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Monday, August 20, 2018

Multicultural Mondays - Puritan Girl Mohawk Girl Review

Disclosure: Abrams Books sent me these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As always I am providing links to the book for your convenience.

Today I am sharing a historical novel about a girl/woman you probably have not heard of, but her story is amazing. The book is Puritan Girl Mohawk Girl by John Demos. 

This book takes us back to Colonial Times. It shares the story of Eunice Williams. She was the daughter of Reverend John Williams. He was a minister and town leader of Deerfield, Massachusetts Colony. It was the time of the French and Indian War. People were on edge because the Mohawks were thought to be on the attack. Deerfield had a nightwatchman as well as soldiers watching it, but on February 29, 1704, the Mohawks and French attacked and managed to take most of the village hostage as well as burn the village down. The Mohawks knew the journey North would be hard on the prisoners so they did not take the elderly and very pregnant women as well as weak people. Those people were released. However the rest were marched to Canada where the Mohawks lived. The entire Williams family was taken. Eunice's mother was weak after having given birth only a few months prior and became too weak on the journey. The Mohawks killed her mercifully because if they left her she would have froze or been eaten by animals. Then the Mohawks decided to split the group up. The Williams family was completely split up. Eunice was taken to Kahnawake, the home of the Kahnawakenerous. At age 7, Eunice was brought to a strange village where the houses didn't look like the ones at home and where the people spoke a different language. She was confused and scared, but the Kahnawakenerous were kind to her. Arakwente had carried her when she could not walk anymore and he took her to his family and they adopted her as one of their own. Over the years Eunice became familiar with the Mohawks and began to forget her own early beginnings. The Mohawks changed her name to A'ongote and the Catholic Church named her at her baptism Marguerite. Eventually her family was granted freedom, but the Mohawks would not free Eunice, and she did not really want to return as she did not remember that much about them. When she became an adult she was given the name Gannenstenhawi, following the Mohawk custom. She also married a Mohawk both in the traditional Mohawk manner as well as in the Catholic Church. The priests tried not to marry them, but Gannenstenhawi and her love said they would live in sin if they did not perform the ceremony. The priests were well aware of who her father was and also probably frowned upon the mixed race marriage. Her Puritan minister father was horrified by the life his daughter now lived. She was a hated Catholic and chose to marry a Native American. 

What I love about this book is it shares a piece of history that has been mostly forgotten. It is a novel because many of the day to day facts about her life were not recorded, so John Demos had to make some things up based on the research he did on traditional life of the Mohawks. This book shares so many things from the life of the Puritans and colonists to the life with the Mohawks. It shares about the war as well as when the French and English governments worked together. The story is intriguing and it is amazing to think about the truth in it. I found the book a bit slow at first but once I really got into it (and took the time to get into it) it was amazing. I wanted to find out more about what happened and the decisions Gannenstenhawi made. 

The book also takes the time to compare a bit about the two cultures and why Gannenstenhawi may have chosen the Mohawks. There were things like the women were more in charge in the Kahnawake and the Mohawks did not hit or really punish their children. The children had much more freedom and time to play than the Puritan children. Of course John Demos does not assume Gannenstenhawi realized these things as a young, confused child. He states the comparison as things she may have realized if she remembered her own past life. 

This book is perfect for an addition to a Colonial or Native American unit or even for a unit on the French and Indian War. It does a wonderful job of describing life in the Mohawk village.  It is also just an interesting book to read and a piece of history to learn about. I hope you will check it out.