Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (c. 1650) was honored to have hosted Strong Bear Medicine and Daniel V. Boudillion in our evocative Concord School of Philosophy.  Strong Bear and Dan discussed the Nashobah Praying Indians’ millennia-long presence in the local and surrounding area, their journey of survival, and current thriving community.  They also referred to Dan's recently published book, The History of the Nashobah Praying Indians:  Doings, Sufferings, Survival, and Triumph as a wonderful resource for those wishing to know more.  

The term “Praying Indians” refers to Native Americans in New England who converted to Christianity during the mid-1600s, when eastern Massachusetts was initially colonized by English settlers.  In 1654, Puritan minister and missionary John Eliot founded the Nashobah Praying Indian Plantation in the village of Nashope (“between the waters”), which later became known as Littleton. By 1674, the Massachusetts Bay Colony had established 14 “Praying towns.”  In 1675, however, violence perpetrated during King Philip’s War led to the demise of most of these towns.  Settlers hostile to Native Americans imprisoned them on Deer Island in Boston Harbor, where many perished from starvation, disease, and abuse.

John Hoare, who lived in the home known today as Orchard House, petitioned the General Court to shelter the Nashobah Praying Indians on his property.  Through the autumn and harsh winter of 1675, the Nashobah lived in safety and friendship on Orchard House land. Unfortunately, on February 21, 1676, a rogue band of privateers led by Capt. John Mosley forcibly removed these Nashobah to Deer Island. Due to John Hoare’s compassionate courage, however, those Praying Indians were only interred for three months, so their survival rate was much higher.  Strong Bear Medicine is a direct descendant of the Praying Indians who lived on Orchard House land.  The powerful friendship forged centuries ago between the Hoare family and the Nashobah inspires us, and continues to this day.  

About Our Special Guests

Strong Bear Medicine is Sagamore of the Nashobah Praying Indians and brother of the late Chief Caring Hands of the Nashobah-Natick-Punkapoag Praying Indians of the Massachusett Tribe.  A noted Native dancer and singer, having performed in the U.S. and Europe, Strong Bear is a public speaker and craftsman as well.

Dan Boudillion is an historian with incomparable knowledge of early Nashobah Praying Indian history and the locations associated with them.  On the board of the Littleton Historical Society, Trustee of the Littleton Conservation Trust, Steering Committee member of Friends of Pine Hawk, founder of Nashoba Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, and co-founder of Friends of the Nashobah Praying Indians, Dan previously served as webmaster for the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA).  He has also given numerous talks on and conducted walks related to Nashobah history, and his work has been featured in the NEARA Journal and Weird Massachusetts.  Dan will be speaking about his recently published book, The History of the Nashobah Praying Indians:  Doings, Sufferings, Survival, and Triumph.  Copies of the book were available for sale and personalized autographing during the event; some attendees brought their own copies of the book for Dan to sign, and a very limited number of additional autographed copies may be purchased from our Museum Store.

To discover more about the Praying Indians and about Orchard House, please visit www.natickprayingindians.org and www.louisamayalcott.org



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