by Shawn Keller
Sagadahoc, flowing out of K-ci-Sebem, through
Nanrantsouak and the fall line at Cushnoc, where stone
cairns from logging-runs mix with islands before Nassouac,
She inscribes this landscape. Gaining speed, she rushes to the neck
of Mirriconeag and into the Gulf of Maine. Beyond the place of herons,
the Aucocisco, to the Sobagwa. Metacomet, the Red King, instigated
his rebellion to keep these names, to drive the white men back to Europe;
locusts to the ocean. Metacomet became King Philip to the Europeans,
his rebellion became a war. The frontier burned, erased. Replaced. Rewritten.
This Sagadahoc, flowing out of Moosehead Lake, through
Norridgewock and the fall line at Augusta where stone cairns
from logging-runs mix with islands before Merrymeeting Bay,
She inscribes a rewritten landscape. Gaining speed, she rushes
to the neck of Harpswell into the Gulf of Maine. Beyond the place of herons,
Casco Bay, to the Atlantic Ocean; a covetous revision was not enough:
Possessively european, the Sagadahoc became the Kennebec.
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare famously asked, knowing
the answer is; Everything: And history remembers Metacomet’s War;
the rebellion of the Red King. His final fight for ownership.
We do. We remember his struggle. But the books will always
call it “King Philip’s War” :
In the record of memory, he couldn’t even own his name
To fully appreciate this particularly poignant account of historically appropriated identity and colonial politics, I’d like to invite readers to learn more about, what is broadly considered the first brutal tribal emasculation of the Wampanoag and Narraganset Indians; stripped of their land (Massachusetts and Rhode Island.) and their identity, by British colonists in what became known as, King Philip’s War between 1675–76.
Image credit: http://www.old-maps.com