Captive of Friendly Cove 

Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short


Based on John Jewitt's journals, this artful book of historical fiction recounts an amazing slice of history. After his ship is burned and his shipmates killed, John Jewitt lived as a captive of the Mowachaht Indians for three years on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Readers can follow Jewitt's adventures in this graphic novel as he plies his skills as a blacksmith, saves the life of his only remaining crew member, and comes up with a strategy to free them both.

Reader Activities

The Apologetic Oppressor

"History is written by the victors" - Winston Churchill

It is widely said that the victor writes history. The voices of those who were conquered are often minimized or even silenced. On the other hand, the oppressing culture sometimes recognizes the atrocities that they committed but then try to distance themselves from it. 

In Captive of the Friendly Cove, even though John is a part of the conquering race, the Nootka conquer him as an individual. In your opinion, do you think John is truthful in his account? Is he silencing the Nootka or distancing himself from other white Europeans? 

Do some research to find similar tales of European interactions with Native Americans. Compare and contrast your findings with Captive of Friendly Cove. Include at least one non-fiction book, one online text resource, and one audio-visual element. 

Is Writing Dangerous?

Revisit pages 80 and 136. On page 80, John is caught writing in secret, which infuriates Maquinna. On page 136, Maquinna requests that John write a letter to the incoming white men on his behalf, but is hesitant to trust John. 

Why do you think Maquinna has these attitudes about John's writing? Why might he consider writing to be a threat? 

During what other times was reading or writing considered dangerous? For whom and why? Are there cultures today that still see literacy as dangerous? Don't restrict your thinking to the US! Think globally! Write a paragraph to summarize your findings.  

Mourning and Fatherhood Across Cultures


Look back through the story and make a note of every time fathers or children are mentioned. Based on the book, write a short essay about the importance of fatherhood and children in the Nootka tribe. Include reasons why John and Thompson's lie about being father and son worked and saved their lives. Finally, choose one of the following topics and answer the questions provided.  

Mourning —Revisit pages 92-97. Do some research about Native American mourning rituals and funerals. Is Tatoosch's response to his child's death typical in a Native American culture? 

Suicide—In chapter 3, John tells Maquinna that if he kills his "father", Thompson, that he will kill himself. This threat spares Thompson. Why? Do you think Maquinna was more concerned about saving John as an individual or preserving a valuable slave?


Supplemental Videos and Materials


Click the title page of John Jewitt's published journal to read it for yourself!

Click the title page of John Jewitt's published journal to read it for yourself!

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