Warriors of the Eastern Woodlands: MASSASOIT

MASSASOIT:    Wampanoag

Massasoit was the principle sachem of the Wampanoag confederacy.  He was born in into the village of Pakanoket, which is near Narraganset Bay (current Bristol, Rhode island) in the year 1580.   In the early years of the 1600s, small pox has devastated the Native tribes in the area, reducing them in numbers, and making them vulnerable.  One of the tribes to take great advantage of these vulnerabilities was the Narraganset tribe who lead attacks against the weaker tribes in the area.  Due to his concern over the growing threat of the Narraganset tribe, Massasoit entered into a treaty with the men of Patuxet; Plymouth Colony.  He new that the Narraganset had sent a challenge to Patuxet, who sent him back a skin of a snake that had powder and shot wrapped in it.  The Narraganset got the message and backed away.  Thus, Massasoit saw an advantage to an alliance with the Plymouth Colony, which he made with men such as William Bradford and Miles Standish.  He also sent Squanto to live among them.  They taught the English much about planting corn and literally saved them from starving.   William Bradford gave Massasoit a horseman’s coat made of red cotton, and a copper chain for a necklace, both of which Massasoit wore frequently. In the year 1621 (an estimate) it is alleged that Massasoit and ninety of his warriors joined in a feast in the month of October or November along with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony that became the basis for Thanksgiving.  More legend than truth?  It was Massasoit who sent a warning to the men of Plymouth Colony that Abordicis, the sachem of the Massacheuset tribe, was planning an attack in an attempt to wipe out all of the English in the Narraganset Bay area.  At the same time the Governor received this warning, a similar warning came from an expedition outside of the territory sent by some English who were attempting to start a trading colony.  The Puritans responded with an expedition from Miles Standish against the threatening Massacheuset.

Massasoit remained a loyal ally to the English at Patuxet and other colonies that sprang up until his death in 1661. But soon after he died, the treaties and relations between the Colonists and the Native American Tribes quickly deteriorated, and lead to one of the greatest of all Native American Tribal Wars against the Whites  – King Phillips War.  King Phillip was better known by his Wampanoag name, Metacom.  He was the son of Massasoit.

2020-04-15T19:23:24+00:00April 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|