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The Frightening Truth about Native American HIstory

Frightened girl / Presents
Historic Portsmouth #274

We live on former Indian territory, yet Portsmouth knows almost nothing of the "People of the Dawnland" who thrived here at least 10,000 years before European settlement. Despite Indian placenames like Piscataqua and Agamenticus, the frightening truth is that we have done a terrible job researching and teaching Native American history and lore here in the NH seacoast (Click above to continue)

True, it is difficult to separate the facts from legends. But local accounts from the 19th century focus almost entirely on dramatic Indian "raids" against white settlers, and rarely on the first half century of peace that followed the "Great Pandemic" when up to 90% of the indigenous people died due to diseases contracted from Europeans. This early 20th century illustration from a history of Portsmouth for children focused on the fear of "savages" perpetuated by white historians. The Indian figure seems to materialize right out of the natural environment to kidnap a young pioneer girl. This happened, but often for reasons not clear to English historians. Often captives were treated kindly, even reared as family members and taken as if to replace Native family members lost in battle.. Those Indians who received positive attention in 19th century histories were inevitably christianized or "praying Indians" who advocated peace and submission in the face of continued colonial aggression, dispossession of land and the forced assimilation of their Native cultures. Much more needs to be done in this area to build a more meaningful picture of Portsmouth’s Native American history. (Collection of

Abduction of NH girl by Indians in early 20th century illustration /

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Friday, February 23, 2018 
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