When John Jewitt boarded a ship in England in 1802 for what was supposed to be an eighteen-month voyage around the world, he was ready for adventure.
The seventeen-year-old had undoubtedly been enthralled by stories about China, which promised enchanting islands, exotic ports-of-call, and thrills beyond the imagination
His dreams were dashed when the Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island, who had occupied the place for four thousand years, captured him and held him captive. Somehow, he managed to write about his experience, providing historians and anthropologists with a rare account of Native American culture before it collapsed from contact with whites.
Jewitt saw the Nootka as “savages, degraded for their morals and customs.” They were “uncivilized” for worshipping several gods and “subhuman” for enjoying rotten salmon. His writings help explain why whites were so quick to enslave Africans and push Native Americans aside.
Take a glimpse into the past when people were considered inferior because they were different, and learn important lessons about why we must be tolerant and understanding by being Among the Nootka.