500 Nations (1995) s01e04 Episode Script

Invasion of the Coast

Hello I'm Kevin Costner.
Welcome back to "500 Nations".
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.
" Baffin Island "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.
The Powhatan Confederacy 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.
Thanksgiving 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 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 given to us 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.
King Philip's War NeW England, 1662 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 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 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.
" Feel free to translate this to your language and place your name here as translator.