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Warriors of the Eastern Woodlands: Chickatawbut
Chickatawbut, also called Oktabiest, was the sachem (chief) of the large group of Native American tribe known as the Massachusetts. His tribe inhabited, and to the English way of viewing it, owned the lands near and around what became Boston, Massachusetts. Openly friendly to the Puritans at first, there was some animosity raised when the grave of Chickatawbut’s mother was disturbed by people from Plymouth Colony.
In the year 1622, a man named Thomas Weston, and Englishman, decided to start a trading colony outside of territory that was part of the treaty the Plymouth Colony had with the Wampanoag tribe, and was clearly on the lands of Massachusetts tribe. This venture was known as the Wessagusset Colony. Weston and his fifty or sixty followers planted nothing, prepared themselves poorly, had not enough powder and shot for hunting. Many of the members of his colony starved to death over the winter.
During this, a Massachusetts warrior named Pecksuot visited Weston’s town and talked about the starvation and how this came about. There was an offering of corn and other sustenance by Pecksuot. However, things deteriorated, and the English began stealing corn from the Massachusetts. The English then accused the Massachusetts of stealing from them. Many arguments took place between the warriors of Chickatawbut and the people of Weston’s colony. Finally. in response to a belief that the Massachusetts tribe were going to imminently attack them, Weston complained to the leaders at Plymouth Colony. Captain Miles Standish was deployed with a dozen men to make a preemptive strike. Although they did not capture or kill Chickatawbut, they first killed Wassapinewat, the sachem’s brother. It had been said of this brother that no gun can kill him.” The other principle warrior killed by Miles Standish was Pucksuot. It was the death of this warrior that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized in his poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.”
In the year 1633, Chickatawbut died during an outbreak of smallpox among the tribes. He was succeeded by his brother Cutshamekin.