The Bounty Teacher's Guide
This land is their land and why it matters
This Land is Their Land and Why It Matters
Understanding the connection between people and land is essential to answering the compelling question of this and the following lessons: What is the relationship between the taking of the land and the taking of the scalps?
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as colonists flooded into North America and coveted more Indigenous homelands, tensions spiked between the original inhabitants of the land and Europeans, who used a variety of means to occupy and gain possession of the land. The issuance by Europeans of scalp bounties that promised significant payment for the bodies and body parts of Indigenous peoples was one tactic among many they used to realize the goal of taking and keeping someone elseʼs land.
Our research focuses primarily on northern Ckuwaponahkik (a Wabanaki word meaning the Dawnland or place where the sun first looks our way) , now known as New England, although in Lesson Four, readers will find information about scalp bounties issued in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, California, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The genocidal history of Ckuwaponahkik fills many hundreds of volumes, and to contain the length of this lesson, important incidents, stories, and the names of many victims and perpetrators, were left out. An electronic timeline of scalp bounties in Ckuwaponahkik provides additional information and can be accessed at the e-timeline.
To understand the motives and actions of Europeans, we need to acknowledge that the relationship between Europeans and the land is unlike the relationship of Indigenous people to the land. We will use the analytical lenses of the “View from the Shore” and the “View from the Boat” to orient our inquiry into the deep gulf that separates these two perspectives, as we did in the Dawnland Teacherʼs Guide. [for more on this, see the introduction to the Dawnland Teacherʼs Guide]
We begin with a few quotes that represent the View from the Shore of Indigenous leaders from Ckuwaponahkik. Each quote opens a window to better understand the interactions between Indigenous peoples and European settler/colonizers in relation to the land, as in this letter, which is a transcription by Father Maillard, a Catholic missionary, of statements made by the Miʼkmaq representative to the Governor of Halifax, dated October 18, 1749. (see e-timeline).
The place where you are, where you are building dwellings, where you are now building a fort, where you want, as it were, to enthrone yourself, this land of which you wish to make yourself now absolute master, this land belongs to me, I have come from it as certainly as the grass, it is the very place of my birth and of my dwelling, this land belongs to me the Native person, yes I swear, it is God who has given it to me to be my country for ever ... you drive me out; where do you want me to take refuge? You have almost all this land in all its extent. Your residence at Port Royal does not cause me great anger because you see that I have left you there at peace for a long time, but now you force me to speak out by the great theft you have perpetrated against me. 
Here is a second View from the Shore, in which Abenaki leader Atiwaneto denounces colonial expansion at a conference in Montreal. He is speaking to Captain Phineas Stevens, a colonial negotiator from the seat of settler power, Boston, just a few years before the 1755 bounty proclamations. (see e-timeline)
Brothers, we tell you that we seek not war, we ask nothing better than to be quiet, and it depends, brothers, only on you English, to have peace with us.
We have not yet sold the land we inhabit, we wish to keep the possession of them.... [W]e will not cede one single inch of the lands we inhabit beyond what has been decided formerly by our fathers.
Brothers, who hath authorized you to have those lands surveyed? We request our brother, the Governor of Boston, to have those surveyors punished, as we cannot imagine that they have acted by his authority.
We acknowledge no other boundaries of yours than your settlement whereon you have built, and we will not, under any pretext whatsoever, that you pass beyond them. The lands we possess have been given to us by the Master of Life. We acknowledge to hold only from him.
-Atiwaneto, Chief Speaker, July 1752 
Readers can glimpse a View from the Boat in a letter written in 1622 by Robert Cushman, member of the Pilgrim Church at Leiden and Chief Agent of the Plymouth Pilgrims from 1617 to 1625:
But some will say, what right have I to go live in the heathens’ country? ... [W]hen I seriously consider of things I cannot but think that God hath purpose to give that land as an inheritance to our nation, and great pity it were that it should long lie in so desolate a state.... [T]heir land is spacious and void, and they are few and do but run over the grass, as do also the foxes and wild beasts. They are not industrious, neither have art, science, skill or faculty to use either the land or the commodities of it; but all spoils, rots, and is marred for want of manuring, gathering, ordering, etc. As the ancient patriarchs therefore removed themselves from straighter places into more roomy, where the land lay idle and waste, and none used it, though there dwelt inhabitants by them ... so it is lawful now to take a land which none useth, and make use of it.[emphasis added]. 
A few years later in 1629, John Winthrop, English colonial lawyer and first elected governor of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Francis Higginson, Puritan minister, expressed another View from the Boat.
This savage people ruleth over many lands without title or property; for they enclose no ground, neither have they cattle to maintain it, but remove their dwellings as they have occasion.... And why may not Christians have liberty to go and dwell amongst them in their waste lands and woods...? ... For God hath given to the sons of men a twofould right to the earth; there is a natural right and a civil right. The first right was natural when men held the earth in common, every man sowing and feeding where he pleased: Then, as men and cattle increased, they appropriated some parcels of ground by enclosing and peculiar manurance, and this in time got them a civil right.... God hath consumed the natives with a miraculous plague, whereby the greater part of the country is left voide of inhabitants.... We shall come in with good leave of the natives. 
In this view, the land was not simply underutilized but devoid of people. Kristine Malpica explains,
English perspectives on Native legal rights, however, were tied to fixed land use, and mobility was often used by colonial officials and courts to justify dispossession of what were seen as unoccupied lands under the legal edict, vacuum domicilium (vacant spaces). Massachusetts Bay Colony governor, John Winthrop, famously argued that New England Natives’ uncivilized, nomadic lifestyles invalidated their land rights: “That which is common to all is proper to none. This savage people ruleth over many lands without title or property...for they enclose no ground, neither have they any cattel to maintayne it, but remove their dwellings as they have occasion.” Winthrop expressed the English Common Law view that mobile subsistence meant that Natives did not claim territorial bounds or have a system of land “ownership,” akin to English land tenure and fee simple, sole proprietorship. 
Minister John Cotton, a leading Christian theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, crystalised the View from the Boat. “In a vacant soil, he that taketh possession of it and bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it, his Right it is.”  Prior to departure from England, Reverend John Cotton delivered his ʻSermon on Godʼs Promise to His Plantationsʼ to Winthropʼs company, extolling the virtue of taking ʻpossession of vacant countriesʼ as Godʼs preordained plan. 
Holding this view, English colonists failed to recognize how Native peoplesʼ deep knowledge of the ecosystems they inhabited guided the ways they tended the soil and planted crops. Instead Cotton focused on the mobility of Indigenous peoples across the physical landscape, which he dismissed as “Indian [ways of] hunting and gathering [and therefore] a justification for expropriating Indian land.” 
Increase Mather, a powerful Puritan clergyman in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and president of Harvard College for two decades, saw settlers as Godʼs children in the Promised Land. “That the Heathen people amongst whom we live, and whose Land the Lord God of our Fathers hath given to us for a rightful Possession, have at sundry times been plotting mischievous Devices against that part of the English Israel....” 
In another View from the Boat, Rufus King Sewall, author of Ancient Dominions of Maine (1859), presents a settler perspective on not only taking land but taking people through enslavement, as in the case of a Wampanoag man, Tisquantum (also known as Squanto), who was captured and enslaved and went on to play an important role as a cultural mediator and translator in Plymouth and beyond.
Why should not the red man, as well as the black, be made a subject of gainful speculation? The muscles and sinews of the Indian, as well as the Negro, could be turned into gold. Furs were becoming scarce. The fisheries required diligence and perseverance to give a slow but sure return. The slave mart promised good pay, great profits, and little labor. The shrewd Yankee, with an eye to the benefit of himself and owners, had no scruples in turning kidnapper, and his sloop into a slaver on the coasts of Maine! 
What can we learn from these quotations about different peoples and their relationships to the land? Native peoples often refer to themselves as belonging to the land from which they were born and of which they have been stewards in a web of sustained and interdependent relationships since time immemorial. Europeans refer to themselves as possessing and improving upon the land to make it productive, often displaying deeds as proof of what they think of as ownership. According to the Eurocentric view, private ownership of the land (and private property, in general) is foundational to the cultural, social, economic, and political order. These profoundly different views of the land were operating in the background and then the foreground as growing numbers of European colonists occupied more Native land.
Land Dispossession: A Must for Settler Colonialism
Scholar Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) writes that the objective of settler colonialism:
is always the acquisition of indigenous territories and resources, which means the native must be eliminated. This can be accomplished in overt ways, including biological warfare and military domination, but also in more subtle ways; for example, through national policies of assimilation. 
It is a system of occupying, then controlling, foreign lands while eliminating and erasing the Indigenous people who belong to that land, and in this way settler colonialism relates directly to genocide. According to Patrick Wolfe,
[t]erritoriality is settler colonialism’s specific, irreducible element. The question of genocide is never far from discussions of settler colonialism. Land is life—or at least, land is necessary for life. Thus contests for land can be indeed, often are—contests for life. 
And these contests for life took many forms: war, raids, murder, kidnapping, and issuance of
scalp-bounty acts and proclamations.
From the time they first arrived in what is now called the United States, Europeans took over Native space and engaged in trade, kidnapping, enslavement, and then in settler colonialism. Insofar as gaining possession of the land is at the core of settler colonialismʼs project, European occupiers deployed a variety of strategies to obtain Native land: they purchased it, often under coercion and using false pretenses, and in exchange for pledges of protection; they created scenarios to burden Native people with debt they could not pay and then seized the land as payment; they broke agreements over land usage and failed to fulfill their commitments to share space with Native peoples and occupied it anyway; they removed Native people from the land through violence and the threat of violence and killed and scalped them in exchange for payment.
While varying from place to place and across the decades and centuries, the English in their interactions with the Wabanaki used most of these strategies. In general, colonial authorities combined diplomacy and military force, all the while seeking alliances with certain Indigenous nations and targeting others. They did this with one goal in mind: to “cleanse” the land of Native people and as thousands of European newcomers continued to invade Wabanaki homelands, colonial authorities intensified the pressure on the Wabanaki to make room for more settlers. 
Colonial leaders encouraged English newcomers to occupy Wabanaki land and some settlers sought to legalize their holdings by securing deeds, when possible. Indigenous people viewed deeds as agreements to share space rather than as agreements to transfer ownership. Abenaki scholar Lisa Brooks refers to these colonial-era deeds as documents of diplomacy and dispossession insofar as their dual meaning and significance was to “document relationships [for Native peoples] versus land transfers [for Europeans].” In her groundbreaking book, Our Beloved Kin, Brooks points to key questions to consider when trying to understand these deeds, which were part of a long legal process over land rights:
What happened on the ground, in these places, after the deeds were signed? What do subsequent acts tell us about the agreements behind the deeds? 
With those questions in mind, letʼs examine a deed from 1666. In commentary provided by Maine Memory Network, we learn how Wabanaki “female leader Warrabitta, also known as Joane or Jane” and Nanateonett “signed a deed allowing George Munjoy to settle land ʻon the other side of Amancongan River at the great Falls the upper part of them called Sacarabiggʼ (now, Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook) where there was another planting ground, ʻand so down the River Side unto the lowermost planting Ground,ʼ a considerable tract on the Presumpscot River.” 
According to archivists of Maine Memory Network,
Early deeds [between Wabanaki people and Europeans] were often the result of longer councils and negotiations, but unlike later treaties, which included long speeches by Wabanaki leaders, here, only the deed survives. It is important to note that deeds like this one do not represent a relinquishment of vital planting grounds and fishing falls, but an agreement to share space, and to allow a settler like Munjoy to also inhabit the space. 
The notion of sharing space and sharing use rights may sound obvious to some, but it was an act of considerable generosity on the part of the Original peoples, who could have blocked and expelled the newcomers. In this and other ways, Wabanaki people chose diplomacy over violence as their preferred response. Generations of Wabanaki diplomats and peacemakers tried to reach negotiated solutions to the problem posed by the growing numbers of European trespassers who refused to leave.
This process whereby colonists purchased Wabanaki land was made more complicated when Wabanaki people sold their land directly to individual newcomers, given that land was communally held by Wabanaki communities and the notion of private property was a foreign one.
In addition to individual purchases from Wabanaki, several companies of land speculators in Boston tried to buy up as much land as they could, often from settlers on the verge of giving up the struggle to survive the many hardships they faced. This process of purchase  and sale, agreements and diplomacy, happened despite the fact that the Crown in England disputed all land titles in Ckuwaponahkik because it deemed itself the sole proprietor of land in New England, according to the dictates of the Doctrine of Discovery.
The Doctrine of Discovery established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians.
Kennebeck Proprietors, one of the primary land speculation enterprises based in Boston, sought to dismiss the legality of early Native deeds, basing their claims solely on the earlier land grant from the crown. This represented a new era of legal dispossession of the Wabanaki after the mid-eighteenth century. Companies such as this tried to out-maneuver the Crown, competed fiercely with one another, made sure those loyal to them were appointed to powerful government positions, arranged for their children to marry one another, surveyed vast acreage where they planned English townships, and sought to placate and divide Wabanaki tribes from one another as they continued their encroachment.
In 1629, when the Pilgrims obtained their patent from the Council for New England for land along the Kennebec River, their goal was immediate and simple: the development of a profitable fur trade. Their legal descendants, the Kennebeck proprietors, who revived the almost defunct claim over one hundred years later, were men of a different breed. Wealthy Boston merchants for the most part, they formed a speculative land company to develop the wilderness areas of central Maine. They possessed the means to expand their holdings methodically, defend their controversial title in the courts, and await the enormous riches that would eventually accrue from their investment. 
In some cases, access to and/or possession of Native land was secured through treaties. As Colin Calloway points out, “the English ... repeatedly entitled their treaties, “Acts of Submission,” and demanded that the Indians submit to the crown and acknowledge their own wrongdoings. Abenakis resorted to council just as often to reassert that they were free and independent and subject to no foreign power. Abenaki diplomats consistently strived to preserve their land and independence, even as they recognized their increasing weakness and vulnerability.” 
Frequently, colonists did not abide by the terms of treaties signed by their leaders. For example, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, settlers often refused to pay the annual acknowledgment of a peck of corn that was supposed to have been provided by each English family living on Wabanaki land, as stipulated in treaties signed by colonial authorities and Wabanaki tribal leaders. The newcomers violated the agreements by allowing their cattle to trample Wabanaki cornfields, hanging their fishing nets across rivers and thereby blocking the passage of mi grating fish, and letting their pigs roam free to destroy shellfish beds, all of which deprived Wabanaki families of essential sustenance. Lisa Brooks frames the unceasing arrival of English in northern New England as a colonial conflict that “was rooted in the English failure to participate in the [resource and land-based] distributive system, combined with encroachment on subsistence grounds.”  Once Wabanaki people saw how the colonists impacted the land, many refused to sell.
As colonial settlers pressed for and occupied more land, to justify their occupation they demonized and attacked the landʼs original inhabitants. Colonial leaders stoked settler fear of Wabanaki people and unified colonists behind a mounting anti-Native discourse, from which it was a small step to extermination.
During the centuries-long struggle over the land, wars of extermination were waged by legions of colonial settlers against millions of Indigenous people. John Grenier, retired U.S. Air Force officer and Associate Professor of History at the United States Air Force Academy, contends that by engaging in this violence:
... Americans depended on arts of war that contemporary professional soldiers supposedly abhorred: razing and destroying enemy villages and fields; killing enemy women and children; raiding settlements for captives; intimidating and brutalizing enemy noncombatants; and assassinating enemy leaders.... 
That brutalization took the form of scalping, torture and bodily dismemberment.
European and Native Traditions of Beheading and Scalping: An Old Story
Native peoples and Europeans practiced scalping long before they met one another on the North American continent, and while it is not our goal to argue who scalped whom first, it is worthwhile to explore briefly how scalping fit into the cultural norms of the Original peoples of the Eastern Woodlands and the European newcomers. This is especially vital to understanding the dramatically different ways in which the two groups engaged in conflict and warfare.
With regard to dismemberment of bodies and the taking of scalps by some Native peoples, in certain Native societies, it was practiced symbolically and as a form of restitution for fallen warriors.
Though severed [body] parts occasionally represented executive power, more often they were symbols of war. Coastal natives rarely waged war to accumulate territories; they fought to avenge murders and to accumulate people and things of symbolic and practical value. The most prized plunder of war was a live captive. Women and children were usually assimilated into their captors’ lineage. Captured warriors often had to face an excruciating and slow death; they would be methodically dismembered in front of an entire village and expected to remain brave and stoic under the duress of torture. These ceremonies usually included the amputation of hands and feet and culminated in either the beheading or scalping of the captive. The methodic and public slaughter of a male captive was a cathartic theatrical performance where Indians could vent their anger for a wrongful death and revel in their victory over a bitter enemy. It also gave the enemy warrior a chance to redeem the honor he lost in being captured by demonstrating his fearlessness towards death. Colonial observers were often aghast at the torture of captives but, at the same time, they had to admit that Indian conflicts were far more restrained and concentrated than European wars, where victories were often measured by the total number of enemies slain. To Indians, killing on a large scale was wasteful and dangerous; it only served to perpetuate violence. They much preferred butchering a few foes in a deliberate fashion to gain emotional rewards....
Deliveries of severed parts from a warrior to a sachem [community leader] or from one sachem to another showed a firm alliance, like that of kin. 
The majority of scalping of Indigenous peoples was done by European settlers, but in some cases Indigenous peoples from other tribal nations participated in and were compensated for joining and helping the English hunt and scalp Native peoples.
Europeans had their own repertoire of barbarous practices, but colonial governments institutionalized scalping by paying scalp bounties as a mercenary incentive to their citizens and their Indian allies. Scalping became commonplace in backwoods warfare, and frontiersmen expected—and we expected—to lift trophies from Indian enemies.... 
For the most part, scalping implies murder because the act of cutting off a personʼs scalp usually results in death. Human scalps were also removed from corpses.
Europeans brought a history of beheading and scalping with them when they occupied North America. The English were inclined to dismember and behead their foes. The English practice of decapitation was used in the late fifteenth century when severed heads were placed on spikes around London Tower.
Drawing and quartering was their most elaborate ritual: a criminal would be hanged, disemboweled, emasculated, and decapitated, and the remainder of his corpse would be divided into quarters. English officials also sentenced criminals to have their hands, ears, and tongues cut off and condemned others to be beheaded. Of all the body parts that the English severed in sickening numbers, the object that they valued the most (and thus the object that expressed the most of their values) was the head. Heads supplied an obvious metaphor for hierarchy, indicated by the use of the word “crown” as a metonym for the monarch. The words “capital,” “capitulate,” and “captain,” like “decapitate,” all derive from the Latin caput, meaning head. Appropriately, the English often reserved beheading for high treason, the most capital offense. The beheaded tended to be the most powerful members of society: subversive preachers, scheming nobles, and pretenders to the throne....
English royals frequently placed severed heads in prominent locations ... and sheriffs repeated the practice in larger towns throughout the realm. Executioners often parboiled the heads of traitors; that is, they quickly cooked them in hot water, which temporarily arrested decay.... 
This brutalization of the human body was further shaped by the ideology of colonization tested and honed by the English during the conquest of Ireland, “which was contemporaneous and parallel to the first effective contacts of Englishmen with North America ... and to the earliest encounters with its Indian inhabitants.”  In the following quote, note how the word “natives” refers to both Irish and “American natives.”
In the Elizabethan campaigns against the Irish ... where natives [Irish] were portrayed in terms that mirror the descriptions of American natives a few years later, the English took only heads in an attempt to terrorize their “savage” opponents. Not without reason, the grim pallid features of human faces lining the path to a commander’s tent were chosen as a deterrent rather than impersonal shocks of hair and skin waving from tent poles and pikes. Similarly, when Captain Miles Standish wished to daunt the Massachusetts Indians who threatened the nascent Plymouth Colony, he killed Wituwamat, “the chiefest of them,” took his head to Plymouth, and set it on the top of the fort with a blood-soaked flag. 
Beheadings and the placement of an enemy’s head on top of spikes at the entrance to forts, sometimes for decades, became a habit of the British, as readers will learn further on.
The Dutch and Beheadings
As early as the 1630s, Europeans used scalping and beheading when attacking Native communities. The Dutch in New Amsterdam (present-day lower Manhattan) were responsible for the first recorded monetary rewards for beheading Native people. In 1637, Willem Kieft became the fifth director of the capital city of New Netherlands. Known for a tyrannical style of governance and belligerence toward the original inhabitants of the land, Kieftʼs response to resistance by Raritan bands of Lenape near what is now called Staten Island, New York, and northeastern New Jersey, was to “offer fathoms of wampum for each Raritanʼs head delivered to the fort and twice as much for heads of those known to have murdered the settlers on Staten Island.” 
Governor Kieft further aggravated tensions with Hackensacks, Tappan, Narragansett, Wappinger, and Munsee Delawares after an armed group of Dutch men were sent to the Hackensack and Tappan villages of what is now called Jersey City. Silently crossing the river, the Dutch invaded the encampment and turned the snow red with the blood of children, women, and men. The troops brought back to Kieft 30 prisoners and a number of heads of Native people on pikes. Kieft greeted the Dutch militia enthusiastically and rewarded them. It was reported that the men played kickball with severed heads.
Scalping in the Kwinitekw River Valley and the Pequot War
At around the same time the Dutch attacked Native peoples in what is now New York and New Jersey, the Connecticut colony (under English rule) declared war on the Pequot Tribe on May 1, 1637. In the early 1630s, the fur and wampum trade in the Kwinitekw (Connecticut) River Valley had been dominated by the Dutch and Pequot. Mohegans and Narragansetts and some Wabanaki were allied with the English against the Pequot. Control over the fur and wampum trade is the historical context for this war.
... Throughout the war, Mohegans, Narragansetts, and other Native peoples gave parts of slain Pequots to their English partners. At one point, deliveries of trophies were so frequent that colonists stopped keeping track of individual parts, referring instead to the “still many Pequods’ heads and hands” that “came almost daily.” 
After the English torched the Mystic Fort in Connecticut, which killed hundreds of Pequot children, women, and men, the English tried to force nearby Native peoples to abandon their support of Pequot survivors and refugees and threatened to cut off trade with any Native community that refused to bring them the heads of Pequots.
When Long Island sachem Waiandance came to Saybrook (English fort in Connecticut] “to know if [the English] were angry with all Indians,” fort commander Gardener replied, “No, but only with such as had killed Englishmen.” Waiandance then asked if his people could resume trade. Yes, Gardener said, but with the following conditions: “If you will kill all the Pequots that come to you, and send me their heads,” then “you shall have trade with us.” Gardener also insinuated that Indians who refused to bring heads and wampum would be assumed to be harboring Pequots and could be held responsible for any belligerent actions. The Indians who had avoided the war now had only two choices: they were either with the English or against them....
The triumphant [English Captain] Mason explained the effect of the demand for body parts: “The Pequots now became a Prey to all Indians. Happy were they that could bring in their Heads to the English. Of which there came almost daily to Winsor, or Hartford.” News of this head exchange spread quickly, and groups that only had loose ties to the Pequots joined in.... 
As for the Pequot survivors, many were sold into slavery and the rest were divided up among the English and their Mohegan and Narragansett allies, although the colonists eventually required their Native allies to purchase from the English the Pequot captives that they had already taken.
The English demanded a fathom of wampum beads for every adult Pequot and half as much for each child. The English also confiscated several dozen Pequots for themselves. Some of the Pequots were “branded on the shoulder” and became slaves within colonial households; others found themselves sent to Providence Island to work on plantations. An additional clause in the treaty stipulated that the Indians “shall as soon as they can possibly take off [the] heads” of any remaining Pequot fugitives. The Treaty of Hartford codified head exchange and slavery and intimately linked the two as the colonists took possession of the living bodies and the lifeless parts of their enemies. 
Governor Winthrop and his family acquired enslaved Pequots after the war. “Winthrop Jr. was appointed governor of the Connecticut colony and became a speculator in the Atherton Company, acquiring Native lands beyond Massachusetts.”  Winthrop has thousands of descendants today, among them John Kerry. The towns of Winthrop, Massachusetts  and Winthrop, Maine, were named in his honor.
In spite of the catastrophic impact of the war and the Treatyʼs attempt to erase the Pequot Nation, survivors told their stories, and their descendants continue to do so today. The largest Indigenous-led museum in the U.S. is the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, located on sacred tribal land in Connecticut.
Beheading and scalping of Native people for money was now part of the treacherous landscape of North America as Native societies opposed mounting encroachment of settlers and warring European powers, and were scarred by violence, shifting alliances, promises of monetary rewards, and unreliable pledges of loyalty.
Overview of Scalp Acts and Bounty Rewards: Organization of Terror
Insofar as settler colonialism relies on the logic of removal and elimination of the original stewards of the land, the mutilation of captives and issuance of scalp-bounty acts helped unify settlers and focus their frustrations and hatred on the loathed and dehumanized other whom many vowed to cleanse from the land. White claims of superiority and the branding of Native peoples as savages fed this process of othering. Official scalp-bounty acts and proclamations and less formal mechanisms (e.g., pooling of funds by wealthy settlers to incentivize their less affluent neighbors to hunt and scalp Native people) were essential tools of settler colonialismʼs project of land dispossession.
Wabanaki Attempts at Diplomacy, 1640s
Following the Pequot War, there were repeated and renewed attempts at diplomacy on the part of Wabanaki leaders. For example, the Pennacook Bashaba Sagamore Papisseconnewa (known by English as Passaconaway) was renowned for his power and diplomacy in the wake of the first waves of colonization. The Pennacook Confederacy or “sphere of influence” centered on Molôdemak [Merrimack], “the deep river,” and extended through inland waterways to the Atlantic.
Papisseconnewa, who formerly paid tribute to the Massachusett Sagamore Nanepashemet, leader of the Pawtucket Confederation, tried to unify the heterogeneous Pawtucket-Pennacook political alliance and multi-cultural kinship networks in lower and upper Molodemak territories. This intertribal Pennacook Confederacy maintained greater autonomy in northern homelands, which became increasingly important as a buffer against coastal plagues, English land encroachment, and speculation.
Papisseconnewa allied with other tribal leaders, including Nanepashemetʼs widow, “Squaw Sachem,” Saunkskwa [female leader] of the Massachusett/Pawtucket, to gather families together after devastating epidemics ravaged Indigenous communities, especially along the coast, as colonial captivities, fur trade, and intertribal conflict fostered further ruptures. Papisseconnewaʼs daughters intermarried with Squaw Sachemʼs sons, Monowampate (James) and Wenepaweekin (George), and those of other leadership families, thus repairing bonds within the network of kinship relations and creating a stronger safety net for survivors and future generations. 
These saunskwa and sagamore land stewards initially allowed colonists to settle in their fur-rich regions, negotiating some of the earliest cross-cultural trade and land exchanges, forging alliances and middle ground relations with the English, in which they did not entirely surrender autonomy, occupation or resource-use rights.
Papisseconnewa and his allies were among the Indigenous leaders who signed agreements with officials of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, thereby attempting to forge mutually beneficial alliances with English newcomers. This 1644 covenant, made by Papisseconnewa and his eldest son, Nahanancommock, is among the most significant documents held by the Massachusetts State Archives today. 
–––– At a general Court held in Boston the 12th day of the fourth month (June) 1644. Passaconaway, Nahanancommock did voluntarille submit themselves to us as appareth by their covenant subscribed by their own hands heire following & other articles to wch they con sented. We have & doe by theise presents voluntarily & without any constraint or persuasion but of our own free motion put our selves our subjects Lands and estates under the Goverment and protected by them according to their just laws and order so far as we shall be made capable of understanding them . And we doe promise for ourselves & and all our subjects to all our pos teritie to be true and faithful to the said Govrmt. & ayding to the maintenance thereof to our best abilitie and from tyme to tyme to give speedy notice of any conspiracie attempt or evil intention of any which we shall know or heare of against the same and we doe promise to be willing from tyme to tyme to be instructed in the knowledge and worship of God. In witness whereof wee have heeren to put our hands the day and year above written. 
Following their oath of allegiance to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, these sagamores presented wampum to court magistrates, amounting to tribute payment for protection. In exchange, they received English clothing and goods. Abenaki historian Lisa Brooks suggests this exchange of wampum and long red coats was symbolic of Native people acknowledging “a bond of alliance among equals,” which “solidified in wampum a significant relationship of mutual exchange and protection with their new neighbors in Massachusetts, the settlers pledging to protect them from both outside attacks and encroachments on their lands.” 
While the sagamores who took oaths and Christian vows faced fewer choices in the wake of colonizationʼs occupation of their land, their covenant with the English should not be seen as a capitulation of political, territorial, or cultural autonomy for they viewed their agreements differently than colonial authorities did. The 1644 agreement may be viewed as one of the earliest treaties, affirming an alliance between the sagamores and English authorities, based on mutual accommodation and tolerance of differences according to their own interpretations. While these sagamores undoubtedly expected a depth of reciprocity that colonial authorities were unwilling to deliver, court records indicate that the sagamores gained some benefits, which other Original peoples did not have, including the right to maintain arms, land grants, and protection. 
The English, however, undoubtedly understood the covenant as a legal agreement of Native political and territorial submission to Massachusetts Bay authorities, to which they swore allegiance as subordinate subjects. Therefore, this early attempt at diplomacy and the signing of agreements did not usher in a reliable or prolonged period of peaceful coexistence between Indigenous peoples and English newcomers, and just one generation later a catastrophic regional conflict erupted, which we refer to as Pometacometʼs Resistance/King Philipʼs War, although most just call it King Philipʼs War. While the forward slash between these two descriptors may appear clunky, we prefer it to using one to the exclusion of the other.
Conclusion to Lesson Two
Between the late 17th and early 19th century, Great Britain, France, and other European powers engaged in near constant warfare. Their battles for economic and political power engulfed the Dawnland, dispossessing the Wabanaki of their homeland. Pometacometʼs Resistance/King Philipʼs War is also referred to as the First Anglo Abenaki War, which began in 1675. The Sixth Anglo-Abenaki War ended in 1760, nearly a century later. The six Anglo-Abenaki wars provide a framework for studying the issuance of scalp-bounty acts and proclamations, and subsequent bounty claims presented by those who hunted Wabanaki people for their scalps. By the time a lasting peace was reached between France and Britain, Europeans were entrenched in North America and the Wabanaki had experienced significant losses. These wars and their respective scalp-bounty acts and proclamations are the focus of Lesson Three.