EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 29, 2008

Hannah Duston bobblehead sparks controversy

A favorite Colonial dame is in the middle of another controversy.

Weeks after the New Hampshire Historical Society began selling a Hannah Duston bobblehead, one employee has quit and another has refused to sell it. They said they find the Duston doll, as well as another bobblehead of Chief Passaconaway, offensive to Native Americans.

In 1697, Hannah Duston was taken from her home in Haverhill, Mass., by Abenaki Indians to an island in the Merrimack River in Concord. She is said to have escaped by scalping members of the tribe.

Chief Passaconaway, a friend to English settlers and a key figure in New Hampshire's Colonial history, formed the Penacook Confederacy of more than a dozen tribes.

Rebecca Courser, who once managed the society's museum store and knows the two employees, said administrative assistant Lynn Clark resigned this month. Nancy Jo Chabot, who had worked in the society's museum store and as a security guard, now is working only as a security guard because she has refused to inspect or sell the dolls.

Both declined to comment, but Courser said Chabot told society officials in writing that she could not in "good conscience" sell the dolls.

A debate has raged over whether Hannah Duston was a heroine or villain for killing several Native Americans after some of them allegedly raided her home and killed her baby. Duston was taken to New Hampshire before she escaped and returned home.

Haverhill historian Thomas Spitalere works at the city's Buttonwoods Museum, which began selling the dolls last week. He said the dolls promote local history and he has no problem with them.

"I can understand one worker resigning and the other refusing to sell (the bobbleheads) if that's their belief, because it's a sensitive issue," Spitalere said. "But Hannah's a historical figure. You can't deny history.

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