The Christian Influence
The writings of Native American authors were influenced greatly by the Christians, Puritans in particular, long after their initial arrival in the 17th century. The original definition of Puritanism was "those who strove for a worship purified from all taint of popery" (Burton). The Puritans greatly stressed the "serving [of] God in spirit and in truth" ? by feeling and conduct rather than by doctrine" (Burton). One such writer is Mr. William Apes, who later changed his name to William Apess, who was the first Native American to publish an autobiography, and later wrote several books between 1829 and 1836.
One-quarter white, three-quarters Native American of the Pequots in Connecticut, Apess was born in 1798. After 1838 there was no documentation of his presence recorded, so it is surmised that he probably left the country. Although there is no documentation of his death, one source indicates that he died in "New York City on April 9, 1839" (Reuben).
As William Apess tells it in his autobiography, A Son of the Forest (1829), his grandfather was a white man who married the granddaughter of King Philip, or Metacomet. As a small boy, Apess was abused by his alcoholic grandparents and then sold as an indentured laborer.
Puritans "considered religion a very complex, subtle, and highly intellectual affair, and therefore, its leaders were highly trained scholars, whose education tended to translate into positions that were often authoritarian" (Miller). Because of this, the boy's master allowed him to attend school and introduced him to Christianity; the most important influence in Apess' life.
The Christian influence is evident in his autobiography; one such example, from Vizenor, taken from his autobiography, is as follows:
I HAVE HEARD A GREAT DEAL SAID RESPECTING INFANTS FEELING, AS IT WERE, THE OPERATIONS OF THE...