Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Guy Perrotta and Charles Clemmons
Directed by Guy Perrotta, Charles Clemmons
VHS, color, 116 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Native American Studies, History, American Studies, European Studies
Reviewed by Michael A. LaMagna, Reference Librarian, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA
Date Entered: 8/26/2005
Bringing to life an unfortunate, overlooked event relegated to a brief mention in any introductory American history text, Mystic Voices succeeds in changing the direction of discussion of early American colonization. Going beyond the debate of who owns what land, instead the focus is on how the British and Dutch settlers brought a conflicting culture to that of the Native Americans. The European presence created conflict between once peaceful tribes as they positioned themselves to gain favor with the Europeans.
Beginning with an introduction to life before European contact, Mystic Voices describes the composition, culture, and daily life of Algonquian tribes in southeastern New England. Focusing on the Pequot, the documentary discusses how they interact with other Native People in the region. The arrival of Europeans brought with it trade opportunities, especially for fur used in creating the latest fashions in Europe. Europeans also brought a different religious perspective which regarded the Native People as heathens. The contempt the Europeans felt toward their new neighbors coupled with tension created by increased competition for trade ultimately resulted in the Pequot War. Two unfortunate events amplified the tension between the British settlers and Native People. The first incident was the murder of John Stone who kidnapped Native People to use for ransom. The British settlers blamed the Pequots and for two years they demanded those responsible for his death be turned over. The second incident was the murder of Captain John Oldham on Block Island by members of the Narragansett tribe. These incidents led to the Mohegan and Narragansett tribes aligning themselves with the British to gain favor. The Pequot War consisted of an hour long battle that took the lives of 400 men, women, and children in the Pequot tribe and resulted in the remaining members scattering to Upstate New York, other parts of New England, and Long Island. The defeat of what was considered the most powerful tribe shifted the balance of power for future generations.
The documentary utilizes artwork created by both Native and non-Native artists, maps, interviews with scholars and members of the Pequot tribe, dramatizations created from Native oral histories and historical documents. The audio and visual quality is excellent as is the artwork, maps and dramatizations. Highly recommended for any library in the Northeast as well as libraries collecting in Native American Studies.
- The National Television Academy/Emmy® Awards-Boston/New England Region for Outstanding Achievement-Program Writing and Outstanding Achievement Documentary Program