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

Remove 7: Squakeag/Northfield

Weetamoo’s company followed a well-traveled trail toward Kwinitekw, where they would travel upriver by canoe through Sokoki territory. Sokwakik was a vast region, the south place of Abenaki country. The place the colonists called "Squakeag" was only the southernmost Sokoki town. English settlers would later rename it “Northfield,” as the northernmost “field” settled by Massachusetts colonists. This place had long been a vital planting and gathering place, but it was the signs of English settlement that Mary Rowlandson celebrated in her narrative as symbols of civilization: “a place where English cattle had been,” the trail opening into a cart path, abandoned fields full of wheat.
Today, it is those signs of English settlement that are most prominent in the town. Northfield’s center features a typical New England sign proclaiming the establishment of the “first settlement” in 1673. Note that this English “town” was created in this place just before King Philip’s War. This sign is a prominent example of the phenomenon Jean O’Brien calls “Firsting,” the claiming of “firstness” in this place, “emphasizing the primacy of English culture, institutions and lifeways.” Indigenous presence is marked on this sign by reference to the local “council rock,” a single site, perhaps a meeting place, representing Indians as “prefatory” to “authentic” A settlement.[1]
Mountain Grace Land Trust is among the local and regional groups who are working to creating new signs in Northfield, which will highlight different ways of representing colonial and Native space.

Click here to view these locations in the map of Mary Rowlandson's removes or in the interactive story map.

[1] Jean O’Brien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), xxiii.

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