William Fiennes, the 8th Lord Saye organized opposition to King Charles I
and supported the Parliamentarians in the British Civil War of the 1630s.
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.
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
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?
was a very different world wasnít it? And no doubt a very alarming
Uncasís friendship and support ensured that the British would become
the dominant military power in the territory.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.