When one looks back to English history, the removal Of various body parts from criminals Of all sorts is tie common as a punishment. A beheading, however, was generally reserved for usurpers of power or those who had committed the act of treason against their ruler. The reasoning behind this unique punishment was the common association of one’s head with the ruling power of the king, and if one threw off their king, the head must follow as well.However, beheading were not only limited to fellow Englishmen, but could be also used on those who were considered to be savages. Algonquian, a group of Native Americans that had a great presence in the area of the thirteen British colonies, also placed great importance on dismemberment. Traditionally, warriors that were captured during battle by opposing sides were ritually dismembered, which gave the dying warrior a chance to reclaim his honor by accepting the pain stoically and the triumphant tribe in turn gained the spiritual strength of the opposing warrior.Once in possession of severed heads, scalps, hands, and feet, the Algonquian tended to use them as a way of creating alliances and solidifying bonds between each other.
During the period of the Opaque War, the two cultures tended to confuse the importance of various body parts to each other’s culture. The Native American Indians awe their deliverance of heads and scalps from the Bequests to the English colonists as a way to ensure their safety and create a pact of mutual defense and obligation beјen the two peoples.The English, however, viewed the deliverance as a sign of loyalty and a threat to those who would dare oppose them in the quest to claim territory. As was the case with a large majority of the encounters between the colonizing forces of the English and the native populations, ideas and meanings were misconstrued to further the march of the British Empire.
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In his paper, Oilman turns a formerly gory topic into one hat can be read with purely academic interest.By analyzing both the historical backgrounds and motives behind the actions of the two peoples, a reader can easily grasp the reasoning behind these seemingly grotesque and barbaric actions, and come to regard them as indicative of the general mentality each peoples possessed. Furthermore, his final conclusion in which he describes the ultimate takeover of the natives by the colonists is one that is widely accepted and can pass by unquestioned.
It may be true that Oilman has taken a slightly unconventional route to get to this conclusion, but his research and analysis appear to stand strong.