“Wampanoag History and Culture” with Randy Joseph
By Jon Alden
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Presented by the Westport Historical Society. This program offered by Randy Joseph, Plimoth Plantation educator, focused on the history, culture and present day issues of the many communities making up the Wampanoag tribe. The talk with slideshow covered the seasonal customs, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies of the Native Americans and looked at the events surrounding King Philip’s War and interaction between Native Americans and the English colonists who settled in this area. Often edgy, but always informative, the talk was spirited and represented the views and beliefs of an educated young family man raised in the deep traditions of the Wampanoag people, who wishes to continue those traditions. Randy answered many questions from those in attendance, and expressed his views, from his Wampanoag perspective, of the events leading up to the King Philip’s War. Below is a brief excerpt of the war
Randy Joseph is a Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag. He is the Wampanoag Education Manager at Plimoth Plantation, and he is also a traditional dancer and singer. Admission to the program was free, but donations were accepted. Refreshments were provided. www.westporthistory.com
King Philip's War
The relations of the colonists to the Indians were threefold: they traded with the Indians, they fought with them, and they preached the gospel to them. The early settlers carried on trade with the natives, because it was profitable, and because it was often necessary, in keeping the colonists from starvation. They sought from pure and honest motives to convert the red men to Christianity.
The people of Massachusetts were foremost in this laudable ambition. The Reverend John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians, labored for many years to give them the gospel, and translated the Bible into their language. Eliot was assisted by many others, and many of the dusky inhabitants of the forest learned to bow down to the Christian's God.
Nevertheless, conflict between the white men and the Indians was at times inevitable. The Indian could not understand the perpetual obligations of a treaty, nor could he discriminate between the honest settler who sought only to do him good, and the conscienceless trader who defrauded him. Hence the two races were embroiled in wars from time to time, until the stronger race finally triumphed over the weaker, and took sole possession of the land. No other result, indeed, was possible. The two races were so unlike in their aspirations and their capacity for civilization that they could not dwell together, and barbarism fell before the onmarch of civilization.
Philip was the son of Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags, who had made a treaty of friendship with the Pilgrims of Plymouth soon after their landing. This treaty had been faithfully kept for fifty years, but soon after the death of the aged chief, Philip and his tribe became estranged from the white settlers and began to prepare for war. No particular cause for the war that ensured is known. It was apparently a spontaneous outburst, rather than the result of a conspiracy of the Indians. It is supposed that the Indians, seeing the gradual encroachment of the white men upon the lands of their fathers, determined to drive the intruders from the country.
The war began with an Indian attack on the town of Swansea, in which several men, women, and children were killed. The cry of alarm instantly spread throughout the colonies and the effect was immediate. Three hours after the messenger had reached Boston a body of men was on the march from that city toward the Indian country. Other towns responded with equal vigor, and ere many days the New England forest range with the crack of the musket and the war whoop of the savage. Had the Indians met their civilized foe in open battle they would soon have been annihilated; but their method was to attack the lonely farmhouse, the unprotected settlement, or to creep by stealth at dead of night upon the sleeping hamlet and with fiendish yells to fall upon their victims with the tomahawk.
Philip was a bold and powerful leader. He succeeded in enlisting the aid of the Narragansetts; but many of the Indians, especially those converted by Eliot, assisted the colonies. In the summer of 1675 the towns of Brookfield, Deerfield, and Northfield were burned by the savages, and many of the inhabitants perished. A band of soldiers led by Captain Beers was ambushed near Deerfield and almost all were killed. The Indians then attacked Hadley, and while the villagers were fighting desperately it is said that an aged man with flowing white hair and beard appeared and took command of the battle, and the savages were soon driven off. Many thought him an angel sent from heaven for their deliverance. It proved to be Goffe, the regicide, who had long been hiding in the town.
The following winter a thousand of the best men of New England marched against the savage foe; they surprised the Narragansett fort and put to death probably seven hundred people in a night. By the spring of 1676 the Indians were on the defensive. Philip became a fugitive and escaped his pursuers from place to place. At length he was overtaken in a swamp in Rhode Island by Captain Ben Church of Plymouth and was shot dead by one of his own race.
The war soon ended; the Indians had lost three thousand men, their power was utterly broken, and never again was there a war of the races in southern New England. But the cost to the colonies was terrible. Thirteen towns had been laid in ashes; the wilderness was marked on every side with desolate farms and ruined homes. A thousand of the brave young men had fallen, and there was scarcely a fireside that was not a place of mourning. The public debt had risen to an enormous figure, falling most heavily on Plymouth, in proportion to population. In this colony alone the debt reached was £15,000, more, it was said, than the entire property valuation of the colony -- but this debt was paid to the last shilling.
This translation is now a great literary curiosity. No man can read it, the language having perished with the people that used it.
Goffe and his father-in-law, Whalley, had signed the death warrant of King Charles I, and after the Restoration they fled to America and lived in hiding till their death.
Source: "History of the United States of America," by Henry William Elson, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904. Transcribed by Kathy Leigh.
A Brief History of Squanto
As reported on www.nativeamericans.com
Squanto (1585?-1622), Native American of the Wampanoag tribe of what is now Massachusetts. Also known as Tisquantum, he proved an invaluable friend to white settlers in New England in the early 17th century. Early in his life he was captured and sold as a slave in Spain but eventually escaped and went to England. When he returned to New England in 1619 as pilot for an English sea captain, he escaped and discovered that his people had been destroyed by a plague. Two years later he helped the starving Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to survive by teaching them both fishing and the planting of corn. He developed a friendship with the Massachusetts settlers and acted as interpreter at the Treaty of Plymouth, signed in 1621 between the Native American chief Massasoit and Governor William Bradford. While guiding a party under Bradford around Cape Cod the following year, he became ill and died.
A Brief History of Weetamoo, squaw sachem
As reported on www.mayflowerfamilies.com
Namumpum Alive in Jun 1675 in Pocasset. Benjamin Church had come to visit her at this time, having heard from Seconet that trouble with Philip was pending immediately. She being absent, he spoke with her husband who confirmed that which he had learned at Seconet. Namely, he said there would certainly be war, as Philip had performed war dances earlier in the week. Her husband urged Church to see Weetamoo who was not far away, which he did. He found her with few men, she saying that they were with Philip at the war-dances. He urged her at this time to put herself into Rhode Island and to so inform Plymouth. Subsequently she did so, but hostilies from the English there and the burning of her home gave her little choice other than to join Philip.
At this time Weetamoo had about 300 men, and she is here noted again as being the former wife of Alexander. In a footnote taken from the Old English Chronicles, she is noted "as potent a prince as any round her." She died about Aug 1676 in Taunton, MA. Captured by a small company sent out from Taunton, she drowned while trying to escape upon a small raft across the river. Her body was found a few days after, her head was severed, and being placed upon a pole was paraded in the street at Taunton. She was also known as Weetamoo, Tatapanunum. [Weetamoe: New England Queen . . .] Weetamo, is thought to be the daughter of Corbitant and is said to have been proud, imperious and self-reliant. Of her early history little is known but that she was known as Nummumpaum and was married by 1651 to Weequequinequa. She was "heire apparent and trewe inheritor" of the territory now included within the limits of the town of Tiverton RI, and enjoyed the title of "squaw sachem," or queen of the Pocasset. In 1656 she had become the wife of Massasoit's eldest son Wamsutta and called herself Tatapanum. This accounting says she married after Alexander's death one called Quiquequanchett taking up residence in her own territory, Pocasset, followed by two addtional husbands.
During the time of her marriage to Quinnapin the famous captive Mrs. Rowlandson was bought by him as a slave. She later writes of her captivity: My master, she narrates, had three squaws, Onux, this old squaw at whose wigwam I was . . . Another was Wettimore with whom I had lived and served all this time . . . A severe and proud dame was she; bestowing every day in dressing herself near as much time as any gentry of the land--powdering her hair and painting her face, going with her necklaces, with jewels in her ears and bracelets upon her hands . . When she had dressed herself her work was to make girdles of wampum and beads.
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