Saturday, May 28, 2016

Documentary Review: American Experience: We Shall Remain: After the Mayflower

In this first episode at a series looking at Native American history after the coming of the Europeans deals with the Pilgrims and their relationship with the Wampanoag people.  The Wampanoag had gone through a devastating plague just before the English arrived at Plymouth Rock.  This plague was likely brought to them by European fishermen who had started to have contact with the Native Americans along the coast.  As a result, the English found a territory underpopulated.  The disease had taken a great many lives.  Chief Massasoit watched the Pilgrims with caution.  It wasn't for three months after they landed that the Native Americans finally decided to make contact with them.  Because they had brought their children and wives, it was felt they could be trusted.
This story deals with the many years of peaceful relationships between the British and the Massasoit.  This helped the Pilgrims get established.  The story of the first Thanksgiving is fascinating, as Massasoit attends with many of his warriors.  The bring five deer to contribute to the feast.
There is a period where Massasoit falls ill, and he is nursed back to health by a friend from amongst the pilgrims.  By the first year of the Pilgrims coming to America there was a peace treaty in place between the two peoples.
Before Massasoit passed away he asked the British to give his sons Christian names.  His older son was given the name Alexander, and the younger Phillip.  The peaceful relations between his people and the British would last even beyond his death in 1661.  His son Alexander continued the peace.  However when his next son, Phillip, took over as chief things began to deteriorate.  Phillip (Metacomet) could see that the British intent was to take over, and that his people would only be second class citizens in their own country.  The British tried to extend their laws to his people, and it just didn't fit.  He felt disrespected, and no longer an equal.  Finally he formed an alliance with several neighboring tribes, and initiated a war against the British.  It was very effective against those communities that were not well defended.  Many towns were burned, and many settler had to retreat to larger communities.  However, the Mohawk aligned with the British, and killed 500 of his warriors in an attack.  After that Phillip and his people did not have the strength to carry on.  Phillip visited the community of his youth, where he was killed.  His body was dismembered, and parts given to different people for their part in his death.  His head was mounted on a pike and placed at the entrance to Fort Plymouth as a warning against others who may attack.  His wife and son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda.

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