The "White Indians"

Further Reading

Billy Wells: A Miami Warrior

Robert Dickson: The Red-Haired Man

A First Nations Perspective

During the European colonization of North America, some white individuals found themselves drawn to the lifestyles of First Nations people. The simpler, more natural way of life permeating many aspects of native existence appealed to certain people, most often men, who were weary of the pretensions and materialism of European society.

These so-called "White Indians" often lived in native communities for years. They learned native languages fluently, attended native councils, and often fought alongside their native companions. Naturally, many of them also married into the tribe and bore children of mixed blood. Captain Hector McLean of the British Indian Department observed that, "the whole of the Officers of the Department are indeed in some way connected with this tribe (Shawnee) either by marriage or concubinage."

During the War of 1812, some White Indians played an important role as a buffer group between the British and First Nations people. They had unique insights and understandings regarding both cultures, and were sometimes able to sway the intentions of either group. But White Indians also found themselves in the precarious position of trying to simultaneously please both white and native leaders . The war forced some to make serious personal decisions - decisions which would forever alienate them from one culture or the other.