Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Pilgrims Meet Their First Native American

From an email describing my Thanksgiving Day, 2011:
So Thursday was beautiful and around 1:00 I said "I'd like a beer".
Rather than "Here let me get one for you" my interlocutor says "You and Samoset".
Being quick-witted I respond "Huh?"

And receive "You remember Samoset?"

"Uh, sure. Samoset, Squanto and Massasoit, right"
"Look it up"

So I do.

March 16, 1621
The Pilgrims made it through that first winter, spring is coming and lo-and-behold so is one of the locals.
The Pilgrims grab their guns shouting "Indians, Indians" and he continues walking right into the middle of their camp and says:

He's speaking English!
After the Pilgrim version of "WTF" they say "Welcome".

The big guy responds "I am Samoset".

Time for another quick "WTF" before he continues:

"Do you have beer?".
"Friday, the 16th, a fair warm day towards; this morning we determined to conclude of the military orders, which we had begun to consider of before but were interrupted by the savages, as we mentioned formerly. And whilst we were busied hereabout, we were interrupted again, for there presented himself a savage, which caused an alarm. 
He very boldly came all alone and along the houses straight to the rendezvous, where we intercepted him, not suffering him to go in, as undoubtedly he would, out of his boldness. He saluted us in England [English], and bade us welcome, for he had learned some broken English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monchiggon [Monhegan Island], and knew by name the most of the captains, commanders, and masters that usually came.
 He was a man free in speech, so far as he could express his mind, and of a seemly carriage. We questioned him of many things; he was the fist savage we could meet withal. He said he was not of these parts, but of Morattiggon [Monhegan Island or Pemaquid, Maine], and one of the sagamores or lords thereof, and had been eight months in these parts, it lying hence a day's sail with a great wind, and five days by land. 
He discoursed of the whole country, and of every province, and of their sagamores, and their number of men, and strength. The wind being to rise a little, we cast a horseman's coat about him, for he was stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span long, or little more; he had a bow and two arrows, the one headed, and the other unheaded. 
He was a tall straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all; he asked some beer, but we gave him strong water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English...."

- Mourt's Relations, Edward Winslow, 1622 
(damn near contemporaneous, eh)
 turkey beer