Puget Sound English Department

April 15, 2010

Colonial America in the Cultural Imagination

There’s word that a middle-school English and social studies teacher at Antietam Academy has designed and produced a board game version of King Philip’s War, a bloody series of devastatingly lethal skirmishes between the British settlers and the Wampanoags, led by the Sachem Metacom (Philip). The War, which occurred in 1675-76, ravaged New England colonial settlements and laid waste to large tracts of land. Illness and warfare had far worse effects on the Wamapanoag and Narragansett Indians, for whom it marked a point of no return on their road from autonomy to near eradication.

“Metacom’s War,” as it is also known, has become the target of renewed interest, in part because it serves as the backdrop for Mary White Rowlandson’s Narrative of her captivity among the Natives and her eventual restoration to her husband. Another roughly contemporary source is Thomas Church’s version of his Grandfather’s exploits, Entertaining Passages Relating to King Philip’s War. That Grandfather, Col. Benjamin Church (1639-1718) led the colonial troops into the battle in which Philip was killed, and was also instrumental in the horrific massacre known as the “Great Swamp FIght,” in which Church’s forces staged a surprise raid on the winter quarters of the Narragansetts, trapping many of them (largely women and children) in their burning encampment and causing tremendous casualties.

Harvard historian Jill Lepore has written a fascinating account of the function of this colonial conflict in American national identity, The Name of War (1999).

Several different Native organizations are protesting the game, on the grounds that it trivializes suffering and misrepresents the realities of the conflict. Others have reportedly offered to contribute in hopes of making the game more responsive to their concerns.

1 Comment »

  1. […] the rest here: Colonial America in the Cultural Imagination « Puget Sound English … Tags: become-the-target, from-autonomy, narragansett, road, target, the-target, their-road, […]

    Pingback by Colonial America in the Cultural Imagination « Puget Sound English … | the world cares.com — April 15, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

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