In the borderlands space between New England and Québec, the Wabanaki Indians had their own reasons for getting embroiled in a conflict that started in southern New England, King Philip’s War (1675-1678). This essay argues that, ironically, the English vision of a monolithic Indian enemy was the key to Wabanaki success in this war. The Wabanakis were a heterogeneous group when it came to the issue of fighting the English, with many eager to join the fight, others ambivalent, and still others against. The English of Massachusetts Bay and Maine, however, treated the entire Wabanaki population as united under a central authority, and they retaliated against any Wabanaki depredations as if all Wabanakis were geared for war. This blanket attitude toward the Indians, held by many Englishmen from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts Bay, would be self-fulfilling. By assuming all of the Wabanakis were armed for war, English leaders, soldiers, and settlers minimized overtures of peace, fell susceptible to rumor, and retaliated with violence against most of the Indians they encountered. By treating them all as hostile, the English gradually alienated so many different groups of Indians in Maine that they encouraged even the most pacific Wabanakis to join the war. However, that homogenization of the Indian enemy did not lead to the centralization of Indian warriors, as the Wabanakis remained decentralized. Because the Wabanakis had no central army, they did not make a central target, and such diffusion would be critical to their victory in the Maine borderlands. The author is an assistant professor of History at Dickinson College. He researches the history of American Indian-European interaction during the colonial period in the northeastern borderlands.
Bilodeau, Christopher J.. "Creating an Indian Enemy in the Borderlands: King Philip’s War in Maine, 1675-1678." Maine History 47, 1 (2013): 10-41. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol47/iss1/3