In March of 1621, in what is now southeastern Massachusetts, Massasoit (actor Marcos Akiaten, Chiricauha Apache), the leading sachem of the Wampanoag, sat down to negotiate with a ragged group of English colonists. Hungry, dirty and sick, the pale-skinned foreigners were struggling to stay alive; they were in desperate need of Native help. Massasoit faced problems of his own. His people had lately been ravaged by unexplained sickness, leaving them vulnerable to the rival Narragansett to the west. The Wampanoag sachem calculated that a tactical alliance with the foreigners would provide a way to protect his people and hold his enemies at bay. He agreed to give the English the help they needed. A half-century later, as a brutal war flared between the English colonists and a confederation of New England Indians, the wisdom of Massasoit's diplomatic gamble seemed less clear. Five decades of English immigration, mistreatment, lethal epidemics and widespread environmental degradation had brought the Indians and their way of life to the brink of disaster. Led by Metacom, Massasoit's son (actor Annowon Weeden, Mashpee Wampanoag), the Wampanoag and their Native allies fought back against the English, nearly pushing them into the sea.