Article written by 2009 DPDF Empires of Vision Fellow Christine M. DeLucia, featured in Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 13, No. 2:
Water surrounded Algonquian peoples of the Northeast, and they highly valued it for sustenance, medicine, travel, spirituality, and other purposes. When English settlers in Plymouth Colony and surroundings areas attempted to claim territorial rights in the seventeenth century, they also sought water sources, including freshwater springs, to support colonization projects. Native/colonial tensions escalated in mid-century, and when the indigenous uprising known as King Philip’s War broke out in 1675, a place called Kickemuit Spring seemed to have been a vital locale. Situated in Wampanoag homelands, near an especially protected and fertile peninsula of vital cornlands, the spring appeared in various records as a meeting-place, a boundary-marker, and grounds of deliberate pushback against English troops by Native parties. In the conflict’s devastating aftermath, both Natives and colonists transformed such springs into sites of memory, which attempted to convey their respective—and frequently divergent—understandings of historical violence. Tracking the material and symbolic evolutions of Kickemuit, as well as other environmental features linked to memory, demonstrates the sharply contested character of “placemaking” in the Northeast. It also highlights the ongoing pressures of settler colonialism in the region, where enduring Native communities continue to challenge entrenched Euro-American convictions of place-ownership.