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Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704


The Pocumtuck story of the "Amiskwôlowôkoiak" -- the people of the beaver-tail hill -- is an example of a "deep-time story" with an "earthshaper" motif. Native stories in this genre describe, in metaphorical terms, using human, super-human, and non-human characters, how ancient geological events reshaped the landscape, forming mountains, rivers, lakes, islands and rocky outcroppings. Many of these stories also describe species evolution and climate change. Native oral narratives about the landscape formed part of a larger body of knowledge that enabled Native people to efficiently hunt, fish, gather and plant, make climate predictions, practice ethnobotany, and situate homesites in the best locations. In this story, there is a remarkable resonance between the familiar results of a beaver building a dam, the ancient history of glacial flooding, the presence of giant beavers in the region during the Pleistocene era, and a mountain that happens to be shaped like a beaver today (Bruchac 2005).

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Date Posted: 23 December 2016