(Dis)armed friendship: Impacts of colonial ideology on early Quaker attitudes toward American Indians

Barbara Heather, Marianne O. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quakers early relations with American Indians (especially the Lenne Lenape, later known as the Delaware Indians) were generally positive. Core Quaker principles were simplicity, integrity, equality and peace - principles that could coincide well with those of the similarly egalitarian Lenne Lenape, who had been designated peacekeepers by the Iroquois Confederacy. Although the relationship was different than that of other settlers and American Indians, it was still suffused with colonial ideology. From the founding of Pennsylvania to the period of Grants Peace Policy, Quakers had to negotiate two wars and changing attitudes to North American Indians by American Presidents and government. The paper focuses on corresponding shifts in Quaker attitudes and policies. Our interest is in Quaker responses to Native Americans over time, finding that Quakers became increasingly distanced from the Indians and focused on acculturation. In their zeal to become acceptable to American Governments and through that, assist Native Americans, Quakers had, in fact, assimilated themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-326
Number of pages19
JournalCulture and Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • North American Indians
  • Quakers
  • acculturation
  • assimilation
  • colonialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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