As a researcher on Indigenous history here, I was captivated by this account, both for its romance and its tragedy. Who were these people? Where did they come from and where did they go? Why was all that happening and what did it mean? And what did it have to do with Masconomet’s Agawam Village, known archaeologically as once having occupied that same Wigwam Hill site on Castle Neck? Following are the answers I discovered.
Mary Ellen Lepionka
Politics of the Archives Redux: Indigenous History of Indigenous Peoples of Essex County, Massachusetts
This essay is about attributions of ethnic identity in the Indigenous history of Essex County, Massachusetts. Will Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars be able to retell Indigenous history as it was real?
It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, even when there is a better explanation or a closer truth. I hope it will be possible to change public knowledge about the Native Americans who lived here and get closer to the truth.
Descendants of the Pawtucket are living in Abenaki, Pequaket, Penobscot, and Micmac communities today in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia.
Native Americans and settlers managed to impoverish themselves through overexploitation of the wider environment. At the same time, they both also selectively protected species, custom-designed habitats for them, and practiced common-sense conservation of trees, soil, fish stocks, and water
The idea of private property was alien to Native Americans, but the practice of private ownership apparently was not a feature of colonial life either.
In contact situations in the early 17th century, Europeans were quick to grasp the essential humanity of Native Americans and admired their appearance and physical fitness. Soon, upper-class English wore American feathers and furs, Native Americans prized English woven fabrics and garments, especially tailored shirts.
Beneath broad acceptance of Indian rights and benign admiration for aspects of Native culture lies inherited hostility toward Native people. Unrecognized, it has gone unchallenged, but locally I have found it evident in these six ways.
Today, vestiges of the Commons survive here as city parks or conservation lands, such as the South Green in Ipswich, and public gardens, such as Boston Common.
More than the concepts of sovereignty and private property, the commodification of nature in the service of mercantile capitalism was the crux of the problem.
The creator power was regarded as the equal of other powers in the skyworld and the underworld, but it is Kitanitowit’s Gitchi Manitou that ascended to prominence under the influence of Christianity. Of all the great spirits, it most resembled the Christian God and was transformed accordingly during the Contact Period.
I find no evidence that Lief Ericson’s brother Thorvald was buried on Cape Ann in 1004 AD or even that Vikings actually set foot here.