The “Sweat-Bath-Men” and “Children of Nature”
A Historian’s Insight into the Social Interaction between Finns and Native Americans
Avainsanat:Finnish Americans, Native American, Ojibwa, Social Interaction, Attitudes, North America
This article focuses on the social interaction between ethnic Finns and Native Americans in North America c. 1850—1950 and is based onmy Master’s thesis research in which I covered the nature of the interaction phenomenon in question as well as the social statuses of both groups and the attitudes expressed by them concerning the other. The analysis is based on biographical source material supported by documents, interviews and academic literature emphasizing both the Finns and the Native Americans who were in contact with each other during the aforementioned era. Most of the interaction between Finns and Native Americans took place in the wilderness, workplaces and schools. The interaction was most commonly motivated by either cooperation or bargaining. The situations of encounter were generally perceived as either positive or neutral experiences by both groups. The Finns and the Native Americans shared knowledge with each other and taught skills and techniques to one another. The Finns held some negative attitudes and prejudices towards the Native Americans during the early ages of the era under examination but along the 20th century started to represent them with either positive or neutral discourses. The Native Americans represented Finns with generally positive or neutral discourses throughout the time frame of the research.