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The Journey North: from Ktsi Mskodak to Ktsitekw
Contributed by Maggie King
The party that traveled “from Wachusett” returned to the great meadow of Ktsi Mskodak with sachems and “four score” women and children. Word also traveled back to Ashpelon that “Stebbins was run away.” According to Stockwell, some of the Indians who had remained at Ktsi Mskodak “spoke of burning” the remaining captives or “biting off [their] fingers,” perhaps as punishment or as a warning which would invoke fear in the other captives; but instead Ashpelon told them that “there would be a court” where “all would speak their minds.” Ashpelon spoke last, rejecting any proposals to attack the captives. 
At the same time, conflict arose after “some of the Indians” had “fallen upon Hadley” again and were apprehended by settlers. The Indians were released upon an agreement that they would return to meet with the English “to make further terms.” This prompted an intertribal council on how to proceed in dealing with the English. The stakes were high—camped at the “long wigwam” the party had traveled far enough from English intrusion, but colonial militia continued to send scouting parties. They could comply or refuse to negotiate: “Ashpelon was much for it, but the Wachusett sachems, when they came were against it.” Weighing in, the “Wachusett sachems,” who may have included Wattanummon (a Penacook who captured Stephen Williams in a later raid on Deerfield in 1704), proposed to “meet the English, indeed, but there fall upon them and take them.” The council at the “long wigwam” reveals the ways in which new bonds of kinship and pan-Indigenous alliances were fostered between communities from Wabanaki to Narragansett. With Ktsi Mskodak serving as a crucial place of gathering far enough beyond colonial reach, “a Narriganset,” “country Indians belonging to Nalwatogg,” “Wachusett sachems,” and “about four score” of their women and children, an autonomous refugee band committed to the continuance and survival of its people had begun to evolve.
After camping at Ktsi Mskodak “three weeks together” the party continued north “to a place called “Squawmaug River” (see M'sqawmagok River on map)—fishing grounds known to the party for its abundant salmon—roughly “200 miles above Deerfield.”  The party was too late in the season for salmon so they “parted into two companies,” some going one way, others going another, and continued on to traverse Askaskwigek Adenak, the Green Mountains. There were dozens of routes that ran to and from Betowbakw (Lake Champlain) over the Askaskwigek Adenak and through the various waterways of Native inland spaces to the Kwinitekw, making access easy to raid English settlements in the Kwinitekw Valley. One trail in particular was so commonly used by raiding parties and captives alike that it later became known as the “Indian Road.” Ashpelon’s original raiding party of twenty-six, augmented by the addition of the “four score” Indians “from Wachusett” and surrounding areas that had returned to Ktsi Mskodak, prompted the party to split at the base of the Askaskwigek Adenak range. With many women (some of whom were expecting) and children on the journey north, those who were physically capable would take the more rugged trail for hunting, perhaps moving through contemporary "Smuggler's Notch," while the others would take a less strenuous course, perhaps along trails following the Winooski River. The company that climbed the mountain trails trekked “eight days” through snow and rain over “a mighty mountain.” Stockwell noticed that “all the water” on the mountain began to “run northward.” The group Stockwell traveled with “wanted provision,” but “at length” reconnected with the others at the northern base of the mountain.
The party stayed “a great while” on the banks of the Wintekw (see map; also known as the Lamoille River) at a site “half a day’s journey off” Betowbakw (see map; also known as Lake Champlain) to “make canoes,” which would allow them to “go over the lake.” As the group was to set the canoes upon the great Betobakw at the mouth of the Wintekw, they hunted a moose and stayed “till they had eaten it all up.” While at last paddling the lake, a “great storm” developed, but the skill of the paddlers who had surely navigated these waters before, were able to pull the others to an island.
Stockwell noted that upon the island the party held a ceremony, discerning, as he reported, that the storm would “cast...away” an English expedition that was “coming” toward them from the western shore, which included “Benjamin Wait and another man” who were attempting to rescue their pregnant wives and children. Unbeknownst to Stockwell at the time, Benjamin Waite and Stephen Jennings, with intelligence from Stebbin’s report, sought funding and support from Major John Pynchon to intercept Ashpelon’s party. They enlisted a Mohawk guide and were traveling up the western shore of Betowbakw. Storms prevented the party from making considerable progress; together they “lay to and fro upon certain islands” for a few more weeks. Eventually, they made their way up to Quebec, hoping to negotiate the release of the English taken at Deerfield and Hatfield.
Ashpelon’s party also advanced/ moved toward Quebec, traveling by foot over the ice of Bitawbagw River/Richelieu River, and “met with some Frenchmen” on one of the islands on the north end of Betowbakw, engaging in exchange. Stockwell, suffering from frostbite, was offered “a bit of biscuit as big as a walnut” that had come from “the Frenchman.” “Six miles from Chambly” two runners left to send word ahead to the French town. Stockwell’s condition being weak, he was at times carried by sled by one of the Native men. Following the runners, they arrived at Chambly “about midnight.”
Stockwell stayed at several French homes at Chambly for several weeks’ time, visited by Indians and French alike. Ashpelon’s party likely camped at a gathering place outside of Chambly where they could easily trade, hunt, and negotiate about the captives’ ransom as it proved more advantageous for the group to create dwelling spaces on the periphery of colonial centers; Stockwell noted that the “French, as the Indians said, loved the English better than the Indians.” While New France was often more amicable and diplomatic in its relations with Native people, the French were largely invested in the growth of their empire. Despite it being a seemingly progressive province, ideologically, the French did not consider Native peoples their equals. Stockwell stayed most of the time in Chambly with a French bachelor who offered to purchase his release, “but could not for the Indians asked a hundred pounds.” 
The group, at this point consisting of at least some of the original party, headed for Sorel, on Ktsitekw (St. Lawrence River)—the final stop on Ashpelon’s journey where the captives were eventually ransomed for 200 pounds. The party did not stay directly at Sorel; rather they gathered at “a place two or three miles off where the Indians had wigwams.” Again, creating inland settlements on the outer boundaries of colonial settlements was a strategic move that created a sovereign space where refugee bands could live, talk, and counsel freely with one another.
 “Stockwell’s Relation,” 42. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 41-2. “Letter from Major John Pynchon,” 53; “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” 57. See also Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney, “Watanummon’s World: Personal and Tribal Identity in the Algonquian Diaspora c. 1660-1712” in Papers of the Twenty-fifth Algonquian Conference, ed., William Cowan (Ottawa: Carlton University, 1994), 212-224. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 42-3. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney cite Marge Bruchac in a footnote for the spelling of M’skwamagok (an Abenaki fishing place on the Wells River). “Squawmaug” may have been Stockwell’s phonetic spelling. Calloway, Western Abenakis, 27. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 42. See also Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney, Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), 129. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43. Hafeli and Sweeney suggest that this would have placed Stockwell close to Mount Hunger and Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the Askaskwigek Adenak range (footnote 29). It is possible, as Marge Bruchac reasoned in personal conversation, that any mountain would have seemed “mighty” to Stockwell, an inexperienced traveler in the North Country (Maggie King, personal conversation with Marge Bruchac, Amherst, MA, July 23, 2015). “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43-4. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 44-5. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 45. “Stockwell’s Relation,” 46.
Benoni Stebbins' Account: "a forte a greate way up the River"
Contributed by Maggie King
Sixteen days after Ashpelon’s raid, in a letter dated October 5, 1677, Major John Pynchon of Springfield requested assistance from Captain Sylvester Salisbury at Albany to solicit the aid of Mohawk sachems to intercept the party and return its English captives to safety. His detailed account of the party’s whereabouts came from the account of captive Benoni Stebbins, who had been captured at Deerfield. Ashpelon’s party carried Stebbins with them upriver to Ktsi Mskodak, a fertile Sokoki intervale on the upper Kwinitekw, a refuge nearly unknown to English colonists. Stebbins was then taken with part of Ashpelon’s party, as the group split and headed east from Ktsi Mskodak to retrieve relations near Wachusett and Wamesit. Stebbins stole a horse somewhere near Nashaway, escaped and ran toward Hadley. Back in the colonial settlements, Stebbins relayed his story to the Northampton postmaster, Samuel Ells, who passed it on to Pynchon, a prominent local trader and military leader.
As missionary Daniel Gookin later reported, at Wamesit, Wannalancet, a Penacook sachem, and “about fifty” of his people, being mostly “women and children,” were induced “either by force or persuasion” by “Indians that come from the French” to head north to Canada. The Indians that came for Wannalancet were “his kindred and relations” who told him that “the war” with the English “was not yet at an end,” that he would find “more safety among the French.”  Safer as it was for Indians in New France than in Puritan New England, inland spaces sometimes offered a better alternative to established, domesticated settlements—personal and political autonomy, game-filled hunting grounds, unmolested forests, and, above all, evasion from colonial oversight. In his letter Pynchon relayed to Salisbury that a “counsellor,” who came from “about Nashaway Ponds” (possibly referring to Wannalancet, en route from Wamesit, or one of the Nashaway/“Wachusett sachems”), “talkt of making a forte a greate way up the River & abiding there this winter.”  What would make the upper Kwinitekw an appealing place to seek refuge?
The counsellor could have been referring to either Ktsi Mskodak, where Ashpelon’s main party was encamped; Koasek, another Abenaki intervale further upriver, which had provided refuge to peoples during the summer of 1676; or the Kwinitekw headwaters, where Wannalancet and the Penacooks had spent the winter of 1675. Koasek was an “advantageous strategic location” easily accessible to trails and waterways, French allies in Canada, mission villages at Odanak and the Sillery and “inhospitable” to English intrusion. The central location of Koasek allowed for easy navigation to Canada and the Ktsitekw (St. Lawrence River), as well as many inland territories in Wabanaki. French missions and refugee hubs at Sorel, Schaghticoke, and even Koasek were not the only places that offered refuge to displaced Native peoples. There was constant movement through vast territory and into lands that were, up to this point, out of colonial purview. “Letter from Major John Pynchon,” 53. “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” 57. Gookin, “Christian Indians”, 520-1. “Letter from Major John Pynchon,” 54. In June 1676, Governor Leverett reported that “the greatest number of the enemy are gone up towards the head of Connecticut River, where they have planted much corn on the interval lands and seated three forts very advantageously in respect of the difficulty of coming at them.” Noel Sainsbury ed., Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, 1669-1674, preserved in the Public Record Office, (New York: Kraus Reprint Ltd., 1964), 406. Gookin, “Christian Indians,” 462. Colin Calloway, Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), 85.
The Journey South: the Raid on Hatfield and Deerfield
Contributed by Maggie King
“I was now by my own house which the Indians burned last year and I was about to build up again…”
The RaidIn total twenty-one captives were taken during Ashpelon’s raid, including four men, three women (of whom two were pregnant), and fourteen children. Ashpelon’s party traveled down Kwinitekw and hit Hatfield before midday, when “twelve persons were killed,” “seven dwellings burned and sundry barns full of corn,” which was probably stored from the summer’s recent harvest. With its captives the party moved upriver to Pocumtuck, or Deerfield, at dusk to raid again, taking a few more captives, including Quinton Stockwell and Benoni Stebbins. Stebbins later relayed that the party had been living in the valley for months before making their move: “They came fro Canada 3 Months agoe, &had bin Hunting & were doubtfull whether to fall on Northampton or Hatfield, at last resolved on Hatfield…[and] Deerfield.” Local histories claim that English men from both settlements were actively engaged in the construction of new homes. Stockwell’s recounting of his capture, that the Indians had burned his home the year before, reveals that Ashpelon’s raid was not an isolated event at the end of war, but rather the launch of a succession of Native acts of continuity and reclamation which endured long after King Philip’s War had been brought to a so-called close.
What were the motives behind the raid?What was the motivation for the raid on Hatfield and Deerfield? Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney argue that “long-standing Native associations with and claims upon the region, the bitter legacy of King Philip’s War,” and “French policy”  were all at play in determining the continuous raids upon Deerfield and nearby colonial settlements. In returning to their homelands at Pocumtuck and Nonotuck, Ashpelon and his relations made deliberate, symbolic acts to display continued Native presence in places that were becoming colonized spaces. Ashpelon’s party did not take captives to replace relations, which was customary of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) to the west. Captives taken on the raid were profitable and allowed networks of trade to develop between Ashpelon’s party and the French in Quebec. The French would also “employ those Indians to kill them beaver, and moose, and other peltry, wherby they gain much.” Stebbins related to the postmaster at Northampton upon his escape from Nashaway that his captors “had liued at the French & intended to return there again to sel the captiues to them” for “eight pound [a] peece.” Abenaki historian and anthropologist Marge Bruchac suggests that New France was actively seeking white females to fulfill the roles as servants, nuns, and wives for fur traders, which would have been an incentive for Frenchmen to purchase English captives, especially women and girls. Stebbins also noted that the “French Indians” intended to join the party the following spring or winter presumably to raid again “if they had sucses this time.” It should be noted that French Indians here could refer to multiple peoples in the Northern territories, including those living at Winoskik, Missisquoi, Sorel, and Odanak. Having a specific sum designated for the ransom of each captive as well as tentative plans for future raids implies an economic and political relationship between the French and Abenaki, which offered them a stable source of income for purchasing many goods, including the weapons and ammunition they needed for Fall and Winter hunting, as well as defense and future raids. The raid on Hatfield and Deerfield may have also provided an important decoy for another mission, the reclamation of relations from Wamesit and Nashaway.
 Stockwell, “Stockwell’s Relation,” 39. Daniel White Wells and Reuben Field Wells, A History of Hatfield Massachusetts in Three Parts, (Springfield, Mass: F.C.H. Gibbons, 1910), 89-90; George Sheldon, A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts: The Times When and the People by Whom it was Settled, Unsettled and Resettled, (Deerfield, Mass., Press of E.A. Hall & co., 1895), 180-1. John Eliot, “Letter from Rev. John Eliot of Roxbury to Hon. Robert Boyle Oct. 23, 1677” in Memoirs of the Life and Character of Rev. John Eliot, Apostle of the N.A. Indians by Martin Moore (Boston: Flagg & Gould, 1822), 128. “Letter from Major John Pynchon,” 53. Hough, Papers, 20-1; Wells and Wells, History of Hatfield, 92. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney,“Revisiting The Redeemed Captive: New Perspectives on the 1704 Attack on Deerfield” in After King Philip’s War: Presence and Persistence in New England, ed. Colin Calloway (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997), 30. Gookin, “Christian Indians,” 521. Eells, “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” 57. Marge Bruchac, personal conversation, July 23, 2015. Eells, “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” 57. Haefeli and Sweeney, “Revisiting The Redeemed Captive,” 38.
The Journey North: from Pocumtuck to Ktsi Mskodak
Contributed by Maggie King
From Deerfield/Pocumtuck, Ashpelon’s party took the captives and “horses which they had there taken” over Pocumtuck Ridge “on the east side of that mountain.” Until the party passed through Squakheag (Northfield), the northernmost point of colonial settlement in the Kwinitekw Valley, they broke into smaller groups and traveled at night, making "noises as of wolves and owls" to keep track of one another and avoid being “discovered by the English.” Ashpelon’s party made several strategic moves crisscrossing the Kwinitekw, finally resting at “Squakheag Meadow” where some of the party hunted when provisions grew scarce. While camped at the meadow, a company of English militia was spotted heading upriver; “then the Indians moved again.” The party and its captives divided into “many companies” so the English “might not follow their track.” Traveling from Hartford to recover the captives, the English company reached Sokwakik territory some forty miles above Hadley, but failed to find anyone and retreated as Ashpelon’s party continued north.
To avoid seizure the party “crossed the river again on [the] Squakheag side” paddling roughly thirty miles upstream to meet again “at the place appointed.” The “place appointed” was Ktsi Mskodak, the “Great Meadow,” where the “Indians [were] quite out of all fear” of interception by English capture. Although unknown to the English, the Sokwakik planting place of Ktsi Mskodak was evidently a well-known meeting place for Ashpelon’s party and for the northern party that set out for Wamesit on the same day as the Hatfield and Deerfield raids. Stockwell noted that it was here at Great Meadow where the company “built a long wigwam.” While Stockwell and other captives stayed at Ktsi Mskodak, Benoni Stebbins with “part of their company” was sent down “to Wotchuset hills” to retrieve “a smal compeny of Indians that had lived there al this war time.” 
 Stockwell, Captive Histories, 39. “Quentin Stockwell’s Relation,” 40-1. Gookin, “Christian Indians,” 520-1. George Sheldon, A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts: The Times When and the People by Whom it was Settled, Unsettled and Resettled, (Deerfield, MA, Press of E.A. Hall & co., 1895),183. Samuel Eells, “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” in Papers Concerning the Attack on Hatfield and Deerfield by a Party of Indians from Canada, September Nineteenth, 1677, ed., Franklin Benjamin Hough (New York, 1859), 57, https://archive.org/details/attackhatfielddee00editrich .
Contributed by Maggie King
On the 19th of September 1677 a Native party led by an “Indian captain” named Ashpelon returned to their homelands in the Kwinitekw Valley and raided the colonial villages of Hatfield and Deerfield. The party was comprised of “a Naraganset” and two-dozen “country Indians belonging to Nalwatogg” [Nonotuck], twenty of whom were men, [and] “sixe or 7” women. Quinton Stockwell, one of the English captives taken at Deerfield, documented his three hundred mile journey with Ashpelon’s company. The group paddled across and up the Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) “by Barken cannnoes,” over a “mighty mountain” in the Askaskwigek Adenak (Green Mountains) range in present-day Vermont, through the expansive Betowbakw (Lake Champlain) and deep into what Major John Pynchon would refer to as an “unpassable” network of northern territories—navigable to Native peoples, but not for English encroachment.
Stockwell and his fellow captives would be among the first English colonists to make the trek via Native trails to Ktsitekw (St. Lawrence River) where scores of displaced Indians under pressure during King Philip’s War had migrated to inland territories in the North. Stockwell’s account and his co-captive Benoni Stebbins’s documented escape—as the party split to retrieve relations in the Nipmuc and Penacook territories—have been read as demonstrations of colonial male heroism, having survived the foreign wilderness and lived to tell tales of the then unknown northern frontiers. However, reframing these texts through a de-colonial lens reconstitutes them in a way that they provide firsthand knowledge into the vast Native network of relations, peoples, trails, and territories. The map above and primary documents related to it are a means to, visually and textually, express the ways in which Native peoples had a systemic and spatial understanding of Wabanaki that was highly complex. Ashpelon’s party and the “ply of Indians that came from the French” in Canada to reclaim relations from Wachusett and Wamesit were able to move some eighty to one hundred women and children on horseback, foot, and by canoe along hundreds of miles of rugged woodland terrain. For centuries, Abenaki peoples had mapped out prime hunting, fishing, planting and gathering places, and had developed the technology to maneuver the land--how to construct canoes, traverse the upstream northern waters, and how and where to erect and dismantle places of shelter. As the map shows, the immense web of trails closely follows waterways, the preferred method of travel for Abenaki peoples.
Follow the pages below to learn more about the places and people involved in this journey.
 Quentin Stockwell, “Quentin Stockwell’s Relation of his 1677 Captivity and Redemption, 1684,” in Captive Histories: English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid, eds. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006), 40.
 Samuel Eells, “Narrative of Benoni Stebbins,” in Papers Concerning the Attack on Hatfield and Deerfield by a Party of Indians from Canada, September Nineteenth, 1677, ed. Franklin Benjamin Hough (New York, 1859), 57; “Letter from Major John Pynchon to Captain Sylvester Salisbury,” in Papers Concerning the Attack on Hatfield and Deerfield by a Party of Indians from Canada, September Nineteenth, 1677, ed. Franklin Benjamin Hough (New York, 1859), 53.
 Stockwell, “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43; “Letter from Major John Pynchon” 53; 55.
 Daniel Gookin, “An Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England,” in Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society 2 (Cambridge: Printed for the Society at the University Press, 1836), 520.