John Eliot Memorial
Eliot was the first missionary to produce religious text for Algonquians in their own language.
John Eliot was a missionary who came from Cambridge, England to Boston in 1630. His major interest was the conversion of the native population of Massachusetts Bay.
This desire led him to translate the Bible and other religious material into the Wampanoag dialect of Native Americans, who inhabited the area they called Nonantum. Eliot preached at Nonantum under the famed Oak and converted several Native Americans to Christianity. This culminated with the 1646 conversion of Chief Waban in his wigwam. The location of the chief’s wigwam is not exactly known, but is believed to be in the vicinity of this monument erected in 1880.
Waban and his followers under Eliot’s guidance resettled from Nonantum to over a dozen localities across Massachusetts. Their center was the township of Natick, settled in 1651. During King Phillip’s War, this population was distrusted by colonists and were forcibly relocated to Deer Island.
Suffering hardships, Eliot was powerless and could not help the tribe, who were known as the “Praying Indians.” The group was further oppressed during the postwar period.
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