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Mayflower, Day by Day - Tuesday, 14 December 1621

14 Dec 2021 3:23 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Symbolic Threats

Bradford noted that, “At length Canonicus their chief Sachem in a braving manner sends us a Bundle of Arrows tied with a Snake Skin, which Squanto tells us it is a Challenge and Threatning.”  This mysterious object was intended for Squanto, but when the Narragansett messenger discovered that he was away, he hurriedly handed it over to the Pilgrims.  When Squanto arrived back, he explained its meaning.  Winslow recorded that “our Governor with Advice of others, sends them an Answer, That if they had rather War than Peace, they might Begin when they wou'd; we had done them no Wrong, nor do we fear them, nor shou'd they find us unprovided. By another Messenger we send back the Snake-Skin charg'd with Powder and Bullets: But they refuse to receive it, and Return it to us.  Since the Death of so many Indians they tho't to Lord it over the Rest, conceive we are a Bar in their Way, and see Massassoit already take Shelter under our Wings.”  Philbrick adds that “the powder-stuffed snake skin was passed like a hot potato from village to village until it finally made its way back to Plymouth” (Mayflower, 127).

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