REMEMBRANCE OF THE FALLS MASSACRE IN KING PHILIP’S WAR – 19 MAY 1676
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Imagine tribal peoples from hundreds of miles around converging at the Falls of Peskeompskut to camp as they had for many generations. Nipmuc, Wampanoag, and Massachusetts paddle down the Paquoag (Millers River). Abenaki, Sukoki, and Pennacook stream south down the Quinneticook. Mohican arrive from the west, Narragansetts from the south east, extended families from the Pocumtuck Confederation of Woronoco Norwottock. Nonotuc move upriver to the Falls. Greetings are shouted through the village, where hundreds of wetus and wigwams dot the fertile shores above the roaring Falls.
The homeland of the Falls is a deeply spiritual place. It is a place of abundance, a place of ceremony, a place to greet old friends, to replenish food supplies, perhaps to find a spouse, to perform ceremony. It is a place of sanctuary and peace as told for years in tribal oral accounts. So it came to be that the Indian clans and families who settled permanently on the site clearly chose the place for the pauwau energies that are found here, manifested in the abundant resources, the power of the landscape, and the proliferation of medicinal plants and herbs.
Planting and harvesting cycles set the rhythm of village life. The migrating fish provided fresh food in the warm weather and smoked dried fish for the cold winter. From the fish also came fertilizer for crops like the interdependent Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash. The seasons provided an ebb and flow, a rhythm, and a harmony. This balance was forever shattered by the arrival of the Europeans who saw a different potential in the land. With the new settlers came disease that reduced the tribal populations and a view of the land as a treasure trove for the taking, selling, and profiting. Those who remained at the Falls for sanctuary and nourishment were killed on May 19, 1676, when Captain Turner led his troops north up the Valley to raid the encampment of women, children, and elderly at the Falls. The earlier echoes of joyous greetings and shouts of welcome and reunion from the villages were silenced as a different vision of life and system of values took over.
Edited from David Brule and Joe Graveline. “Gathering at Peskeompskut,” Riverside: Life Along the Connecticut River. P.L. Shoemaker, ed.