The Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison


Mary Jemison was aken prisoner by the Seneca Indians as a young girl. At the end of her life, she dictated her autobiography to a neighbor. In telling the story of her life as the “white woman of the Genesee” Jemison gave us an intimate view of life among the Indians of eastern North America during the eighteenth century. her memoirs reveal much about race and gender in early America. This is the story of the often difficult relations between ordinary colonists and their Native American neighbors. In your essay, explain what Mrs Jemison’s personal experiences tell us about Native American culture and what it reveals about the relationship between Indians and Anglo-Americans in the eighteenth century.
Mary Jemison spend her entire adult life as a Seneca Indian. Her chronicle of that experience reveals many details of Indian life and Indian social and cultural practices. Describe the society into which Jemison was adopted. How did these people subsist? What observations did Jemison make about tribal structure and relationships? What did she tell us about daily life and the nature of personal relations among the Indians? Describe the Indians’ concept of family and their treatment of strangers. What did the Seneca and other tribes think of colonists and colonial culture? Why did they take white captives? Was Jemison’s treatment typical of those who became prisoners of the Indians? Did their treatment of the English differ from their behavior toward other Indians?
Jemison’s memoir reveals many details about gender relations among the Indians. What can we learn from her about gender roles and the relations between men and women and husbands and wives in the Native American society? How were society’s expectations different from men and women? How did the life of Native American women differ from that of their English counterparts? Why did Jemison prefer to live her life as a Seneca woman?
Because of prolonged contact with Europeans, Native American society underwent some profound transformations. Describe the impact of European influence on Indian culture and society. How were the Indians transformed by their association with the English? Were these changes for the better or worse? How did the colonists initially view the Indians? How did their attitudes towards Native Americans change over time? By the end of Mary’s life, Indians and white people lived together as friends and neighbors. How do you explain that transformation?
Please quote evidence from the book and please cite the page number in parentheses following the quote. You must give credit for any material you take from a written source. Be sure to include examples from the book to support your argument.