Mary Jemison: "Captured by Indians"

Essay by Leighh1000College, Undergraduate February 2006

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Converting To a New Way of Life

In the narrative "Captured by Indians," by Mary Jemison, Jemison describes how the Seneca Indians treated her, taught her how to live and how they cared for her. Throughout Mary Jemison's narrative she illustrates how she lived among the Indians and how she dealt with their way of life. Although the Seneca Indians are known to be fierce, Mary Jemison asserts that through numerous ways that the Seneca's can be nurturing, helpful and kind to the people they truly care about. Mary Jemison may have been trying to get acceptance from the outside world to agree with her way of life during her stay with the Indians and to see that the Seneca's are not savages, but caring people.

Mary Jemison emphasized before her adoption ceremony that her impression of the Seneca Indians were aggressive and violent. Jemison states as she waited to leave her fort, where she had resided during her stay with the Indians, she noticed that an Indian "took the scalps of my former friends, strung them on a pole that he placed upon his shoulder, and in that manner carried them, standing in the stern of the canoe (38)."

Jemison seemed to feel that the Seneca were going to treat her in that manner that they had treated her other friends. Instead the Indians were kind to Jemison as they washed her clean and gave her a fresh, nice, new suit for her to wear compared to what she had been wearing which were torn to pieces. Jemison emphasizes that the way she was treated was respectful and not dangerous in any way. Mary Jemison is trying to illustrate the impression of the Seneca to be caring and gentle in the way they react and treat other...