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One Who Has Earned a Statue




   Welcome to the Wannaskan Almanac for Friday.

   On this day in 1621 the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony signed a treaty with Massasoit, chief, or great sachem, of the Wampanoag Indians. The Pilgrims had arrived in Plymouth just the previous fall and wondered where all the Indians were. A good portion of them had died in the previous few years; killed, possibly, by smallpox, but more likely by leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can lead to kidney failure and bleeding into the lungs.
   This absence of potentially hostile Indians gave the Pilgrims a chance to establish a beachhead in Plymouth. Massasoit saw the well-armed Pilgrims as an ally for his weakened tribe against their enemies, the Narraganset, down in Rhode Island.  This alliance was mutually beneficial. The Wampanoag provided the Pilgrims with food in the winter and warned them of attacks planned by other tribes. The Pilgrims nursed Massasoit beck to health one time when he was deathly ill.
   The peace lasted for forty years, until Massasoit's death. His sons lacked his diplomatic skills, and one of them, Phillip, precipitated King Phillip's war, which was one of the bloodiest wars in America's history.
   In 1921, a sculpture of Massasoit was placed near Plymouth Rock to commemorate the tricentenary of the treaty. Copies of the sculpture are also on  the campus of Brigham Young University and in front of the Utah State Capitol. Utah! Did the Mormons think Massasoit was a descendant of the lost tribes of Israel?  No. Back in 2009, when the statue was taken down for cleaning, local Indians also asked why Utah had an east coast Indian in front of its capitol instead of a Ute or Navaho.
   Well Utah has the statues because they were created by Cyrus Dallin, Utah's most famous sculptor. Dallin was born in 1861 in Springville south of Salt Lake City. He grew up playing with local Ute children and enjoyed making figures out of riverbank clay. These little sculptings were so good, his neighbors sent him to Boston to learn how to make big sculptures. He did the statue of Paul Revere in front of the Old North Church in Boston as well as the twelve foot tall statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the Salt Lake Temple, but he's best known for his sculptures of Native Americans, especially The Appeal to the Great Spirit in front of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
   One more tidbit about Dallin. He is the first native-born Utahn to win an Olympic medal, in, you guessed it, archery, in 1904.
Let us smoke the pipe of peace.


Comments

  1. I love sculpture and I loved this piece. If you'd been my history teacher, I probably would have retained a lot more!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing hoe many segments of history you bring to life. I agree with Kim about you as a history teacher. You always bring to life what could be a dull subject. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fun to pick out the interesting parts from all the info available. There's a risk of distortion. Also, I may be getting it all wrong.

      Delete

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