This is the start of a 12 part story about King Philip of the Wampanoags

 

NOTE: This story has been truthfully reproduced. Many of the terms used would not be acceptable by 21st C. standards, but for the next 12 Chapters we beg your indulgence.

I. PHILIP’S PEOPLE

Philip, ruler of the Wampanoags, was the only Indian in our country to whom the English colonists gave the title of king. Why no other Indian ever received this title I cannot tell, neither is it known how it happened to be given to Philip.

The Wampanoags were a tribe of Indians whose homes were in what is now southeastern Massachusetts and in Rhode Island east of Narragansett Bay. A few of them, also, lived on the large islands farther south, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Three centuries ago Massasoit, Philip’s father, was the grand sachem, or ruler, of the Wampanoags. His people did not form one united tribe. They had no states, cities, and villages, with governors, mayors, and aldermen, as we have. Nor did they live in close relations with one another and vote for common officers.

On the other hand, they lived in very small villages. A few families pitched their wigwams together and lived in much the same way as people do now when they camp out in the summer.

Generally, among the Wampanoags, only one family lived in a wigwam. The fathers, or heads of the families in the different wigwams, came together occasionally and consulted about such matters as seemed important to them.

Every one present at the meeting had a right to express his opinion on the question under consideration, and as often as he wished. All spoke calmly, without eloquence, and without set speeches. They talked upon any subject they pleased, as long as they pleased, and when they pleased.
The most prominent person in a village was called the sagamore. His advice and opinion were generally followed, and he governed the people in a very slight manner.

The Indians of several villages were sometimes united together in a petty tribe and were ruled by a sachem, or chief.
The chief did not rule over a very large tract of country. Generally none of his subjects lived more than eight or ten miles away from him.

He ruled as he pleased, and was not subject to any constitution or court of any kind. In fact, he was a leader rather than a ruler. Nevertheless, a wise chief never did anything of great importance without first consulting the different Sagamores of his tribe.

The chief held a little higher position in the tribe than the sagamore did in his village. He settled disputes. He held a very rude form of court, where justice was given in each case according to its merits. He sent and received messengers to and from other tribes.

As several villages were united in a single petty tribe, so also several petty tribes were loosely joined together and ruled over by a grand sachem.

The different Wampanoag tribes which owed allegiance to Philip and his father, Massasoit, were five in number besides the small bands on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The village where the grand sachem lived was called by them Pokanoket.

Grand Sachem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a soon to be published book: STORIES FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD (Nantucket, Block Island And The Palantine)

 

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