In 1697 Massachusetts settler Hannah Duston was taken captive by a group of Abenaki Indians. Duston and her companions escaped captivity by using a tomahawk to kill ten of her captors. Within her captivity narrative, Duston inhabits the role of captor rather than captive, providing a literary framework for reading and understanding the process of Indian Removal in the nineteenth century. Like white captives in the early colonial period, Native Americans in the nineteenth century faced pressure to assimilate, forced marches through unfamiliar territory, and acts of shocking violence like the Wounded Knee Massacre. During this time period, the United States government and army as well as white settlers took on the role of captors, keeping Indian tribes in captivity with these tactics. Understanding the period of Indian Removal as a type of captivity narrative increases our understanding of the shocking violence that accompanied the Indian Removal Policy. As a literary genre, captivity narratives created a national narrative of violence between white settlers and Indian tribes. The struggle for domination in the genre thus became the central struggle of the United States as white Americans embraced and advanced the fight against Native Americans for land and cultural supremacy in North America.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cronquist, Olivia, "From Captive to Captor: Hannah Duston and the Indian Removal Act" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 8962.
early America, Hannah Duston, captivity narrative, captivity, Indian Removal, Wounded Knee, colonialism