Distant Relations : How My Ancestors Colonized North America
Fired by a passionate need to know the truth, Victoria Freeman traces four hundred years of her own family history to uncover what really happened between her settler ancestors and the aboriginal people they displaced in North America. Through her explorations of both the ordinary and the remarkable episodes in her ancestors' lives and her own travels to the places where her ancestors lived, she illuminates the process of North American colonization and the attitudes, actions, and choices that have fuelled it.Among many others, we meet Puritan fur trader Thomas Stanton, official interpreter for the United Colonies, who in 1637 participated in a genocidal war against the Pequots and subsequently amassed huge landholdings, but who also became one of the most trusted intermediaries between the colonists and the Natives. There's nine-year-old Elisha Searl, captured in Massachusetts in 1704 by Native American allies of the French and held captive in New France for many years, who became a "white Indian," but was "deprogrammed" by his Puritan relatives on his return to New England. In more recent times, the author's grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, and well-intentioned social activist, helped administer an Indian residential school that took Ojibwa children against their parents' will to "Christianize" them, and forcefully stripped them of their language, culture, and family ties.Freeman neither demonizes nor whitewashes her ancestors, but instead attempts to understand their actions and choices both in the context of their time and with the benefit of hindsight. Her exploration of their legacy sheds light on the ways that colonial processes continue in the present and raises questions about the responsibility of today's North Americans to address past injustices.
- Hardback | 535 pages
- 173.7 x 221 x 39.4mm | 984.3g
- 09 Nov 2002
- Steerforth Press
- United States