Grades 5-8

E/MS Unit I: Two Cultures Collide: Early Relations Between English Settlers and Indigenous People in Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies


The English men and women who settled in what became Massachusetts did not arrive in an uninhabited wilderness. They founded their colonies in a region that had long been home to numerous Indian tribes. Relations between the English newcomers and the native people were marked by interdependence, misunderstanding, and violent conflict.

Essential Question

What happens when settlers come in sustained contact with indigenous people who have an entirely different set of values?


5.6: Explain the early relationship of the English settlers to the indigenous peoples, or Indians, in North America, including the differing views on ownership or use of land and the conflicts between them (e.g. the Pequot and King Philip’s wars in New England).

Unit Lessons:

Lesson A: Native American Tribes and English Colonists in Early Massachusetts

Organizing Idea:

When the first English settlers arrived in what we now know as Massachusetts, the population of native peoples living near the coast had already been dramatically reduced by disease. Nevertheless, native villages remained, and colonists and Indians came in frequent contact with one another.

Lesson B: Indian “Praying Towns”

Organizing Idea:

The English men and women who settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s believed it was their duty to convert Native American people to Christianity.

Lesson C: King Philip’s War

Organizing Idea:

King Philip's War was the violent culmination of growing conflict between the needs of Native American tribes and those of the English settlers.

Lesson D: William Apess and the “Mashpee Revolt”

Organizing Idea:

The first American Indian protest writer, William Apess helped the Mashpee regain their independence.

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