book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (2) by Faragher
From the beginning of their colonization, Anglo New Englanders seemed to habitually neglect any concept of tribal ownership of land they coveted. The French Acadians did and avoided almost any altercations with the tribes they lived with. New Englanders only brought down violence on themselves. John Mack Faragher points to one example in his history, A Great and Noble Scheme.
"We are owners of this country, and it is wide and full of Indians, and we can drive you out," a group of Abenaki leaders wrote the governor of Massachusetts, "but our desire is to be quiet." Massachusetts authorities, however, ignored their complaints and the settlers treated them with utter contempt.Hatred of tribes to the south was extended to any tribe anywhere. Tribes were, foolishly, not understood as separate nations. So foolish New Englanders helped the Naragansetts, their enemies, by starting war with a powerful tribe in the north, who, otherwise, would not have joined the war. Hatred goes hand in hand with dehumanization. Anglo New Englanders practiced it with the Natives and with the French further north.
The breaking point came, as it so often did, with an act of despicable brutality. In 1675, two New England seamen in a dory on the Saco River overtook the canoe of a native woman, the wife of Squando, sachem of the Abenakis of Saco, a leader who long had counseled patience and negotiations with the English. In the words of a contemporary account, the seamen conducted themselves in a "rue and indiscreet" manner with the woman, and when she attempted to avoid their advances they began rocking her canoe, finally overturning it and sending her infant son into the river. As the men watched impassively, the desperate mother dove to the bottom and rescued her baby, but several days later he died. when asked to explain their conduct, the seamen declared they merely had been trying "to see if young Indians could swim naturally like animals of the brute creation, as some had reported." With the murder of his son, Squando became an implacable foe of the English, leading his fellow Abenakis into war. They burned Saco and other towns along the coast, and settlers fled back to Massachusetts Bay in panic. These attacks coincided with King Philips' War (1675-77) in southern New England, a conflict that cost the lives of hundreds of colonists and natives. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island the tribes were eventually crushed, but in New Hampshire and Maine, where colonial settlement was scattered, the Abenakis prevailed, and in 1678 Massachusetts found it necessary to sign a treaty acknowledging Abenaki sovereignty over their homeland in order to obtain peace. pp.82-83