Natick was first settled in 1651 by John Eliot, a Puritan missionary born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England who received a commission and funds from England’s Long Parliament to settle the Massachusett Indians on both sides of the Charles River, on land deeded from the settlement at Dedham. They were called Praying Indians – Natick was the first and for a long time served as the center of Eliot’s network of praying towns. While the towns were largely self-governing under Indian leaders, such as Waban and Cutshamekin, the praying Indians were subject to rules governing conformity to English Puritan culture (in practice Natick, like the other praying towns, evidenced a combination of traditional and English culture and practices). Eliot and Praying Indian translators printed America’s first written Bible in the Algonquian language.
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