icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

In the Classroom > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

The First Turn, 1680-1720
Lesson 5: Native American Presence in Deerfield, Massachusetts

Unit Central Questions: In This Lesson:

What do primary and secondary sources teach us about the characteristics of "everyday life" of individuals living in Deerfield at the four turns of the centuries?

What do these characteristics reveal about changes in the town since its beginning as an English settlement?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
Activity 4

Lesson Length

Activity 1 - 45 minutes

Activity 2 - 45 minutes

Activity 3 - 60 minutes

Activity 4 - 60 minutes

top of page

Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

With the increased competition between Native groups because of the beaver trade for European goods, the Kanien'kehaka attacked the Pocumtuck homeland, diminishing their numbers and thus their power. The Pocumtucks were now more vulnerable to domination by the English who wished to expand settlements and trade further up the Connecticut River.

The English soon pressured the Pocumtucks to sign deeds transferring land ownership. The Native peoples did not share the European concept of land ownership, the basis of which was individual rights to specific bounded parcels of land. When the Pocumtucks signed the English deeds, which they did not fully understand, they believed they were only agreeing to share their homeland with the newcomers. In the language of these deeds, the Pocumtucks reserved traditional rights of "fishing in ye Rivers, to hunt Deere and other creatures, ...to gather walnuts, and other nuts on ye Common." Although they retained these rights, the Pocumtuck found it increasingly difficult to remain in their homeland due to English restrictions and encroachments. As a result of these problems, wars broke out, including "The Bloody Brook Massacre" and "The Falls Fight" which were part of King Philip's War, and the 1704 Attack on Deerfield.

For more information read:
Teacher Background Essay: Native American Presence in Deerfield, Massachusetts

top of page

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand that:

1. There was no longer a permanent Native American settlement in Deerfield at this time and most had left the area because of English encroachment on their land and livelihood.
2. Land transfers, in the form of deeds, occurred between the Pocumtucks and English.
3. A state of war existed in New England at this time, involving the French, English and Native Americans.
4. The 1704 attack on Deerfield by the Native Americans and French had a significant impact on the town, resulting in deaths and the removal of English settlers to Canada.

Students will be able to:

1. Read and extract information from background materials.
2. Read primary source materials from the period.
3. Write a summary of an article and discussion.

top of page

In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read Teacher Background Essay: Native American Presence in Deerfield, Massachusetts

2. Review teacher essay from Lesson 2, Teacher Background Essay: Native American History

3. Read Student Background Essay: Pocumtuck Identity

top of page


Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. Teacher Background Essay: Native American Presence in Deerfield, Massachusetts

2. Five study prints:

3. "July 14th, 1703, Prices of Goods"

4. Dedham Grant Deed of Transfer of Pacomtuck land to Dedham residents

5. "Bloody Brook Massacre", from The History of Deerfield, Vol. I, George Sheldon, 1895, excerpt of pgs. 100-103

6. History of Deerfield, Vol. I, George Sheldon, 1895, excerpts of pgs. 155-157 (Turners Falls Attack)

7. "Colonial Wars Timeline Images:"


1. Individual student notebooks

top of page

Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1
A. The Beaver Trade

1. Divide class into smaller groups and distribute a picture or two from the following list to each group:

a. Abenaki couple
b. Huron couple
c. Tee Yee Nee Ho Ga Row
d. "Philip, King of Mt. Hope"
e. Sash given to Stephen Williams by Arosen

Ask students to study the pictures carefully for evidence of items the Native Americans would have received in trade from the English. Make a list of these items on the board.
2. Ask: What else might the Indians want that they had never had before? What might they have given in trade to receive these new things? Add items they may have wanted to the list on the board and start a new list of things that could be traded to the English.
3. Give each student a copy of the broadside, "July 14th, 1703, Prices of Goods." Have the students check the items on their existing list of English items they recognized from the broadside.

a. According to the broadside, what are the Indian people trading to the English for these items?
b. If the Indian people had no beaver skins, what else might they use for trade? (corn, land)
c. Before the Native Americans met Europeans, they hunted only what they needed and no more. As you can see from the broadside, beaver pelts became the most popular trade item. With so many Europeans and Native Americans now wanting these pelts, what problems might arise? Eventually, the beaver population in New England was depleted. What could the Native Americans do to continue receiving European goods? (give up their land)

top of page


Abenaki couple

Huron couple

"Tee Yee Nee Ho Ga Row"

"Philip, King of Mt. Hope"

photo of finger woven sash in Memorial Room





"July 14th, 1703, Prices of Goods"








Activity 2
B. The Deerfield Deed

1. Discuss with students what makes them want to stay in their home and "home area" or homeland. What is important to them about that space?
2. Now have them imagine that a stranger who is interested in their home area has approached them. The stranger doesn't speak English very well but he seems interested in staying around. He has asked them to put their mark on a document but they can't understand what that document says. They know that if they do sign, they will receive a new skateboard, a computer complete with all sorts of extra games, CDs of music they happen to like, and awesome new clothes. These are all things they'd really like and they are excited about them. Remind students of how much they understand of the document. The stranger does not speak their language and cannot explain it any further. Do they sign that document so that they can have all those great trade items? Why or why not?
3. Distribute the Deerfield deed. Have students examine the deed. Ask:

a. Can you make out any of the words? If so, list them.
b. Can you figure out what this document is about? If so, explain. If not, that is ok.

4. Now ask students to put themselves in the place of the Pocumtucks who were asked to sign this deed. Tell them they were chosen by the English to represent their whole village, whether their village saw them as leaders or not. They understand that by signing, their village will receive all sorts of new trade items such as wool cloth, glass beads, guns, and metal knives, axe heads and pots. Their village has never had these things before and they are excited about them. However, ownership is not a concept that their people understand, especially when it refers to land, and they cannot understand the deed at all. Do they sign the deed anyway? Why or why not? They can see that "Chauk" did sign the deed on behalf of his people. Because he did this, what might have happened?

top of page












Dedham Grant Deed of Transfer of Pacomtuck land to Dedham residents



Activity 3
C. King Philip's War

1. Ask students to think back to the two previous lessons on trade and the Deerfield deed. Discuss the Indians' problems in dealing with the Europeans and why they might want to go to war against them.
2. Divide the class into smaller groups and assign each a nineteenth century source to read about one of the attacks from the list below:

  • "Bloody Brook Massacre", from The History of Deerfield, George Sheldon, 1895, pgs. 100-103 (abridged)
  • History of Deerfield, George Sheldon, 1895, pgs. 155-157, (Turners Falls Attack) (abridged)

3. Explain that these excerpts were written in the late nineteenth century and discuss how the views of the author were shaped by his time. Note that the late nineteenth century was a time when the United States was fighting various Native American groups to acquire their land and place the people on reservations. This author was also a direct descendant of the English settlers whom he discusses in his history, and he uses some family stories about the time period to support his point of view. This is likely to be one important source of his bias.
4. Ask each group to pretend to be modern journalists or reporters whose job is to create a shorter, more balanced oral report using other groups' (such as the French, Abenaki, or Kanien'kehaka) accounts and perspectives of what took place. Before students begin, discuss the meaning of the word "bias". As they prepare their presentations, ask them to make a list of words or phrases they chose not to include (because of the bias they carry) with notes on why they chose not to use the words.
5. Have each group give their report to the class. They should follow up their presentation with comments on their feelings toward the original excerpts.

top of page







Bloody Brook Massacre

History of Deerfield







social studies notebooks

Activity 4
D. Colonial Wars

1. Provide a quick summary for the class discussing how these wars are different:

a. Read the background essay and refer to the Student Background Essay Relationship between the English, the French, and the Native People (part 1 of Lesson 4).
b. Explain to the students that between 1689 and 1763 there were a series of colonial wars known collectively as the French and Indian Wars. They are: King William's War, 1689-1697; Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713; King George's War, 1744-1748; the French and Indian War, 1754-1763. These wars were waged in North America between England and France and their respective Native American allies. The period between 1713 and 1744 was a time of relative peace when former enemies visited one another.

2. Circulate the "Colonial Wars Timeline Images" in random order throughout the class.
3. As a class, number the pictures in chronological order.
4. Discuss the pattern the pictures reveal. Group the items into three time periods on a chalkboard or a bulletin board under the following headings: a. 1689-1713 (first two colonial wars: King William and Queen Anne's) b. 1713-1744 (time of relative peace) c. 1744-1763 (last two colonial wars: King George's and French and Indian War)
5. Use the "Colonial Wars Timeline Images", which lists the items in sequential order to check your sequence and provide information for further discussion.

Questions to think about:

  • Do all these items have to do with war?
  • Do they all relate to the same war?
  • Why might Native Americans have participated in these wars within the three time periods?









"Colonial Wars Timeline Images" (lists items in sequential order)



Ensign John Sheldon House
Old "Indian House" Door
The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion
Table of Losses
John Sheldon snow shoes
Shot pouch
A Sermon Preach'd at Mansfield
New England Captives Carried to Canada
Prisoner halter
Bars Fight
Memorabilia from the Bars Fight

top of page


Use the "news reports" from Activity 3 to assess the degree to which students have accomplished the intended learning outcomes.


top of page

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback