Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Eastern Massachusetts

Synopsis

The encounter of natives and colonists in New England is a rich source of folklore and scholarship. The story, which usually ends with the defeat of Metacom (King Philip) in 1676, tells of how the natives were overwhelmed by the colonists. That picture, though rich and deeply tragic, is misleading. Disease, economic and ecological intrusion, and political and military pressures did alter native life. Some groups were largely destroyed or driven out by the English. But many others persisted in the region, as villages or as networks of families and individuals on the margins of colonial society. Their history offers a new and enlightening view of eighteenth-century New England. Behind the Frontier tells the story of the Indians in Massachusetts as English settlements moved past them between 1675 and 1775, from King Philip's War to the Battle of Bunker Hill. Daniel R. Mandell explores how local needs and regional conditions shaped an Indian ethnic group that transcended race, tribe, village, and clan, with a culture that incorporated new ways while maintaining a core of "Indian" customs. He examines the development of Native American communities in eastern Massachusetts, many of which survive today, and observes emerging patterns of adaptation and resistance that were played out in different settings as the American nation grew westward in the nineteenth century.