Native American Tales

The First Ship

The First ShipThe First Ship


An old woman at Clatsop was mourning the death of her son. She took a walk on the beach in remembrance of happier days. She sighted something weird-looking off the coast. It wasn’t a whale. The old woman went a little closer to investigate. The thing had copper on it and was most certainly not anything she had ever seen. She went back to the village crying. She had heard about this thing.

The people went to the ship and found two white men, whom they originally mistook for bears. The village burned the ship, but kept the copper and iron and other things inside. The clatsop also kept the two men they had found.


Not all tales of Europeans meeting the natives ended like this. Ships weren’t burned and goods weren’t stolen. Some encounters were friendly, while some were more hostile on the side of the Europeans.


If you saw something strange what would you do to it? Would you leave it alone? would you burn it? Would you run away?

We’d all do different things when we encounter something we don’t know or understand. Some of us are conditioned to be cautious, while some of us are conditioned to be aggressive. What’s the correct reaction? That really depends on what you’re reacting to. If it’s some kind of weird bear, maybe it should be fear. If it’s like an angry hedgehog, maybe it should be aggression. It’s just something that depends on what you’re facing. Maybe in the long run, the natives were right to act aggressively to these Europeans, but maybe not. Who knows.


Be careful where you park your ship.

Weigh In

What would you do if you had never seen a ship and one appeared in your neighborhood?

What is your general approach to the unknown?


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