Monday, November 10, 2014

Narragansett Indians Threaten the Pilgrims - and how the Pilgrims Respond

In the days of Plymouth Colony, the Pilgrims—who were few in numberswere threatened with war by the powerful Narragansett tribe. But the odds do not necessarily intimidate men of faith. Check out Governor William Bradford's response to the threat:

[A] Narragansett man walked defiantly into the colony and threw down a bundle of arrows tied together with a snakeskin, a message from the sachem Canonicus. Bradford did not know what to make of it, but both Squanto and Hobomok agreed that it was a challenge and an insult. Bradford knew that the Narragansetts could gather together hundreds of warriors; he could gather about fifty or so. But any sign of weakness, he felt, would mean disaster. 
He had the snakeskin stuffed with bullets and sent back to the Narragansetts with a message: "If they had rather have warre then peace, they might begin when they would; they had done them no wrong, neither did they fear them, or should they find them unprovided." The Narragansetts refused to even touch the snakeskin, but had it sent back. They did not attack.

Gary D. Schmidt, William Bradford: Plymouth's Faithful Pilgrim (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999), 114.

Image from New England, Old and New by Old Colony Trust Company, 1920.

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