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

Remove 11: Wantastegok

Weetamoo led a company, which included women and children, as well as her captive, north toward the fertile, protected upriver towns of Sokwakik. She traveled with her husband, the Narragansett leader, Quinnapin, as well as her child, who had grown sick, perhaps from one of the epidemic diseases that was spreading through the colonies.

The party gained elevation as they traveled, which Mary Rowlandson noted in her description of the "tiresome" terrain, and followed the path around the mountain now known as Wantastiquet, named for the river and town within Sokokwakik territory, known as Wantastegok. They encamped here, at the confluence of Wantastekw (now known as the West River) and Kwinitekw, another key gathering and fishing place. This afforded them protection, in a low lying area between the mountain and the river, as well as a key vantage point, across the river, should English or Mohawk forces come toward them from the south or west. The ridges and summit of the mountain also provided a crucial vantage point, which Abenaki warriors would continue to use well into the eighteenth century, after English settlers built "Fort Dummer" nearby.

At this encampment, beside the trail, one of the children traveling with them died, causing great grief to the child's mother and to the women, including Weetamoo, who helped her to bury the child. On Weetamoo's return to the encampment, she noticed that her captive, Mary Rowlandson, had refused to work, to contribute to the community. It being the Sabbath, Mary sat in the "wigwam" reading her bible, which had been given to her by a Christian Indian at Menimesit. In her Narrative, the captive recorded that at this moment, Weetamoo  “snatched it hastily out of [her] hand, and threw it out of doors,” casting the bible from her house. This is one of the most poignant scenes in the Narrative, capturing the conflict between the saunkskwa of Pocasset and the mistress of Lancaster. 

What were Weetamoo's motivations for casting the bible from her house? How can we read the scene from Mary Rowlandson's perspective? From Weetamoo's? From the other Native women who were looking on? How might the context of mourning inform our reading of this scene?

Click here to view these locations in the map of Mary Rowlandson's removes or in the interactive story map.

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