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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A modern depiction of the first medieval settlers arriving in Iceland

A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. Settlers are generally people who take up residence on land and cultivate it, as opposed to nomads. Settlers are sometimes termed "colonists" or "colonials" and -- in the United States -- "pioneers".



The term settler is not usually used in relation to the later histories of well-established and/or independent, post-colonial countries with continuing immigration, like the present-day United States, Canada or Australia, where terms like immigrants are preferred. However, Canadian First Nations people often refer to all non-natives as "settler peoples", or "settler populations".

Historical usage

A personification of pioneering as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot

In almost every real historical case, settlers live on land which previously belonged to long-established peoples, known as indigenous people (often called "natives", "Aborigines" or, in the Americas, "Indians"). This land is usually settled against the wishes of the indigenes, and then controlled, defended and expanded by force, or it is bought or leased from indigenous people on terms highly favourable to the settlers, sometimes under a treaty (e.g. the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand). In some cases (such as Australia), the legal ownership of some lands is contested much later by indigenous people, who seek or claim traditional usage, land rights, native title and related forms of ownership or partial control.

The word "settler" was not originally usually used in relation to unfree labour immigrants, such as slaves (e.g. in the United States), indentured labourers (such as in Colonial America),[1] or convicts (such as in New York, 1674-1775; Australia 1788-1868).

In the figurative usage a "person who goes first or does something first", also applies to the American English use of "pioneer" to refer to a settler, a person who has migrated to a less occupied area and established permanent residence there, often to colonize the area, first recorded in English in 1605.[2] In United States history it refers to those people who helped to settle new lands.

In this usage, pioneers are usually among the first to an area, whereas settlers can arrive after first settlement and join others in the process of human settlement. This correlates with the work of military pioneers who were tasked with construction of camps before the rest of the troops would arrive at the designated camp site.

More recently descendants of these immigrants may argue that they have as much right to use the word "settler" as the descendants of free immigrants.

A family of Russian settlers in the Caucasus region, circa 1910

In Imperial Russia, the government invited Russians or foreign nationals to settle in sparsely populated lands.[3] These settlers were called "colonists". See, e.g., articles Slavo-Serbia, Volga German, Volhynia, Russians in Kazakhstan.

Although they are often thought of as traveling by sea — the dominant form of travel in the early modern era — significant waves of settlement could also use long overland routes, such as the Great Trek by the Boer-Afrikaners in South Africa, or the Oregon Trail in the United States.

Anthropological usage

Anthropologists record tribal displacement of native settlers who drive another tribe from the lands it held, such as the settlement of lands in the area now called Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where Ohlone peoples settled in areas previously inhabited by the Esselen tribe (Bainbridge, 1977).[4]

Modern usage

Early North American settlers from Europe often built crude houses in the form of log cabins.

In the Middle East, Israeli settlers are Jews who live in areas captured during the Six-Day war and claimed by Palestinians and Syria. Some historians and scientists maintain that Palestinians are descended mostly from Arab settlers in Palestine, after the Caliphate conquered the area in the 7th century. However, both Israelis and Palestinians claim partial descent from peoples who lived in the region in prehistoric times (see: History of ancient Israel and Judah, Ancestry of the Palestinians).

Other usages

Settlers in hypothetical societies, such as on other planets, often feature in science fiction or fantasy fiction and/or video games.

Causes of emigration

The reasons for the emigration of settlers vary, but often they include the following factors and incentives: the desire to start a new and better life in a foreign land, personal financial hardship, social, cultural, ethnic, or religious persecution (e.g. the Pilgrims, Mormons and Zionists), political oppression, and government incentive policies aimed at encouraging foreign settlement.

The colony concerned is sometimes controlled by the government of a settler's home country, and emigration is sometimes approved by an imperial government.

See also


  1. ^ Indentured Servitude in Colonial America
  2. ^ [1] Online Etymological Dictionary
  3. ^ Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
  4. ^ Prehistoric Sources Technical Study, prepared for the city of Monterey by Bainbridge Behrens Moore Inc., May 23, 1977

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource


by Dorothea Mackellar
From The Witch Maid, and Other Verses
[ 25 ]


If the gods of Hellas do not tread our shaggy mountains,
Stately, white-and-golden, with unfathomable eyes,
Yet the lesser spirits haunt our forests and our fountains,
Seas and green-brown river-pools no thirsty summer dries.

Never through the tangled scrub we see Diana glisten,
Silver-limbed and crescent-crowned and swift to hear and turn,
When the chase is hottest and the woods are waked to listen,
While her maidens follow running knee-deep in the fern.

Of the great gods only Pan walks hourly here—Pan only,
In the warm dark gullies, in the thin clear upland air,

[ 26 ]

On the windy sea-cliffs and the plains apart and lonely,
By the tingling silence you may know that he is there.

But the sea-nymphs make our shores shine gay with light and laughter,
At the sunset when the waves are mingled milk and fire
You may see them very plain, and in the darkness after
You may hear them singing with the stars' great golden choir.

When the earth is mad with song some blue September morning,
In the grove of myall trees that rustle green and grey,
Through the plumes of trailing leaves hung meet for her adorning,
See a dark-browed Dryad peep and swiftly draw away.

In the deep-cut river beds set thick with moss-grown boulders
Where the wagtails come to drink and balance lest they fall,

[ 27 ]

You may see the gleaming of a Naiad's slippery shoulders,
And the water sliding cool and quiet over all.

Through the narrow gorges where the flying-foxes muster,
Hanging from the kurrajongs like monstrous magic grapes,
Something spreads a sudden fear that breaks each heavy cluster—
See the furry prick-eared faun that chuckles and escapes!

Marble-smooth and marble-pale the blue gums guard the clearing
Where the winter fern is gold among the silver grass,
And the shy bush creatures watching bright-eyed and unfearing
See the slender Oreads while we unheeding pass.

[ 28 ]

Wreathed with starry clematis these tread the grassy spaces
When the moon sails up beyond the highest screening tree,
All the forest dances, and the furthest hidden places
Are astir with beauty—but we may not often see.

When came they to harbour here, the shy folk peering, flying?
Long before our coast showed blue to Poncé de León
Pan beheld a vision of an empty kingdom lying
Waiting—and he led them past the seas to claim his own.


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