slides: James Clayton Sattel’s RI Views: Hiking Historic Trails
Saturday, February 23, 2013
This week, Jim takes to the trail in search of some of Rhode Island's Colonial historic spots to capture them in the snows of winter. He calls it "17th-century hiking."
To see more of or purchase Sattel's distinctive views, go here.
A good place to startis at Mountop, or Mt Hope in Bristol, RI. This was the home of the powerful and deeply respected sachem Massasoit.
At the photo's right you can see the sachem's sacred seat. Here, the English paid early visits (1621-1623) to enjoy mutually affectionate company and reinforce a negotiated peace treaty between Massasoit's Pokanoket Tribe and the Pilgrims from Plymouth.
What defied all odds was the fact that these two cultures (one completely alien to the others) did live in relative peace and harmony, with occasional flare-ups, through about 1660.
This shows the current-day setting of one of the Pokanokets' "summer residences". Here within the territory of Sowams (the Pokanokets' tribal land now called Warren, parts of Bristol, Swansea, and Rehoboth), life was good with plenty of seafood, wild game, and best of all, shells that they made wampum out of.
The rock formation back-right of photo is another holy and sacred location for the Pockanockets--"The Sacred Turtle." This photo is facing south, and Portsmouth, Newport are on the distant left.
The journey to the 1st Thanksgiving, and hundreds of visits through the 17th century.
Facing north from the previous slide, one can see the Mt Hope Bay heading into the Tauton (Titicut) River. One might look at the Tauton River as the continent's first super highway (no tolls!). The Native Americans and English used the river to travel to and from Sowams (Bristol/Warren) RI, and Plymouth. The distance is about 50 miles and it would take about 1.5 to 2 days to make the trip.
This land, Weetamoo Woods, was the location of The Squaw, Sachem Weetamoo and her tribal members.
Weetamoo was born in 1640 to the sachem, or chief, of the Pocassets, Corbitant, and one of his wives. The year of her birth is disputable. Some say she was born in 1635. However, it is thought that she was a young teenager in the mid 1650's so most historians put her birth year at 1640. Weetamoo's name means 'sweet heart' in the Pocasset language. Weetamoo had one sibling, her younger sister, Wootonekanuske. As Corbitant never had any sons, his oldest child was destined to become the next sachem of the Pocassets, which meant the role would fall to Weetamoo.
Weetamoo's adolescent life was made into a children's historical novel in The Royal Diaries series entitled Weetamoo, Heart of the Pocasetts: Rhode Island-Massachusetts, 1653.
Weetamoo also appears in print in Mary Rowlandson's The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Rowlandson, who was captured 1676 and held by Weetamoo's relative Quinnapin for three months, considered Weetamoo a "proud hussy" and often complained of her strict control.
As we travel a few miles south from Weetamoo's Woods in Tiverton, we enter Little Compton.
These forests were home to the Sakonnet tribe, who were led by Awashonks. Awashonks' people lived (what is now called Wilbour Woods) in the winter time and at Sakonnet Point in the summer time.
What is noteworthy here is the pattern of Native American culture in the 17th Century. In my opinion, women were highly respected, and in many ways culturally and intellectually superior to their English counterparts. They had full responsibility for bequeathed land and became sachems in the absence of a brother. Awashonks was instrumental in negotiating treaties with the English; yet, by the end of King Philips war, she became a slave to it.
Another hike, now I am in West Kingston, about 30 miles from my previous stop. Here we find what is called the site of the Great Swamp Battle, the bloodiest battle in American History.
This became the decisive battle, the one that put an end to the indigenous Native American culture as it had been in Rhode Island.
Great Swamp II
The first marker was placed at the site of the battle in 1906. The rough granite shaft about 20 feet high was erected by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars to commemorate this battle. Around the mound on which the shaft stands are four roughly squared granite markers engraved with the names of the colonies which took part in the encounter and two tablets on opposite sides of the shaft give additional data.
The inscription states: "Attacked within their fort upon this island the Narragansett Indians made their last stand in King Philip's War and were crushed by the united forces of the Massachusetts Connecticut and Plymouth Colonies in the “Great Swamp Fight” Sunday 19 December 1675."
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