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

Remove 8: Coasset

In the ninth remove, Weetamoo and Mary Rowlandson paddled up the Connecticut River, alongside the many families traveling with them, and crossed the river to the west bank, where Weetamoo united with Philip and his delegation, returning from the Mohican town of Hoosic. Here, at Coasset, in Sokoki territory, they encamped while families "rejoiced" in their reunion. Their Sokoki hosts, and their Pocumtuck and Nonotuck relations, would have been preparing to plant, in the fertile terraces and flood plains of Kwinitekw.

Even in early spring, the deep alluvial soils on the banks turn to green, allowing mid-spring planting even in this northern region, while the terraces above provided an autumn harvest of nut trees and higher elevations for homes, as well as ground for staggered spring and summer plantings. The spring salmon and shad runs, signaled by the blooming of shad bush, would soon come up river, and trout would find their pools in the streams. Early spring plants like apenak, the legume Rowlandson called "groundnuts," and wild leeks would also emerge from the banks, providing food. The red clay on the banks provided storage for dried corn and nuts, likely feeding the families who arrived that spring, while also offering the material women needed to make clay pots. As the women and their families moved "up and down" the banks and terraces, they would have found the various foods and material resources they needed to sustain themselves.

When we visited this place, we also saw sumac, and wondered if the women then made the same tea that we enjoy in winter. Evidence of deer near the old encampments at the bend of the river, where the land is most fertile, remind us of winter and fall hunting. The confluence of streams with the river promise good fishing.

Our crew of website creators was able to paddle this same stretch of the river in summer, led by Penobscot master paddlers Mark Ranco and Chip Loring and using Gedakina's war canoe. We put in by the Yankee Nuclear Plant, at the old fishing falls by the Great Bend, and paddled downstream through Hinsdale, New Hampshire and Vernon, Vermont. Although salmon have made their way back to the river, it is not advisable to eat them. Further downriver, at the Farmington River tributary, the salmon have begun their own process of regeneration​, building their redds (nests) and spawning a new generation who will swim south to the Atlantic Ocean, then, next spring, return to the river of their birth.  

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