The Tragedy of the Wilderness: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 4

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

Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3

by Mary Ellen Lepionka. Featured image: the Moses Jewett house on upper High Street. In Massachusetts Bay Colony, Native Americans as well as colonists were required to fence their cornfields, and colonists were required to help them. Soon after, everyone was also responsible for fencing the commons to keep cattle in, away from the cornfields. … Continue reading Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3

“Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2

Featured image: Samoset, visiting Wampanoag chief Massasoit, entered the settlement at Plymouth on March 16, 1621 and greeted the colonists in English. by Mary Ellen Lepionka 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. A common misconception is that English … Continue reading “Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2

Winchester Public Library Purchase of Land From the Indians by Aiden Lasalle Ripley

“That we may avoid the least scrupulo of intrusion” – The Colonists and Indian Land, Part I

by Mary Ellen Lepionka. Featured image: Winchester Public Library "Purchase of Land From the Indians" by Aiden Lasalle Ripley Children today are told that the colonists robbed the Native Americans of their land, that their means of livelihood was stolen from them. This isn’t really true though, at least not for the first 80 years or so. … Continue reading “That we may avoid the least scrupulo of intrusion” – The Colonists and Indian Land, Part I

Indian symbols, by by Capt. Seth Eastman, U. S. Army, (1808-1875)

Manitou in Context

by Mary Ellen Lepionka. Featured image by Capt. Seth Eastman, U. S. Army, (1808-1875) Children in the colonial era were taught that the Indians’ Great Spirit was an avatar of Satan. Children today are taught that the Great Spirit is a version of the Christian God. How far from the truth are both these ideas? How—really—and … Continue reading Manitou in Context

Native American Influence on English Fashions

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.

Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 by Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893)

The Cape Ann Vikings

Featured image: Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 by Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893) by Mary Ellen Lepionka, January 15, 2018 It seemed a simple enough question: Who came here prior to English settlement and what did they discover? Other than Champlain, I expected to confirm the landfalls of Columbus in the Caribbean, Ponce de … Continue reading The Cape Ann Vikings

Appropriations of Native Identity: Pocahontas and the Last Wampanoag

By Mary Ellen Lepionka. Read the entire article at Enduring Gloucester

Enduring Gloucester

Mary Ellen Lepionka

Frederick Mulhaupt (1871-1938) painted “Native American Life on Cape Ann” for the old Maplewood School in 1934. It was later moved to its current location at the O’Maley Middle School.

Erasure narratives, in which the Indians disappeared, reached even into science. Many early archaeologists and ethnologists believed that New England Indians were of little interest or consequence, not worthy of study. Archaeological sites in New England consisted only of shell heaps and burial grounds, paling in comparison to the monumental architectures of the Native civilizations of Mexico and South America. But the more the Indians were thought to have disappeared, the more people began to lament their loss. The “vanished Indian” was invented, and New Englanders began to exploit, and distort their memory. In the process, they misappropriated Native culture and identity.

Impersonating Indians and dressing up as Puritans and Indians became fashionable around the turn of…

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Living descendants of the Agawam Indians

Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam

by M. E. Lepionka 3/6/17. Mary Ellen is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a Master's degree in anthropology from Boston University and post-graduate work at the University of British Columbia. In 2008 she retired to research the prehistory of Cape Ann and the Native Americans who lived here and to document … Continue reading Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam

Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really?

(The following article is written by Mary Ellen Lepionka of Gloucester. Download the full PDF document View the references page It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, so wedded to civic pride, expensive sometimes to modify—even when there is good reason to do so, such as a … Continue reading Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really?