National Park Ranger John McNiff gave the first Zoom presentation of the 2021 Virtual Valley Talk season presented by the Museum of Work and Culture on January 10, 2021. Click here for a 76-minute video of John McNiff’s presentation
McNiff began by relating the 12,000 year history of Native people prior to their first contacts with Europeans, one of which in the early 1600s resulted in a terrible pandemic that killed 60-90 percent of them along the New England coast.
Later, McNiff described Samuel Gorton (above, left) who obtained an official order of protection for his colony in Shawomet (today’s Warwick) from the Earl of Warwick, and the Narragansetts later followed suit. (Above, right) Praying Indian John Sassamon was found murdered and left under the ice, and three Pokanoket men were charged, tried and executed by the English, greatly angering their Tribe.
In June of 1675, an insurgency broke out in Swansea that soon spread as far north and west as Deerfield involving half of all English settlements and killing over 1,000 colonists.
Following the Great Swamp Massacre in December in Southern Rhode Island, the Narragansett Tribe joined the rebellion and, in March of 1676, defeated an army of about 60 colonists and 20 Native men under Captain Michael Pierce near today’s Central Falls, RI. A monument to nine colonists who escaped the battle but were captured and killed by the Narragansetts is located in Cumberland today.