Do you spend any time wondering about our stone walls? Probably not. They are decorative but we hardly ever think about them. It was only after Lauri Arruda spoke about finding where the Valley People lived that I developed a serious curiosity about the stone walls. Those of us who live in Tomaquag Valley are proud that in the Colonial era, the Valley was the population center of Hopkinton.
From the start of mapping in 2003, I believed the stone walls would be an honest guide to locate where the Valley People lived. This has proven to be true. The emphasis on thorough Mapping produced a surprising picture of the Farming Community centered in Tomaquag Valley. You can see it’s remains on the map.
And what the map says is there were only ten houses down there!
That is not what any of us ever imagined for a bustling Colonial Hopkinton.
That is the first surprise for this afternoon.
To compare Colonial Hopkinton with today, simply draw a mental circle around the 9 closest houses to where you live, and then look thoughtfully at those 10, scattered on the map. The frightening reality of their lives is very different from walking securely in Sturbridge Village. They certainly lived, and probably thought differently from us, way back then. It’s ironic. The old farmers knew each other. They had to. Today’s occupants of the 93 homes crammed into the same area now live in isolation from each other.
The book you now own, “Walking Together In Tomaquag Valley”, is a well researched Time Capsule of the early Valley. It begins it’s record of the Colonial Presence by simply walking together with my fictional hiking companion as we follow one wall in it’s mile long journey through the woods of Tomaquag Valley.
The Colonial Presence
The most abundant Colonial Artifacts are the stone walls they left behind. We see them next to the road, but they run off and hide in the woods. Even outlined in snow with no leaves, they vanish.
To learn what they can tell us, and their secrets, you have to walk them on foot through their terrain. Even if you can see them from Google Earth, they will not talk to you about their secrets or the Sacred Landscape, if present. You have to walk them, and it is better with an experienced, trained eye.
The founding premise of the text of “Walking TOGETHER In Tomaquag Valley” was teaching “the Companion”, how to “see” in the forest, during nine progressively challenging educational walks, It’s easy when you and the wall sit still in my front yard. But to follow a wall in the woods, like the Companion and I do, inevitably leads to encounters with Obstacles.
Sometimes you have to force your way through dense bull briars single file
But the “historic pay off” is when the walls lead you to a Colonial ruin, like this Home. The red lines show the home’s footprint and front door.
And that home’s refrigerator, a Spring House. Again, red lines show the perimeter of the Spring House and the well.
The well is 36 inches across, & the water table is very high. One of my
Fears in hiking the Valley alone is falling in an old well or cess pool
without Lassie to run for help.
This is the grist mill owned by Jedediah Davis, now very much in ruins.
The mill itself was on the flat raised area on the opposite side of the broo
and this is the same photo, showing how it might have looked 260 years ago.
If Jedediah Davis sounds vaguely familiar, maybe you’ve seen his name outside Town Hall, but never had any connection to him and his wife Amie
Sometimes Lauri Arruda makes the initial discovery in the Town Archives.
This is the Probate document after Jedediah’s son, Oliver Davis, died in 1822.
Later on she discovered that property lines today follow the yellow
Davis Property Lines.
Jedediah owned land that stretched from Tomaquag Road, including my home, to Collins Road, including Lauri’s home, all the way over to Maxson Hill Road, including Nathan Kaye’s Indian Shelters. Imagine HIS Tax Bill today!
Lauri’s discovery allow me to stand in the cellar hole of Jedediah and Amie
Davis the next day, ending many days of searching for their home. Later,
Oliver and Penelope Davis raised their 12 kids (that lived) in this 18’ x 22 foot, two story home.
My patient strategy of slowly mapping the walls allowed me to accurately place Historic locations on the map with confidence. My eye got trained to see the Colonial Presence remaining in the forest.
As a result, we can walk together on Colonial Roads
And walk together across functioning Colonial Bridges,
And at “4 Corners In The Forest”, walk together beneath the equally ancient forest mates of Hopkinton City’s Sycamore / Buttonwood Tree growing by Rt. 3’s blinking lights near HHA’s Meeting House.
All of this, our shared Colonial History, is in “Walking Together In Tomaquag Valley”, the book that the Hopkinton Historical Association now owns.
It’s hundreds of pictures bring the Valley to those who’s hiking days are fond memories, while serving as a guide for today’s hikers to come out, feed the bugs, and see the many centuries of Hopkinton’s forest legacy, our still preserved “History In The Wild”, with your own eyes.
This is the third of four chronological stories based on locations in Tomaquag Valley
He was eleven when the Puritan Militia Men ambushed him, his father, his older brother, his two uncles and his three cousins. His father was the first one killed by a musket ball. Two of his cousins were killed when they charged the dozen men in their strange clothes. The youngest by a pistol shot as he ran towards them, the oldest by a sword. He got that close to the white man before he was run through, and then it was all over. His cousins died with honor, he and the others lived on with the endless shame at having surrendered. It was the White Man’s year 1722
The Militia Men bound the five survivors and made them walk to a White Man’s village of Wickford. They each had their right ear lobe “V” clipped, and were now marked to be sold as slaves. Nearby, across the bay, Newport, Rhode Island was one of the principal slave import/export markets among all the Colonies, and it seemed likely the five Narragansett men would soon become more nameless human cargo bound for the Caribbean. Instead, he and his two his uncles were manacled for wagon transport and bound over to Tomaquag in Westerly, Rhode Island. He never ever learned what befell his brother and cousin.
His owner was named Briggs Bothum. For that era, Farmer Bothum was considered kindly. His three indians labored mightily during the 6 days of the work week, but so did Briggs, his wife and their many children. The farm he inherited from his father was continually expanded into the wilderness. While Briggs felled trees and cleared land, the three slaves were set to walling. Wood was too precious for fencing, but the supply of rocks was endless.
His uncles walled with the stones as they were, but he was taught to drill and cut stone with tools of iron. Farmer Bothum saw the clear light of understanding in his eyes and put up with his many mistakes as he learned to twist the drill and make a smooth hole in the tough rock. If you lined up enough holes in a straight line, inserted iron feathers, and drove an iron wedge between them, as you went down the stone, eventually a slab would cleave off. The young man was proud of becoming a Hard Rock Cleaver, a cutter of the very foundation stones of the earth themselves.
Farmer Bothum gave his indians double victuals to celebrate the night he finally split a 7 foot granite post! He remembered his uncles beaming kindly at him. Now a strong young man of sixteen, he often cut the biggest stone posts and lintels, up to 10 feet long, too heavy to lift without 6 strong men.
The Bothum’s daughter Anna was considered “touched”, and accordingly her work was simple. Her primary chore was fetching water from the brook. When she was young, she had a small wooden pail. Her bucket was built thick and hardy. When Anna had a seizure and dropped everything, the water would spill but the pail never broke or ever leaked.
As she got older, her father made her a water yoke with 2 wood buckets. Sarah taught her how to wash the laundry. But her parents never trusted her with fire. She was too simple, and would burn herself up or the entire house down in her ignorance. Anna learned to never touch fire by having her fingers forced onto hot coals or flame. And she never did.
The local children avoided Anna, and teased her. Children have always been cruel. But Brigand, their “big oaf” dog, took delight in Anna, and Brigand’s unconditional love was returned in kind by Anna. Brigand & Anna, Anna & Brigand: they bonded closer than any human to human affection she was ever to know. Anna, “touched” in human eyes, was a goddess in Brigand’s eyes. It was only natural the two rejects became inseparable.
On the Sabbath, heavy work was never done on Lay Deacon Bothum’s land. The Bothum family attended church together weekly with out fail. Their indians were given some Christianizing preaching from scripture, but nothing stuck. They knew if they took off and were later caught, the notched ear would condemn them to a savage death as a runaway slave, or immediate shipment to the worst ports of the Caribbean to the harshest work imaginable. Knowing this, they had no mind to try an escape. They drearily entertained themselves as they saw fit.
The stone cleaver saw the joy in morose Anna whenever she was with Brigand. It filled him with old thoughts the Tribal Elders would speak about. The spirits flowed back and forth all around the boy and The People; in the air, land, plants and animals, even into the Tribe. Before his eyes he could see the manitou spirit of Ecstasy passing between this strange girl and her dog. The Fathers were right! Perhaps she even had dreams & visions.
Inspired to try, he thought of her face, his iron tools, and the multitude of empty rocks. On his twenty-sixth try, five months later, he captured the inner light of the manitou that wove all things together in peace. The rest went easily. He disassembled eight feet of existing wall and reassembled it using the stones he saw in his mind. He did not know what “sculpture” was, but when he stood back, he saw Anna & Brigand living in his wall.
On Monday, he motioned to Anna to follow him to the wall. Simple though she was, or because she was simple, she immediately saw what he had done. It was Brigand & her!
He went back to his hammer, while she ran to bring her father and mother to see the wall. She did not see the blinding rage that overcame her father, or the “Woman’s Worry” in her mother’s eye. They weren’t simple; far from it. Her father walked all the way to the big Westerly bridge where there was a trading post, eventually getting home in the dark.
That Saturday, two men drove to the farm yard in a wagon. Briggs Bothum summoned his three indians and told them he sold the young stone cleaver to this Westerly farmer. His new owner harshly bound the frightened man’s hands to a stone gate post he had cut.
The hired man took the horse whip and gave the stone cleaver ten crackling lashes!
Bothum yelled at the slaves: “Don’t You EVER Look At A White Woman Again!”
The farmer drove. The hired hand roped the bleeding, dazed stone cleaver behind the empty wagon. The farmers exchanged friendly nods & “Godspeeds”. Creaking, the wagon left.
Anna loved her wall, so Bothum let it be. No one spoke of the stone cleaver again. Bothum never cared to ask. Anna married a desperate farmer from Charleston and bore him five children that lived. He was a good man, and only beat her when she deserved it.
Centuries later, three people found The Happy Girl alone in the forest. They wished they could learn the name of the one who simply caught Unconditional Love in those 7 stones.
By HHA Members Tom Helmer and Lorraine Tarket-Arruda
This is the second of four stories in chronological order, based on locations in Tomaquag Valley
The Bothum Home’s Fall Preparations
The winter of 1665-66 was unusually cold. The blessing was the temperatures plunged in late January, not in November or December. Garner Bothum was a thrifty man, a prudent man, and he used the month of October to re-chink his 3 year old log house. It had a dirt floor, and was dug by hand deep into the Southern slope, down an East / West ridge. He was closing the gaps and cracks that formed as the felled timbers had dried out under his slanting shed like roof. There was a door in the South West corner. He couldn’t afford glass out in the wilderness, so his windows were tiny open slits left purposely unchinked between the logs.
When he wasn’t chinking with the muddy clay, he was out hunting for anything that moved which was squirrel sized or bigger. He wasn’t fussy. Come February, a hungry enough person began looking at their boots, wondering what kind of soup the leather would make. Garner, who lived up to his name by harvesting anything remotely edible, had never yet reached that stage.
When he wasn’t out hunting, he was chopping and splitting still more firewood, even though he had filled the West side roof overhang full to the rafters during July through September. This late season wood he piled up along the East side of his 14 x 10 foot cabin as a further barrier from the wind, rain and snow sure to come. The roof of his cabin was a single slope, with the upper edge along the 10 foot southern dimension, up about ten feet above the ground. The Northern lower roof edge rested on rocks keeping it just above the sloping berm of the dug out dirt, which was graded and shaped to divert the rain flowing down the hillside away from his tiny homestead.
The bark roof and the natural hillside formed a shallow Vee. The cold North wind was blocked directly by the ridge, and flowed down the slope, then up and over his roof. The Southern front wall picked up what warmth it could from the Winter sun. The cabin door was “broad axed” planks with iron strap hinges, and the sleeping loft was located along this wall, like a shelf running the full length of the cabin. Everyone, he, his wife and their 3 surviving children slept together in the loft. Close together in the Winter, spread out during the Summer, on the straw covered broad axed planks. They already had a family graveyard with two sets of small fieldstone head and foot markers.
Inside, as chinking progressed, his wife Prudence noticed the wind inside slowly dropping down to a draft, and then to a barely noticed drift, no longer felt, but visible in the smoke that always escaped from the hearth and field stone chimney. Her work inside was preserving the game Garner shot with his musket. This was done by smoking and drying the meat in the chimney’s up draft, accessed by removing certain rocks that didn’t bear weight, or by salting it in the coopered wood preserving tubs, filled with locally dried salt from the sea, a day’s journey to the South.
Besides their trusty iron frying pan, they had a precious iron pot with a lid, a bail and a set of tripod legs to stand in the fire and hold a pot or pan. She could bake bread and corn meal in the coals of the hearth, or make soups and stews when suspended from the hearth’s iron crane. This 12 inch pot, cast in England, was the most prized possession Prudence owned. Garner’s obsolete match lock musket was his. Both items kept his family alive. Garner worked diligently in Spring, Summer and Fall, reaping the rewards of a well stocked larder in Winter. They burned tallow in clay lamps that a Biblical Israelite would recognize, sleeping to the seasonal rhythm of the dim light sneaking in through the narrow slits
By the time Hard Winter cinched Tomaquag in the deep drifts of January, there was scant need for Prudence or him to go outside except to gather snow to melt for water, and to pitch out the chamber pot toilet. In Hard Winter, it was too cold to go outside. There was no privacy for the bodily functions of life in a one room cabin, but the Bothum family were farmers, and soon enough their children would discover everything anyway, assuming Garner got enough money assembled to get some animals. Then the cruelest cold came. Going out for water was done in haste, as they did not have decent winter clothing. Garner, like many young men of his day, was poor. Prudence was even younger. In time, he would trade for a few sheep, and Prudence could make them Winter coats, but that was for the distant future, spending money he did not have.
The Winter Wolf
Late in a January night, so cold the water tub had a cap of inch thick ice inside the cabin, there was a tussle of wolf growling and fighting off to the East, but close, perhaps a hundred feet from the cabin. Garner was not going out to see what the savage beasts were up to, but slipped open the door and fired a musket shot toward the ruckus. There was a yelp of pain, and closing the door, Garner was pleased to believe that by the “Hand Of God” he had hit a wolf. Tomorrow he would investigate when he had the safety of sufficient daylight.
He reloaded his musket. They were in Narragansett lands and you never knew what to expect. Garner just showed up and built his dinky shack, figuring that Elder John Crandall made a deal with the Indians when he came to Westerly in 1661. (Crandall had done no such thing, and soon enough was arrested.) He invited Garner and a few others to join him. Garner wanted his own land anyway, so he left his kinsman living in the village of Dighton, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, to settle in Tomaquag the following year. Elder John was his closest neighbor back in the early days, living only three miles away.
So far, he had no trouble with Indians. He rarely ever saw one, and that was always at a distance in the “fall of the leaves”, or against the snow whitened ground of Winter. He thought the Narragansett were deathly afraid to come within musket range of his home. Garner Bothum was a bumpkin Puritan farmer, not a woodsman or a tracker. The sum total of his accurate knowledge was “Not Very Much”.
Those were the brave, but stupid beliefs of a “babe in the woods”, from someone who never had the need to venture fifty feet from his front door in the heart of the Winter. Twelve years later, after necessity forced him to develop a tracker’s eye, the experienced frontiersman Garner could have easily seen that many moccasin sheltered feet passed well within arrow range of his home.
The next day dawned a clear deep blue. Seventy feet down the slope he could see the snow was all disturbed. The wolf tracks were everywhere, but what thrilled him was to see the blood stains melted into the snow crust! He had hit a wolf, without being able to see anything! Now THAT was some good shooting! Then he humbly remembered that it was God who directed his shot, not himself.
His simple laced boots were inadequate, but he wanted to follow the bloody snow. If the wolf died close by, he would drag it back, skin it, and his family would feast for a week on the flesh. Then he would try his hand at scraping the hide for use as a blanket. He had no real idea how to actually tan leather, but scraping the flesh off the hide would be good enough for him. Seeing only the blood, and not the entire story plainly written in the snow, he eagerly set off after the wounded beast.
A hundred yards from his cabin he saw the wolf, a big one, six feet long from nose to tail. It was dead. In fact, it was frozen solid as a rock. The wolf weighed eighty pounds, and was awkward to get a grip on it, and then to balance it. He finally got it stable, up on his shoulder, and headed back, breaking through the crust with every step. It was tiring, and when he slipped and fell the first time, he and the ice wolf each landed separately, two yards apart. A dreadful surprise was just seconds away from changing his life.
Perhaps the way this wolf was going to alter his life course was Providence, the actual hand of God, not the village where Roger Williams, a Pilgrim religious dissident expelled from extremely Puritanical Massachusetts lived. (The Pilgrims came first, on the Mayflower, but soon were followed by other persecuted Faiths. The Puritans crossed the Atlantic in far greater numbers, and soon were the dominant Faith in what the English called “The New World”, and “New England”. It was ironic, but the Puritans came to “America” to escape harsh religious persecution, only to practice it here, now playing the role of “The Persecutor”.)
Getting to his hands and knees, he saw it for the first time. A stone knife was rammed deep in the wolf’s ribs. He tried to figure out how THAT got there, as he clearly believed he shot the animal.
Then he realized it was a Narragansett Indian’s stone knife.
And the blood stains all came from the knife wound, not a musket ball.
He had not shot the wolf!
His eyes went wide, and his next thought was at the speed of Panic:
Where was the dreaded Indian NOW?!!
He frantically looked around, but there was no one there.
He waited until his breathing calmed, then cautiously rose. Still no one. He hoisted the carcass back over his shoulder, and now, fueled by fear, he had no trouble running back to the house and flinging the frozen wolf on his ice cold dirt floor. Prudence was startled, and their little ones were afraid of the beast and began to cry. Garner snatched his musket, fumblingly lit the match, primed the pan, (spilling precious gunpowder everywhere) then slipped back out the door, urgently telling Prudence to stay inside, keep everyone quiet, and bolt the door solid and true.
This time, when he returned to the scene of the scuffle, he saw the moccasin tracks, and a lighter trace of blood drops heading off to the bent down cedar tree, toppled by snow weight. There were hand, knee and toe tracks crawling under the tree. The early morning forest was silent, not even a bird chirped. His heart beat was pounding in his ears. No longer hearing his feet complain that they were freezing, with his musket leveled, he climbed under the obscuring branches of the tree.
The light was dimmer under the snow drift above him. In the tunnel of branches, up near the top of the tree, there was the Indian, curled up tightly, lying heavy and flat in the snow and branches, just like the wolf. He seemed to be dead. Afraid of tricks, he yelled and poked at the Narragansett with his musket barrel. The Indian opened his eyes half way, closed them, and muttered his gibberish to himself. Garner could see both of his hands had been mauled, and there were big splashes of blood where he lay in a stupor.
Becoming A Neighbor
Perhaps it was actually applying the Good Samaritan Parable from the oft quoted Scripture in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10. The verses were 29 through 37, and were very familiar to young Garner. Every Minister in every congregation among the English colonizers applied it to the English helping any other white man, French, Dutch, or the occasional Spaniard they might encounter in this harsh wilderness, regardless of the nature of his needs. They were to help their neighbor no matter what the cost to themselves!
Perhaps it was stupidity, perhaps it was the idealism of youth, untouched by hypocrisy, but Garner widened out the application of the command of Lord Christ the King to include the savages. He laid his precious musket aside in the snow. He dragged the half frozen man, slumped again and deep in a nightmare dream, back to the shack, and gently laid him on the floor next to the dead wolf. Prudence was afraid to touch that creature, lips snarling in death’s embrace.
The innocence of his children was apparent. They circled away from the dreadful wolf and gawked at the strange man, because they knew he was a man, not another kind of savage forest beast.
It was Prudence who’s lip began to tremble in fear. “Is it dead?” she stammered.
“No! Brew some tea!
No, quick, last night’s stew, heat it and thin it with water! Haste ye, woman!”
It would take Prudence fifteen minutes to heat the leftover soup. Meanwhile, Garner dragged the wolf outside and hefted him up on the top of the East wood pile, then dragged the Indian closer to the scant warmth of the hearth. Then he remembered his musket was outside and ran to retrieve it. The slow match was out. When he returned, the first thing he did was to calmly relight the match, blow any remaining powder which might be wet out of the pan, and with a steady hand re-primed the pan with his powder horn. He was ready for anything to happen, just in case. But this time he had no dread. For the first time since the wolf fight during the night, he had the feeling that his God was watching him.
He dragged over his stool, and with his musket on his lap in case of trouble, directed Prudence to spoon the left over soup into the Indian. She refused. She was terrified.
Trading places with her, (God might be watching, but Garner was not a dullard!), Garner had Prudence sit with the musket. She was an old hand with it, and a right fair shot. She was born in America, and everyone over here had to learn the fundamentals of life. Her fingers were white from the death grip she had on the musket stock.
Garner lifted the Indian’s head and dribbled broth between his lips. The bronze man sputtered and spit it back out, opened his eyes, and as he looked around they widened in terror. He tried to sit up, but as soon as weight came on his shredded hands, the pain made him cry out, and he fell back.
Garner signed with his open palms to lay still. He got another spoon of soup and slowly brought it to where the Indian could see it and smell it. Then Garner sucked it down and smiled. He got another spoonful, and once again raising the man’s head, he brought it to the Indian’s lips. With his eyes fixed on the White man, the Indian bent forward and slurped it down. It took ten minutes, but Garner spoon fed a pint of squirrel soup into the injured man.
They only owned one thin blanket, and Prudence, reluctantly, and loudly complaining that blood would be smeared on it, was silenced with a wave, then ordered up the loft ladder to fetch it. Garner wrapped it around the man, and tucked it in. They blazed their fire, a rare event, rapidly using up precious dry firewood, and the cabin actually got warm. Prudence liked that part, as the clothes would all dry out, and maybe they wouldn’t need the blanket up in the loft. Together they scooted the Indian over and propped him sitting up in the corner. Then the 3 adults silently wondered to themselves what was going to happen next. No one knew of a similar situation ever occurring before.
It happened quickly, once the Narragansett got warm.
Pain and infection set to work on his terrible bite wounds.
It took 3 weeks for the Indian’s swollen, scabbed hands to drain and heal to the point where he could reliably use them, and he became less & less dependant.
He learned how to use a White Man’s funny chamber pot. He learned little White Children laughed exactly the same as little Red Children. He saw the White family share everything from their big pot with him, and silently vowed to somehow repay his debt. He decided to try and trust Garner. He remained aloof from Prudence, the squaw. He learned to say “Garner Bothum”, in English.
Garner learned to apply tallow to his own boots. They were still too thin, but now they were water proof. He memorized the pattern of the Indian’s winter moccasin boots, and how they were stitched together with thongs. The winter secret of the Narragansett was they had fur on the inside! He decided to try and trust the Indian, who was somewhat older than him. He learned to say his name, “Long Eye”, in Narragansett: “A-nûk-qua-que Wus-ke-é-suck”.
Garner had collected Long Eye’s bow and arrows, and while he had kept them hidden at first, in a few days he discovered that was never required. By signs he explained that he wanted Long Eye to teach him how to skin and scrape the wolf hide, but he forgot all about the knife frozen within. Long Eye signed back that he understood, and Garner brought the wolf inside to thaw out near the ash pile.
The Bothums slept up in the loft, Long Eye was more comfortable on the floor with his own pile of straw. After the wolf thawed, Long Eye simply retrieved his knife, returned it to his sheath where it belonged, and thought nothing more about it. It took Garner a full day of skinning lessons to notice the razor sharp quartz blade flapping at Long Eye’s waist.
His eyes bulged out when he saw it. Long Eye saw the reaction, figured out what Garner was staring at, and began to laugh loud and long. (That was the first time Garner ever heard that Indians could laugh!) Wiping mirth tears from his eyes, Long Eye drew out his knife and handed it over to Garner, handle first, as a sign of trust. In Narragansett, with pantomime, he said “I am not lying, I speak the truth, you are my friend”: “Mat-ta Nip-pán-na-wem, A-chi-e-no-ná-um-wem, Né-top”.
In time, Garner would learn to speak Narragansett fluently, but for now, all he understood was the gesture and the smile. Garner took the knife, but didn’t know what to do with it now that he had it, and so he returned it to the older man, repeating “Né-top”, with his hand over his heart as Long Eye had done.
If Long Eye wanted to kill him, he had a full day at close range to do it already. That made him laugh at his misgivings, then both men laughed together. That was the very moment they united forever. Garner learned how to say wolf in Narragansett: “Muck-qua-shím”, and how to scrape a wolf hide, and how to beat it folded between his hands to soften it, as both men worked together on the hide.
The Friends (Ne-tom-pa-ûog)
Over the next nine years the two men regularly exchanged greetings in Narragansett and English, gave gifts to each other and their families, and even began trading together. Garner wanted skins and game, Long Eye wanted a musket and iron. It was a common English practice to exchange gunpowder, shot and muskets for furs and game.
Later they came to regret this, but for now, the English delighted in sharp bargaining practices, always getting the better half of any trade with the savages.
Meanwhile, through daily use in hunting game in the forest, the Indigenous Tribes became expert marksmen with the new weapons. They were far more proficient with a musket than the colonizing farmers, who were usually bound tightly to the soil to grow and harvest their food crops.
When Garner eventually prospered, he purchased two flint lock muskets, the very best, and swapped one, along with powder, shot and a new horn for three black bear skins, Indian tanned and supple. His winters would be so much warmer, and with six children in the loft, everyone, especially his newborn son Briggs Bothum, who would eventually became his heir, could be under a toasty Bear Fur Blanket! Long Eye, already renowned with a bow, moved up as an elite hunter with his musket, a provider for many in the band of The People he lived among.
At first, public social visits to the other family were nervous events, but in time and after many repetitions, they became an unremarkable routine. Long Eye and his squaw Sweet Berry (We-é-kan Wut-tá-him-ne-ash) would visit and share a meal with Garner and Prudence of squash (As-kût-ta-squash) and raccoon (Aû-sup) or squirrel (Mish-án-ne-ke) stew.
Later, Garner and Prudence would visit Long Eye and Sweet Berry and share a meal of boiled ground corn, (Au-pûm-in-ea-naw-saûmp), beans, (Ma-nus-qus-sé-dash) and strawberries (Wut-tá-him-ne-ash) with them and The People. In the early days, one look from Long Eye would silence any grumbling about his unusual guests. That was the stature and power he had amid The People of his clan in their camp. Soon others of The People began to speak in their camps, and greet Garner when they occasionally met in the forest.
To both men, Indigenous Narragansett and English Colonist, their friendship was first and foremost true, and secondarily, mutually beneficial for both to live in harmony with the good neighbors that Scripture and Narragansett Tradition taught. Staying alive was hard enough with so many natural enemies. Having an ally and safe haven in times of need was obviously good in their eyes.
Eighty miles to the Northeast, a zealous religious man, living safe in the town of Boston, believed differently. The young and vigorous Puritan Minister Increase Mather expounded his view that the coming of English Christianity was a second fulfillment of God’s long ago command to Joshua to claim the Promised Land by force of arms. Such a prophecy was never a part of the Holy Bible, but he made it so by endless repetition.
He was preaching to the upper crust of Boston, the premiere “city” amid the colonies of “New” England, the people of influence and King’s Granted Authority. The same people who benefited by unscrupulously easing the various tribes out of their land. Increase Mather successfully gave them a Moral Justification, even an honorable Duty, by preaching long and loud that “God was on our side!”
In time, the inevitable war broke out, 1675-1676, between the Sachem (Chief) Metacom (King Philip), the son of Massasoit, the Chief that gave sustenance to the original Plymouth Colonials, who unfortunately arrived ill equipped on December 20th, 1620, at the start of winter on the raw East coast of Massachusetts.
Called “King Phillip’s War”, it began in Massachusetts, and rapidly spread throughout New England. At first, the Indians seemed to be everywhere, and forced the colonists to retreat into safe havens. There was fear that the English would inevitably be forced back into costal enclaves, but the new year and the tide of war combined with English alliances with other Indian tribes and turned the conflict into a rout of the shattered Wampanoag & Narragansett Tribes.
The War News Letter from Dighton
[Please note that the incident with Edward Bobbet, an ancestor of Lauri Arruda’s husband Joe, is true. Edward was an early casualty in King Philip’s War, dying exactly as described in this fictional letter.]
My trusty friend Garner, I have read your letter many times over and have thought of you often. I am troubled by the fact you have chosen to live in the wilderness without the safety of a village or a close neighbor. This town you speak of that you settled in seems very remote, even though you speak of feeling safe. You should be very careful of the indian you call friend.
I do not think of any indian as a friend. Up north to me the towns are being burned and the citizens killed by indians.
This week two of our neighbors were killed by indians, Edward Bobbet and John Tisdale, although Mr. Bobbet could have spared his life.
Upon hearing the indians were approaching, he hurried his family to safety in the fort. He then remembered something at his home and left the safety of the fort to get it. He brought his dog with him. Upon retrieving the item, he headed back to the fort, but heard the indians approaching and climbed a tree. Perhaps he had forgotten about the dog, as the dog sat under the tree and looked up at him to bark. The indians found him and he was killed. All for a forgotten treasure.
I am writing this letter in the safety of the fort. I was able to get Priscilla and the children here in plenty of time. Tis hard on the younger children, they are frightened. Priscilla is frightened but does not show it.
Daniel and James have been with the older children, Daniel being nineteen now. They have told me of rumors that the men want to get a militia together to fight the indians.
I fear I will not be able to join. Recalling the accident I had while haying last summer, my foot did not heal properly and I do not walk very fast. I fear my Daniel and James will join in and I fear for their safety.
My other son just being thirteen years of age is with his brothers, but I will not allow him to go. His mother and I need him here.
I would suggest you travel back home here, but travel would be too dangerous now.
I must ask you straight and simple: what can you be thinking by having this indian come and go as he pleases? Prudence must be frightened to death! This is a trying time and who knows how it will end. I beg of you, dear friend, please use caution. How can you trust the word of a wild savage?
The indian might be your “friend” but what if he tells others where you are? They may have different ideas about you and your family.
My paper is running short so I must close. Stay safe and do not do anything foolish. May you and Prudence prosper and increase.
Your friend, Joseph Haskins.
Post Script: I am sore anxious for you! Please write as time and a traveler going North permit you to send what news you have from Tomaquag.
King Philip’s War
Increase Mather used the very first sentence of his self proclaimed “impartial” history of that 1675-76 War, called “King Philips War” by the victors, to summarize his years of preaching.
“That the Heather People amongst whom we live, and whose Land the Lord God of our Fathers hath given to us for a rightfull Posession, have at sundry times been plotting mischievous devices against that part of the English Israel which is seated in these going downs of the Sun, no man that is an Inhabitant of any considerable standing, can be Ignorant.”
As Garner Bothum was a poor man, Increase Mather, living safely in Boston, instinctively dismissed anything such a man, actually living among the Narragansett, as not worthy of consideration. In his own way, Increase Mather determined the policy eventually followed by the United States Government in all it’s subsequent Indian Wars, from sea to shining sea.
On December 19, 1675, came the Great Swamp Massacre, where Sweet Berry and all her children were killed as their fortified winter settlement was overrun by a Puritan Army.
Long Eye, fighting at the stockade surrounding the Winter camp, eluded his would be executioners, and disappeared into the woods. These warriors vowed to bring the fight to the homes and hearths of the White men. That spring, they gathered, a paltry hundred strong, at the plain below the High Cliff Cougar. But Long Eye made a stop before joining the War Party.
It has been said in modern times that “a Narragansett will never forget a favor, and never forgive a treachery.” Actually, you can substitute almost any race or individual for “Narragansett” and still be saying a common enough truth. But that Spring, Long Eye came to Garner’s home, bearing a gutted deer over his shoulder. The two men exchanged greetings, and Prudence and Garner expressed their sadness at the death of Sweet Berry and his family.
Long Eye warned them that he was leaving soon on a raid up North, and that while he was away, perhaps for the rest of the year, he would not be available to shield Garner from the hot headed young men who did not know of their peaceful nature. He suggested they should abandon Tomaquag and flee to a larger White settlement. Garner thanked him for the warning. Both men nodded. Prudence waved. Then Long Eye was gone.
Garner declared to Prudence that he was never leaving Tomaquag. Prophetically, his hand was on the head of Briggs when he spoke it. Long Eye was unaware he would never be returning to Tomaquag.
The High Cliff Cougar
Below the cliff and the Cougar, the hundred surviving warriors clustered in familiar groups with distinct separations between those groups who were not well know to each other.
Long Eye, although a distinguished hunter in his Clan, was not a War Chief, and had no over all Tribal Authority. Still, if this War Party was to avenge their dead, these six separate groups had to become one united band of Narragansett Warriors. Only then would they make sufficient blood flow in extracting revenge from the Waum-pe-shau (White Man). Among his little group of clansmen, he had no trouble moving them over to the closest group of strangers, and introducing them by their common tribal heritage. Once they got conversing, he introduced himself to the next group, directing them over to the doubled band. Soon it was one band of warriors awaiting the blessing and exhortation from their leaders.
The Tribe’s Pau-Waw, (Medicine Man) appeared on the chunky, flat topped boulder next to the Cougar. (Pus-sough) His name was Deep Sky. (Táu-qus-fin Ké-e-suck) He had tried to keep The People out of the conflict between the Pokanoket Tribe, which was a member of the larger Wampanoag Confederation, and the English Waumpeshau.
The Narragansett Sachem, Canonchet, steadfastly remained neutral in the war erupting on his northern border. He refused the English demand that he turn over all his tribe’s firearms. Then he refused to turn over to the Waumpeshau all the women, children and old people of the Wampanoag that sought shelter and protection from the Narragansett.
The result of his loyalty to his own tribe and the non combatants of his neighboring tribe was the Great Swamp Massacre, and Chief Canonchet led the Narragansett into the war. Deep Sky brought all his considerable power to bear on producing the most dreadful warriors the Waumpeshau had faced, now that they had treacherously attacked his People.
He danced and chanted on the rock above them all. He hurled invective at the Tribes which had sided with the Waumpeshau. (This treachery is well remembered today among those Tribes who fought against the Waumpeshau.) But Deep Sky was at his loudest in exhorting the Warriors below to summon the courage, the stealth and the deadly fierceness of the Cougar within their own hearts.
Down below, surrounded by younger warriors, Long Eye could feel the War Rage building all around him. The breath of those men came shallow and fast. They moved in choppy steps with fierce expressions. They had no knowledge of the long ago, and so they easily succumbed to the War Drums and Deep Sky’s ecstasies of Victorious Revenge.
To himself, he wondered what the legendary Pau-waw Provider would have done if faced with these difficult times. Perhaps nothing different. Provider had a vision of the Waumpeshau, strange men with hairy faces and skin a light pink, but he never encountered a real one in his life. He never encountered the horrible plagues that killed nearly all in some villages. Provider never heard the thunder of a musket or the dreadful roar of a cannon. Perhaps the wise Shaman Provider would be up there, dancing and chanting right beside Deep Sky. But he hoped Provider would have found another way.
With that, Long Eye joined with his brothers in the rhythms of the War Dance, and took his place in the line snaking up the talus slope to make their individual “eye to eye” pledges to the Manitou of Honor.
Sculpted beneath the Cougar, this Manitou cast his eye and all knowing grin on each warrior, standing still beneath him, looking up directly into his eye. Each man pledged on his honor to fulfill the oath the Pauwau proclaimed for the men gathered on the plain.
On this occasion it was to transform his heart into the heart of a Cougar, fierce in battle. On other occasions the Pauwau would present a different oath to the men. But with each separate occasion, the men lined up and individually pledged themselves to the Manitou of Honor.
Long Eye, chanting the War Dance, and shuffling his feet with the same vigor as the warriors half his age, promised the Manitou of Honor that he would personally kill five Waumpeshau, one for each of his children, and two for Sweet Berry, his gentle, loving wife. With his pledge made, he raised a war cry, and skipped down the slope to rejoin the warriors gathering on the plain.
Within the hour, the Narragansett War Band was out of Tomaquag Valley, heading North to burn much of Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Disremembered Legacy Of “King Philip’s War”
What follows is fuel for your personal research & meditation regarding “The High Cliff Cougar” Story. The story (remember it is Fiction) probably bears no resemblance to what you were taught in school. Either I have misrepresented the actual history of our country, or your schooling has.
In deciding this, it would be better for you to follow your own curiosity and reach your own conclusions.
The Internet makes this easy. Original historic documents are free downloads and Web addresses are included.
King Philip’s War was the second war between the Native Americans living on the Eastern Seaboard & the European colonizers. The first war was the “Pequot War”, fought in 1637, only seventeen years after the arrival of the Pilgrims on Cape Cod. The decisive battle was the surrounding and burning of the Pequot fort at Misistuck, (current Mystic, CT), by order of Captain John Mason. The result was a massacre, with only seven survivors out of 600 to 700 Pequot.
Mason, like Increase Mather, attributed his victory to God: “Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the place with dead bodies”.
To read Captain John Mason’s book, please go to http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/42, please see Page 6-9
The Pequot Tribe was essentially eliminated in this first conflict with the Europeans. It has only been in modern times that the descendants have regained a Tribal Cohesiveness. The European expansion continued unabated. There are those who believe that Metacom (King Philip) saw that the only way to preserve the Native American way of life was to drive the Europeans back to wherever they came from.
In the end he was shot and quartered. (cut into 4 pieces) His head was cut off and exhibited on a pole for decades in Plymouth, the settlement his father Massasoit saved from disaster 56 years before. His hands were cut off, and shipped to Boston. The mighty Narragansett Tribe was reduced to a few hundred men who endured.
Had all the tribes united, that surely would have been the result. As it was, the desperate tenacity of both sides in this second Indian war is revealed by comparing the estimated casualty statistics for America’s 5 deadliest Wars.
KING PHILIP’S WAR: Indigenous Deaths 3,000, Population 20,000, D. per 100,000 = 15,000
KING PHILIP’S WAR: European Deaths 800, Population 52,000, D. per 100,000 =1,538
CIVIL WAR: Deaths 305,235, Population 35,630,885, D. per 100,000=857
WORLD WAR II: Deaths 291,557, Population 141,183,318, D. per 100,000=206
AMERICAN REVOLUTION: Deaths 4,435, Population 2,464,250, D. per 100,000=180
Statistics Source: Please see “King Philip’s War”, by Schultz & Tougias, Page 5
Walter Giersbach, author of the article “Philip’s War: America’s Most Devastating Conflict” summarized the war as follows:
(Please Google “Military History Online King Philips War”)
“In all, more than half of New England’s 90 towns were assaulted by native warriors. For a time in the spring of 1676, it appeared to the colonists that the entire English population of Massachusetts and Rhode Island might be driven back into a handful of fortified seacoast cities. Between 600 and 800 English died in battle during King Philip’s War. Measured against a European population in New England of perhaps 52,000, this death rate was nearly twice that of the Civil War and more than seven times that of World War II. The English Crown sent Edmund Randolph to assess damages shortly after the war and he reported that 1,200 homes were burned, 8,000 head of cattle lost, and vast stores of foodstuffs destroyed. One in ten soldiers on both sides was injured or killed.
Nathaniel Saltonstall noted in 1676, the Indian attacks left “in Narraganset not one House left standing. At Warwick, but one. At Providence, not above three. At Potuxit, none left…. Besides particular Farms and Plantations, a great Number not be reckoned up, wholly laid waste or very much damnified. And as to Persons, it is generally thought that of the English there hath been lost, in all…above Eight Hundred.”
The outcome of King Philip’s War was equally devastating to the traditional way of life for Native people in New England. Hundreds of Natives who fought with Philip were sold into slavery abroad. Others who might be rehabilitated, especially women and children, were forced to become servants locally. As the traditional base of existence changed due to the Colonists’ victory, the Wampanoag and other local Native communities had to adapt certain aspects of their culture in order to survive.
It is curious that such a conflict is little remembered today, not because of its bloody devastation but for the extent that such a great proportion of the population—English and Native American alike—was affected.
Jacques Arsenault, writing for the University of Georgetown, indicates this is because many of the realities of King Philip’s War do not fit the classical myth of America as the Land of the Free.
He states, “The final reason for the poor understanding of King Philip’s War is that the events of the war really don’t fit into American Mythology. The evidence of King Philip’s resistance to an encroaching colonial population would not sit well with peaceful images of the first Thanksgiving, or with the vision of the founders of our nation gathering together to create a nation of freedom, equality and liberty.””
Lexicon of Narragansett words used in this story
A-chi-e-no-ná-um-wem, I speak the truth
A-nûk-qua-que Wus-ke-é-suck, Long Eye
Au-pûm-in-ea-naw-saûmp, Dried & ground corn, boiled in water
Ké-e-suck, Sky, Heavens
Mat-ta Nip-pán-na-wem, I am not lying
Pau-Waw, or Paw-waw, Medicine Man, Healer ,Priest, Consulter of Spirits, Sorcerer, Advisor to the Chief. The Paw waw was concerned with everyone in his clan about matters of Spiritual & Physical Health. He was viewed as a concerned friend, although he held great power.
This is the first of four chronological stories based on locations in Tomaquag Valley
Brook Paws was nine when he found that he could be useful, and even welcomed in his Clan, by doing what he loved to do. Always fascinated by water, he grew adept at catching crayfish, tasty, but below a man’s dignity to “hunt”. At first, when he was a little one, he would prowl along the bed of the shallow trickle brooks, because he too was small.
While he remained small in height, he grew in wisdom and courage, and now found himself alone in the big brook where the tomaquag made their dams and lodges.
But “The Wisdom of a Hunter comes with the Moons” was an old saying that applied to the men with their arrows, stalking the lush grassland under the canopy of scattered trees, as well as grubby little boys, without pants, wading in the rivulets of summer, hunting for frogs, salamanders, snakes, big bugs, and crayfish. On his own, Brook Paws learned to hunt crayfish by starting from down stream, to let the overturned rock mud clear away in the current, exposing all. He didn’t notice his discovery was observed by a silent watcher.
Like the other young boys learning the basic skills of hunting, he was interested in catching anything that moved. From this he learned that some of the things that moved, like bees, skunks, porcupines, raccoons, hawks, owls and fox could effectively, and painfully, defend themselves. Through all of time, every education costs something.
He even saw his friend get a finger eaten trying to catch a forbidden turtle. His father had no sympathy for Short Hand for disobeying the Tribal Rules. The Turtle was the symbol of Nooh-kas-ah-kee, (Mother Earth), and was respected by all. It was his father who renamed him, even as the stub was bleeding and his boy had not yet captured all of his escaping tears.
The other boys of the tribe abandoned him to his wet world, preferring to hone the manly hunting skills of the forest. They began bringing home squirrel & rabbit to the seasonal encampments. They were acclaimed! Some were even accepted by the grown men to join their hunting bands.
Brook Paws, with his children’s crayfish and frogs, even the occasional brook or pond fish he caught with his bare hands, slowly became invisible, even as the food he brought to their fires was steady, day by day by ‘the whole year round’ every day. Even in Winter Camp, he would chop through swamp ice to bring home his unappreciated catch, now with vital cattail roots & arrow roots which were the starchy winter staples of The People.
By his sixteenth year, Brook Paws always walked alone. His former friend, Short Hand, now delighted in mocking him, calling him “Walking Woman” for his solitary habits and the simple fare he contributed daily, good weather or bad. With all of Short Hand’s harsh words, The People slowly began to think Brook Paws was strange. Not bad, but strange.
Short Hand had immersed himself in the warrior skills of hunting the land for food, and hunting the woods for people from neighboring clans of his Tribe, and especially interlopers from enemy Tribes. He was a good sentry. Feeling he had to compensate for his deformed left hand, he grew aggressive, and would pummel another boy who caught his attention by arguing with him, or who seemed an easy target for his bullying tactics. He loved to fight.
He tried it on Brook Paws once, and the spineless “walking woman” surprised him by shoving a bristle finned sunfish in his mid-taunt mouth, then snapped the tail back out, imbedding the spiny fins inside his cheeks.
Initially, Short Hand was disappointed that he did not have an audience to join in the laughter of him abusing the loner. Totally taken by surprise that anyone would stand up to him, now he was grateful that the encounter took place with no one to see that it took him nearly a minute to twist the still flapping trash out of his bleeding, shredded mouth. And later on that day he was grateful that Brook Paws just walked away in thoughtful silence, never even mentioning his humiliating defeat to any of The People.
The truth of the matter was Brook Paws was thoroughly frightened by the sudden arrival of the aggressive Short Hand, and had no idea how he came up with the wits to stuff a fish in the warrior’s big, wide open, laughing mouth. There was no thinking involved, it happened too fast to plan! He was tingling in excitement, but also felt weak at the same time. He tried not to sit down, and swayed a bit as he walked to the Disappearing Brook, which always calmed him. It was wonderful and strange to see the entire stream swallowed up beneath the stones.
Once there, he lay amid the jumble of moss covered rocks and leaping frogs, listening to the water tumbling and gurgling unseen within the echo chambers of the earth. It was as if the water was trying to talk to him, but he could not understand what it was saying.
Earlier, the watcher had seen Short Hand break away from his band of boys and head for Tomaquag Brook. Knowing the habitual paths Brook Paws traveled, and expecting trouble, he “silent as the wind” followed Short Hand to his ambush of the smaller boy. Pleased with the young man’s reception, now he trailed Brook Paws to Disappearing Brook, and placed another thought in his mind. This time it did not adhere. The young man was addled now, but one new day, in another moon, he might retain it. This boy was the one he needed.
Short Hand developed an enormous swelling in his left cheek. He did not know of the clinical word “infection”, but he did know he had to eat gruel and old man mush for several weeks. Talking was difficult, so for a far too short period, The People were spared his shameless boasting and bullying threats.
He never directly confronted Brook Paws again, but his hatred buried itself in his heart deeper than the blue gill’s spines had done in his cheek, which developed a line of prominent pale white dots. No one spoke to Short Hand about this manifestation, and he was unaware that he had been marked by the Manitou for some unknown purpose.
The Chief, alarmed by such an aggressive young warrior, certain to challenge him in time, consulted with Wind Walker, who privately did his ritual for consulting with the appropriate Manitous. The reply, delivered to Wind Walker in a trance, was itself a riddle:
“Step by step Short Hand is off on his own hidden trail. He leads to where The People have great fear. The Sachem must not follow his path.”
The Chief was not pleased by this, and wondered if the Medicine Man made this up just to give the Chief orders and restrict his authority. It was as if Wind Walker could hear the doubt within the Chief and lashed out “Obey or Not what the “Manitou Of What Awaits” has provided as His answer. Give great care to how you reply to His Gift for you, my Sachem.”
By his nineteenth year, Brook Paws could understand the soft language of Disappearing Brook as it threaded it’s way beneath the mossy jumble. At least it seemed like he did. The Waters, the hidden waters of Disappearing Brook, the tomaquag ponds, the big river and the Great Sea, told him of what awaited The People walking on the land of Nooh-kas-ah-kee; He became aware of the times when rain would be scarce, and of the times when great rains would lash The People and scour away their fishing weirs. The waters said they were all interwoven, even the waters in the sky, and they all knew, like The People all knew of their Chief’s decisions.
One day in the summer encampment, Brook Paws warned of a great storm coming in four days which would bring strong wind, triple strength light and sound arrows, and water that would flood the brook. Short Hand laughed heartily at the prediction, then closed his mouth until he checked Brook Paws hands. They were empty, so again he laughed and pointed.
But all talk stopped when Wind Walker raised his bony old finger at the rash young man who dared to foresee the future, and gestured for Brook Paws to exit the area immediately. The frail Shaman stumped along behind him, leaning heavily on his walking stick, loaded with jangling amulets. Those within who saw and heard were silent until Wind Walker exited, then rapidly talked among themselves about what it all meant, both Brook Paws outspoken warning and Wind Walker’s immediate response.
Wind Walker led silent Brook Paws to his personal bark home apart from the cluster of Summer Camp shelters. He made the young man wait while he entered to mix several of his potions. He emerged with a cob stoppered drinking gourd and a deerskin pouch of pemmican. The Pauwau lead Brook Paws through the area of the Vast Snake, the Rabbit, the Bear, and the Talking Spring under it’s fitted stone “turtle shell” dome. Then they walked on to a low, flagstone roofed enclosure with a small window to the North. It was big enough for Brook Paws to lie down within.
Wind Walker motioned the young man to crawl into the Vision Chamber head first. Then he handed him the drinking gourd and the pemmican pouch. He was to stay inside the Chamber until his courage or his reason fled from him and he kicked out the stone, soon to cover over the chamber entrance. Or, he could signal to the Medicine Man that his Vision Quest was complete by placing the gourd or pouch outside the window. Or, he just might die in the dark cell.
Before Brook Paws could reply, Wind Walker snapped: “You do NOT speak! You flee in fear, you go insane, you get no Vision, you HAVE a Vision or you die. But IN SILENCE!”
“Put the gourd or pouch out the window, and I will be here to release you in honor, vision or no vision, or I will drag your body, condemned to death by the Manitous whom you have offended. Or I will instruct Short Hand to lead a band to hunt you down as a coward or crazy one who is a danger to The People. But be IN SILENCE until we return together to my home. There you tell me what you saw, and I will tell you what I have seen.” (But after the event, he didn’t share his vivid Medicine Man’s Dreams. He would need time to unweave the Manitou’s voice.)
With that, the shrunken old man somehow dragged a heavy flagstone across the entrance and sealed him in. He picked out a particular amulet and shook it over the chamber, threw a pinch of some kind of medicine on the roof rocks, then limped back to his home to fast, meditate and be open to whatever dreams by night or visions by day awaited him.
The People went about the next three days cautiously. No one gave any credence to young Brook Paws, however, anytime Wind Walker inserted himself in their lives it was usually both a welcome time and a nervous time until whatever befell them happened, or not. When dawn of the fourth day broke clear and sunny, Short Hand was his boisterous self, laughing and being chummy with the grown warriors in the band that accepted him.
Wind Walker stayed near his home, adding many new “tie down” thongs lashed to newly pounded stakes. He drank little, although he had water, but he ate nothing. With the arrival of dawn, high sun & dusk, he would stump over and silently look at the Vision Chamber window from a distance, then check the sealed entrance. Each time everything was as he left it. The Pauwau knew there was one day’s water in the gourd, and one day’s pemmican in the pouch, if Brook Paws was eating and drinking normally. He could stretch the water for two or three days with discipline, and make the food last for five, but if nothing changed in seven days he would probably, but not certainly, be dead.
The vicious Summer squall hit in mid afternoon of the fourth day. The gray/green sky was eerie. The wind rose up as a rampaging bear, then grew even stronger & louder! It transformed into a legendary event from long ago, “The Black Cloud”, which then and now tore entire trees up into the skies, trees that never returned to the ground! The rain and wind flattened most of the homes and damaged the rest. The People gratefully emerged in the odd pink light of sunset to a scene of devastation. Fires were rekindled, and all The People sheltered in the upright damaged homes and softly talked about the legendary Black Cloud’s return, surely a frightful omen.
No one spoke aloud of the warning given by Brook Paws, but all remembered in silence.
The Medicine Man’s solitary bark home was undamaged, protected by his additional tie downs. He squished his lonely way along the soggy trail to the Vision Chamber, and still there was no change. He made inquiry of the surrounding omens and all portents were of peace. Allowing himself a brief smile, he splashed back home to continue on with his fast.
In the evening of the fifth day, the gourd and pouch were outside the window. Wind Walker tried to remove the entrance flagstone, but without eating for five days, he lacked the strength. He instructed Brook Paws to shove with his feet while he pulled from outside, but to maintain his silence, or all would be wasted. With a splashy thud, the stone tumbled over, and Brook Paws emerged, blinking in the setting sunlight. His eyes were accustomed to the interior darkness, and for a while he saw the world as an overexposed photograph, blindingly white.
Neither man minded the mess, and they shared the Shaman’s walking stick as if it was a natural thing, instead of a blasphemous intrusion. After a hasty soup, Wind Walker asked him to tell what he saw.
“I saw nothing. I dreamt nothing. I heard nothing. Nothing happened, and so I left.”
“Surely you heard the flash and thunder of the storm arrows? And the rain? And the legend of Black Cloud returned to devastate the woods! Surely you heard and saw these things?”
“I only noticed my gourd filling daily by a trickle from Hidden Waters, drop by single drop.”
“Ah, this you did note. So, Brook Paws, something DID happen! Were you ever afraid?”
“Only that I might accidentally speak. And one other time, when you asked me to push out the rock, I was afraid it might land on you and hurt you, my Noosh. (Father) Oh, and when I first crawled into the chamber I remember thinking ‘I am The Turtle now’. I was safe within my shell, looking out across… I was looking out across everything! It was beautiful, to see what ever I wanted to see. Maybe that is why I never saw or heard the terrible storm that came here. Truly, I never saw or heard all this destruction.”
Hearing that change in the young man’s perception, Wind Walker decided then to not even hint about his interlocking dreams concerning Brook Paws. He needed time to ponder and seek understanding. The young man had been invited to see the world through the eyes of “Nooh-kas-ah-kee”, the Earth Mother. He said no more, and abruptly dismissed Brook Paws from his home. Busy Pauwau’s were forever thinking of their entire family, the whole Clan.
Three months later The People gathered before dawn at the Sunrise Barrow.
Wind Walker had calculated that this day was the indicated time for the last great effort to harvest what food was still readily available from their fields and the forest before Winter’s grasp.
These times were both fraught with anxiety and celebration for The People. There were celebrations for every new moon, but the celebrations that arose at Sunrise Barrow were based on the four yearly passages of the sun. At the two times of Solstice and the two times of Equinox, Wind Walker would search the sky and land for omens sent to him from “Manitou Of What Awaits”. From interpreting these portents, Wind Walker would announce to The People what they could expect in the upcoming Seasonal Camps.
The barrow pointed like a broad spear to the place where the sun would arise directly over the Equinox Rock on the ridge across the narrow valley. There were a series of shallow stair bands stretching across it that Wind Walker, and what ever other person he would rarely invite to share in the honor, would ascend. At the Apex, Wind Walker would celebrate the sun’s decree to Feast today and speak of the prophetic events of tomorrow. It did not matter if it was clear or raining, the Ceremonial Day was fixed by Wind Walker.
On clear days the Sun confirmed it’s allegiance to the Pauwau. On cloudy or rainy days, The People still believed, while Wind Walker took the dawn’s weather into account as yet another omen from “What Awaits”.
Depending on the Season & weather, the Medicine Man conducted the ceremony dressed appropriately. Special paint, a yellow root dye mixed with ocher clay was in the paint pot rock at the barrow side. Inevitably, Wind Walker applied this paint himself, to his face and hands at least, to his bare chest and back on warm days, although the previous Medicine Man had an assistant cover him in the mystic patterns. Once adorned, he would utter the specific chants while ascending the stair bands, confirming with “What Awaits” the future for The People during the next 3 moons. This prophetic proclamation always publicly tested a Pauwau’s skill.
Brook Paws had no further contact with Wind Walker since his unsuccessful Summer stay in the Vision Chamber. Nothing changed in how he was treated by Short Hand. As he had not predicted the arrival of the Black Cloud, his announcement was dismissed as a guess. He himself had no further visions or messages from the hidden waters, and also dismissed them as a curiosity. His main concern was his own inability to attract a mate, and he seemed destined to live alone forever, a strange man, apart, on the fringes of The People.
He was thinking these sad thoughts, and tried to change things by standing next to Rising Moon, near the barrow. Short Hand immediately saw her smile at being given some attention for a change, and went over and angrily shoved Brook Paw away from the maiden. He had no interest in Rising Moon, she was homely, and screeched when she laughed. He just didn’t want Brook Paw to have any happiness.
But once again, he underestimated his timid opponent, who with a snort, charged full tilt into the bully, and knocked the bigger man sprawling and wheezing on his backside, five feet up on the Barrow. Brook Paws himself also tumbled onto the upraised cairn of rocks.
The Pauwau didn’t need to hear the noise go from uproar to dead silence to know his sanctuary had been violated. The outburst occurred ten feet away from him, while he was looking directly at the two men. Slowly, he sorted through his amulets, and came out with the black stone, fringed with the black belly fur of a skunk. He raised the amulet above his head, and reached out with his boney hand, and poked Short Hand on the left cheek, once for each of his omen dots. Then silently, he flung his hand contemptuously away.
Short Hand withered before everyone’s eyes, so pale his cheek marks seemed to glow. He turned, and ran downhill in shame through The People, who parted silently to let him pass.
Returning the amulet to his staff, he again pointed with his finger, this time at trembling Brook Paws. He motioned for him to come up higher and stand beside him, then spoke loud to the gathered Tribe.
“For many years I have watched Brook Paws in secret. I have seen he has been favored by the Manitou, even as he has sank in the eyes of The People. Now that one, rebuffed and marked by the Manitou, is outcast. This one has been especially chosen by the Manitou to warn the People of the Black Cloud. But, YOU DID NOT LISTEN! He only passed through it in peace, unaware of any evil. He only had his one need provided to him by the Manitou. One other prophecy they gave him, in secret. They gave him a new Noosh (Father), which he knew without knowing! Today, I give you my son and heir. His name is “Provider.”
Come, my son, there is yet time. Come and paint my back in a pattern that suits your mind.”
The People remembered Provider as a steady source of food they needed, but un-credited. In the many years he was the Medicine Man, they repaid their debt. All the maidens now noticed him, but his choice was Rising Moon, sent to him as a smiling omen on the dawn of his rebirth. True to her name, she filled the deep, empty darkness of his life with her radiant light.
or The Remarkable Alignment Of Sunrise Barrow, March 21, 2013
By HHA Member Tom Helmer
The photograph of the sunrise at “Sunrise Barrow” in Tomaquag Valley taken on March 21, one day after the official Vernal Equinox date of 3/20, produced a remarkable moment. The sunrise was in perfect alignment with the previously discovered and reflector marked “Front Sight Rock”, located about ¼ mile to the East of the barrow. The harmony between the sun’s disk & the “Front Sight Rock” Reflector Bearing (106.5° Mag, 92° True) was so precise it was impossible to see the reflector, although the reflector mounting arm is clearly visible, and the reflector itself is obvious in the 3/20 photo.
To understand why I believe this alignment represents the deliberately chosen date for the Vernal Equinox Alignment at Sunrise Barrow, a consideration of “How” the Native Americans were able to create such a time piece is in order. The truth of the matter is neither I, nor anyone else, has any written instructions from an ancient Shaman explaining how he built a precise Equinox Astronomical Clock.
However, this is how I deduce such a clock was built, hampered by the following restrictions:
I have no magnetic compass
I have no knowledge of any European, Middle East or Asian astronomical theories
I have no written language
I have no sophisticated mathematical systems.
How I would build Sunrise Barrow under the restrictions above.
My solution to making a solar clock that indicates the date of the Vernal & Autumnal Equinoxes begins with a simpler task, building an astronomical clock that will indicate the Winter and Summer Solstice. It sounds like double talk, as the Equinox and the Solstice seem similar.
They are both regular events as the tilting earth, which I know nothing about, makes the position of the daily sunrise vary as the Earth orbits around the sun, which I also know nothing about.
The only thing I do know is that in Winter, the sun rises towards my right hand and it gets colder the further right it goes. In Summer, it rises towards my left hand, and it gets warmer the further left it goes. At the extremes, the sun seems to stand still. It was always a matter of concern for the ancient peoples all over the globe to know for certain that the sun was going to come back, not decide to get colder or hotter. Remember, I know nothing about orbits and astrophysics!
Universally back in those days, the sun’s motion was determined by an old time god. There was no way to know if their god was angry, and decided to give them more cold or hot to make them suffer for their disrespect. An all powerful god just might do that if angry enough!
At either solstice, the sun’s position on the horizon appears to stand still for about seven days. It is easy to get the bearing on the sun rise at this time. So if I build a clock that tells me if / when the sun has turned around, and I then tell the people the good news, everyone will be happy, show me great respect for my wisdom, and give me gifts in appreciation. I would like that.
So now I have a clock, AKA an “Astronomical Observatory”, that tells me when the hot part of the year starts and the cold part of the year starts.
How can I now sub-divide the year into quarters? This is tricky, because I do not know how many days there are in a year, although most of you readers know there are 365 days in the year. But being more accurate, some of you know that is actually incorrect, there are really 365 ¼ days. Some of you are more accurate than that, with 365.2564 days in the year. (Gad Zooks!)
So my first task is to find out how many days there are in a year. (Try and prove there are 365.2564 days with just your fingers and toes!) How do I count without numbers! (What? And you thought this was going to be easy?)
I may not have numbers, but I do have pebbles and bowls. So every day, beginning with the Cold Stopped Sun, I put a pebble in the bowl until the Hot Stopped Sun. I dump out the bowl and keep those pebbles in a separate bag. I do this for twenty years. I explain to the boy who is helping me out what I am doing, and why. The young man is smart, and when I die, he takes over counting days with pebbles in a bowl.
My first replacement has a sense that the time where the sun stops has a middle, and makes the intuitive leap that if he strings out each half year’s bag of pebbles side by side, he might get an idea about what is happening in that middle period when the sun is stopped. After about forty years of pebble bags, he has figured out that when it first stops, he should put in one more pebble, then start a new pot. He explains what he is doing to the boy who is helping him out. Young man #3 is also smart, so when Shaman #2 dies, the new Shaman #3 has a record of how many pebbles / days it usually takes to go from a “Stopped Sun” to the next “Stopped Sun”. It sometimes is 182 pebbles, but it usually is 183 pebbles. (This is the beginning of the difference between a whole number pebble system and a modern decimal system.)
Shaman #3 takes a recent bag of pebbles, and puts one in a left hand pile, one in a right hand pile, repeating this until, without knowing how to divide numbers, (which he doesn’t have!), he has none the less divided the half year pebbles into two piles, each containing a quarter year’s worth of pebbles. Remember, I /Shaman #3, have no knowledge of what a fraction is, but I do know how many pebbles it will take to go halfway between “Cold Stop” and “Hot Stop”.
But no matter how accurate the Shamans count, the actual solar year of 365.25 days will never divide by 4 into an even number of pebbles. You should prove this with your calculator. He has to deal with whole pebbles, not partial pebbles. He has two choices: 91 sunrises from Stopped Solstice, or 92 sunrises from Stopped Solstice. The shaman who made Sunrise Barrow chose 92, which results in it always marking the Equinox perfectly on March 21, one whole day (rounded up) more than our decimal exact modern Equinox in a year that is exactly 365.2564 days long.
In time Shaman #3 is Geezered Up. He has explained to the boy that is helping him how to set up two widely separated rocks to indicate the bearing of this “Half Pebble Bag” sunrise. It is wonderful! When #3 counts from Cold to Hot, or from Hot to Cold, quite a few times the two stones are aligned with the sunrise! And if they aren’t, next day they ARE perfect! Every Year!
And that is some serious solar magic!
The people are awe struck, and grant Shaman #3 more respect and more gifts. He likes it also.
Shaman #4 refines the “Half Pebble Pile” alignment, choosing the one that comes up a match on his 92 pebble count, and that is what they build into the big Barrow. This is my explanation why there is an exact alignment match that does not agree with modern telescopic Science, yet is an accurate clock century after century! If no one counts out pebbles, who can know the difference, as no one has a calendar to check. Neither does anyone in the Tribe know what a Calendar is!
Shaman #4 explains the plan to the boy that is helping him. The task assigned to the new lad is running back and forth on the “Half Pebble Pile” alignment days, setting up 2 stones the Shaman wants in alignment with that big rock on the horizon, all during the brief sunrise on “Half Pebble Pile Day”.
When Shaman #4 dies, Shaman #5 finally gets the 3 stones to line up on “Half Pebble Pile Day”. He checks it out for a few years, and he learns to anticipate THE Alignment Day, because amazingly, the sun moves at a faster, but predictable rate in the middle pebbles. (Who knew that!)
He can tell this, because he has seen it since he was a little boy. He changes the name to something more impressive than “Half Pebble Pile Day!”, like “Hooray! It’s Spring Now!” (This could be the birth of Marketing!) Then he invites the Chief & The People to watch the sun do it’s thing. This has a Major League “Wow” factor, even on March 21, 2013. (I was there, and I know all about this!)
Shaman #5, after only one century, has built a four alignment Astronomical Observatory/Clock. It divides a year into 4 Seasons which are vital to any agricultural, Seasoned based People. And he / they never went beyond the technology that was available to them, using only simple observations and “Pebbles In A Bowl” mathematics.
Why is this explanation important?
Yesterday, I saw a photo ostensibly from a satellite showing the alignment of the sun precisely over the equator, with the equinox timed to a fractional second. That is from our world. What we have down in the barrow is a phenomenal accomplishment, one that few of us could duplicate even with our fancy educations. That it is understandably off by one day, coming to us from a world where calendars did not exist, in no way diminishes the accomplishment of “The People Before…”