Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342 (413) 773-7427 www.traprockpeace.org
Together We Explore Nonviolence, Foster Community, Work to end war, Promote Communication & Take Initiatives on Environmental and Justice issues
Native American Indian, English, and
Join in Welcoming Procession in Deerfield
Please see Article on Welcoming Procession by Marge Bruchac, Native American Liaison for "Beyond 1704"
For information on history of raid, see also http://www.1704.deerfield.history.museum/
Click on thumbnail to see photo, then
use arrows at upper right to navigate album
photos © 2004 Charlie Jenks and Sunny Miller 7/27/04
POCUMTUCK VALLEY MEMORIAL
and HISTORIC DEERFIELD, INC.
"BEYOND 1704: LIVING HISTORY IN DEERFIELD"
The year 2004 marks the 300th anniversary of the February 29, 1704
raid on Deerfield, one of the most memorable events in the history of
this small town in western Massachusetts. Although the event was tragic,
its commemorations have been peaceful. On Saturday and Sunday, July
17-18, 2004 the history continued with a full weekend of events exploring
encounters between Native, English and French people in Deerfield in the
centuries after the 1704 raid.
Native American Indian, English, and French Descendants Join in
Welcoming Procession in Deerfield
On Saturday, July 17, 2004, a number of people who claimed descent from
the original Native peoples of the Connecticut River valley and the English
settlers of Deerfield, along with Native Canadians and French Canadians,
joined in a peaceful procession to mark the opening of a weekend of events
titled "Beyond 1704: Living History in Deerfield." The Welcoming Procession
began at the playing fields in the North Meadows, at the north end of Deerfield’s
Main Street, just south of Pine Hill, for about a 3/4 mile walk from the Meadows
to the center of town. Groups carried five banners, each representing one of the
five different communities who were involved in the raid on Deerfield in February
of 1704: Wobanakiak (Abenaki, Pennacook, etc.), Kanienkehaka (Mohawk),
Wendat (Huron), English and French. The relations of these groups and
other Deerfield descendants, whether Native, French or English, were all
encouraged to join their cousins under these banners, and to bring their own
banners and flags for the procession. Members of the American Friends
Service Committee and Traprock Peace Center were invited to march at the
end of the procession, with a banner that read "Justice and Peace in Our Time."
Members of the public gathered along the sides of Deerfield’s Main Street to
witness the procession, which began at 10:00 AM.
The Welcoming Procession was the opening event for a full weekend of events
on July 17 and 18, 2004, titled "Beyond 1704: Living History in Deerfield."
"Beyond 1704," hosted by the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
and Historic Deerfield. The event featured musical performances, Native singing
and dancing, historical battle skirmishes, museum tours, historic camps,
Native artisans, a birchbark canoe making demonstration and other special
activities exploring inter-cultural interactions in Deerfield in the centuries
after the 1704 raid.
Since Deerfield’s memories so often focus on the raid of 1704, this procession
was designed to bring together representatives of the many different peoples
involved in local warfare in a peaceful way, to acknowledge their shared
histories. Each group of walkers in the procession was led by Native dancers
and historical re-enactors, and the groups ended the march at a commemorative
flame that was first constructed for the 250th anniversary of the attack on Deerfield.
The flame was set up on the Deerfield common, inside the bounds of the historic
fort, close by the ancient well, on the very ground that the English village inhabited
when it was attacked in 1704.
Three Native performance troupes from Canada were invited to Deerfield to
perform for "Beyond 1704" - the "Thunderhawk Dancers" from Kahnawake
(Mohawk), "Mikwôbait" from Odanak (Abenaki), and "Andicha n’de Wendat"
from Wendake (Huron). Given that each of these villages sent raiders to
attack Deerfield in 1704, it seems a fitting and gracious gesture of conciliation that
each community sends dancers and singers to us now, carrying drums and rattles
instead of guns and tomahawks. The Thunderhawk Dancers, led by Steve
McComber, performed to standing-room only audiences when they came to
Deerfield in February. The Abenaki troupe, Mikwôbait, led by Nicole Obomsawin,
is from the village of St. Francis, where so many Native people from New
England took refuge in the 18th century. The leader of Andicha n’de Wendat,
is Line Descombes, a direct descendant of Tsohahisen, the Wendat chief who
took part in the 1704 raid, and representative for a family of Huron people who
had not visited Deerfield since 1704.
Native People in the Connecticut River Valley After 1704
Many people today imagine that Native American Indian history in Deerfield
ended with 1704, but the town has had many Native visitors over the past three
centuries. During the last decades of the 17th century, many Native peoples were
forced to relocate due to inter-tribal warfare and European colonization. Several
movements out of the valley took place between 1676 and 1700, after Metacom's
Rebellion (King Philip’s War), when some local Indians moved west to
Schaghticoke or north into Abenaki territory. Others never left their homelands.
Deerfield’s official memories, as recorded in the writings of 19th century
historians, falsely claim that all the local Indians disappeared, even though, for
decades after the 1704 raid, Deerfield was frequently visited by descendants of
the raiders of 1704, who came to visit their adopted English relatives. One local
historian wrote that, during the 18th century, Abenaki Indian people in the middle
Connecticut River valley "were free to hunt and rove at pleasure. They lived in all
the towns, and went in and out of the houses of settlers...and thus were perfectly
acquainted with the state of the forts, fields, and habits of the people."
Throughout the 19th century, Native peoples frequented towns across New England,
often making brooms and baskets, weaving chair seats, and practicing traditional
herbal medicine. During the late 1800s, when the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial
Association was founded, some Native crafts found their way into Memorial Hall
collections. One such artifact is an Abenaki basket, made in 1837, now on display
in the Remembering 1704 exhibit at the Flynt Center.
The story of this basket was told during a unique event on Sunday morning, July
18, 2004. Visitors witnessed past and present converging when a party of Abenaki
Indians in 19th century dress, traveling by horse and wagon, decamped at the Brick
Church, re-enacting the August 27, 1837 visit of their direct ancestors.
As the Greenfield Gazette & Mercury reported of the visit in 1837: "Our people
were thrown into a state of considerable emotion. . .by the encampment of a body
of Indians. . .They appear to be comfortably well off for Indians, having several
horses and wagons, and a goodly supply of blankets and buffalo robes." Rev.
Fessenden wrote that the Williams family members in Deerfield "uniformly called them
'our cousins.'" One of the men in the party, Louis Watso, was an "Indian Doctor," who
visited Deerfield, Northampton, and other valley towns on a regular basis. Watso, an
Abenaki chief and veteran of the War of 1812, was well-known to Deerfield’s Dr.
Stephen West Williams, who sought his advice in identifying local medicinal plants
and their uses. Williams complained, around 1840: "I have seen hundreds of my fellow
citizens chasing after a part of a tribe of Indians who came here to make us a visit from
Canada, for the cure of their diseases. They pretended to be able to cure all diseases
by their simple remedies and the people believe them."
While they were in Deerfield in 1837, Watso’s daughter, 28-year-old Marie Saraphine
Watso Denis Paul (nicknamed Sophie), made an ashsplint basket as a gift for
21-year-old Catherine Williams. Today, Sophie’s basket sits in the "Remembering
1704" exhibit at the Flynt Center, alongside a basket made by Louis Watso’s
great-great-great granddaughter, Lynn Murphy. On Sunday, July 18, 2004, Lynn
Murphy came to Deerfield along with her aunt, Watso's great-great-granddaughter
Claudia Chicklas, her cousin, Joyce Heywood, and 11 other members of the Sadoques
family as they rode in a horse and wagon down Deerfield's Main Street, re-enacting
their ancestors' 1837 visit.
Interfaith Healing Service in Deerfield Meeting House
On Sunday morning, a commemorative inter-faith church service was held to
honor and remember all of those who died in local inter-tribal and inter-cultural
conflicts at Deerfield’s Brick Church Meeting House. Native and non-Native
peoples of all religious faiths sang songs, shared prayers, and lit candles in
memory of those who have passed on.
The banners from the Welcoming Procession were set up on the common,
next to the Meeting House, and stood throughout the weekend. They were rolled
away, with prayers and thoughts for peaceful future gatherings, at the closing
ceremony on Sunday afternoon. It is hoped that these events will keep all of
these Native communities, and all of these interwoven memories, alive in our hearts.
by Marge Bruchac, Native American Liaison for "Beyond 1704"