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On March 16, 1621, Samoset cemented his place in history when he boldly walked into Plymouth Plantation and greeted the settlers in English. And that’s where most history books leave him. They never hint at the extraordinary events of his life that led him to that moment, including his initial clash with the English and a possible kidnapping attempt, inter-tribal warfare that engulfed the entire coast of Maine, encounters with the forgotten Popham Colony in Phippsburg, and an apocalyptic epidemic that nearly wiped out his people. They never ask why a sagamore (or leader) from Maine would be there in the first place, or consider how dangerous that walk into Plymouth truly was.
Why does any of this matter? Because Samoset lived at an extraordinary time and place in history. He and his people, the Wawenock, were at the epicenter of initial contact with English colonizers. If we want to better understand this story, looking at Samoset’s life is a good place to start.
Jody Bachelder started her career as a teacher and quickly made the switch to library work. In 2013 she was extremely honored to be named the Walter J. Taranko Maine School Librarian of the Year. When her husband got a job opportunity out of state, she took a chance and started writing. What she thought would be a picture book grew into a history book for adults.
Growing up on the Pemaquid Peninsula in Maine where Samoset and the Wawenock lived, she knew little about the Indigenous people who called the area home for thousands of years. It was time to learn more. She began her research with the question, “What was Samoset doing in Plymouth?” The journey to find the answer was both enlightening and surprising. Here First: Samoset and the Wawenock of Pemaquid, Maine is her first book. She still plans to write for children sometime in the future.
Thank you to Series Supporter J. Edward Knight Insurance for helping LCHA provide this free lecture!