Indian Captivity Narratives

(2483 words)
  • Katrin Fischer (Babson College)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

All through the American colonial period and for almost a century beyond, white people's encroachments on land inhabited by American Indians caused violent conflicts. The prospect of Indian attacks, of kidnapping, and captivity was intensely feared by early explorers, adventurers, and settlers who dared the westward journey. Those who wrote down their experiences of capture and captivity themselves (e.g. Mary Rowlandson, Susannah Johnson, Sarah Wakefield), or, more frequently, dictated them to others (e.g. Mary Jemison, Elizabeth Hanson, Hannah Dustan) contributed to the emergence of a distinctively American literary genre – the Indian captivity narrative.

Indian captivity narratives have flourished since the sixteenth …

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Fischer, Katrin. "Indian Captivity Narratives". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 September 2007
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Native American and Canadian Writing
  2. First Peoples in North America