because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Queen Esther Montour

Queen Esther Montour of the Seneca nation lived with a goodly group of her people at the junction of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers in Pennsylvania in 1790. The United States was barely an idea and the French, the English, the Yankees, and the Native Americans were still very much jockeying for their respective positions. The Europeans, of course, believed that they had a right to the land based on documents they brought with them from their respective "Old Countries." The Yankees fully intended to turn this "New World" into their own nation. The Native Americans, on the other hand, indigenous to the continent for thousands of years, didn't agree.

Sometimes they got along (more or less). Sometimes one group of European nationals would enlist the aid of the Natives against another group of Europeans. And the Natives didn't have a problem working both ends against the middle, since, as far as they were concerned, the Europeans were fighting each other over what didn't belong to them in the first place. So it was in this context that Queen Esther's son was shot to death in some battle or another.

Enraged and distraught, at her next opportunity ( a few days later), Queen Esther -- described as a "fury of a woman," tall and slender, walking very upright -- had her subjects gather up fourteen or fifteen Yankees and put them in a circle around a big rock. Wearing a breech cloth and black and white war paint, she then proceeded around the circle, singing while she used a club or tomahawk to relieve the prisoners of their brains one by one. Still not satisfied, she had her warriors put nine more Yankees around another rock and proceeded to go through the process again.

Today, the battle during which this event took place is known as the Wyoming (Pennsylvania) Massacre since, overall, 227 of 350 Yankee soldiers were killed and scalped. Interestingly enough, there are many historical accounts of Queen Esther protecting and treating Europeans kindly in various situations. She was, in fact, at least part French and wore a necklace of white beads from which a cross hung. Still, as evidenced at the Wyoming Massacre, one must never underestimate an in-your-face woman. It can be detrimental to your health.

No comments:

Post a Comment