Monday, February 14, 2011

King Philip's War by Daniel Mandell

A map of New England in the "Praying Indians" era.

As one of its reviews on states, if you read one book about King Philip's War, it should be Daniel Mandell's. King Philip's War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty (published by Johns Hopkins in 2010) is both well-researched and readable.

As you might imagine, the thing about it that has interested me the most (so far) came under the heading "Christian Indians." Here are a couple brief excerpts:

The process by which many Wampanoags, Massachusetts, Nipmucs, and Pennacooks embraced the English God and culture was driven by the devasting epidemics and other massive changes to their world. Indians and Puritans similarly believed that the supernatural world worked in everyday occurrences, and both groups saw recent events as evidence that Jehovah had overcome the native gods and that survival required adoption of the English God. Roxbury minister John Eliot stepped into this psychic gap after learning the Massachusett language, preaching that Indians could find salvation by shedding heathenish ways and adopting Puritan disciplines in order to breathe the rarefied Calvinist air (pages 39-40).

...Native converts wore their hair like the English and forswore many old habits, from religious ceremonies, to body greasing, to demonstrate their ability to walk the Christian path of righteousness (page 40).

Mandell also writes of how the first 'praying town' of Natick came about through the partnership of John Eliot with Waban, head of the Massachusett village of Nonantum.

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