For Native Americans, King Philip’s War continues, speaker says

Last modified: Monday, November 09, 2015

GREENFIELD — Did the King Philip’s War truly end in 1676?

According to Nipmuc Tribe member David Tall Pine White, some indigenous people feel the battle persists to this day.

“Natives today still believe that war continues on a different kind of level,” White said at a Saturday morning lecture regarding the untold histories of 1676 and beyond.

White said even in the 21st century, Native Americans continue to feel prejudice from government officials when they push to keep their heritage alive through the documentation and preservation of cultural and historical ceremonial sites.

“It’s hard to incorporate (equality) when we start to talk to government agencies and people like that because they don’t seem to understand that concept,” he said. “They are not in charge, nor were they ever. It’s a slippery slope because you have to give them the respect that they are expecting, too.”

In the past few years, local tribes have had a few successes in documentation and preservation of their historical sites. A recent triumph included a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program to local tribes to stop a project to lengthen the Turners Falls airport runway and conduct a study after an ancient ceremonial site was discovered in the project’s path.

Parallels with pipeline project

At the lecture, White said that Native Americans are not the only people who are treated with disrespect when it comes to protecting valuables. He said people of all ages, races and ethnicities are fighting a similar battle to those who fought in King Philip’s War. He added that just like when the colonists began taking land where the natives had settled, large companies are now trying to claim the same land for their benefit and forcing people to live with the consequences or move to another area. For example, many in the path of the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline fear the threat of eminent-domain land-takings for the project.

“We are engendered with fear and propaganda and disinformation in order to further the cause of some group who is bettering themselves financially and putting another mass group of people into a bad situation and manipulated to fight one another,” he said. “That’s the story time after time after time.”

About 50 people gathered in a meeting room at the First Congregational Church for the two-hour discussion about the King Philip’s War and its effects on native tribes to this day. The discussion, “1676 and Beyond: Tribes, Race, and Untold Histories,” was led by White and David Brule, a board member of The Nolumbeka Project, a local nonprofit focused on the preservation of Native American history, and sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Slavery Apology.

Brule and White said the war’s history is not well-documented on paper as much of the information has been orally passed through the generations. For the first 20 minutes of the presentation, Brule explained the history of the year-long war, which had detrimental effects on the Pioneer Valley, specifically, the towns of Deerfield, Montague, Gill, Northfield and Greenfield. Both presenters mentioned that the war stemmed from various factors including the clash of religious beliefs, land disputes and the introduction of alcohol. King Philip’s War was one of the most significant wars in New England, killing over 400 women, men and children.


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