In a land and time not far away, a Native American Queen lived by the name of Weetamoo. Her culture had survived thousands of years until disease, greed and a religion sparked a movement that destroyed her world in just a few generations.
As Weetamoo and her allies battled the encroaching English colonists, warriors captured a Puritan minister’s wife by the name of Mary Rowlandson. For a brief period, Mary was Weetamoo’s slave.
A play and a future novel (2022) by Conrad Reeder, The Captive, revolves around the story of these two women from stridently different worlds who are caught up in a fight for survival during King Philip’s War (1675-76). The entire landscape of New England would be forever changed by this war.
As for the two women–one survived the war, the other was reborn a legend.
© Conrad Reeder
All Rights Reserved
Painting: Indian Princess by Anthony Gruerio
I speak for dead people—some with real historical lives that can be read about in books and some who only live in my head, but I hear them speak. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they never existed. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they don’t have a story.
The challenge for this writer is to portray these people as authentically as possible, a daunting challenge at best. Sometimes the facts of their story have been written down, at least some of the facts. As any writer or reader knows, sometimes there are big holes in the facts of someone’s story. How they thought and felt is another matter. Even writing what I think and feel about my own life can be a mission sometimes, at least in a way that others will feel compelled to read it. Throughout history, I bet people who journaled felt the same pressure, at least the ones hoping to publish–very tricky this stuff of portraying a story, anybody’s story. And what about the one’s who didn’t journal? Who speaks for them, especially when someone else tells their story and gets even the facts wrong?
How can I explain my need to write the words of the dead? The Trickster enters into my stomach (through a process I don’t entirely understand) and creates this “havoc” or a “gut feeling,” and away I go. I start hearing dead people talk. Dead does not mean silent, as long as there is someone to hear them and type down what they say (I hardly write anymore, my hand hurts). So, I hear it, and I type it. Whether or not the dead are happy about this, I have no idea. They haven’t said one way or the other, but they keep talking, and as long as they’re talking, I’ll keep listening, and typing, speaking for the dead, as best I can.
Then there’s music, I hear that, too. But that’s another story…
Green (my addition) Dragon from the 13th century Southern Song Dynasty.
Trickster, is that you?
And Happy Birthday to my daughter Ashlee! What a story she will tell…