Finding Middle Ground.

Finding middle ground can have a different meaning depending upon the interest of those involved. For example, one could have a mutual understanding, animosity, or tolerance. Native Americans and their European invaders seemed to have a mix of tolerances involving medical practices and military alliances, each finding the middle ground that best suited their interests in a what was more often a take what you can or have nothing at all situation.

Native Americans of the Iroquois tribe conduct trade with European settlers in Pennsylvania.

From the very first contact between explorers to the new world and the native people, medical practices were thrust into almost daily spotlights. Natives knew their world and the medicines it provided, “Often, Indians went no more than a hundred yards from their homes to locate a remedy, and some of their chief physicians carried ‘their Compliment of Drugs…about them”.[1] This type of knowledge was essential to the newcomers to America as they were introduced to new sicknesses, from disease and even poisons from animal bites. Furthermore, the invaders also knew medical practices and knew how to take care of the sicknesses that plagued their peoples. Their knowledge was essential to the native people because they were being exposed to the newly brought diseases to their land. However, they did not always agree with how each other practiced medicine. As a result, Native Americans and the early invaders alike often dismissed the parts of each other’s medical practices they found offensive. For example, the invaders often found that the Native American use of spirts in their medical practices savage, but they would use the plants as part of healing.[2] Whereas many Native Americans believed that Europeans had made them sick with a form of witchcraft, but they were willing to try European medicine in order to save their loved ones.[3]

Another middle ground found by both Native American and their counterparts was that of military alliances. As the Journal of Conrad Weiser, Esqr., Indian Interpreter, to the Ohio describes, the Native Americans were more than willing to befriend the English if it meant that they would receive the goods they needed and an ally in a pending war against the French.[4] Weiser describes a meeting with several Nations as they discussed the French, “A French Peace is a very uncertain One, they keep it no longer than their Interest permits, then they break it without provocation given them”.[5] After many drinks, and exchange of goods, Weiser and his party formed a military alliance with the gathered Natives.[6]

Note: This article was originally published by Misty Hamilton Smith on Nov. 16, 2017, for the course HIST 314 at Southern New Hampshire University.


[1]. Colin G. Calloway, , 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 27.

[2]. Ibid, 31.

[3]. Ibid, 39.

[4]. Conrad Weiser, Conrad Weiser’s journal of a tour to the Ohio, August 11-October 2, 1748 (publication place: Pennsylvania Colonial Records, publication year), 22-44.

[5]. Ibid.

[6]. Ibid.


Calloway, Colin G. . 2nd ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

Weiser, Conrad. Conrad Weiser’s journal of a tour to the Ohio, August 11-October 2, 1748. Pennsylvania Colonial Records. Accessed November 15, 2017



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