In 1620, 132 people boarded a ship from England to what was then thought of as ‘The New World’. Among these passengers were Separatists, fleeing religious persecution, and a crew of 30 men, many of whom were from Rotherhithe. About half of the passengers were ‘Strangers’, people who were not leaving for religious reasons, but due to circumstance, trade, or as indentured servants. They landed off the shore of Cape Cod in December 1620. To bridge their differences and forge a way of living together, they created The Mayflower Compact, which was signed by 'men of age'. This document, and the story of The Pilgrim Fathers, has shaped the founding myth of modern America, and the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Mayflower voyage is being marked internationally. In the build up to the anniversary London Bubble has been bringing together historians, artists, volunteers and participants to explore and question the history of the Mayflower voyage and its contemporary resonances, trying to draw out the bigger questions about our shared world history. We have been gathering, stories, objects, facts and testimonies, both past and present which have been shared through public workshops and performances. Between July and November of 2020 Bubble will be performing a large scale community play developed from the research and reflections collected over the past two years.
THE PROJECT HAS THREE PHASES, LINKED TO THE THREE STAGES OF THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGE. THIS PAMPHLET SHARES SOME OF OUR FINDINGS AND REFLECTIONS FROM THE THIRD PHASE: ARRIVALS 1
The story of the Mayflower has largely been re-told in a European style through words, facts, lists and maps. In this last phase of our research we have not only tried to learn about what happened when the Mayflower arrived, we have also tried to learn about the different ways Native Americans tell stories and mark events. When Europeans and Native Americans encountered each other there was not only a meeting of different people’s there was also meeting of a starkly different set of values. Not only did the two have different attitudes to land - summarised as a European belief in dominion over nature, and an Indian belief in stewardship of nature - they also had fundamentally different approaches to meetings, trading and the recording of events. The Native American scholar Vine Deloria Junior wrote: “Indian tribes combine history and geography so that they have a ‘sacred geography,’ that is to say, every location within their original homeland has a multitude of stories that recount the migrations, revelations, and particularly historical incidents that cumulatively produced the tribe in its current condition”.
“I’m going to Rotherhithe to learn about Mayflower. It’s interesting to find out about local and international/World history. I learn something new at each session.” - Deborah
Charting the Mayflower is open to all and new hands on deck are always welcome! See back page for details. 2
Map of Tribes
“We arranged about 360 buttons in the shape of Cape Cod. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Native American people were spread across the entire area and numbered in the hundreds of thousands. On arrival, the colonisers spread diseases that the Native Americans had never come across, and their population was decimated." - Regine
Cape Cod in Buttons
"So nineteen out of twenty Native Americans died in the epidemic. And as we listened to the story told by Nanepashemet, we removed 19 out of 20 buttons. The whole workshop was extremely powerful and thought provoking.” - Regine The Decimation
The departure of the Mayflower was delayed several times. It sailed from London to Southampton to meet with the Separatists from Leiden on board The Speedwell. Both ships left Southampton in July but the Speedwell took on water and they had to turn back. The Speedwell was abandoned and finally, several weeks behind schedule, they embarked. “Wednesday, the sixth of September, the wind coming east-north-east, a fine small gale, we loosed from Plymouth... Upon the ninth of November, following, by break of the day we espied land which we deemed to be Cape Cod, and so afterwards it proved.” - Mourt’s Relation After 9 weeks sailing the crew and passengers would have been eager to disembark. However finding a suitable harbour took several days, and the Shallop - the small boat to be used for navigating the coast - had been disassembled for the journey, and needed to be re-built.
Cape Cod 4
Before landing the leaders expressed concern about the lack of ‘unity and concord’ amongst the passengers. This is hardly surprising as many of them were strangers to each other, thrown together from various parts of England and travelling for very different motives. In an attempt to bring them together it was decided they should draw up a compact and the men should sign it. Some argue that the Compact was no more than a short-term measure drawn up in haste containing nothing particularly original. Others see it as a foundation stone of American Democracy.
“We could not come near the shore by three quarters of an English mile, because of shallow water, which was a great prejudice to us, for our people going on shore were forced to wade a bow shot or two in going a land, which cause many to get colds and coughs, for it was nigh times freezing cold weather." - Mourt’s Relation 5
It is a popular myth that Native Americans didn’t record events through the written word. They did, but these ‘documents’ were no more important than the oral histories told and responded to by many members of the community. Narratives from multiple perspectives were linked to place and land and re-telling those stories was an active tradition. Our knowledge of events surrounding the Mayflower has largely been passed down through books written by three men - William Bradford, Edward Winslow and the author/s of Mourt’s Relation. How do we know they were telling the truth? What did they leave out of their writings? We have relied on these texts to take us through the timeline of the early days in New England (or Patuxet), but throughout we have asked who was this written for and ‘what has been left out’. QUESTIONING HISTORY Who wrote it? Who were they writing for? Why were they writing it? Who is not recorded?
The passengers saw the east coast of America, or Patuxet on Thursday 9th November, 1620. We worked from the writings they had left in Mourt’s Relation to piece together their first few days. Saturday 11th November, 1620: Sign compact before 15 or 16 go ashore. They collect juniper and return to the ship. "It smelled very sweet and strong" and they burn the most part. Monday 13th November: Draw the pieces of the Shallop (the small boat) on land to be assembled. This will take 16 days. Wednesday 15th November: 16 or 17 men are set ashore. They see, and follow, Indians with a dog. They see deer. Drink water. Find a grave with a bow in. They find strawberries and what looks like a European kettle. A basket of corn. They find an old fort they think has been ‘made by Christians’. Thursday 17th: They find canoes. And then a trap in which the leader, William Bradford, gets caught. They find this amusing but after rescuing him fall to admiring the craftsmanship of the rope. They see bucks and partridge, wild geese and ducks. They return to the shore. Fire their guns and the long boat returns to pick them up. YOUR TURN! There is no comparison, but what do you do when you arrive in a new place? “Go for a walk with a map” “Unpack” “Find a good cafe - ideally with free WiFi” “Phone home” 7
To compare experiences of arrival we took a trip to see Touching Home created by Theatre Company 27 degrees for the Migration Museum. This celebrated the everyday stories of London’s migrants. ‘Moving away from the dramatic narratives shared by the media, the company explores the intimacy of the experience of leaving one’s country. But they don’t want to describe it: they want you to feel it, to touch it, to smell it, to taste it. Entering someone’s first bedroom in a new land. Tasting their favourite dish. Dancing with a stranger to feel the rhythms of home. And hearing the multiple memories of the many people who have decided to make London their home.'
Deborah and Jane recount the events to chronicler David
“What’s good is there are always new sources of information. For instance the Migration Museum performance, I have told my friends and I will go to other events there myself.” - Deborah
Europeans tend to separate the image and the word. In the Abenaki language the word 'awigha' is the root for drawing, writing and mapping. They are not separated. The collective action of making a story-map is regarded as ceremonial and political. We tried to find out more about the practice of Awikhiwogan (which is the word for the making of story maps). We looked at birch-bark scrolls - trying to work out what they meant. And then we made our own marking the events of our workshops, the place we were in and some of the things we had done.
Information about New England weather made into rough adornments
Awikhigawogan is an interactive process. They invite people to fill in the gaps, to play an interactive role to understand the story. Like theatre they are not complete until people interact with them. “The negation of indigenous views of history was a critical part of asserting colonial ideology, because such views were regarded as clearly 'primitive' and 'incorrect' and mostly because they challenged and resisted the mission of colonisation.” Linda Tuhiwai Smith.
“Stories go to work on you like arrows. Stories make you live right. Stories make you replace yourself.” - Benson Lewis, Apache elder
An action painting of the settlers first days in America
It took the passengers several days to decide where to settle. When they had finally chosen a suitable location, the men set about building the colony. Meanwhile the women and children remained on board the Mayflower, with limited access to fresh water.
18 women had made the voyage - all of them married and three of them in their last trimester of pregnancy. During the four months living on board 13 of the women died.
â€œI always like the exercises where we do freeze frames and, little scenes; act it out.â€? - Yvonne
What is perhaps surprising is that of the 11 girls (aged between 1 and 17) who had made the voyage, only 2 died in the first winter. A third of the boys perished. We know little about the fate of the 30 crew members. We do know that the Master of the Mayflower Christopher Jones survived to return to London after helping the settlers explore the coastal area and settle. But we also know the Gunner, Boatswain, Cook and 3 of the 4 Quartermasters died during the first winter.
Surrey Docks Young FarmersÂ Club at one of our Mayflower roadshows enacting the turbulent journey of crossing desert and sea in the twenty-first century
Writing as one of the passengers we wrote a letter to a friend of loved one in England. We also kept a list of the things we chose not to mention.
Take a look at one of the lists we made. Why do you think these details were deliberately missed out? I picked up on details of passengers I hadnâ€™t before. I was quite touched by everyoneâ€™s writing. I made it personal.â€? - Harriet
YOUR TURN! If you’re away and you write a letter to home, do you include the bad news? Write your letter and your list here:
Native understanding of ‘land rights’ were different to the Europeans. Land tenure was rooted and understood through the interdependent relationship a community had with its territory. Families had long standing relationships to hunting and planting grounds, and families would come together to fish or hunt at certain times of the year – taking , sharing and giving what was needed through a concept known as 'Wolhana' – or the 'Common Pot'. The settlers had a very different attitude towards the land from the Indians who believed in the concept of interacting with nature - taking, sharing and giving what was needed as a Common Pot or Wlogan.
“The common pot feeds and nourishes. It is the wigwam that feeds the family, the village that feeds the community, the networks that sustain the village. Women are the creators of those vessels; all people come from them, and with their hands and minds they transform the bodies of their animal and plant relatives into nourishment for their families”. - Lisa Brooks, The Common Pot.
Many stories told of the dangers of not sharing resources. Agulabemu or The Great Bullfrog is one example. "There was a village where the people used a little brook for their water. While the brook was usually plentiful, it began to run dry. The people sent a messenger to find out what was happening to their beloved stream. Three days of traveling along the brook brought the messenger to a dam. It had been built to block the water. He asked to see the chief of the village by the dam. The chief was a "whale of a man" with great yellow eyes. The messenger described the suffering and unhappiness of the people in the village. This appeared to please the monster, but he bored a small hole into the dam, allowing a trickle of water to drip into the brook. The messenger returned to his people and for a while a tiny stream flowed through the village. But again it dried up. The people did not know what to do. Fortunately, the great and legendary Glooscap heard of their trouble and came to their aid. He promised to speak with this yellow-eyed whale of chief. Glooskap was very intimidating, with his face painted the colour of blood and a large eagle upon his shoulder. He went straight to the chief who had denied the villagers water. "Give me water to drink, and the best, at once, you Thing of Mud!" The beast told him to get lost, so Glooskap thrust a spear into his belly. Â All of the water that should have been running downstream gushed out of the monsters belly. He had drunk it all himself. The monster slowly shrank. Glooskap caught him and crumpled him in his hand and ever since, the monster has been the tiny bullfrog â€“ with the punishment of Glooskap etched in his wrinkled back. 16
The Kindness of Strangers The Pilgrims lived out of the Mayflower, and ferried back and forth to land to build their storehouses and living houses: they laboured all through the winter months of December, January, February, and didn't start moving entirely to shore until March. On March 16 1621, they got a surprise when an Indian named Samoset walked into the Colony and welcomed them in broken English. Samoset was from an Indian group in Maine, and had picked up English words from the fisherman that came into the harbours there. He introduced them to Tisquantum, who had been to England and could speak better English than he could. Tisquantum would become vital to the Plymouth Colony, translating and negotiating between the settlers and tribal leaders including Massasoit. Peace was made with the Nauset, with whom they had their initial conflict on Cape Cod; and peace was negotiated with a number of other Indian leaders within the Wampanoag Confederation. Tisquantum was a guide, taking the Pilgrim ambassadors to various locations, and helping them establish trading relations.
Statue of Massasoit
He also taught the Pilgrims how to better utilise the natural resources: how to catch eels, and how to plant corn using fish caught from the town brook as fertilizer. 17
Tisquantum The actions of Squanto - as he came to be known - are perhaps even more surprising considering his experiences before meeting the settlers. In 1614 he, and 23 other Nauset and Patuxet Indians had been lured aboard a ship by a trader, Thomas Hunt, taken to Malaga in Spain, and sold. Squanto was taken in by Friars then somehow found his way to London. He was employed by John Slaney the treasurer of the Newfoundland Company - presumably he wanted an interpreter and expert. Squanto was sent to Newfoundland, his objective was to establish trade with the Indians, and to map out the natural resources to be exploited by the company. However he travelled South, to his homeland in Patuxet, the area that was now being settled by the Mayflower passengers. On arriving in 1619, he discovered all the Patuxet were dead, victims of European borne disease. He lived with the Wampanoag and became a translator for their leader Massasoit in his negotiations with the English.
Plymouth Colony 18
The Meeting with Massasoit "...the king came to the top of a hill over against us, and had in his train sixty men, that we could well behold them and they us. We were not willing to send our governor to them, and they unwilling to come to us, so Squanto went again unto him, who brought word that we should send one to parley with him, which we did." - Text from Mourtâ€™s Relation
Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin was the leader (Sachem) of the Wampanoag. Edward Winslow was sent to him with some knives and a copper jewel chain as gifts and Massasoit was told that the Pilgrims only desired peace and trading. Massasoit was told that King James of England saluted him with love and peace, and accepted him as a friend and ally. Massasoit liked what he heard; the English would make powerful allies against his enemies in the region. The Pilgrims wanted a peace treaty, and so he willingly undertook the negotiations. Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow described Massasoit as follows: "In his person he is a very lusty man, in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech. In his attire little or nothing differing from the rest of his followers, only in a great chain of white bone beads about his neck, and at it behind his neck hangs a little bag of tobacco, which he drank and gave us to drink; his face was painted with a sad red like murry, and oiled both head and face, that he looked greasily. All his followers likewise, were in their faces, in part or in whole painted, some black, some red, some yellow, and some white, some with crosses, and other antic works; some had skins on them, and some naked, all strong, tall, all men of appearance . . . [he] had in his bosom hanging in a string, a great long knife; he marvelled much at our trumpet, and some of his men would sound it as well as they could."
Gifts Both the Wampanoag and the colonists used gift exchange to show respect, mark meetings and seal alliances. Wampum is a traditional shell bead belt of the eastern tribes of American Indians. It includes white beads hand fashioned from the shell of the whelk and white and purple beads made from theÂ Quahog or clam.
An Example of a Wampum Belt
Before European contact, strings of wampum were used for storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and recording important treaties and historical events. Wampum was also used by the northeastern Indian tribes as a means of exchange, strung together in lengths for convenience. The first Colonists adopted it as a currency in trading with them. Eventually, the Colonists applied their technologies to more efficiently produce wampum, which caused inflation and ultimately its obsolescence as currency.
YOUR TURN! Do you take a gift when you visit friends? Draw or write some examples of the gifts you take here:
Treaties Through negotiation and the exchange of gifts we are told that Massasoit and the settlers drew up a treaty. 1. That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of our people. 2. And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send the offender, that we might punish him. 3. That if any of our tools were taken away when our people are at work, he should cause them to be restored, and if ours did any harm to any of his, we should do the likewise to them. 4. If any did unjustly war against him, we would aid him; if any did war against us, he should aid us. 5. He should see to his neighbour confederates, to certify them of this, that they might not wrong us, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace. 6. That when their men came to us, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them, as we should do our pieces (guns) when we came to them. Clearly this was a welcome alliance for both sides, providing some security in a volatile situation.
Another Wampum Belt 21
“It’s so random!" - Jane
“It's a mess.” - Iris
In March 1623, Massasoit became extremely ill, and when word came to Plymouth, Edward Winslow made a trip to Pokanoket to visit him. They found Massasoit in his house, full of many visitors. Massasoit was now blind, but could still understand- when they told him the English had come to visit him, he asked "Keen Winslow?" which means "Are you Winslow?" Then he said, "Matta neen wonckanet namen, Winslow!", which means "O Winslow, I shall never see you again." Winslow gave him a little bit of medicine, and scraped out the inside of his mouth which had swollen up preventing him from eating or drinking anything. Then he gave Massasoit some water and more medicine. In about half an hour, Massasoit had regained his eye sight and was getting better. Winslow made a chicken broth soup for Massasoit, and within a couple days Massasoit had his appetite back, and eventually recovered. Massasoit lived a long life, and remained a close friend and ally of the Plymouth Colony until his death around 1661. His son Mooanam, later called Wamsutta (and by the English known by the nickname 'Alexander') became leader of the Wampanoag, and was succeeded in turn by Some believe the constitution was originally his son Metacom (known to a Wampum belt the English by the nickname 'Philip'). 22
Contested Thanksgivings Since 1970 Native Americans have used Thanksgiving Day as a “National Day of Mourning”. It is a reminder of their struggle for survival, the theft of land and assault on their language and cultures.
“Today, in this 21st century, I agonise over political turmoil and looming climate catastrophe and many more, less important troubles. Considering the conditions and the plight of the people in New England 400 years ago make me thoughtful and appreciative. For this, I like my Thanksgiving to go to London Bubble.” - Eva 23
“Dealing with issues of past in the context of what is happening now is never far from our discussions.” - Deborah
Debating the Mayflower We invited social sciences lecturer Georgie Wemyss and academic and author Darren Chetty to help us consider the global legacy of the Mayflower voyage.
“It was thought-provoking and intelligent. Raised the question of how to tell this story. Needs careful handling. The responsibility is great. For some it’s a celebration, for others a commendation. Some have no voice.” - Anon 24
The project has three phases:
Who were the passengers on the Mayflower and why did they leave? Why do people leave?
How was the Mayflower voyage financed? What was it like to be at sea? How has technology changed since then? What’s it like to undertake a sea journey today?
What happened when the Mayflower arrived in America? How has this shaped modern history? What experiences do people have of arriving in new countries today?
“It's been a fantastic learning experience, increased my knowledge and made connections to my own family of origin stories of migration, thank you!” - Kerri
How can I get involved? In April we will start rehearsing a community play to be performed at Southwark Cathedral. This is an open project – there are no auditions and no prior experience is necessary. Also we have workshops we can bring to local groups. These can be tailored to your needs and will use interactive activities to explore the themes the story of the Mayflower covers. If you would like more copies of this pamphlet or the previous two – Leavings and Journeys – just get in touch.
CtMLondonBubble bubbletheatre LondonBubble.Theatre For more information visit www.londonbubble.org.uk, call 020 7237 4434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 26
We would like to thank: All Hallows by the Tower Brian Lavery Callum Coates Dan Copeland Darren Chetty Eric MacLennan Georgie Wemyss Graham Taylor Greenwich Tour Guides Association Judy Aitken and the Cuming Museum Lucy Barter Michael Breakey and The Rotherhithe Shed Muna Liban Passamezzo Rachel Essex Rebecca Fraser Rita Cruise Oâ€™Brien Simon Startin Southwark Cathedral Surrey Docks Farm The Clink The Dutch Church The London Sea Shanty Collective The Migration Museum Funders, United St Saviour's Charity and the City of London All who helped represent the 132 passengers at The Measuring, who took part in The Deal in The City and who attended The Debate And finally a special thank you to everyone who has taken part in a workshop, carried out research, and shared their story so far. Closing Photo: Statue of Massasoit Cover Image: Debating the Mayflower, Alex Evans
This is the final pamphlet which shares some of our findings and reflections from the third phase of our Charting the Mayflower project: Arr...
Published on Feb 28, 2020
This is the final pamphlet which shares some of our findings and reflections from the third phase of our Charting the Mayflower project: Arr...