Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Ktsi Amiskw, the Great Beaver

The mountain known as Ktsi Amiskw, the Great Beaver, looms above Kwinitekw, the Connecticut River. Several Abenaki women have given powerful tellings and interpretations of the traditional story, which embeds many layers of Indigenous memory, from the melting of the glaciers and the creation of the Great Beaver's pond to colonization and the beaver wars. As the story has returned in this generation, it also has much to teach us, not only about our collective past, but the present and future, as well. 

Marge Bruchac worked on the recovery of the story and provided a telling for the Raid on Deerfield website, which is connected to an exhibit at the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association's Memorial Hall Museum. Above is Marge's photograph of the Great Beaver and here, you can hear her telling of the story, Amiskwôlowôkoiak - the People of the Beaver-tail Hill

Cheryl Savageau dedicated her poem, "At Sugarloaf, 1996" to Marge Bruchac, writing the Great Beaver story into a contemporary landscape of recovery. Here, she reads it on top of the mountain, the Great Beaver's bowl in the background, while Lisa Brooks listens with students.

Judy Dow recently recorded another telling of the story, which embeds teachings about the geology and ecology of the Connecticut River Valley, which you can listen to by clicking here: 

You can also read more about the Great Beaver story in Marge Bruchac's essay, “Earthshapers and Placemakers: Algonkian Indian Stories and the Landscape,” in Indigenous Archaeologies, and in Lisa Brooks's The Common Pot. Here, Lisa points to the place where Hobbomock broke the beaver's neck, as Judy Dow looks on, and they talk about the story and the land that holds it.

What significance does this story hold for you? What does it mean that no marker conveys this site's existence, or its importance? What is ironic about the other signs and symbols that are posted by the Great Beaver? How does the mountain itself help us remember the story?

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