This is an email I sent to two friends from Easton Meeting House, county of Saratoga, New York state, who helped me with background information about the story known over here as ‘Fierce Feathers’ but which they prefer to call ‘Feathered Friends’. Bill is clerk of meeting.
Hello, Bill and Margaret,
I told my story on Sunday at Children’s meeting (for worship). It was wonderful. I am still buzzing. I hope to be able to send a photo to you showing the meeting room threatened by warriors and scouts. I changed the emphasis to be a lot less fierce and more friendly when telling the story.
We had butterflies and singing. The photos and drawings you sent were perfect. Everyone enjoyed them.
The children made headresses using curtain tape and feathers. I know, I’m sorry, you said american indians in that area would not have had feathers but I’d already got them and the children (and the grown ups) loved making them. We put face paint on (me included. I made people smile). We called it ‘Peace Paint’. Bows and arrows cut out of cardboard were coloured in, left at the door of meeting, thankfully, and later, we learned, made excellent rocket ships when propelled downstairs.
I never would have guessed when I picked up a white feather to reflect on during ‘Do Something Different Day’, a workshop on spirituality at Britain Yearly Meeting, last summer that it would lead me so far.
Thank you so much. I’m still smiling.
I would add a postscript here. The tale can be traced back to an actual event, recorded in the journal of Rufus Hall, who had bought land in Easton in the autumn of 1773. He writes: ‘One day the Indians came to our meeting just as it was breaking up, but they offered no violence: their warlike appearance was very shocking, being equipped with their guns, tomahawks and scalping knives: they had a prisoner and one green scalp taken but a few hours before.’ Hall continues, when the intruders ‘understood the Friends were at a religious meeting, they went to one of their Houses, got some victuals, of which a prisoner with them partook, and they quietly departed.’
Quoted in ‘Feathered Friends: History and Representation in a Quaker Fable’ by Christopher Klemek, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of History, Florida International University.
The photo is of the present day South Meeting House at Easton, County of Saratoga, New York state, built on the site of the old one, mentioned in the story.