Sebastien Rasles strongbox, ca. 1721
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Father Sebastien Rasles (1657-1724) was a French Jesuit missionary who moved to Canada in 1689. He learned many of the customs and languages of the Wabanaki Indians of the Northeast, and became a trusted advisor to them.
Rasles started a Jesuit mission and built a church in the Wabanaki village of Norridgewock, on the Kennebec River. There, he worked to convert the Wabanaki, and celebrated Mass in the Wabanaki language.
In 1721 English settlers from Massachusetts raided Norridgewock (present-day Skowhegan) where Father Rasles was living. He escaped capture, but his strongbox, containing letters and documents, was confiscated. The box has a secret compartment.
In August 1724, a combined force of English militia and Massachusetts and Mohawk Indians destroyed the village at Norridgewock, killing as many as 100 Indians and Father Rasles.
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