Thursday, August 25, 2011
Moses Van Campen: a colonial with Native American learning
In his own words and quaint spelling, Moses Van Campen, who was taken captive by Native Americans during the Revolutionary war, said that “I was nurtured in the school of the rifle and the tomahawk.” Van Campen lived from 1757 to 1849. He was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, but grew up in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. As a child he spent a good deal of time interacting with Native Americans, as was natural in that place and time. However, as was also commonplace, his family was attacked by Native Americans in 1780. He was taken prisoner, but escaped within a week that first time. He was taken prisoner a second time by Seneca Indians in 1782 at Bald Eagle Creek in Pennsylvania. After running the gauntlet, he was treated very well, and when he returned to his own community, he did not forget the Native American ways that he had learned as a child and as a captive. He remained friends with the Native Americans, and integrated their ways into his own life knowledge and experience.