A KEY into the LANGUAGE of AMERICA or, An help to the Language of the Natives in that part of AMERICA, called NEW ENGLAND
of Providence in New England
Printed By Gregory Dexter, 1643
EEBSCO Host – Early English Books
The main document of the book is the preface of the book. Ommitted rest of the book, as this preface
explains the author's attitude and views toward Natives Americans.
To my Deare and Welbeloved Friends and Country-men, in old and new England
A little Key may open a Box, where lies
bunch of Keys.
With this I have entredentered into the secrets
of those Countries, where everevery English dwel
about two hundred miles, betweene the
French and Dutch Plantations; for want
of this, I know what gross mis-takes my
self and others have run into.
There is a mixture of this Language
North and South, from the place of my
abode about six hundred miles; yet with-
in the two hundred miles(aforementioned)
their Dialects doedo exceedingly dif-
fer; yet not so, but (within that compasse)
a man may, by this helpe, converse with
thousands of Natives all over the CountreyCountry:
and by such converse it may please the Fa-
ther of Mercies to spread civilitaecivility, (and in
his owne ost holy season) ChristiantieChristianity;
for one Candle will light ten thousand, and
it may please God to bless a little Leaven
to season the mightie Lump of those Peoples
It is expected, that having had to much
converse with these Natives, I should
write some litle of them.
Concerning them (a little to gratifiegratify
expectation) I shall touch upon four
First, by what Names they are distin-
Secondly, Their Originall and Descent.
Thirdly, their Religion, Manners, Cu-
stomes, &c& etc..
Fourthly, That great Point of their Con-
To the first, their Names are of two
First, those of the English giving: as Na-
tives, Salvages, Indians, Wild-men, (to the
Dutch call them Wilden) Abergeny men, Pagans,
Secondly, their Names, which they give
I cannot observe, that they ever had
(before the commingcoming of the English, French,
or Dutch amongst them) any Names to
difference themselves from strangers, for
they knew none; but two sorts of names
they had, and have amongst themselves.
First, generall, belong to all Natives
as Nínnuock, Ninnimissinnûwock, Eniske-
tompauwong which signifies Men, Folk, or
Secondly, particular names, peculier
to severall Nations, of them amongst them-
selves, as Nahiggaëuck, Massachusêuck
Cawasumseuck Cowwesēuck, Quintskoock
Qunnipiëuck, Pequttióog, &c.& etc.
They have often asked mee, why we
call them Indians Natives, &c.& etc. And un-
derstanding the reason, they will call
themselves Indians, in opposition to
English, &c.& etc.
For the second Head proposed,
their Originall and Decent.
For Adam and Noah that they spring,
it is granted on all hands.
But for their later Decent, and whence
they came into those pars, it seemes as
hard to finde, as to find the Wellhead of
some fresh Stream, which running many
miles out of the Countrey to the salt Ocean
hath met with many mixing Streames by
the way. They say themselves, that they
have sprung and growne up in that very
place, like the very trees of the Wildernesse.
They say that their Great God Cawtan-
towwi created those parts, as I observed
in the Chapter of their Religion. They
have no Clothes, Bookes, nor Letters, and
concieve their Fathers never had; and
therefore they are easily persuaded that
the God that made English men is a greater
God, because Hee hath to richly en-
dowed the English above themselves: But
when they heare that about sixteen hun-
dred yeeres ago, England and the Inha-
bitans thereof were like unto themselves,
and since they have recieved from God, Clothes,
Bookes, &c. they are greatly affected with
a secret hope concerning themselves.
Wife and Judcious men, with whom I
have discoursed, maintaine their Originall
to be Northward from Tartaria: and at my
now taking ship, at the Dutch Plantation,
it pleased the Dutch Governour, (in some
discourse with mee about the Natives), to
draw their Line from Iceland, because the
name Sackmakan (the name for an Indian
Prince, about the Dutch) is the name for a
Prince in Iceleand.
Other opinions I could number up
under favour I shall present (not mine
opinion, but) my Observations to the
judgement of the Wife.
First, others (and my selve) have con-
ceived some of their words to hold affini-
tie with Hebrew.
Secondly, they constaintly annoit their
heads as the Jewes did.
Thirdly, they give Dowries for their
wives, as the Jewes did.
Fourthly (and which I have not so ob-
served amongst other Nations as amongst
the Jewes, and these) they constantly se-
perate their Women (during the time of
their monthly sicknesse) in a little house
alone by themselves foure or five dayes,
and hold it an Irreligious thing for either
Father or Husband or any Male to come
They have often asked me if it bee so
with women of other Nations, and whether
they are so separated: and for their practice
they plead Nature and Tradition. Yet
againe I have found a greater Affinity of
their Language with the Greeke Tongue.
Positive descriptive word used for Native Americans.
Neutral descriptive word used for Native Americans.
Negative descriptive word used for Native Americans.
References to Native words or terminology.
References to Native religion.
References to colonial religion.
Gendered language or references to gender.
References to colonists/English ideas.
References to Nature.