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

Movement to Schaghticoke

In the wake of King Phillip’s war, and for several decades after, the Mahican village of Schaghticoke, near the confluence of the Hoosic and the Hudson rivers, became a central gathering place for displaced Native peoples from throughout the southern Connecticut River valley. Much of the village’s draw stemmed from its political geography; Schaghticoke was in the New York colony, the government of which was seen as far more friendly to Natives than was Massachusetts’. Indeed, while agents of Massachusetts’ colonial government were rounding up Native peoples for confinement, imprisonment or even enslavement, New York’s government, under Edmund Andros, was largely attempting to maintain diplomatic relations with the region’s Native population. Given the shifting nature of political boundaries and relationships, particularly following King Phillip’s War, this was no easy task. Alliances between the Algonquian-speaking peoples streaming in from the east and the people of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy already inhabiting the western region were often tenuous, and sometimes broke down completely. The Mohawks, who held the eastern door of the Confederacy, played a key role in the peacekeeping process, and in several instances opened up their own communities’ borders to refugees from the east. Schaghticoke thus became, if only for a time, a popular asylum for Native people, unique in both its centralized nature and in its heterogeneity.

A speech made in 1700, by Soquans, a Native leader who had arrived at Schaghticoke twenty-six years earlier, demonstrates the bonds formed between the Native people and the English settlers of New York. In his speech, Soquans describes the peaceful and thankful disposition of his people towards the English, using a tree as a metaphor for their continually growing relationship. This was, in fact, a common trope used among the region’s indigenous people, originating with the Iroquois Confederacy, the symbol of their Great Tree of Peace.

Then it was that a tree was planted at Schakkook whose branches are spread that there is a comfortable shade under the leaves of it: we are unanimously resolved to live & die under the shadow of the tree and pray our Father to nourish and have a favourable aspect towards that tree.”[1]

While these positive relationships were by no means universal, they do provide an interesting counterbalance to the far more hostile affairs between English colonials and Native Americans in southern New England, and in the Wabanaki heartland to the north and east of New York.
[1] Edmund B. O’Callaghan, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of NY (Albany, NY: Weed Parsons, 1853), 4: 744. See also 4: 902. On Schaghticoke, see for example, Colin Calloway, The Western Abenakis of Vermont (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), 80-4. Gordon Day, Identity of the Saint Francis Indians (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1981), 19-20. 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 Indian New England, ed. Colin Calloway (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997), 29-71.

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