Native Village
Youth and Education news
 MAY 1, 2010   VOLUME 4

Game based on King Philip’s War angers Native Americans
Condensed by Native Village


A new board game called King Phillip's War  pits 17th-century Colonists against New England’s Indian tribes. Today, it's pitting Native leaders against the publisher.

The game features a New England map, dice, and game pieces including King Philip, sachem of the Wampanoag tribe. There is also a game piece of Benjamin Church, colonial resident and Indian fighter.

Colonial players win by earning points or eliminating King Philip and other Indians. Indian players win by earning points or seizing the settlements of Boston and Plymouth. Players defeat either force in “a momentous example of New England frontier savagery,” says Multi-Man Publishing,

Multi-Man Publishing is a military game company which claims King Phillip's War mixes military strategy with history.  But tribal historians say it is in poor taste and promotes Natives as savages.

“It clearly demonstrates how — sadly — racism and misconceptions continue to exist in America, even in the 21st century,” says Rae Gould from the Nipmuc Nation.

“I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or be angry,” adds John Brown from the Narragansett tribe. “The message seems to be, it’s still OK to kill Indians.”

Social studies teacher John Poniske created the game after reading an article about King Philip.

“I immediately saw the gaming potential in the historical situation,” he said. “The New England tribes were a military force to reckon with, and this conflict destroyed their power base.”

Paula Peters is a Mashpee Wampanoag and marketing director for Plimoth Plantation. She says says the game “seems to trivialize a very tragic event in our history.”  King Philip grew up in a world where he was free to practice his beliefs in his ancestral land,  But as an adult he and his people were pushed out. During one conflict in Mystic, Native women and children were burned in their beds.

“It was no game,” Peters said.

But Poniske argues that King Phillip's War shows that “Indians were fighting for the survival of their culture, and I indicate that atrocities were committed on both sides"

Poniske also says the game reveals a little known atrocity: the hunting down of Indians to be shipped to the Caribbean as slaves.”

In 1675, Indians attacked the town of Swansea killing several men, women, and children. The Colonists then attacked area tribes.

Over 5,000 people died in the war; more than 3,500 were Indians. Half of New England’s towns were burned or pillaged. Philip was drawn, quartered and beheaded. Indians were shipped to the Caribbean as slaves.

“That a game would be based on this really bothers me,” says Peters. “Would we play a game called The Holocaust?


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