John Eliot, "Praying Indians," King Philip's War, & a Wampanoag preacher, Rev. "Blind" Joe Amos - American Minute with Bill Federer

" King Philip's War "Praying Indians & a Wampanoag preacher John Eliot Rev. "Blind" Joe Amos - American Minute with Bill Federer

Settlers in New England highlighted the conflict between the need for self-preservation on one hand, and the desire to selflessly share the love of the Gospel on the other.
Some settlers viewed natives as an unpredictable danger, as sometimes they would steal from farms, scalp, or kidnap women and children.
Among the thousands kidnapped were:
  • Mary Rowlandson and 3 of her children, by the Narraganset during King Philip’s War in 1676;
  • Hannah Dustin and her six day old baby, by the Abenaki in 1697;
    • Eunice Williams, at the age of 8 years old, after the Mohawk killed her family in 1704;
    • Mary Draper Ingles, at the age of 23, after the Shawnee massacred her family in 1755;

    • Mary Jemison, at the age of 12 years, by the Shawnee in 1755.
    • Mary Campbell, at the age of 10, was kidnapped by Chief Pontiac's warriors in 1758.
    • Frances Slocum, at the age of 5, was kidnapped by the Delaware in 1778. Indiana's Frances Slocum Trail and State Park is named for her.
    In a larger sense, what settlers and natives were experiencing was a colliding of civilizations.
    By the 1600s, nearly all of Europe, Asia, China, India, North Africa, and the Middle East, had:
    • written languages;
    • metal tools;
    • scientific advancements;
    • agricultural technologies; and
    • armor, gunpowder and advanced weapons.
    By comparison, native inhabitants of North America had a subsistence lifestyle.

    This was due in part to the abundance of wild game, fish, and edible plants to forage on the North American continent.

    The plentifulness of food in North America meant they could survive adequately without the need to:
    • domesticate animals or crops;
    • or smelt copper, bronze and iron, or forge steel;
    • or communicate through reading or writing;
    • or invent the wheel for transportation.
    When settlers arrived, Indians traded animal pelts to them in exchange for manufactured items, such as knives, axes, guns, and unfortunately, alcohol.
    The Indians' dilemma was that, on one hand, they wanted to trade with the colonists, but on the other hand, they grew in their dependency.
    Indians also did not have the concept of land ownership, as the settlers did.
    This led to a resentment of settlers who encroached into areas considered Indian territory.
    Eventually, there erupted the first major confrontation -- the Pequot War of 1637.
    In the midst of this, Gospel-motivated settlers wanted to show the Indians as much love and kindness as possible, in hopes they would open up to hearing the message of how much the Creator loved them and sent His son to die for them.
    These included:
    • Thomas Tupper (1578-1676), a founder of Sandwich, Massachusetts, who as a charter member of the church there, being deeply interested in religious work among the Indians.
    • Richard Bourne (1610-1682), who sought fair treatment for the Indians and worked for 20 years to secure for them protected reservation land at Mashpee.
    A historical marker reads:
    "Burying Hill, site of the First Meeting House for Indians in Plymouth Colony, established by Richard Bourne and Thomas Tupper, soon after their settlement in Sandwich, 1637.
    ... By their influence peace was preserved throughout the Cape during the perilous times of Indian warfare."
    A legend is that in 1646, Richard Bourne came upon a large rock around which a few hundred natives were dancing and offering sacrifices, one of which was human.
    Bourne lifted his arms and raised his voice, declaring “if you do not stop your horrible work I will call upon my God to visit his wrath upon you!”
    Suddenly, a flash of lightning split the rock into pieces. Immediately following this, hundreds of Indians converted.
    The rock, located near Bournedale, Massachusetts, is referred to as Sacrifice Rock or Chamber Rock.
    Another Gospel-motivated settler was Missionary John Eliot.
    He was called "Apostle to the Indians."
    John Eliot was baptized in England as an infant on August 5, 1604.
    He sailed to America and preached his first sermon in the Algonquian language in 1646.
    Eliot printed the first book in North America - the Bay Psalm Book.
    Eliot translated the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible - the first to be printed in America, in 1663.
    A Massachusetts historical marker reads:
    "John Eliot established here in 1651 a village of Christian Indians called Hassanamesit - 'at a place of small stones.' It was the home of James the Printer who helped Eliot to print the Indian Bible."
    Another historical marker reads:
    "In reverent Memory of
    John Eliot,
    Born in England 1604,
    Died in Roxbury, 1690,
    Lover of God, Lover of Men,
    Seeker of the
    Christian Commonwealth,
    Who in this spot preached
    to his friends the Indians
    in their own tongue
    the mercies and the laws
    of The Eternal."
    Eliot wrote:
    "The Word of God is the perfect system of laws to guide all moral actions of man."
    In a 1674 census, there were 4,000 "Praying Indians" in 14 self-ruling villages.
    Villages were complete with houses, streets, bridges, and their own ministers.
    A marker reads:
    "Indian Village Pakachoag,
    One-half mile up Malvern Road is the Indian Spring and the site of the Indian Village Pakachoag- Clear Spring.
    One of three Indian villages on Worchester ground. John Eliot preached here in 1674."
    "Praying Indian" villages were located throughout Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard and Rhode Island.
    A marker reads:
    "Ponkapoag Plantation, The north line of Ponkapoag Plantation, second of the Apostle Eliot's Praying Indian towns set apart by the Dorchester Proprietors in 1657."
    Another marker reads:
    "Chaubunagungamaug, site of Praying Indian town established by John Eliot and Daniel Gookin in 1674 and known as Chaubunagungamaug."
    In A Brief Narrative, July 20, 1670, John Eliot wrote:
    "These Indians being of kin to our Massachusett Indians ... received amongst them the Light and love of the Truth ...
    On a day of fasting and prayer, elders were ordained ...
    ... The Teacher of the Praying Indians of Nantucket, with a Brother ... who made good Confessions of Jesus Christ ... did make report that there be about ninety families who pray unto God in that island, so effectual is the Light of the Gospel."
    A historical marker reads:
    "Indian Meeting House
    On this site, John Eliot helped his Indian converts to build their first meeting house in 1651, with a 'Prophet's Chamber' where he lodged on his fortnightly visits to preach to them in their own language.
    His disciple Daniel Takawambait succeeded to the Pastoral office in 1698."
    Daniel Takawambpait was New England's first native Indian minister, ordained in Natick, Massachusetts, in 1681.
    Boston 's John Eliot Square is by the intersection of Dudley, Bartlett, Centre, Roxbury and Highland Streets.
    Pilgrim leader William Bradford and Wampanoag Chief Massasoit had been friends, which maintained peace between settlers and Indians.
    Sadly, after Bradford died in 1657 and Chief Massasoit in 1661, tensions arose between the settlers and Indians.
    This was similar to the Book of Acts, where following the Apostle Paul's successful preaching, opposers of the Gospel would arrive to stir up violence.
    Massasoit's son was known as chief or "King" Philip.
    In 1675, he became upset over settlers allowing their livestock to graze on wild Indian crops and encroach onto Indian territories.
    The new Plymouth Colony Governor, Josiah Winslow, did nothing to appease the concerns of King Philip.
    As a result, King Philip recruited warriors and attacked more than half of New England's 90 towns.
    A marker reads:
    "Sudbury Fight, one-quarter mile north took place the Sudbury Fight with King Philip's Indians on April 21, 1676. Captain Samuel Wadsworth fell with twenty-eight of his men. Their monument stands in the burying ground."
    Another marker reads:
    "Mendon's First Meeting House, built 1658, destroyed by King Philip's warriors at the burning of the town 1676. Rev. Joseph Emerson - its only minister, ancestor of Ralph Waldo Emerson."
    During King Philip's War, 1675-1678, over 800 settlers died, 1,200 homes burned, 8,000 cattle lost, and the entire English population of 52,000 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island was threatened to be driven back to the coast.
    A marker reads:
    "Redemption Rock, Upon the rock fifty feet west of this spot Mary Rowlandson, wife of the first minister of Lancaster, was redeemed from captivity under King Philip.
    The narrative of her experience is one of the classics of colonial literature."
    Unfortunately, John Eliot's Christian "Praying Indians" were caught in the middle.
    There were not trusted by King Philip's warriors nor by the panicking colonists.
    As a results, many tragically died.
    A marker reads:
    "Praying Indians lived here ... living peacefully with white settlers to whom ... Sachem Tahatttawan sold 6 sq. miles.
    John Eliot converted Indians, including Tahattawan, to Christianity.
    In 1654, Nashoba, meaning 'land between the waters' was named the Sixth Praying Indian town.
    In 1675, during King Philip's War, Praying Indians were accused of mischief, rounded up and marched to Deer Island in Boston Harbor where many died.
    Survivors were released in 1677, but only a few returned, including Sarah Doublet.
    They were given 500 acres called New Town. Sarah Doublet died in 1730, the last Praying Indian.
    In 1714, Nashoba became Littleton."
    A small remnant of the Christian Wampanoag continued, with "Blind" Joe Amos as the first ordained Mashpee Wampanoag Indian minister.
    He brought the Baptist faith to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in the early 1830's, and advanced the concept of self-governance.
    In 1832, Rev. "Blind" Joe Amos formed a second Baptist congregation among the Wampanoags at Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard, serving as the pastor.
    There, he built the first Indian Baptist Church building in America.
    The Gay Head Lighthouse, authorized by Congress during President John Adams' Administration, was the first lighthouse built on Martha's Vineyard, using a lamp which burned whale oil.
    Local Aquinnah Indians of the Wampanoag Tribe helped maintain the lighthouse, including rotating the lamp which turned on large wooded gears that became swollen due to the moisture.
    In 1920, Aquinnah Wampanoag Indian Charles W. Vanderhoop, Sr. was appointed as the tenth Principal Lighthouse Keeper, followed by his son in 1986.
    Mwalim Peters, a researcher of Mashpee Wampanoag history, stated that Rev. "Blind" Joe Amos "knew the entire King James Bible by heart and could recite it in both English and Wampanoag."
    Peters noted that Rev. Amos:
    "... preached under the shade of a large oak tree every Sunday throughout the seasons."
    Rev. Amos was joined by Rev. William Apes, an itinerant Pequot Indian minister adopted by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
    Rev. "Blind" Joe Amos later pastored a congregation of Wampanoags on Chappaquiddick Island off the eastern shore of Martha’s Vineyard, where he died in 1869.
    Rev. Curtis W. Frye, Jr., recounted:
    "Blind Joe was one of the preachers who brought the Gospel to the Wampanoag people ... We are still here and we are still doing what Blind Joe did, and that's preach the word of God."
    Rev. Curtis W. Frye, Jr., was the great-great-great-grandson of Rev. Blind Joe Amos.
    Frye served as the pastor of Mashpee Baptist Church from 2007 till his death in 2014.
    Rev. Frye helped refurbish the Old Indian Meetinghouse used by the church.
    He stated:
    "Being able to perform a wedding there, or a funeral or a service, being able to follow in the footsteps of Blind Joe Amos and Reverend Apes, every time I do a service there to me it brings home a lot of feelings, a flood of feelings ...
    It is so original, so close to the way it was back when they were preaching ...
    It is a very special atmosphere inside that building."
    American Minute is a registered trademark of William J. Federer. Permission is granted to forward, reprint, or duplicate, with acknowledgment. ( 314-502-8924)
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