Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Imagining Encounters between Europeans and Native Americans

Europeans imagined the inhabitants of the New World before they encountered them in the flesh, shaped by the few stock images that print makers generated of the New World and circulated throughout Europe. The term “Encounter” encourages students to look critically at the ways in which Europeans imagined and represented, both visually and in text, Native Americans and their interactions with them. By looking at historical engravings and reading accounts of the Lenni Lenape by William Penn and others, students draw conclusions about some of the European assumptions that structured Native American-European interactions.

Essential Questions


Primary Sources

Other Materials

Suggested Instructional Procedures

1. Review concept of cultural worldview and cultural difference from Worldviews lesson. This could be done either with class discussion or by asking students to answer the question “What is cultural worldview?”

2. Ask students to break into pairs to examine and analyze the four European images of Native Americans using the How are Native Americans Portrayed by Europeans worksheet to organize their observations and findings. Then ask students to write one of their conclusions from the worksheet on board. Discuss the patterns that students identified as a class, and how these patterns reveal how Europeans viewed Native peoples.

3. Have students review the excerpt from a letter from William Penn about Native American life and answer the following questions:


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