Members of the Penobscot Nation in Maine produced an educational film recounting this dark period in American history.
It was genocide, accuses Dawn Neptune Adams, from the nation of the Penobscots, one of the directors of the film entitled Bounty.
The film is not intended to place Americans on the defensive or to blame them. The directors say they want to make sure this story is not forgotten, by promoting a greater understanding of the past.
In November 1755, the Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province, Spencer Phips, granted
to His Majesty’s citizens authorization to kill Penobscots during
all the month. Each man’s scalp brought back was worth a reward equivalent to $ 12,000. That of a woman was worth half as much. Childish scalps were also worth a reward.
Some settlers sometimes received land.
This statement is known to several Penobscots, as a copy of the document is on display in the offices of the tribe, in Indian Island, Maine.
If every American knew the whole history of this country, even the darkest, most uneasy sides, it would help us get along better and understand each other better., argues Maulian Dana, another co-director.
On another level
The Europeans and the natives scalped their enemies, but the British authorities took this practice to another level by rewarding it, underline the directors.
The first decree authorizing scalping dates back to 1675, just a few decades after the first Thanksgiving holiday, when the first European settlers gathered with Wampanoag, says author Chris Newell.
There are over 70 proclamations encouraging European settlers to kill Natives in New England. There are 50 more in the other British colonies.
Emerson Baker, a history professor at Salem State University, says this film features
a strong correction.
People realize that the native people got here first, and that the settlers did their best to steal their land. It is not known how far these settlers went, says Professor Baker. All Indigenous men, women and children were viewed as targets, and sometimes even, by governments.
A 200-page book accompanying the film has been published for teachers. Several school boards have purchased the reproduction rights to the video and are considering using the book in classrooms.
In Portland, the scalp bonus will be part of the course content to enable the school board to comply with a 2001 law ordering students to learn the history of Indigenous peoples in Maine, says Fiona Hopper, coordinator of Wabanaki Studies .