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

Re-placing the Narrative

Hubbard’s and Mather’s accounts of Weetamoo’s death are what Jean O’Brien calls “replacement narratives” - narratives of “Indian decline and extinction that paved the way for the replacement of ‘traditional’ Indian peoples with modern New English people”.[1] By writing Weetamoo as a poetic victim, an indigenous woman dying in her own homeland, Hubbard and Mather create this kind of replacement narrative. However, they also create a re-placement narrative that shifts the geography of Weetamoo's story. By eliding the location of Weetamoo’s last battle at Lockety Neck and by placing her “drowned” body at her homelands at Mattapoisett, Hubbard and Mather utilize place/space to construct their narrative of inevitable conquest. They create a false dichotomy between the “civilized” colonial space of Taunton and the “wild” indigenous space beyond it, into which the Tauntonians “went out” to capture Weetamoo’s warriors. The “discovery” of Weetamoo’s body at Mattapoisett complements this construction of space by imagining her death as the symbolic downfall of Native homelands. Like the denuded image of her body, the land at Mattapoisett, stripped of its defenses, is subjected to the colonial gaze of Hubbard’s and Mather’s accounts.

Centering Lockety Fight in the story of Weetamoo’s death has the potential to cast off that gaze. Weetamoo’s likely presence at Lockety Fight suggests that this is not a story about an indigenous woman dying in her homeland, furthering the parallelism between her body and the land. Rather, this is a story about Taunton, and Taunton’s place in the Native homelands that surrounded it.
In Emery’s account of why the battle of August 6, 1676 took place at Lockety Neck, he argues that the battle must have taken place there because “none should venture out for the discovery or surprisal of the enemie except within or neare their respective towns”; because “Major Bradford was in Taunton at this time in command of the forces”; and because “the whole territory about Taunton was swarming with the Indians in unknown bands.”[2] It is because of the very real contestation and militarization at Taunton that Weetamoo’s final battle at Lockety Fight took place.

This is a story about Taunton as a militarized space, a place of fierce struggle and conflict. While the centering of Mattapoisett in Hubbard’s and Mather’s narratives is used to create a feeling of inevitability, centering Taunton and the places around it reveals the reality of conflict and a distinctly non-inevitable struggle.

[1] O’Brien, Jean M., Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010, 3
[2] Emery, Samuel Hopkins, History of Taunton, Massachusetts: From Its Settlement to the Present Time, Syracuse, N. Y: D. Mason & Co, 1893, 406

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