"So Must We Be One..., Otherwise We Shall Be All Gone Shortly": Narragansett Chief Miantonomi Tries to Form an Alliance Against Settlers in New England and Long Island, 1640s.
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“So Must We Be One..., Otherwise We Shall Be All Gone Shortly”: Narragansett Chief Miantonomi Tries to Form an Alliance Against Settlers in New England and Long Island, 1640s.

Lion Gardener, author of this 1660 narrative, was an English military engineer who came to Connecticut in 1635 to oversee the construction of the fort and town of Saybrook. Thus he was present for the Pequot War of 1637, in which Connecticut settlers massacred the Pequot Indians. Gardener, who had advised against engaging with the Pequots, left Connecticut in 1639 and settled in Long Island. There he lived on Gardener’s Island, which he bought from Wyandanch, the sachem (chief) of the Montaukett tribe, with whom he had friendly relations. In the early 1640s, Miantonomi, the sachem of the Narragansetts, a rival of the Montauketts, came to Long Island to create an alliance with the Montauketts and other local tribes against the English. Gardener and Wyandanch succeeded in contacting the leaders of nearby Connecticut for help, the plan was stopped, and Miantomi was captured and executed the following year.

And now I find that to be true which our friend Waiandance told me many years ago, and that was this; that seeing all the plots of the Narragansets were always discovered, he said they would let us alone 'till they had destroyed Uncas, and him, and then they, with the Mowquakes and Mowhakues and the Indians beyond the Dutch, and all the Northern and Eastern Indians, would easily destroy us, man and mother’s son. This have I informed the Governors of these parts, but all in vain, for I see they have done as those of Wethersfield, not regarding till they were impelled to it by blood; and thus we may be sure of the fattest of the flock are like to go first, if not altogether, and then it will be too late to read Jer.xxv.—for drink we shall if the Lord be not the more merciful to us for our extreme pride and base security, which cannot but stink before the Lord; and we may expect this, that if there should be war again between England and Holland, our friends at the Dutch and our Dutch Englishmen would prove as true to us now, as they were when the fleet came out of England; but no more of that, a word to the wise is enough.

And now I am old, I would fain die a natural death, or like a soldier in the field, with honor, and not to have a sharp stake set in the gound, and thrust into my fundament, and to have my skin flayed off by piece-meal, and cut in pieces and bits, and my flesh roasted and thrust down my throat, as these people have done, and I know will be done to the chiefest in the country by hundreds, if God should deliver us into their hands, as justly he may for our sins.

I going over to Meantacut, upon the eastern end of Long Island, upon some occasion that I had there, I found four Narragansets there talking with the Sachem and his old counselors. I asked an Indian what they were? He said that they were Narragansets, and that one was Miannemo [Miantunnomoh], a Sachem. What came they for? said I. He said he knew not, for they talked secretly; so I departed to another wigwam. Shortly after came the Sachem Waiandance to me and said, Do you know what these came for? No, said I; then he said, They say I must give no more wampum to the English, for they are no Sachems, nor none of their children shall be in their place if they die; and they have no tribute given them; there is but one kind in England, who is over them all, and if you would send him 100,000 fathom of wampum, he would not give you a knife for it, nor thank you. And I said to them, Then they will come and kill us all, as they did the Pequits; then they said No, the Pequits gave them wampum and beaver, which they loved so well, but they sent it them again, and killed them because they had killed an Englishman; but you have killed none, therefore give them nothing. Now friend, tell me what I shall say to them, for one of them is a great man. Then said I, Tell them that you must go first to the farther end of Long-Island, and speak with all the rest, and a month hence you will give them an answer. Mean time you may go to Mr. Haines, and he will tell you what to do, and I will write all this now in my book that I have here; and so he did, and the Narragansets departed, and this Sachem came to me at my house, and I wrote this matter to Mr. Haines, and he went up with it to Mr. Haines, who forbid him to give any thing to the Narraganset, and writ to me so.—And when they came again they came by my Island, and I knew them to be the same men; and I told them they might go home again, and I gave them Mr. Haynes his letter for Mr. Williams to read to the Sachem. So they returned back again, for I had said to them, that if they would go to Mantacut I would go likewise with them, and that Long-Island must not give wampum to Narraganset.

A while after this came Miantenomie from Block-Island to Mantacut with a troop of men, Waiandance being not at home; and instead of receiving presents, which they used to do in their progress, he gave them gifts, calling them brethren and friends, for so are we all Indians as the English are, and say brother to one another; so must we be one as they are, otherwise we shall be all gone shortly, for you know our fathers had plenty of deer and skins, our plains were full of deer, as also our woods, and of turkies, and our coves full of fish and fowl. But these English having gotten our land, they with scythes cut down the grass, and with axes fell the trees; their cows and horses eat the grass, and their hogs spoil our clam banks, and we shall all be starved; therefore it is best for you to do as we, for we are all the Sachems frome east to west, both Moquakues and Mohauks joing with us, and we are all resolved to fall upon them all, at one appointed day; and therefore I am come to you privately first, because you can persuade the Indians and Sachem to what you will, and I will send over fifty Indians to Block-Island, and thirty to you from thence, and take an hundred of Southampton Indians with an hundred of your own here; and when you see the three fires that will be made forty days hence, in a clear night, then do as we, and the next day fall on and kill men, women, and children, but no cows, for they will serve to eat till our deer be increased again.—And our old men thought it was well. So the Sachem came home and had but little talk with them, yet he was told there had been a seret consultation between the old men and Miantenomie, but they told him nothing in three days. So he came over to me and acquainted me with the manner of the Narragansets being there with his men, and asked me what I thought of it; and I told him that the Narraganset Sachem was naught to talk with his men secretly in his absence, and I bid him go home, and told him a way how he might know all, and then he should come and tell me; and so he did, and found all out as is above written, and I sent intelligence of it over to Mr. Haynes and Mr. Eaton; but because my boat was gone from home it was fifteen days before they had any letter, and Miantenomie was gotten home before they had news of it. And the old men, when they saw how I and the Sachem had beguiled them, and that he was come over to me, they sent secretly a canoe over, in a moon-shine night, to Narraganset to tell them all was discovered; so the plot failed, blessed be God, and the plotter, next Spring after, did as Ahab did at Ramoth-Gilead.—So he to Mohegin, and there had his fall.

Source: Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, third series, volume 3 (1833), 152–155.