Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Ashpelon's Journey

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.

[1] 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.
[2] 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.
[3] Stockwell, “Stockwell’s Relation,” 43; “Letter from Major John Pynchon” 53; 55.
[4] 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.

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