John L. O'Brien, Register 
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Title - Native American Deeds
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Introduction Narrative
   
  SEQUENCE
   

 

 

 


It is important to keep in mind that the English did not land in Salem or Essex County, but landed in an Indian territory at places they called “Naumkeag” and “Agawam”.  How do we now present this subject material in a logical order and make judgment about what amount of background material (“stage setting”) should be necessary to prepare a reader for the best possible understanding of the content of the Native American Deeds?  The following topical questions were selected toward that end and serves to outline the series of “Focus Points” discussed in the “Narrative” section of the Home Page.  These can also serve as a theme or stimulus for teacher’s lesson plans.

What was this “primitive society” of New England Natives like?

• How many were there, where and how did they live, were there tribal boundaries, how did they travel, and communicate?

• What is known about the men and women Indians who signed the Indian Deeds with these settlers?

• How did th Indian understanding of property “ownership” differ from that of the Colonists?

• Did the Indians understand the terms of the “title to the land” deeds, which they “agreed” to sign?  Was there “consent”, or were they tricked into selling their lands? 

• There appears to be inconsistencies in historical accounts regarding Native Americans; whom do you believe?  Did the English settle a “virgin” land or a “widowed” land?

• Did Native Americans of Essex County fight with Metacomet (King Philip) against the colonists, and what about those terrible Indian attacks throughout Essex County between 1676 and 1725?

• What can be learned from a review of early, then later, maps regarding “possession of the land” and how it changes over time?

This project attempts to create synergies among the reference subject material and at the same time allow for a smooth flow between sections of the book.  To accomplish it a series of “Focus Points” are presented as recommended reading before considering the significance of the collection. These separate sections include the following topics: 

Focus Point 1- Three Indian Landscapes: Pre contact, Contact and Post-Contact   Periods
Focus point 2- Historical Evidence found in the Indian Deeds
Focus point 3- Indian versus English Views Regarding Rights to the Land
Focus Point 4- English Settlement Patterns in Essex County
Focus Point 5- Indian Raids on English settlers in Essex County

These “Focus Points” take the reader through a 17th century timeline of parallel dynamic elements of two different cultures – one which will dominate the other in the end

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