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NATIONAL

COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

FRIEND OF THE ENGLISH

 

NARRATOR: In 17th Century Banbury, England, at his manor house, Broughton Castle, the eighth Lord Saye & Sele, received with great interest news of the British/Mohegan alliance. Lord Saye and a partner, Lord Brooke, had helped finance the first English settlement on the south shore of New England, known as Saybrook.

 

Today, the 21st Lord Saye, remembers his familyís shared history with Connecticutís Mohegan Tribe.

 

NATHANIEL FIENNES (21st Lord Saye & Sele): All nations and cultures do produce outstanding men from time to time and I have a feeling that Chief Uncas was in that category, donít you? I think he was, if you like, head and shoulders above anybody else, imaginative and determined, and perhaps the British saw in him somebody who was outstanding, with whom they could, as it were, do business.

NARRATOR: William Fiennes, the 8th Lord Saye organized opposition to King Charles I and supported the Parliamentarians in the British Civil War of the 1630s.

 

NATHANIEL FIENNES: It was a time of great turbulence here. You had a king, King Charles I, who ruled without Parliament for 10 years. He had an archbishop who, if you like, was something approaching a dictator. It was a very autocratic country and if you were a liberal minded man or a puritan minded man you would have been very uncomfortable.

 

The fear of what was going on in this country was a motivational force as much as trading. And I think that Lord Saye and Lord Brook  put up the money to establish this settlement not just to trade but as I say to have a place to which they could retire

 

And then suddenly they met these, whether itís Pequots or Mohegans, that must have been very strange, wasnít it, because they appeared different, they spoke a different language, they would have been totally opposed to all their thinkings. One wondered how did the two lots get together? How as it that the Mohegans became friends with the English settlers there, and indeed how did they communicate? Who learned their language?

 

It was a very different world wasnít it?  And no doubt a very alarming one.

 

NARRATOR: Uncasís friendship and support ensured that the British would become the dominant military power in the territory.

 

NATHANIEL FIENNES: In point of fact I think history would show it was entirely due to the Mohegans that they were able to survive there and eventually defeat and overwhelm the Pequots altogether.

 

NARRATOR: In gratitude to Uncas and the Mohegans, King Charles II gave Uncas a bible to show him the path to Heaven and a sword to protect himself from his enemies. Tribal legend has it that Uncas preferred the sword.

 

The success of Uncas and his tribe led to great change in the regionís power structure. The English triumphed against the Dutch. The Mohegans became the unrivalled native power. It was a controversial change that severed intertribal connections and relations.

 

JAYNE FAWCETT: Uncas is a very controversial character. Many of the things he did donít bring a lot of pride to his people here in the present day, but itís the result of what he did that makes us feel that he was a great leader. Some of his actions could be questioned particularly the things that he did against other Indian tribes

 

RAY GEER (Medicine Man, Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Nation): Uncas was a greedy individual that wanted power and he sold his soul to the colonists to help enhance his position. Uncas saw a chance to get back at the Pequots, get back at Sassacus, destroy the tribe with the help of the colonists and some help from the Narragansetts and when he offered his support to John Mason and then the Narragansetts joined in, there was quite a devastation to the power that the Pequots had in the area.

 

NARRATOR: After the Pequot War, in 1638, Uncas and 37 of his men made a ceremonial visit to Massachusetts Bay colony Gov. John Winthrop in Boston. At least 6 of the men accompanying Uncas were former Pequots, now Mohegans. The colonists accused Uncas of harboring the Pequot enemy. Uncas angrily denied breaking faith.

                                                                                                                                         

JOE BRUCHAC: That was when he made his famous speech about loyalty. And Uncas said these famous words. ďIf you do not trust me, you should kill me.Ē And then placing his hand on his heart he looked straight in Governor Winthropís eyes and said, ďThis heart is not mine, it is yours. I have no men. They are yours. Command me to do any hard thing and I will do it. I will never believe any Indianís word against the English, and if any Indian shall kill an Englishman I will put him to death were he never so dear to meĒ, so spoke Uncas.

 

So you can see that Uncas was indeed both allying himself with the English and protecting his people including those former Pequots who now regarded themselves Mohegan.

 

KAREN COOPER (Smithsonian Center for Museum Studies, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma): I think to understand Uncas you need to think of the time that he was born into. It was a very challenging time. There were a lot of choices to make and they were critical choices, critical for the survival of his people.

 

The Europeans had arrived. There were different factions of them. He had to sort of figure out who was who and what were their agendas and it was very confusing. And all of those groups were trying to pit Indian groups against each other,

 

Seeing all that-- seeing the kind of power that Europeans had with their large boats and with the populations that just kept coming -- and the clothing that Europeans had that was so tailored. Native people certainly had a richness to their own lives but seeing those kinds of items had to cause them to wonder about this other people and what powers and special gifts that they might have of their own. It could be very intimidating, I think.

 

There were diseases that took out 90 percent in some cases of the population so that you lost elders and experienced people and children, which caused you to be concerned about the whole future of your people.

 

My understanding of the way native people fought was more to embarrass your enemies and to kind of do a blustery show to dominate and intimidate them but usually not with the idea of wiping them out entirely. But with European arrival then you had a very different people and Europeans were experienced in wars that just totally decimated people and with the weapons they had those weapons served them to that purpose. So for native people contemplating warfare meant they really had to think about it in new ways.

 

Uncas said if theyíre to be here then how do we make sure that we survive and the way to do that was to gain alliances, to gain dominion as it were over certain native groups so that he could have power and influence that then could be used with the Europeans to advantage. And people might see his actions as somewhat of a weakness in that he didnít fight to the death but instead I think he had a great amount of bravery to meet the situations head-on.

 


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