By Field, Corinne T.; Syrett, Nicholas L
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Additional info for Age in America : the colonial era to the present
Unlike Sylvanus Johnson, both of these women as adolescents took sacramental vows before their English families found them, so they remained with new families, new languages, and a new confession. They also illustrate an important fact about the captives who were of an age to decide, and who ultimately elected to remain with Native families or in New France: 70 percent of them were girls or women. Boys were much likelier to be offered incentives to return to New England—jobs as translators, for example—and in some families, their inheritances were held for them even if they wanted to return to their Native or French families.
They also recognized puberty and had formal rituals for acknowledging this developmental stage. Children’s sizes and stages of mental and physical development were probably more important than chronological age in these significant transitions in Native children’s lives. Because these life stages roughly correlated with the chronological ages regarded as significant in France and England, participants in the North American border wars shared a general understanding with regard to the timing of maturation in childhood and adolescence.
32 And these are the stories of boys and girls who survived their ordeals and were eventually restored to health if not also to their natal families—what of their Indian brothers and sisters, whose communities were ravaged by disease and starvation in addition to warfare? Something to consider when using the lens of trauma to understand children’s experiences is that we are almost entirely reliant on adult narrators of children’s experiences in this period. Susanna Johnson was the teller of her son’s tales, so how can we know if the trauma she reported was her son’s, or her own trauma at being reunited with a beloved child who no longer knew her as his mother and no longer even spoke her language?
Age in America : the colonial era to the present by Field, Corinne T.; Syrett, Nicholas L