• Reading
  • Writing
  • Social Studies

Captive of Friendly Cove by Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short tells the tale of John Jewitt, an English blacksmith and sailor who was taken as a slave for the Nootka chief, Maquinna. The book recounts his time as a slave, the many ceremonies and deaths he witnessed, and how he saved his own life by proving himself useful to the Nootka people. 

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas—The Apologetic Oppressor

It is widely believed that history is written by the victor. The voices of those who were conquered are so often minimized or silenced. Although John has been conquered as an individual, he is still a member of the conquering race. On the flip side, however, oppressing cultures sometimes recognize the atrocities they committed against other cultures, and try to distance themselves from their own culture.

With that in mind, 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. 

Comprehension and Collaboration—Word Crimes: 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. 

As a class, discuss why 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! 

Text Types and Purposes—Mourning and Fatherhood Across Cultures



Fatherhood—Look back through the story. Make a note of every time fathers or children are mentioned. Discuss as a class or write a short essay about the importance of fatherhood and children in the Nootka tribe (based on the book). Why do you think John and Thompson's lie about being father and son worked and saved their lives? 

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 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!

A funeral for a Native American Marine. This ceremony combines Native and Non-native American customs.