From reading the reviews on other news outlets, it would seem that part 1 of the PBS series “We Shall Remain” was supposed to be the weakest. If this is the weakest, then the rest of the series must be incredible.
I was impressed by this portrayal of early colonial interactions between Native Americans and incoming English settlers. For once, a show focused on the interdependence between the Wampanoag and the English, and how this relationship would evolve as their populations change. As I said in my previous post, the Native Americans had an upper hand on the early settlements, largely due to population. This would change as the English settler population grew, much to the detriment of the Native peoples of New England.
I am particularly pleased at their treatment of events leading up to King Philip’s War (1675-1676). What was important to notice is how the early interdependence of these two peoples led to a mingling of cultures that was both genuine and unsettling. Metacom, the aforementioned “King Philip”, was a Wampanoag who lived in two worlds, enjoying prestige and respect in both English and Native circles. This was not uncommon–many early settlements involved close interaction between cultures, such as the Mohawks and settler colonies in northern New York.
When it comes to whites, the facts are meant to speak for themselves. The groups that came to America came with different motives and different experiences when encountering Native peoples. One this is absolutely clear, however: they were here to stay, and more were coming. This fact, the numbers game, is the crux of the argument: although Native peoples were able to share the land with a few hundred English settlers, the tide of colonization meant that that this arrangement could not continue long. What drove the Natives from their lands were the desire for land from a people who valued land as a measure of societal status.
I’ll be looking forward to the next part of the series, which deals with Tecumseh and his Native confederacy. Even though I understand the need to select particular stories in this narrative, there are stories that are missing. As a New Yorker, I would’ve liked to see more of the Haudenosaunee confederacy, the Dutch interaction with Native Americans, and their role in the French and Indian War. Maybe I ask too much…I’m no director, after all.
One response to “Review of Yesterday’s PBS series “We Shall Remain” Part 1”
Part I of We shall Remain covered the intercine wars of the Christians, better known as the Purtian wars I (Pequot) and II (Wampanoag). The thousands of Naragansett Christians, who were also Royal British people, were massacured at the start of the Puritan war II but were hardly mentioned.
Perhaps the Puritan rush to massacure the Narragansetts was caused by the impending arrival of the King’s Agents, who might have learned that the Royal British subjects were really Christians, who had a church in Newport. Maybe after the massacure, an “unexplained” fire converted the church to an “old mill.”
After all, if the Kings Agents discovered that the Pequot, the Narragansettt, and the Wampanoag were Christians, the charters of the colonies would have been revoked, because the colonies could make a colony only “in that part of America not now possess by any Christian prince or people.’
A few Wapamnaog survivied. In 1994, Manitoquat wrote The Children of the Morning Light. In the Great Migration chapter he wrote: “At first the Children of the Morning Light lived on an Island in a far southern sea.” [Ireland and/or Scotland, which were (Irish) Christiians by the year 600. Three-forths of the people vanished when the Norse started to raid. They may have gone to Iceland.]
Then Manitoquat writes, “The island began to tremble and the people quikly got into canoes and put to sea. [Iceland. ] Finally, after rowing to a new, big land and making a long migration during the Little Ice Age, the Wapanoag settle in New England. They may have carried their Christianity all the way. Only to meet the Puritans!
Roger Williams listened. He knew the Wapanoag spoke ancient and Old Norse. He knew that King James had no rights to Christian Land. Williams was banished. Thomas Morton, an Oxford scholar, knew the Wampanoag were using Latin and Greek phrases. Thomas Morton was sent back to England in chains—three times!
The American Christians had few specialized war weapons. The Puritans brought swords, horses, guns, cannon, and gun powder. The day after the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims built a second story to fort and put a cannon on the roof.
The American Christians had faith in God . The Puritans had faith in weapons of war. What is the ultimate lesson here? Would you prefer to have ancestors from among the American Christians or from among the Puritans?
Myron Paine, author
Frozen trail to Merica,
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