500 Nations (1995) s01e02 Episode Script

Mexico

Hello, I'm Kevin Costner.
Welcome back to 500 Nations.
The first encounters between Europeans and Indian people are some of the most famous and important events in world history.
Most of us can recite the names of Christopher Columbus' ships the year he first landed in the New World and how he mistakenly called the people he encountered there "Indians.
" But few of us know the names of the people who greeted Columbus or much about the lives they led.
How did they greet the strangers? Were they treated like gods? Were they feared? Were they attacked? Or were they treated as a new and exotic trading partner by a people who had a long history of dealing with other seafaring cultures? The first meeting between European and American worlds would bring two very different cultures into conflict.
We take you now to the Caribbean where the rough road of contact begins.
500 Nations continues with "A Clash of Cultures.
" "How much damage, how many calamities, disruptions and devastations of kingdoms have there been? How many souls have perished in the Indies over the years, and how unjustly? How many unforgivable sins have been committed?" Bartolomé de las Casas.
In December of 1492, three ships under the command of Christopher Columbus approached the second largest island in the Caribbean.
For eight weeks, Columbus had traveled from the Bahamas to Cuba finally reaching the site of modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic the island he would name "Hispaniola.
" The island was then populated by people known as the Taino.
One region was controlled by the paramount chief, Guacanagari.
On Christmas Eve, while coasting along the shore Columbus' flagship, the Santa María, ran aground.
When Guacanagari learned the news he sent all his people from the town with many large canoes to unload everything from the ship.
So great was the care and diligence which that king exercised and he himself was as diligent unloading the ship as in guarding what was taken to land in order that everything would be well cared for.
Grateful for the island leader's help Columbus accepted his invitation to come ashore.
The admiral left to dine on shore and arrived at the time when five kings had come all subject to the one who is called Guacanagari.
Guacanagari came to receive the admiral as soon as he had reached land and took him by the arm.
Columbus was immediately struck by the beauty of Taino life.
"The king observes a very wonderful estate in such a dignified manner that it is a pleasure to see.
Neither better people nor land can there be.
The houses and the villages are so pretty.
They love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest speech in the world.
And they're gentle, and they're always laughing.
" Christopher Columbus.
As a token of gratitude for the rescue of his men and supplies Columbus presented Guacanagari with a red cape a prestigious item among the Taino elite.
In return, Guacanagari gave Columbus a golden tiara he wore on his head.
To Guacanagari, it was a fair exchange a gesture of mutual respect and recognition the opening of trade between equals.
To Columbus, it was a crown, a symbol of authority.
Guacanagari was surrendering his lands and people to Spain.
But Columbus was not simply looking to rule people.
He saw something much more valuable to his future.
He saw gold.
The prize he could take back to his sponsors in Europe.
There was wealth to be had.
And to the Europeans of the time wealth belonged to those strong enough to take it.
Now I have ordered my men to build a tower and a fort.
Not that I believe it to be necessary for it is obvious that with these men that I bring I could subdue all of this island since the people are naked and without arms.
But it is right that this tower be made so that with love and fear, they will obey.
Leaving behind a contingent of men in a fort built from the timbers of the Santa María Columbus set sail for Europe.
With him he would carry the news of a new world gold, and docile island natives.
Guacanagari and the Taino had no way of knowing what was about to happen to their ancient way of life.
The Taino's ancestors were part of a series of migrations of South American Indian people dating back over 2000 years.
They farmed the land and harvested the wealth of the sea.
Taino traders traveled in huge ocean-going canoes capable of carrying up to 150 men.
Boats laden with feathers, gold, wood, pottery beautiful birds, cotton fabric, and food.
Island nations were woven together by trade.
Trade was the communication system by which nations knew one another and maintained peace.
Some trading partners even exchanged their names to create lasting bonds between their communities.
By the time of contact there were well over a million people living in the Caribbean.
Local community leaders were subject to powerful regional leaders like Guacanagari, who controlled trade with large personal fleets and warehouses of commodities.
Into this world, Columbus returned in November 1493 with a military flotilla of 17 ships.
Under his command were armor-clad soldiers mounted cavalry, attack dogs, and guns.
The Spanish conquest of the Caribbean began.
Gold mines were opened, and the Taino were enslaved forced to mine the ore.
A Spanish priest, Bartolomé de las Casas who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage spoke out against the cruel treatment of the Taino people.
"It is not possible to recount the hundredth part of what I have seen with my own eyes.
A man had need to have a body of iron to undergo the labor they endure in getting gold out of the mines.
They must delve and search a hundred times over in the inner parts of the mountains till they dig them down from top to bottom.
They must work the very rocks hollow.
" Bartolomé de las Casas.
Epidemics and famine swept the island.
Yet the Spanish continued to demand that the beleaguered Taino supply them with both food and labor.
Garrisons were strung across the island to fortify the gold fields.
When resistance sprang up, Columbus sent out military units to terrorize towns into submission.
They were so relentlessly persecuted and pursued with their wives and children up into the hills, so tired, hungry, and harassed.
And there went with them disease, death, and misery just as if they had been killed in the wars.
They died of hunger and sickness that surrounded them and the fatigue and oppression that followed.
After 1496, no more than a third remained of the multitudes that had been on the island.
Taino suffering was so severe that thousands took their own lives rather than submit.
"Wherefore many went to the woods and there hung themselves after having killed their children saying it was far better to die than to live so miserably.
Some threw themselves from the high cliffs down precipices.
Others jumped into the sea, and others starved themselves to death.
" Benzoni, soldier for Spain.
Some escaped into the mountains including Guacanagari, the paramount chief who had befriended Columbus.
He soon died, a homeless wanderer.
By 1503, 11 years after Columbus' first voyage only a few pockets of resistance remained.
In the mountainous region of Xaragua Taino people, ruled by a woman named Anacaona successfully evaded Spanish demands for labor.
Determined to break the resistance the Spanish governor requested a diplomatic meeting.
Anacaona agreed and summoned 80 regional subchiefs to her statehouse for the meeting.
When the 80 leaders were gathered inside the governor gave a signal, and the thatched statehouse was set on fire.
Soldiers lined up outside with swords.
Taino leaders who did not burn were killed as they fled the blaze.
Anacaona was spared only to be later executed by hanging.
In the aftermath of the bloody carnage a little boy stood among the ashes and smoke beside the charred remains of his father a boy whose name the Spanish would come to remember well.
Enrique.
The child who witnessed the murder of his father and the other Taino leaders in Xaragua was taken away from the killing field by a Spanish priest.
He was placed in the care of missionaries and baptized "Enrique.
" Although raised by Spaniards, he never forgot his own identity: Heir to the chiefdom of the Bahoruco region of the island.
"Enrique was a tall and graceful man with a well-proportioned body.
His face was neither handsome nor ugly but that of a serious and stern man.
He married a native a woman of excellent and noble lineage named Dona Lucia.
" Bartolomé de las Casas.
The Spanish government created a labor-grant system under which individual Spanish landholders were given village populations to use as forced labor.
Enrique, his wife and his people were turned over to a debauched young Spaniard named Valenzuela.
They were at his mercy.
The priest, las Casas, protested.
In a more just world, Enrique would have been the master.
Valenzuela viewed Enriquillo as a slave and valued him less than manure in the street.
Enrique complied with Valenzuela's tyrannical demands for which he was rewarded with regular beatings and robbed of his last remaining possessions.
His many appeals to Spanish authorities fell on deaf ears.
When Valenzuela raped his wife, Enrique reached his breaking point.
He and his followers escaped to their homelands in the lofty Bahoruco Mountains.
"The Spanish came to call him 'The Rebel Enrique' and those who followed him were termed rebels and insurgents.
Although, in truth, they were not rebelling, but only fleeing from their cruel enemies who were misusing and destroying them just as a cow or an ox tries to escape from the slaughterhouse.
" Bartolomé de las Casas.
Enrique organized his people.
Women, children and elderly were sent into caves high in the mountains where they raised chickens and cultivated gardens to feed the resistance army.
Scouts were posted on every crag and pass heavy boulders rolled into place above the footpaths.
Enrique instructed his men to fight only in self-defense to kill Spaniards only in the course of battle and otherwise to simply deprive them of their arms.
At first, the Spanish army was confident they would quickly crush the Taino resistance.
But Enrique's people, armed only with spears iron spikes, fish bones, and bows and arrows fought with fierce determination against the Spanish and their sophisticated arms.
Time after time, they forced the enemy to retreat.
During one fierce battle, Valenzuela himself was captured but even this mortal enemy's life would be spared.
Enrique ordered him released.
As word of Enrique's victories spread across the island many Taino fled to his refuge and joined the fight for freedom.
His legend grew.
It was said that Enrique never slept at night.
That he himself patrolled the village until dawn.
For over a decade, he fought Spain to a standstill.
Finally, unable to defeat the guerrillas on their own territory an exhausted and humiliated Spanish government made overtures of peace.
"I know the Spanish very well, because they killed my father and grandfather and all the people of the kingdom of Xaragua and reduced the population of the entire island of Espanola.
I have fled to my own land, where neither I nor any of my followers are harming anyone, but are simply defending ourselves against those who came to capture and kill us.
I need not talk to another Spaniard.
" Enrique, Taino.
But there was one Spaniard to whom Enrique would still talk.
The priest, las Casas.
After many years spent demanding the king act to stop Spanish atrocities in the New World las Casas had been officially designated "Protector of the Indians.
" He now sought out Enrique in his mountain stronghold.
Two months later, las Casas and Enrique appeared before Spanish authorities and negotiated a truce.
Fourteen years after it began, the rebellion came to an end.
But only after the Spanish agreed to guarantee freedom for Enrique's people.
At the base of the Cibao Mountains Enrique settled with his 4000 followers the last members of a culture that had flourished for millennia.
By the end of the century the Taino population that las Casas had estimated at 2 million was officially reported extinct.
What does the name DeSoto mean to me? It means the personification of evil.
In the late spring of 1539, less than 50 years after Columbus less than 20 years after the fall of the Aztec empire Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto landed on the west Florida coast north of present-day Tampa Bay.
He rode at the head of a 600-man army, 200 mounted.
They were supported by 100 servants, herds of horses, pack animals, swine and trained attack dogs.
Unable to carry the quantity of food needed to support the massive expedition DeSoto would feed his men and animals on the bounty of the towns they entered.
The invaders came prepared to take their provisions by force.
In July, DeSoto struck north into the lands of the Timucua people chiefdoms of fishermen and farmers scattered across the northern Florida peninsula.
One by one, villages were plundered by the marauding army.
Indian people were enslaved as burden bearers chained together with iron neck collars in groups of 30.
"If they were men of virtue, they would not have left their own country.
They have made highwaymen, adulterers, and murderers of themselves without shame of men or fear of any god.
" Timucua.
But the Timucua were people who also knew of war.
As the Spanish army advanced, news reached one leader, Uriutina who was secure in a military strength that had never failed him.
As the Spanish force neared Uriutina's town DeSoto sent a messenger ahead with a warning to submit or be destroyed.
Uriutina responded: I am king in my land.
I and all of my people have vowed to die a hundred deaths to maintain the freedom of our land.
This is our answer both for the present and forevermore.
DeSoto entered Uriutina's town with his army in battle formation.
But, oddly, they met no resistance.
The chief who had promised such defiance seemed to have completely submitted.
But the surface belied the reality.
While the Spaniards gorged upon the town's food stores Uriutina secretly summoned fighting men from throughout the region.
Then, playing out a military chess game the young chief invited DeSoto to witness Timucua military maneuvers in a large field.
His plan: To amass his army and launch a surprise attack on the Spanish force.
But DeSoto had been forewarned by a spy.
Matching the Indian leader move for move he brought his army to the field in battle formation.
To the rear of the Timucua force were two lakes to their flanks were forest and in front of them, the Spanish army.
Suddenly, DeSoto gave a signal.
Uriutina was seized, and the Spaniards attacked.
The Spanish cavalry thundered forward their horses' hooves driving into the Timucuan ranks.
Outmatched, the Indian force fell back.
Some ran towards the shelter of the trees.
Hundreds more plunged into the lake nearby swimming out into the deep water to evade their pursuers.
The Spaniards fired into the lake, trying to force the Timucua to surrender.
Indian resistors had to tread water constantly but by nightfall, not a single man had yielded.
A Spanish chronicler observed the agonizing struggle: And now they continued to torment the Indians never once letting them set foot on the shore hoping that they would become exhausted by the swimming and as a result, give up the more quickly.
Thus, they threatened with death those who would not surrender.
Regardless of how much the Castilians afflicted them they could not do enough to keep them from showing their spirit and strength.
For even though these men realized that they were without hope of help in the hardships and danger they were experiencing some chose death as a lesser evil.
It was not until late the following morning that 200 survivors surrendered in a body.
"They had been swimming 24 hours and it was a great pity to see them emerge from the lagoon half-drowned and swollen and transfixed by the toil, hunger, fatigue and lack of sleep they had suffered.
" Garcilaso de la vega, Spanish chronicler.
The remaining seven were dragged out of the water at knifepoint by DeSoto's men.
The Timucuan prisoners were chained and distributed among the Spanish soldiers as slaves.
Uriutina was imprisoned inside his own statehouse.
He would make one last act of defiance.
Pretending to have passively accepted his defeat he lulled DeSoto within his reach.
Suddenly, he lunged at the Spanish leader smashing his face with chained fists.
The chief gave out such a tremendous roar that it could be heard for a quarter of a league around.
The blow was so fierce that DeSoto was unconscious for more than half an hour and he bled through the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Simultaneously, Uriutina was gored by 12 swordsmen.
Outside, the Timucua fell upon their captors fighting with stones, pots of boiling food, anything at hand.
The Spaniards turned upon them, killing indiscriminately.
They were valiant and spirited people.
And had they found themselves free, would have done more harm.
With all that, imprisoned as they were they tried to do everything they could.
And for this reason, the Spaniards killed each of them not permitting a single one to live which was a great pity.
In a certain way, I feel like the land has a memory of its own and the memory of the suffering can still be felt in the Southeastern United States.
You can go into sites where Indian villages, and even, we might say, cities, once were and you can see the ruins, you can see the mounds where people were buried and you don't see the people.
And you know immediately there was a great and tragic story there.
So I think that the story still lives.
Even if it's not in our history books, it's in the land itself.
Having laid waste to the Timucua, DeSoto marched his army north.
In the spring of 1540, he approached a town near present-day Columbia, South Carolina.
Cofitachequi, a farming community with a religious and social heritage reaching back to the ancient Mound Builders.
The army's approach was monitored by the people of Cofitachequi.
They hid what they could of their food stores and sent their elderly chieftess away to a town removed from DeSoto's path.
When DeSoto reached the bank of the Wateree River the niece of the old chieftess crossed the river to meet him.
Relying on diplomacy rather than military force she hoped to persuade the Spaniard to spare her people.
The mistress of her town and eight of her ladies embarked in a canoe which had been covered with a great canopy and adorned with ornaments.
It was towed by a second one, which bore six principal Indians and many oarsmen.
In this manner, they all crossed the river.
The mistress of Cofitachequi came before DeSoto and, after paying her respects seated herself upon a chair, which her subjects had brought for her.
She alone spoke with the governor.
Excellent Lord although my possibility does not equal my wishes for goodwill is more worthy than all the treasures of the world which may be offered without it with very sincere and open goodwill I offer you my person, my lands my vassals and this poor service.
Unwrapping a great strand of pearls from her neck she presented them to DeSoto.
Struck with admiration, DeSoto called her the "Lady of Cofitachequi.
" But her generosity and graciousness would not prevent the plunder of her town.
The Spaniards feasted on 600 bushels of corn.
They looted the graves and temples for pearls.
Then DeSoto demanded that the old chieftess be summoned from hiding to gain her submission.
Finally, a 21-year-old adopted son of the chieftess was pressed into leading the army to her.
The Spaniards marched out of town behind the young guide stopping some time later in the forest to eat.
He began to grow morose and to sit contemplatively with his hand on his cheek.
He gave some long and profound sighs.
Then, as he sat in the midst of the Spaniards he began to remove his arrows one at a time and very slowly.
Observing that the Castilians were not watching him he struck himself in the gullet in such a way as to inflict a mortal wound, and thus died instantly.
When the Indian bearers were asked why the boy had taken his life they explained: He realized that the act of guiding these people to his mother's present location was unworthy of the love she bore him.
The elderly chieftess remained undiscovered but before resuming his march, DeSoto took her young niece the Lady of Cofitachequi, as his hostage.
After days of traveling west, she managed a daring escape even recovering some of the plundered pearls.
DeSoto would not pursue her.
He moved on, crossing the Appalachian Mountains.
In July, he traveled down a broad river into the territory of the Coosa what is now northern Alabama.
The Spaniards were amazed by the size and wealth of the Coosa nation where a single day's march took them through 12 towns each surrounded by vast fields of crops.
When they reached the Coosa capital they were met on the road by 1000 men wearing great feathered headdresses and bearing their young chief on a litter.
After replenishing their supplies DeSoto and his men departed without serious incident.
With them, they would take stories of Coosa wealth that would become legendary in Spain.
As the army headed west they left behind one man too sick to travel a decision that would shatter the Coosa world.
On October 18th, 1540 DeSoto arrived at the fortified town of Mauvila in the territory of the powerful Mobile nation.
The Mobile had been preparing for this moment.
Inside a strong, defensive wall replete with towers, a war council was in progress.
Upon the arrival of the Spaniards a man described as a "captain general" was sent out to confront them.
Who are these thieves and vagabonds who keep shouting "Come forth, come forth" with as little consideration as if they were talking with some such person as themselves? No one can endure longer the insolence of these demons, and it is, therefore only right that they die today, torn into pieces for their infamy and that in this way, an end be given to their wickedness and tyranny.
As he finished speaking the captain general was struck down with a Spanish sword.
Instantly, thousands of Mobile fighters spilled out driving back the Spaniards, fighting so fiercely they even grabbed the cavaliers' lances by the blades.
"The Indians fought with so great spirit that they drove us outside again and again.
" Elvas, Spanish chronicler.
But the Spanish soldiers broke through the town's fortifications with battle-axes and drove the Mobile inside their homes.
DeSoto ordered the houses set on fire.
Wind fanned the flames, engulfing the town in thick smoke while DeSoto kept the trumpets, fifes and drums blaring.
And yet the Mobile battled ever more desperately.
Women fought frantically beside the men prompting one Spanish soldier to say: "They fought with a desire to die.
" Finally, at sunset after nine hours of battle, it ended.
Eyewitness estimates of the Mobile dead ranged up to 11,000.
Bodies littered the streets between the charred remains of buildings.
Even the Spaniards reeled in shock.
One soldier emerged from the silence of the aftermath frozen like a wooden statue until he died.
A Mobile fighting man hung himself by his bowstring rather than be left to survive alone.
Eighty-two of DeSoto's men died and every one of his soldiers was wounded, many seriously.
For a month, the army was forced to stop and recover.
Then, as the surrounding Indian nations watched in horror DeSoto renewed his march.
But his army had been weakened.
The tide was beginning to turn.
In April of 1541, the invaders reached the Mississippi River.
There, DeSoto heard stories of the powerful Natchez nation direct inheritors of the grand Mississippian culture.
Natchez influence, both economic and military spread in all directions along the Mississippi.
Their temple pyramids rose majestically along the banks of the rivers.
The Natchez paramount chief, Quigaltam, was heir to the tradition of the great suns and spiritual head of a powerful religious aristocracy.
His title was "Son of the Sun.
" He was carried on a litter so his feet would never touch the ground.
His head was flattened according to Natchez custom and tattoos of black, red and blue designs were etched across his body.
DeSoto, claiming that he too was a child of the sun summoned the Natchez leader to the Spanish camp.
Quigaltam sent back his reply: "With respect to what DeSoto said about being the 'Son of the Sun' let him dry up the great river, and I will believe him.
With respect to the rest I am not accustomed to visit anyone.
On the contrary all of whom I have knowledge visit and serve me and obey me and pay me tribute.
" Quigaltam, Natchez.
DeSoto would never meet Quigaltam or see the wealth of the Natchez.
On May 21 st, 1542, he died.
His body was buried in the Mississippi.
Over the following year DeSoto's army ventured as far west as Texas before returning to the Mississippi.
There, they built a flotilla and headed downriver for the Gulf of Mexico.
En route, they were met by 100 magnificently painted Natchez canoes arrayed in battle formation.
Seated under canopies, fighting men dressed in vivid colors and wearing large headdress plumes drove the Spanish boats out of Natchez territory and downriver where one tribe after another picked up the pursuit.
The Spaniards reached the Gulf of Mexico on July 18th, 1543 setting sail for Spanish outposts on the Mexican coast.
For the American Indian nations DeSoto's expedition mercifully came to an end.
But it would not be the end of DeSoto's influence on the continent.
Twenty years later, another expedition would enter the Southeast this time to colonize.
In Spain, the agricultural wealth of the region had become legendary but the new arrivals found few people and could barely survive.
In desperation, they traveled north to the land of the Coosa where DeSoto's army had passed through 12 thriving towns on a single day's march.
But instead of the fabled towns they found ruins and temple mounds deserted and overgrown.
And instead of populations of thousands they found only pockets of survivors.
"Our village had once been very great and populous but other men similar to you destroyed it and forced us to run away in fear.
" Nanipacana, Coosa.
Unknown to DeSoto the sick man he had left with the Coosa carried a weapon far more deadly than Spanish arms.
While the army carved a path of destruction through the Southeast a hidden enemy that would take more Indian lives than all the generals and conquistadors combined was secretly traveling among them.
The Europeans had tremendous immunity and resistance to the diseases that they had known for tens of thousands of years: Smallpox, even the plague, chickenpox, whooping cough, measles, mumps.
The Indians had no epidemic diseases.
None of these were there.
Consequently, they had no immunities, absolutely no resistance.
So a disease as simple as mumps that we think of today as a childhood disease it would come into an Indian community and quite possibly kill off 20 percent of the village.
Then the next year another disease could come through, such as smallpox and kill off 30 percent.
So the Indians were tremendously weakened by disease.
Knowledge was lost as elders died suddenly.
Nations were thrown into upheaval.
In less that 20 years civilizations that had flourished for centuries swirled into oblivion.
Most Americans grow up with the story of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock and how they were the first to encounter Indian people in an untouched wilderness.
But in fact, the arrival of English colonists was by no means the first encounter.
By the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth English slavers and traders had been working the region for decades.
Two of the first Indian people the Pilgrims met spoke English.
One of them had even been to England.
It would've been easy for the Indian nations to destroy the original settlements but they didn't.
Instead, they welcomed them as potential trading partners and allies.
They gave them land and the knowledge of how to survive on it.
But nothing in the experience of the Indian nations had prepared them for the European invasion that would follow.
But before we look at the first colonists, we'll go north to a people the English would never conquer: The Inuit.
The people who most of us know as Eskimos.
Welcome to Part Four of 500 Nations: "Invasion of the Coast.
" "And I think over again my small adventures when with a shore wind, I drifted out in my kayak and thought I was in danger.
My fears, those I thought so big for all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet, there was only one great thing the only thing: To live, to see in hunts and on journeys, the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world.
" Inuit.
In the northern reaches of the continent, straddling the Arctic Circle lies an island larger than Great Britain: Baffinland.
This was the world of the east Baffinland Inuit people commonly known as Eskimo.
For the Inuit, the spring thaw was a time of euphoria and plenty.
Small bands would move to summer camps along Baffinland's great southern bay.
There, they would hunt caribou along the coast and seal and walruses in the rich marine waters.
"The great sea has sent me adrift.
It moves me as the weed in a great river.
Earth and the great weather move me have carried me away and move my inward parts with joy.
" Uvavnuk, Inuit.
The summer of 1576 would bring something different.
That summer, English sea captain Martin Frobisher led an expedition in search of a northern passage to the Orient.
In July, he passed between masses of broken pack ice and through a mountainous channel he named "Frobisher Straits.
" As the English sailed into the bay several Inuit launched their kayaks and paddled toward the ship.
Events were followed by the ship's chronicler.
Our captain discovered a number of small things fleeting in the sea afar off which he supposed to be porpoises or seals or some kind of strange fish.
But coming nearer he discovered them to be men in small boats made of leather.
The Inuit offered fish, sealskin clothing, and friendship.
One man agreed to guide the Europeans through the straits to a place Frobisher believed to be the Pacific Ocean.
Five sailors were dispatched in a small skiff to row the Inuit guide to his kayak on shore.
Then, for reasons that may never be known the Englishmen disobeyed Frobisher's orders not to row out of sight of the ship.
Contrary to his commandment they rode further beyond that point of the land, out of his sight.
He could not hear nor see anything of them and thereby, he judged they were taken and kept by force.
Although Inuit continued to approach the ship for trade Frobisher was convinced of treachery.
Preparing to weigh anchor he decided to take a prize back to his patrons in England.
The captain was oppressed with sorrow that he should return again back to his country without bringing any evidence or token of any place whereby to certify to the world where he had been.
Frobisher held out a bell toward an Inuit trader whose kayak had drawn near the ship.
Reaching toward the hand outstretched in friendship Frobisher seized the man, dragging him aboard.
He then set sail for England leaving behind his five missing men.
But Frobisher would be denied his living trophy.
Aboard ship, the captive Inuit defiantly bit his tongue in half and later died.
Soon after Frobisher left Baffinland the winter ice flows closed the bay and the Inuit returned to their winter lives.
The following summer, Frobisher returned to Baffinland.
On July 31 st one of his ships put ashore at a point some 150 miles from where his five men had disappeared the previous year.
Stumbling upon a vacant Inuit summer camp they found articles of European clothing.
In these tents, they beheld a doublet of canvas, made after the English fashion a shirt, a girdle, three shoes for contrary feet and of unequal bigness which they well conjectured to be the apparel of our five poor countrymen.
The next day, Frobisher sent 40 soldiers back to the area where they surprised 18 Inuit men, women and children.
As the Inuit fled their tents, the English opened fire.
Dodging bullets, the Inuit ran for the shore.
Launching a large boat called an umiak, they tried to escape to open water but English boats forced them back against the rocky coast.
Frantically, they climbed up the crags above the waves.
Soldiers surrounded them from land and sea.
While women and children huddled against the rocks the Inuit men fought for their lives.
And desperately returning upon our men resisted them manfully, so long as their arrows lasted.
And after gathering up those arrows which our men shot at them, yea and plucking our arrows out of their bodies maintained their cause until both weapons and life utterly failed them.
And when they found they were mortally wounded with deadly fury they cast themselves headlong from off the rocks into the sea lest, perhaps, their enemies should receive glory.
Some Inuit scrambled over the rocks slippery with blood and the wash of the sea, and escaped.
A woman and her wounded child were less fortunate.
Frobisher took them captive.
Along with a man he had captured days before he had now collected a "set" of Inuit people.
As his ship sailed for England Frobisher displayed little compassion for the kidnap victims torn away from their homes and families.
They were confined together the English crew allowed to watch them for entertainment hoping to see them mate.
Having now got a woman captive, for the comfort of our man we brought them both together.
And every man, with silence desired to behold the manner of their meeting and entertainment.
The crew was to be disappointed by the couple's dignity.
Although they lived continually together yet did they never use as man and wife.
And they both were most shamefast lest any of their private parts be discovered.
Upon arrival in England artist John White painted these portraits.
Soon after, the Inuit man, woman and child all died of illness.
The following spring, Frobisher sailed on his final voyage to the Inuit world.
This time, no one came forward to greet the ships.
The Inuit held themselves aloof, refusing contact.
The English never solved the mystery of their missing men but for centuries the Inuit would tell the story of the five white men Frobisher abandoned.
It was said that, after living peacefully among them one spring, the five men outfitted an umiak with a mast and sails and departed, never to be seen again.
In 1600, the Atlantic coast of North America the present-day United States was home to well over a hundred Indian nations.
Nations nourished by fertile farmlands and bountiful hunting and fishing.
Well-maintained gardens produced corn, squash and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
Summer fishing camps stretched along the barrier islands.
Sounds and estuaries swarmed with fish harvested by traps and nets.
Land, people and teachings had melded into a rich, sophisticated way of life.
At the very center of the Atlantic seaboard south of present-day Washington D.
C thirty small nations united in the early 1600s to form the powerful Powhatan confederacy.
The Powhatan confederacy was built by a charismatic leader who traveled between his many subject towns with an entourage of bodyguards and followers.
His name was Wahunsonacook.
Through diplomacy, he held 30 nations together.
And through military strength, he controlled the region.
In 1607, an English ship sailed up Chesapeake Bay and into the lands of the Powhatan.
The ship was captained by a soldier of fortune, John Smith.
Hoping to be the first successful English colony in North America the small but well-armed expedition landed at a place they would call "Jamestown.
" As Jamestown took shape, Wahunsonacook carefully weighed his options.
He could destroy the settlement but he was well aware of the power of European weapons and knew that an attack would be costly in Powhatan lives.
Wahunsonacook also saw the advantage of trade for European weapons and tools.
He chose to watch and wait, monitoring the progress of the settlement through the eyes of his most trusted ally, his brother Opechancanough chief of the most powerful Powhatan nation, the Pamunkey.
During their first winter the colonists were barely able to provide for their basic needs, and many died.
Opechancanough reported that the desperate English had begun entering Powhatan towns and taking food by force.
Wahunsonacook decided that he had to bring the colony under his direct control.
He ordered the capture of John Smith and had the English captain brought before him.
Present was Wahunsonacook's favorite daughter, Pocahontas.
The romantic story of Pocahontas saving Smith from death was undoubtedly an example of Smith's own creativity.
His account of the incident, written immediately afterward said nothing of his life being threatened.
Only his memoirs, written 17 years later, included the story.
In fact, in his memoirs, he claimed to have been saved from death at the last moment by beautiful women no less than three times.
In reality, it is probable that Wahunsonacook cemented an alliance by proclaiming Smith leader of the Powhatan's newest subject town Jamestown.
Having established his supremacy and English submission Wahunsonacook released Smith.
But as new people and supplies arrived from England the colony tried a new tack to gain the upper hand.
The English attempted to crown Wahunsonacook king of the Powhatan which would make him a subject king of England.
But the coronation turned into a farce.
"And a foul trouble there was to make him kneel to receive his crown.
He, neither knowing the majesty nor meaning of a crown nor bending of the knee, endured so many persuasions, examples, and instruction as tired them all.
At last, by leaning hard on his shoulders, he a little stooped and Captain Newport put the crown on his head.
" John Smith, English captain.
The true balance of power was reflected in the trade between the two nations.
The English were forced to pay extremely high prices in copper and trade goods for Powhatan food.
New arrivals to the colony were shocked at the exchange rate and the situation was an embarrassment to John Smith and the English.
Finally, emboldened by an infusion of new weapons and men Smith saw his chance to tilt the balance of power toward Jamestown.
In January 1609, he took a military contingent into a Pamunkey town and seized Opechancanough and held him at gunpoint.
His soldiers plundered the Pamunkey food stores then demanded regular food tribute.
If the Pamunkey did not comply Smith promised to load his ships with their dead carcasses.
Despite the assault, Wahunsonacook strove to maintain the peace.
"Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? We are unarmed and willing to give you what you ask if you come in a friendly manner, and not with swords and guns.
" Wahunsonacook, Powhatan.
But the English allowed for no diplomatic solution.
No longer pretending to respect Powhatan authority they used their weapons to take what they wanted, including Powhatan land.
The survival of the Powhatan people at stake Wahunsonacook finally turned to war in August of 1609.
It would continue unabated for four years.
Then, in April 1613, Pocahontas was kidnapped for the ransom of all English prisoners of war.
The English captives were released, but Pocahontas remained a hostage.
While held, she was indoctrinated daily in English customs and Anglican religion.
Then the prisoner declared she had fallen in love with one of her captors, John Rolfe.
The weary Wahunsonacook agreed to a truce hoping to see his daughter again.
"I am not so simple as to not know that it is much better to eat good meat sleep comfortably, laugh and be merry with the English than to run away from them and lie cold in the woods and to be so hunted that I can neither eat nor sleep.
" Wahunsonacook, Powhatan.
Pocahontas was baptized "Lady Rebecca" and peace was sealed with her marriage to John Rolfe.
Two years later, with their infant son, they sailed to England.
Pocahontas was a sensation in London.
She was shown in the best circles and presented to the king.
But the woman billed as the "right-thinking savage" would not see her home again.
She became ill, and in March of 1617, as she prepared to sail for Jamestown Pocahontas died.
She was 22 years old.
With his lands shrinking the death of his daughter finally broke Wahunsonacook's heart.
He relinquished power and died the following year.
For Wahunsonacook's brother Opechancanough the struggle continued, and he faced a grave situation.
The American practice of smoking tobacco was taking hold in England.
Demand for Virginia tobacco gave Jamestown a cash crop and the need for more Powhatan land for cultivation.
For the next 25 years, Opechancanough would lead the Powhatan in wars for their land and sovereignty.
But by 1645, the struggle was becoming hopeless.
The aged Opechancanough was carried into battle on a litter.
He could not walk without help.
He could not see without his servants holding his eyelids open.
The last Powhatan war ended with the capture of the 90-year-old leader.
Opechancanough was murdered shot in the back by an English guard.
The powerful Powhatan empire had proved unable to stem the tide of colonial expansion.
On the little land that was left them, Powhatan people live to this day.
Some, descendants of the two brothers who guided their people through the first generation of contact.
In 1619, a young Patuxet man named Tisquantum returned to his Massachusetts Bay village.
But no mother or father or wife hurried to welcome him home.
His village was deserted, the houses overgrown.
And in the place of family and friends lay a field of bones.
Five years earlier, Tisquantum had been captured by Englishmen and taken to Spain to be sold into slavery.
Freed by Spanish priests, he made his way to England.
From there, he worked his way back to North America as a guide and interpreter on an English ship.
Tisquantum's village had been decimated by disease brought by the same English slavers who had abducted him.
Now he stood in the shattered remnants of his home.
This year there would be no ceremony of thanksgiving for the bounties of the earth and sea no thanks for the corn, the wild turkeys and geese the lobsters, walnuts and berries that were so plentiful.
Tisquantum's long journey finally ended in Montaup capital of the neighboring Wampanoag nation themselves recovering from the ravages of European diseases.
In December of the following year, 1620, a small English ship, the Mayflower sailed into the Patuxet Bay landing at the site of Tisquantum's deserted village.
The English renamed it "Plymouth.
" The Pilgrims' first winter was a hard one.
Sickness and starvation reduced the 100 colonists by half.
No Indian people came forward, and none could be found.
With the coming of spring, the surviving Pilgrims were amazed by the appearance of one Indian man, who greeted them with the word "Welcome.
" His name was Samoset.
"He had learned some broken English among the Englishman that came to fish at Monhiggon.
We questioned him of many things.
He told us the place where we now live is called Patuxet and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining as indeed, we have found none so that there is none to hinder our possession or lay claim unto it.
" William Bradford, Plymouth Colony.
Samoset left Plymouth and traveled to Montaup to bring word of the fledgling colony to the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit.
Within days, Massasoit and an entourage set out on the trip to Plymouth.
Samoset was sent ahead with someone whose English was even better than his own: Tisquantum, the last Patuxet the one person who could truly call Plymouth home.
Later that day, Massasoit arrived.
"He was a very robust man in his best years, grave of countenance and spare of speech.
His face was painted with a red, like mulberry and he was oiled both head and face.
" William Bradford, Plymouth Colony.
Using Samoset and Tisquantum as interpreters Massasoit negotiated a treaty with the Pilgrims for peace and mutual protection.
Massasoit had reason to seek allies.
The European epidemics had wiped out a vast majority of the Wampanoag people and neighboring nations.
However, their powerful rivals to the west, the Narragansett, were left untouched.
An alliance with the Pilgrims would help the Wampanoag regain diplomatic strength.
Why would they want two enemies? The Narragansetts, whom they probably considered to be their biggest threat or these gnatlike English people that kept coming around the country but they never seemed to stay before.
All of a sudden, they got a group of them that's building houses that have brought their families, women, the first English women in New England.
Native logic would say, "You don't bring women where you're gonna make war.
So let's make peace with these people, use them as allies.
They got their strange weapons.
If we make peace with them first, before anybody else then we'll have them on our side, and we won't have to face their guns.
" While Massasoit and his entourage returned to Montaup Tisquantum remained with the Pilgrims on his beloved homeland and taught the new arrivals how to plant and where to fish.
In the fall, 20 acres of Indian corn stood at Plymouth ready for harvest.
And just as Tisquantum taught the Pilgrims to plant, he must have told them of the annual ceremony of Thanksgiving a ceremony of thanks to celebrate the gifts of their world.
The Pilgrims embraced the event and invited Massasoit and his Wampanoag to share their bounty.
The Indian leader arrived with 90 of his people and five deer for the feast.
For three days and nights, the celebration continued: Prayers and dances, alternating with shooting contests wrestling matches and games.
The Thanksgiving of 1621 would be remembered as the Pilgrims' first.
But for the Wampanoag such a day of thanks had occurred from the beginning of time.
We believe everything was a gift from the Creator.
So because it was a gift, we remembered to give thanks.
And we did that in all of the ways that we could.
And this was the basis of our ceremonial life.
Because everything was a gift, we realized there was an obligation that comes with a gift, and that obligation was to share because if we didn't share there was no reason for the Creator to continue to give us those gifts.
At the end of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag promised to make the feast an annual celebration of their harvests and friendship.
But the relationship between the nations was destined to change.
We gave them unconditional acceptance and love and nurturement.
That was otherwise, they would have been massacred at the beach.
"When the English first came, my father was a great man and the English, a little child.
He constrained other Indians from harming the English.
He gave the English corn and showed them how to plant.
He let them have a hundred times more land than now I have for my own people.
" King Philip, Wampanoag.
For almost 40 years, while the Plymouth Colony rapidly expanded Massasoit maintained peace between his Wampanoag and the English.
Massasoit of the Wampanoag nation, he was a magnificent peacekeeper.
And that 50 years of peace maintained between us and the English was really due to his intelligence, integrity and love for the people.
By the time of Massasoit's death in 1660 a new generation had risen to power in Plymouth.
They had long forgotten his generosity.
Leadership passed to Massasoit's 24-year-old son, Philip.
He would become known as King Philip.
But then when Philip took over he was a different sort of a person.
He was gonna fight to the end for his people.
In 1662, when King Philip came to power the growing colonies held 50,000 residents.
In New England, Indian nations found themselves surrounded.
Their agricultural lands shrinking many Wampanoag were left with little choice but to work for the English as laborers and servants.
But it wasn't just land and liberty they were losing.
Their culture and traditions were also under attack.
The English, they thought of Wampanoags as inferior especially their religion and then as a people, they were savages.
Zealous Puritans set out to convert them pressuring many to abandon their homes and beliefs and to move to newly established "praying towns.
" With little regard for the laws of the sovereign Wampanoag nation the English arrested King Philip's people for violating the Puritan code of ethics the blue laws.
Individuals were prosecuted for hunting and fishing on the Sabbath for using Indian medicine, and entering into non-Christian marital unions.
The women, when we went out for our Moon Lodge and spent time alone or with our friends, who also had their moon at the same time we'd sit out there in the woods alone, chatting and purifying.
They made laws so that we couldn't do that.
We needed to be in the village, working, except for on the Sabbath.
In Plymouth, Indian people were sentenced to death for denying the Christian religion.
"Pray or be shot" was the method of conversion.
That's how the first Christian Indians had Christianity brought to them.
King Philip took an uncompromising stand against the repression.
"You see this vast country before us, which the Creator gave to our fathers.
You see these little ones, our wives and children.
And you now see the foe before you.
They have grown insolent and bold.
All our ancient customs are disregarded.
Treaties made by our fathers are broken our brothers murdered before our eyes.
" King Philip, Wampanoag.
Fifteen years after his father's death King Philip finally urged his people to war.
Our ancestors' spirits cry to us for revenge.
These people from the unknown world will cut down our groves spoil our hunting and planting grounds, and drive us and our children from the graves of our fathers.
King Philip had no other choice because his land was being taken away.
His people, the allegiance of his people, was being eroded.
The war itself was not only over land.
It was also over the right to follow our own traditions the Creator had given us.
On June 24th, 1675, King Philip's War began.
In a brilliantly orchestrated series of forays several English towns were caught off-guard and burned to the ground by the Wampanoag and their allies.
An Indian never forgets a kindness, but he never forgives a wrong.
And because there had been so much kindness shown during those good years between Massasoit, King Philip's father, and those settlers that came King Philip never forgot any families that had been close to he and his family.
And he spared them.
He actually even sent warnings to some of those families during the war that their towns would be burned, so they could escape with their families.
As Indian victories mounted, hysteria gripped the settlements.
It was reported that Indian troops hung upon the fringes of the English towns like the lightning on the edge of clouds.
On the side of a bridge over the Charles River one of King Philip's men posted a taunting message.
"Know by this paper that the Indians that you have provoked through wrath and anger will war if you will.
There are many Indians yet.
You must consider the Indians lose nothing but their life.
You must lose your fair houses and cattle.
" James, Nipmuc.
Through the fall and winter, fortune favored King Philip's forces.
Then a series of defeats demoralized some Wampanoag allies.
The Great Swamp Massacre was where over 300 Native American old women and children were all burnt alive in their wigwams just six days before Christmas December 19th, 1675.
And one historian recorded that the smell of burning flesh so moved one of the Pilgrim soldiers that he later asked one of his superiors whether burning their enemies alive was consistent with the benevolent principles of the Gospel.
The fortunes of war were turning.
With the coming of spring, their winter food stores were depleted and they were unable to plant or replenish their supplies.
King Philip's people were starving.
And English troops hunted them as though trailing a wounded animal.
In May, the English attacked an allied Indian force camped above the falls on the Connecticut River.
Three hundred Indian people were killed.
Some managed to reach their canoes but in their haste, left behind their paddles and were swept over the falls to their deaths.
For the next two months, King Philip and his people evaded capture but the noose was tightening.
In August, English troops fell upon his camp killing or capturing 173.
King Philip narrowly escaped but among those captured were his wife and 9-year-old son.
In Plymouth, the clergy decided their fate.
They were sold into slavery in Bermuda.
My heart breaks.
Now I am ready to die.
He would choose where he would die.
King Philip returned to his home at Montaup, where his father, Massasoit had often fed and entertained the Pilgrims decades earlier.
In the dawn light of August 12th, 1676, an English and Indian army surrounded the sleeping camp.
Moments later, King Philip was dead shot through the heart by an Indian mercenary.
King Philip's head was put on display in Plymouth where it remained for the next 20 years.
We all have a purpose, a role in life, and the Creator, in all of his wisdom saw fit to spare us.
We all could have been burned alive in the Great Swamp.
We all could have been slaughtered in that war.
But we were left here for a reason, and I believe that part of that reason is to be a conscience for this society to prevent those same kinds of mistakes from continuing to be repeated over and over.
That's what I see as my purpose, as the purpose of all of our native people who will stand up and continue with that spirit that King Philip Pontiac, Geronimo, all of our great leaders have had.
In our next program, we move to the interior of the continent where the lands of the Indian nations were turned into battlefields as the French, the English, and the American colonists all fought for supremacy.
Please join us when 500 Nations returns for "A Cauldron of War.
" (03.
2012)