The Pre-Colonization New England Salmon Controversy

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In his Recorder column, Gary Sanderson takes a look a critique of the New England Atlantic salmon argument developed by archaeologist Catherine Carroll Carlson in her controversial 1992 UMass-Amherst Ph.D. dissertation: “The Atlantic salmon in New England prehistory and history: social and environmental implications.”

Dr. Carlson’s often-referred-to thesis has been challenged. Which doesn’t mean Carlson is buying the arguments of an obscure 2013 UMass research paper’s critical assessment of her conclusions. No sir. She’s firing back.

Read this fascinating story in the Greenfield Recorder here.

Howard Clark: History’s Path to the Falls

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Anthropologist and researcher Howard Clark narrates the historical realities behind the 1676 Turners Falls Massacre. Quoted here in its entirety, you may read the original “My Turn” column in the Greenfield Recorder here.

History is not a random series of events. If you follow the colonial players and their interconnections through marriage or business ventures, you will see that their agendas, be it land speculation or the slave trade, are the driving forces that will explain the events.

Capt. William Turner was no hero, but a pawn. Gov. John Leverett of Massachusetts Bay Company, released him from prison over the objections of religious leaders, so he owed him a favor which will be clear later. Turner’s chaplain the day of the massacre was Hope Atherton, son of Humphrey Atherton. Humphrey and William served on the same Dorchester town board in 1652. Humphrey was given 700 acres of land in the Connecticut Valley for his services against the Narragansett’s and made magistrate of the Hampton Court in 1659. That same year, he created the Atherton Mortgage Company along with Gov. John Winthrop Jr. of Connecticut, Gov. Josh Winslow of Plymouth Colony and other people of wealth and power including military leaders (all land speculators).

Gov. Winthrop fined the Narragansett Tribe on questionable charges. In order to pay the fine, the Atherton Company loaned money to the tribe and when they tried to pay back the loan on time, the payment was rejected.

When the Royal Commission from England came over in 1665, after the fall of the Dutch territory now known as New York, they reviewed the Massachusetts laws on acquiring Indian lands and the Narragansett complaints. The commission re-wrote the laws to express Indian land could only be acquired through purchase or given by the Indians, and tore up the Atherton mortgage. Humphrey had died prior to this action but its remaining partners held a grudge.

Over time they devised a back door to the law by calling for “Just War,” which gave the colonies the right to pre-emptive strike by declaring they felt threatened. John Hull, another land speculator with connections to the valley used his own financial resources to purchase muskets and other munitions from England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1673 (two years prior to the war). He would become the war treasurer and convert one of his ships, “The Sea Flower,” into a slave ship to recoup some of his cost and was put in charge of the disposition of Indian captives that were brought into Boston.

Upon his death in 1683, the colony owed him between 1,500 to 6,000 pounds. There were others of wealth and power who also purchased muskets and munitions in large amounts with their own money for the colony in 1673. Hezekiah Usher was one of them. Land and slaves were the driving force for the colonies during the “Second Puritan War of Conquest” also called “King Philip’s War.”

The first conflict in the valley was conducted by Capt. Richard Beers and Capt. Thomas Lathrop against a fleeing group of peaceful Indians, including women, children and elders. The warriors dropped back at Hopewell Swamp to allow their families to escape (there were casualties on both sides. Beers and Lathrop paid with their lives shortly afterward.

The war wore down both sides and peace treaties were offered to the tribes. Pessacus (at the Falls) released John Gilbert, an English captive, the day before their meeting at Hartford, Conn., on April 30, 1676, as a show of good faith. Both sides agreed to work on a treaty. English captives were to be released.

Around May 4, Mary Rowlandson carried a letter from Philip, Pomham, the Old Queen and others seeking peace with Boston. On May 15, captive Thomas Reede was set free from the Falls and returned to Hadley with information about the lack of warriors (possibly 60). The rest of the village was comprised of women, children and elders because it was a refugee camp where all would have been fishing and drying the catch. They were not hunting as stated because it was not the season and fishing was more productive.

Shortly after Reede’s return, Rev. John Russell of Hadley asked permission from Hartford to attack the Falls. He was refused because of the ongoing treaty. Russell next contacted Gov. Leverett who was related through marriages. Leverett OK’d the attack. This completed this circle and Turner’s debt to Leverett was paid. Turner marched on the Falls May 18 with his 160 men (almost three men per every warrior present according to Reede’s remarks).

One needs to get beyond books written to justify past actions and actually review the old documents of the time and connect the players with the events.

Howard Clark is an anthropologist and historical researcher, and has done research for different tribes in the area. He was co-founder of both Friends of Wissaatinnewag and the Nolumbeka Project. He lives in Greenfield.

Brattleboro Historical Society Podcast e72: First Peoples Part 2

More background toward understanding the story behind “How did we all end up in this situation?”  – as I often repeat, it’s all connected.

Thank you to Joe Rivers and Reggie Martell at the Brattleboro Historical Society, for your interest, commitment, and technical skills, in putting this together. It is an honor to work with you toward restoration for the indigenous people, the Abenaki and their ancestors, to their rightful and relevant place. In Aln8ba8dwaw8gan: Askwa n’daoldibna iodali – we are still here.

I appreciate this photo (by Reggie), with our guardian mountain Wantastiquet behind and the provincial flag of Quebec on my shirt, repping for my grandfather, both aspects of the motivation behind this journey of understanding.

 

Brattleboro Historical Society Podcast e71: First Peoples Part 1

Early Vermont histories portrayed this area’s aboriginal peoples as transients who occasionally passed through southern Vermont, en route to and from Northern New York and Canada, but were ultimately not residents of the area and therefor had little claim on these lands.

In this podcast [BAMS history teacher] Joe Rivers and his intrepid band of middle school historians show that those early Vermont histories were very much mistaken.

This podcast is part I of a two-part series.

Produced October 20, 2016

Op-Ed: Info Gathering Key for Turners Falls Mascot Decision

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It’s obvious that people on both sides of the Turners Falls “Indians” debate are sincere in the viewpoints, even if the defenders of the status quo may seem more passionate.

Perhaps that’s because we generally resist having things taken away or having change forced on us. In this case, many in the Turners Falls community feel their traditional Indians mascot — which has been tied up with school spirit and identity for generations — is being threatened by political correctness. Of course, those who vocally or subtly advocate parting company with the mascot feel it has racist roots, intentional or not, and needs to be left behind in a more culturally and historically sensitive era.

Read the full editorial in the Greenfield Recorder.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Reclaiming Wantastegok on WKVT

An interview of this author by Chris Lenois on his Green Mountain Mornings show, a program of WKVT Radio at 100.3 FM and 1490 AM in Wantastegok/Brattleboro, VT. The live show aired from 8-9 am on October 10, 2016, Vermont’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Enjoy this day!

VPR Coverage for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Vermont

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A full story was assembled after an interview by Vermont Public Radio reporter Howard Weiss-Tisman on Friday, Oct. 7, the day after Gov. Peter Shumlin issued the Proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. The story was posted today, Oct. 8th (audio to follow). Read it here.

Several other media stories have been released following the Oct. 6, 2016 action by Vermont Gov. Shumlin. WPTZ-NBC TV Channel 5 in Burlington rolled in the ongoing exploration of similar action in Hartford, VT.

Clink link for full report:

WPTZ – NBC

NPR