Publication Date

March 29, 2010

Perspectives Section

Perspectives Daily


  • United States


Digital Methods, Indigenous

On February 29, 1704, hundreds of French and Native allies raided the English settlement of Deerfield, Massachusetts, capturing men, women, and children and forcing them to march 300 miles to Canada.

The interactive web site, Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704, asks of the French and Native attack, “Was this dramatic pre-dawn assault in contested lands an unprovoked, brutal attack on an innocent collage of English settlers? Was it a justified military action against a stockaded settlement in a Native homeland? Or was it something else?”

The Raid on Deerfield in 1704 captures an era in American history full of cultural and religious tension: “When examined closely, the raid is a military saga, a collection of family stories, an exploration of the meaning of land, ownership, a confrontation among different values, a case study of colonialism.” Before delving into the site, make sure to watch the introductory video that supplies the historical context in which to place the raid, seeing as New England was not only a battlefield between the Natives and Europeans, but also between the French and the English.

As with many stories in history, a single event can breed multiple meanings, so part of this site’s mission is to present all sides of the story and encourage users to draw their own conclusion. To begin, users can orient themselves to the five cultures associated with the Raid: English, French, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Wendat (Huron), and Wôbanaki (Abenaki, Pennacook, Sokoki, Pocumtuck, and others).

The story menu contains eight historic scenes complete with a prologue and epilogue; “each scene is described from the perspectives of the cultures that were present.” Furthermore, users can learn more about the attack by rolling their cursor over a picture depicting the various cultural components of the Raid or search through the narrative based on people, artifacts, maps, or themes.

Teachers can adapt and apply lesson plans that cover themes and include primary resources pulled from the Raid’s narrative.

Users can choose to explore the site’s resources through the following alternative routes:

  • Travel through a timeline that begins in1600 and ends in 1720.
  • Listen to radio broadcasts, songs from the 17th century, Native American stories and more.
  • Read essays linked to themes, people, and events from the rest of the web site.
  • Explore countless further resources and learn early American vocabulary.
  • Play the 1704 Game: Name that Culture.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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