The United States of America has a long and turbulent history in becoming the country it is today. The most disturbing chapter is the conflict with Native Americans and the brutal methods used to resolve it. When the American pioneers began moving into uncharted and treacherous territory, i.e., areas occupied by natives, they understandably faced a push back and a long scuffle for the land, in which both sides used unacceptable methods to achieve their end goal.
In the western frontier, American pioneers built their homes in a virtual war zone, on land stolen from natives, putting their lives as well as that of their children in constant danger. The children of those American pioneers were often kidnapped by raiding native warriors. When Native American tribes lost their own children in wars with settlers, they would even the score. They would raid a white village, kidnap their children, and transport them as hostages back to their homes.
One such case was of Frances Slocum, who was five years old when she was captured by three Delaware warriors on November 2, 1778, at the Slocum family farm in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Slocum grew up in what is now Ohio and Indiana among the Delaware.
Slocum joined the Miami and took the name Maconaquah after marrying Shepoconah (Deaf Man), who later became a Miami chief. She settled in Deaf Man's Village along the Mississinewa River near Peru, Indiana, with her Miami family. Slocum revealed to a visitor in 1835 that she was a white woman who had been captured as a child, and three of Slocum's siblings came to see her two years later, in September 1837. But she refused to return back to her original home and went back to the tribe.
Similar documented cases include Mary Campbell, The Boyd Children, Olive Oatman, Herman Lehmann, Mary Jemison, Eunice Williams, and Cynthia Ann Parker, among many others, in which the captives refused to return to the people from whom they were abducted.
Captive-taking by Native Americans was surprisingly common during Colonial times. Captives were also more likely to choose their Native communities over their Colonial families. This perplexed the European Americans to no end. They came to America believing that once Native Americans saw the superiority of European religion, clothing, agriculture, dwellings, and every comfort known to man, conversion would be simple.
It was so unusual experience from the rest of the world that even Benjamin Franklin had to comment on it:
“When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and makes one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return. [But] when white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived a while among them, tho’ ransomed by their friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a short time they become disgusted with our manner of life, and the care and pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.”