeake fitted poorly into European-devised colonial systems, the whites simply acted arbitrarily to select a suitable intermediary for dealing with the masses of the population.


In sum, different structure of the population, social and economic differences had a profound impact on the Chesapeake and New England, their culture, and traditions. Slavery and oppression in the Chesapeake was the driving force which helped the population to preserve its folks and traditions. Religious freedom and community culture supported the survival of their folks. In contrast, the Puritan values and the important role of religion in New England limited the role and importance of folks. The Chesapeake society respected virtually all social and historical values expressed in terms relating to them, and with political loyalties largely based on their distribution and position in society.


Brinkley, A. A Survey American History, 12th edition, vol. 1: TO 1877. Mcgraw-Hill College; 1900.

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