What are examples of violence between Native Americans and the Pilgrims?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the settlers of New England, both Puritan and Pilgrim would probably not have survived had it not been for the assistance of friendly Indians, they soon turned on those who had helped them. As the New England settlements grew and prospered, they needed more and more land.  The land, of course was occupied and in many cases had been cleared by the Indians.  The settlers claimed that the Indians were under utilizing the land, and therefore should be pushed off. If the Indians resisted, they were forced off.  Many settlements in the area with the suffix "field" to the name were actually areas cleared by the Indians for farming.  Matters were not helped by the disdain in which the English held the Indians. They were in fact considered to be the "children of Satan."

Two major conflicts developed:  The first, the Pequot War, broke out when Pequot Indians killed a trader who had cheated them. The settlers retaliated and a war broke out during which at one point the settlers set fire to an Indian palisade and watched with glee as four hundred women and children burned to death.  John Mason, the Pilgrim leader, wrote in his journal:

And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished. And when the Fort was thoroughly Fired, Command was given, that all should fall off and surround the Fort; which was readily attended by all; only one Arthur Smith being so wounded that he could not move out of the Place, who was happily espied by Lieutenant Bull, and by him rescued. The Fire was kindled on the North East Side to windward; which did swiftly over-run the Fort, to the extream Amazement of the Enemy, and great Rejoycing of our selves. Some of them climbing to the Top of the Palisade; others of them running into the very Flames; many of them gathering to windward, lay pelting at us with their Arrows; and we repayed them with our small shot.

In a second conflict, the Wampanoag Indians led by Metacomet, commonly called King Philip (after Philip II of Spain, England's arch enemy) attacked English settlements, including Boston.  In terms of the percentage of casualties, this was one of the bloodiest wars in American history. The Indians were ultimately defeated, Metacomet was beheaded and his head placed on a pike as an example to others, and Indian resistance in the area was effectively ended.