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.