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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > Native American Indians 1680-1720 > Two Worlds
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Two Worlds : Bridging Cultures

Native Americans, along with European inhabitants of northeastern North America endured an almost constant period of warfare throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One conflict flowed into another as members of these groups sought to strengthen or maintain their position in an ever-shifting world of political alliances and warfare. Age-old political, economic and religious animosities between England and France spilled over to their colonial possessions. Meanwhile, Native people reeling from the effects of disease and invasion strove to maintain or establish alliances and trade patterns.

It was in this atmosphere of political instability and violence that northern Abenaki, Pennacook, Wyandot (Huron) and Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk) came south with their French allies to attack English settlements. Hundreds of English men, women and children experienced the terror of being "captivated" and "carried away" on the "Indian Road" to Canada. Some of these, especially those captured as children, successfully integrated into Native communities. Among those who returned to New England, many maintained contact with their former captors.

Eunice Williams was only seven years old when she was taken along with several other family members during a highly successful French and Indian raid on Deerfield in 1704. Like many adopted captive children, Eunice quickly adapted to her new life and family. She became a part of a vibrant and dynamic community of Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk) at Kahnawake. Kahnawake, like other Native communities in this region such as her sister communities, Kanesatake, Odanak (St. Francis) and Missisquoi, was an equal player in colonial relations. A variety of Native people and cultures shaped these communities. Some members were southern refugees from conflicts such as King Philip's War (1675-1676). Others were survivors of diseases that had depopulated their homelands. Still others were captives adopted into Kanien'kehaka families seeking to replace loved ones killed in war or by disease. It is believed that a woman whose own daughter had died not long before adopted Eunice Williams.

Upon entering Kahnawake, Eunice Williams became Kanenstehawi, resolutely refusing to return to her former way of life. She married Arosen, a Kanien'kehaka man and converted to Catholicism. Like many other captives, Kanenstehawi became a bridge between Native and white culture. She and her husband made occasional visits to her English brother, the Reverend Stephen Williams of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, until she became too elderly and feeble to travel. Her husband Arosen gave this fingerwoven sash to his brother-in-law, Stephen Williams, during one of these visits.

 

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Sash

creator   Ojibwa
date   1700-1750
location   Great Lakes Region
width   3.0"
length   72.0"
process/materials   wool, hemp, beads
item type   Personal Items/Clothing - Accessory
accession #   #IR.A.24


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Sash


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