What Were the Mourning Wars?

The mourning wars were fights between Native American tribes in North America throughout the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The wars were most often fought over blood feuds and tribal conflicts.

The Native American tribes of North America were in constant conflict with one another up until the 17th century. The mourning wars were wars specifically fought between tribes in the east and mideast of what is now the United States and Canada. Some of the tribes that engaged in these conflicts were the Mahican, Micmac and Oneida tribes. The conflicts were fought with very primitive weapons, which means they saw a very low amount of casualties compared to the conflicts that were going on in Europe around the same time.

Most mourning wars were fought over blood feuds. When a member of a tribe was killed by a member of a neighboring tribe, the first tribe would attack members of the second tribe in revenge. Most of the conflicts consisted of kidnappings and small fights, as large battles with many warriors were very rare.

Finally, the fights also served as a way for young men to learn how to defend their tribe and family members, and ultimately become a respected member of the tribe. Surprisingly, the wars were never fought over rights to land, as Native Americans had no concept of ownership of land.