After the Mayflower and Tecumseh’s Vision are two films that form the first and second parts of a five-part documentary known as We Shall Remain. The two documentaries explore the lives of two Indian leaders during the encroachment of white settlers and pilgrims on their land. After the Mayflower captures the period of the white pilgrims during the time Indians were led by Massasoit in the 17th century. Tecumseh’s Vision captures the time the Indians were led by Tecumseh in the 19th century.
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Long before the leadership of Tecumseh and Massasoit, native Indians interacted with the European settlers and welcomed them in their land. Their shared their land, hunting expertise, food and supplier with these settlers thinking that they would protect them from other Indian tribes. Things started to change in the 17th century when it became clear that the European settlers were after their land. This essay compares and contrasts the situations of encroaching white settlement that faced Tecumseh and Massasoit.
In After the Mayflower, Massasoit welcomes the New England settlers in their land under close supervision. He allows them to use their land to build a home without engaging in a confrontation. Massasoit sends a few native warriors to investigate the behavior and actions of the visitors. The fact that the settlers were accompanied by women and children made them believe that Europeans were harmless.
The narrator of the film says that it was a customary tradition of the Indians to welcome guests accompanied by women and children (“After the Mayflower”). Tecumseh had witnessed the killing of his father by the settlers and knew what they were capable of achieving. His brother’s (Lalawethika) vision set him on a path of renewal to harness the energy of the Indian people by creating a great political and military confederacy obligated to eliminate the expansion of whites.
Massasoit was gullible and easily persuaded in the eyes of the white settlers unlike Tecumseh who was stern, respected and inspiring. In After the Mayflower, Massasoit is seen signing every treaty the white men brought to him without much hesitation. There is a scene that Massasoit storm into the village of the whites furious that they were planning an attack against the native Indians. He eventually leaves after signing another treaty with the white European settlers.
Maybe his fear of the powerful native enemies made him collaborate with the white settlers in all ways possible. Tecumseh was feared by both his native enemies and white settlers. In Tecumseh’s Vision, historian David Edmunds says “there was an aura around him of leadership and respect, that even people who opposed him- even his enemies- admired him” (“Tecumseh’s Vision”).
A counterfactual scenario is that Massasoit deliberately broke the treaty with the white settlers after realizing he had failed his people by giving away most of the land. In the treaties that he signed, white settlers were allowed to use land without any problem. What the native Indians did not know is that they would not be allowed to step on land that was already issued to the settlers.
From this angle, Massasoit’s death and beheading was a consequence of his guilt rather than the greed of the Europeans. A counterfactual scenario in Tecumseh’s Vision is that Lalawethika had not risen from the dead, and Tecumseh did not go ahead to mobilize the native Indians to rise against white settlers. This implies that European settlers in North America would still posses’ chunks of land belonging to the native Indians.
“After the Mayflower”. We Shall Remain. American Experience, 2009. Film.
“Tecumseh’s Vision.” We Shall Remain. American Experience, 2009. Film.