In the early days of English settlement in the American colonies, the Indian-European relationship of each area was the determining factor in the survival of the newly established colonies. By working together and exchanging methods of food production and survival, an English colony could maintain its population and continue to support the arrival of new settlers. However, a colony that had trouble maintaining ties with their Indian neighbors had a tough time attracting settlers and adapting to their environment. The role of the Indian helping the white man in North America played an important part in the survival of the American colonies. In the Jamestown colony, very few people survived the disease and sickness which accompanied the low, swampy landscape. In their attempt to survive, they raided Indian villages in search of food and kidnap natives.
Because they didn't see Indians as equal in status, the Jamestown colony's growth was limited. In fact, as the winter of 1609-1610 arrived, the colony was barricaded by Indians who killed off the wild animals of the woods, leaving virtually nothing for the settlers. The result: fewer than 60 people remained when the next English ship arrived the following year. The reason the Virginia settlement ended up surviving was because of the disease the white man exposed the natives to during contact.
Weakening the Indian population was the only way the Jamestown population could grow. Things were a bit different in the northern colonies. In the Massachusetts Bay colony and the Plymouth settlement, locals aided a helping hand to the English. In 1620, many Pilgrims died in a very tough winter, but the colony survived because of the help provided by local Indian groups.
Not only did the Indians help, but the two groups were able to set up trade and exchange methods and supplies. This continued when the Puritans arrived in the late 1620's, but things changed soon after. Again, English disease wiped out the local Indian tribes and allowed for the continued expansion deeper into the New England woodlands. Because of the influence and help of the early Indian groups in this area, the English gained critical knowledge and support to establish a successful colony. Other areas of New England soon developed problems with Indians. The English settlers of the Connecticut Valley and the Pequot Indians were involved in a bloody battle, as well as the King Phillips War in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the 1670's.
As the 1600's progressed, Indians were able to gain technological experience with the higher power European weapons and resulted in tougher battles for the English. However, other areas remained in good standing with their locals, such as in Maryland. In the 1630's, two groups of settlers arrived and set up a settlement on the Potomac River. They established good relations with the Indians, and as a result, .".. experienced no Indian assaults, no plagues, no starving time". (Brinkley 36).
The assistance of Indian groups was essential to the survival of the colonies. The only way to attain the assistance of the locals was to befriend and establish good ties with them. By treating them as equals, a colony gained beneficial information and supplies in their attempt to become well established. Englishmen became friends with their neighbors long enough to develop successful settlements. In other areas, the fate of the English settlements may have been much different without the result of widespread outbreaks of disease among the Indian population. If disease did not set in, the powerful Indians could have attained the technology and remained powerful enough to drive out the Europeans.
The relationship of the Indians and English played an important role in the development of individual colonies.