German Influence on Indians

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German influence on the natives N. of Mexico has made itself felt in three particular regions among the Eskimo of Labrador and Greenland; among the Delawares, Mahican, and some of the Iroquois in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario; and among the Cherokee of South Carolina. In those regions Moravian missionaries have endeavored to convert the natives with considerable success. The Moravian missions in Greenland began in 1721 under Egede. The station of Ny Herrnhut dates from 1734. From the account given by Thompson (Moravian Missions, 211, 1890) the native Christians in Greenland number some 1,500, and their customs and habits have been much changed for the better, especially where the influence of whalers and traders has not been too strong. The Moravian efforts in Labrador began at Hopedale in 1752 under Ehrhardt, but the first successful establishment was made in 1771. The general result has been to modify considerably the dress, implements, habits, and beliefs of the natives, and particularly their sexual morality (Delabarre in Bull. Geog. Soc. Phila., 145-151, 1902). The disappearance of the Eskimo pirates, who once infested the straits of Belleisle, and the general improvement of Arctic navigation have been brought about through the change in Eskimo life and character. Turner observed that some of the Eskimo children of the Labrador missions use the German words for numbers up to 10 in their counting-out games, having caught them from the missionaries. Much of what the Moravians have accomplished in Greenland has been done in spite of the Danish authorities rather than with their cooperation. Moravian missionaries in the 18th century and the early years of the 19th, labored among the Mahican of E. New York (Ranch having begun the work in 1740), among the Delawares and other tribes of Pennsylvania, Zeisberger being “the apostle of the Delawares,” and among the Iroquois in parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada (Thompson, op. cit. , 267-341) . They exercised restraint on the Indians during the French-English and Revolutionary wars, when their converts generally were ill-treated by all sorts of white men. According to Thompson (p. 276) the Moravian mission of 1735 to Georgia was the first company from any quarter that reached the shores of America with the express and leading object of evangelizing natives. Their labors began among the Creeks. Moravian missions were established also among the Cherokee (Mooney in 19th Rep. B. A. E., 83, 1900). According to some the father of Sequoya, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, was a German of the Georgia colony. (A. F. C.)

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 12 December 2014. - Last updated on Jul 18th, 2012


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