John L. O'Brien, Register 
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Title - Native American Deeds
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Introduction Narrative
  CONCLUSION: A Final Word
a Pawtucket Village  

Three Indian Landscapes
Historical Evidence in Native American Deeds Collection
Indian vs. English Views Regarding Rights to the Land
Settlement Patterns in Essex County - Three periods of Development
Indian Raids in New England & Essex County & Colonial Militia in Indian Wars

Based on a review of the Native American Deeds Collection and other historical evidence, the gap is now closed regarding the transition between the Native American occupation and ownership of the land in Essex County and English occupation and possession of it. The process evolved in a struggle by one party to keep a “sustainable “ land versus another party to create an “economic commodity” called land.

The essential element of “permanent settlement” embedded in English land tenure sought and succeeded in replacing the ancient “mobility/non-permanent settlement” concept embedded in the Native American concept of land tenure. This is a very clear and fundamental difference between these two cultures regarding land transfers between them. Other dynamic elements of these transactions involve the circumstantial evidence associated with each transaction. Were these negotiations consensual or made under duress? Why does one deed (John, Indian of Pennicook, Huntsman), spread on the public record the words after John’s name “appearing sober at the time and in his right mind?” To some this may sound humorous. To others, many others, they might interpret this as a clue to the fact that some purchasers of Native American land did in fact negotiate while the grantor was under the influence of strong liquor. This researcher found no evidence of illegality or trickery associated with the Native American Deeds in the Essex County Collection.

This project has given a new or at least a clearer understanding to the term “Indian Giver”. It is now known that it was not uncommon for an Indian to give someone rights land not being used by the tribe at the time. “Black Will” of Nahant was regarded as a crafty old “shrewd dude” for his “selling “ of Nahant three different times. In fact he may have only given certain non-conflicting rights in the different deals.

It is hopeful that this work will stimulate additional interest in our Native American heritage and the legacy of our native people’s ecological lifestyle. Perhaps we all can be inspired by their values as we take our turn in managing the environment that is, harvest what is abundant in season, but only take what you need.

Finally, a review of land transfer in Essex County during the 17th Century will show that the consideration or value per acre shows a great disparity. The value per acre is markedly different depending on whether the deal is between a Native and an Englishman, or between two Englishmen. It is also ironic that the rules that Governor Winthrop enacted in his pronouncement of “vaccuum domicillium” which put in place, as a condition of ownership, i.e. that the land must be improved (planted) and fenced, did not apply to all. This is clear by grants to individuals who received 500 or 1000 acres or more of “wilderness” land. Even if the landed gentry had the resources to improve and fence the land they didn’t. It did not serve in anyway as an impediment to resell the land for a profit.

This work has brought new historical and cultural significance to ancient records that have survived well over 300 years with little reference or notice. Yet, today there is a link to the Native American past by the use of their names; The North American Deeds Collection now creates a crosswalk from the 21st Century to the 17th Century landscape. We know who the last leaders were of the Native American people at that point in history and where they lived, traveling over the same land we do today. Given that the primary Native American bands were tributaries to the Pawtuckets of Lynn, this story could be referred to as “The Last of the Pawtuckets.

A parallel can be drawn between what happened to the Native Americans here in the 1600’s and to their relatives in the West through the 1800’s. The pattern and objective of possessing all of the land is clear. First, the English wanted to control North America but had to move the inhabitants out of the way before they could engage their European competing nations. Once Mass. Bay Colony became heavily populated and the Native Americans dispossessed of their land (and later removed to the Christian “Praying Towns” 1650-1700), focus could be centered on removing the Dutch from New Amsterdam and later from the French Acadia. Second, the new player in the game of removing Native Americans from the land was the U.S Government. The “Manifest Destiny “ of the West was no more than a new term for “Vaccuum Domicillium” in the East. Different place, different time, same story. The new term for “Praying Town” became “Indian Reservation” … same game .. the deculturization of the Native American. It all began at the various points of entry to this land by the Europeans.

 The intent of presenting the NA Deeds Collection is not to make a legal argument of any kind. Rather, the intent is to offer to the public the opportunity to learn (from original ancient records using the Internet) more about the history of our Native People.

 Today, there are many claims in Federal Courts by Native Americans “to correct certain evils”. There are also many historical accounts of terrible injustices committed against Native Americans by the U.S. Govt. Some apologies have emerged by government leaders. National Reparation Acts and initiatives by state governments have generated new rights and recognition to the Native American people. Maine has mandated teaching Native history in all public schools. In December 2003, the Canadian Governor General, on behalf of the Queen, issued a royal proclamation acknowledged the “dark chapter” of the Acadian expulsion of 1755, and declared that henceforth, every year, July 28 would be observed as “A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval”.

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