Saturday, April 14, 2012

King Phillip and the Indian Councils


Philip thought the matter over. He felt that the English had done the Indians great injustice.
In the first place, the land had originally belonged to the Indians. It was not of great value to them, for they used it mainly for hunting purposes. So they had very willingly parted with a few acres to the English in return for some trinkets of very little value—such as a jack-knife, or a few glass beads, or little bells, or a blanket.
Then the English had forbidden the Indian to sell his land to any white man. He was allowed to sell only to the colonial government. This was done in order to protect him from white men who wanted to cheat him; but Philip only saw that it prevented his giving away something of little value to himself, and getting something he wanted in return.
Before the English came, the woods were full of game and the streams were full of fish. Now Philip noticed that the game was going from the woods and the fish from the rivers. He felt that the Indians were becoming poorer and the English were getting richer.
Only the poorer lands were owned by the Indians now. All the best were in the hands of the white men.
Philip was also tired of the airs of superiority assumed by the whites. They looked upon the Indians as fit only for servants and slaves. He thought that his people were as good as the whites. He felt that the bonds of love and sympathy between the two races had been broken.
In spite of his many complaints and requests, the English had failed to punish unprincipled white men who had done wrong to the Indians.
Finally, those Indians who had been converted to Christianity had left their old tribes and their former modes of life. This had weakened the power of the Indians, and Philip began to think that the English were Christianizing the Indians simply for the purpose of getting control of their lands.
Philip felt that the question was too deep a one for him to solve. He called the sachems of the Wampanoags together, and talked the matter over with them. Several meetings were held, and every member expressed himself on the subject very freely.
The question then arose, what should they do? It very soon became evident that two opposite opinions were held.
It was not the custom of the Indians to vote on any questions that were discussed at their meetings. They talked the matter over and then adopted the plan that most of them thought was best. But at this time they were unable to decide what to do in order to get back that which they had lost, and how to prevent losing any more. And so they kept on talking over plans.
Fifty-five years of peace and friendship with the English had resulted in giving the white men all the land of any value, while the Wampanoags were decreasing in numbers and each year were finding it more and more difficult to live.
The young warriors urged immediate action. They wanted war, and wanted it then, and desired to keep it up until the English should be driven out of the country.
Philip was opposed to this. He knew how strong the English were, and that it would be impossible to drive them out. He saw that the time had gone by when the English could be expelled from the country. He threw his influence with the older warriors, and for a while succeeded in holding the younger men in check. He felt that the Indians could never be successful in a war with the English when the tribe owned only thirty guns and had no provisions laid aside to carry them through the war.