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According to the custom of the Indians, Wamsutta, the eldest son of Massasoit, succeeded his father as grand sachem of the Wampanoags.

 

King Philip as Grand Sachem

King Philip as Grand Sachem

 

Almost his first act was to go to Plymouth, where he made some requests of the settlers. These were granted. Then he  asked for an English name, and was given the name of Alexander.

 

He was so much pleased with this name that he asked for an English name for his younger brother, Metacomet. The English gave him the name of Philip, by which name we have been calling him in our account of his life.

 

A few days later, ten armed men suddenly appeared at the place where Wamsutta and several of his followers were holding a feast, and arrested them all. Wamsutta was taken to Plymouth immediately, and charged with plotting with the Narragansetts against the English.

 

Being seized by force on their own grounds, and compelled to go to Plymouth to answer charges based on rumor, was a new, experience for the Wampanoags. It was very different from the friendly manner in which they had been treated formerly.

 

The English treated Wamsutta very well at Plymouth. They could prove nothing against him, and hence they soon let him go. On his way home he died.

 

As Wamsutta left no children, he was succeeded by his brother Philip. There was no ceremony of crowning, no procession, no speeches. In fact, there was no crown at all; nor was there any ceremony of any kind. The other Indians merely obeyed Philip just as they had formerly obeyed his father and his brother.

 

Philip and all the members of the Wampanoag tribe believed that Wamsutta’s death was due to poison which had been given him by the whites when he was at Plymouth. According to the belief and custom of the Indians, it was Philip’s duty to take vengeance on those who had caused his brother’s death.

 

Still, Philip made no attempt to injure the whites in any way. But the whites became suspicious, probably because they felt that they had done wrong; and very soon they summoned Philip to Plymouth to answer a charge of plotting against them.

 

Philip acted very honorably in the matter. Instead of hiding in the forest, as he might easily have done, he went to Plymouth. There he had a long talk with the whites. He denied that he had plotted against them. He showed them that it was against his own interests to have any trouble with them, and as proof of his good intentions toward them, he offered to leave his next younger brother with them as a hostage.

 

He agreed to continue the treaty that his father had made forty years before. He went further, and acknowledged himself to be a faithful subject of the King of England, and promised not to make war on any Indian tribe unless the English first gave their consent.

 

For several years Philip was grand sachem of the Wampanoags and kept this treaty with great faithfulness. During this time his duties were similar to those which his father had had, and his life was uneventful. He was consulted by the other sachems of the tribe, and his advice was generally followed by them.

Like his father, the good Massasoit, he was inclined to be conservative; that is, he did not like to change the established order of things. He was very much liked by the Indians, who felt that he tried to treat them all honestly and fairly.

 

He went to Plymouth very frequently, to visit the whites and to trade with them. And, likewise, the whites frequently came to Mount Hope to see him.

 

The relations between the whites and the Indians were such that it was perfectly safe for a white man to go anywhere among the Wampanoags unarmed. This is something that cannot be said of any other Indian tribe in the colonial days. The Indians, acting under orders from King Philip, treated the whites honestly and fairly. In fact, there was a feeling of great friendship between the whites and the Indians.

 

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From: LEGENDS AND STORIES OF MARTHA’S VINEYARD, NANTUCKET AND BLOCK ISLAND – A New Release – PREORDER NOW!

http://abelapublishing.com/legends-and-stories-from-marthas-vineyard-nantucket-and-block-island_p31019862.htm

Cover - Legends and Stories from Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Block Island

Cover – Legends and Stories from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Block Island

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We should consider the daily life of Philip very monotonous. It was the same, day by day, year in and year out, with very little change. The little village where he lived contained fewer than one hundred inhabitants. Everybody was thoroughly acquainted with everybody else.

There was no society such as we have to-day. Philip’s squaw did not dress herself up in the afternoon, and make calls on the other squaws. If she wished to talk with them she went where they were, whether it was morning, afternoon, or evening.
There were no parties, no receptions, no theaters, no art museums, no libraries, no books, no music, no fireworks, no holidays, no Sabbath. The Indians believed in a good and a bad spirit, but they had no churches or temples or service or worship or priests.

So we cannot think of Philip sitting in the best pew in church, and listening to a grand sermon, preached by the most famous minister in the country. Philip knew nothing of sermons.

He played no games that instructed his mind. He cared for only such games as would strengthen his body, increase his power of endurance, or develop his muscle or his craftiness. With the other Indians he played football, tossed quoits, wrestled, ran, and jumped.

Occasionally he engaged with them in the war dance. This was performed in a very solemn manner. It represented a war campaign, or a sham battle, as we say. First, the Indians came together from different directions. Then they marched forward stealthily and quietly, lay in ambush, awaited the coming of the enemy, suddenly jumped out and rushed upon them, slaughtered them, retreated, and finally went home. The dance ended with the reception at home, and the torturing and killing of the prisoners.

These were his amusements. His occupations were two in number: hunting and fishing.

In the fall of the year, and again in the spring, he spent about three months in hunting. In company with his brother or some close friend, he went in search of a supply of meat for the use of the family, and of skins to sell to the white men or to use for clothing.

After reaching the hunting-grounds, they built a big wigwam where they stayed at night. There also they stored the skins of the animals they had captured.

Many stories might be told of the exciting adventures they had with bears and wolves. The woods of New England contained many moose and other wild animals, and generally Philip returned to his little village with meat enough to last all winter. Frequently he brought home as many as one hundred beaver skins.

But Philip, like others, had bad luck sometimes. Now and then he lost his way in the woods, and on one or two occasions the raft on which he was taking his skins across the river upset and the results of his winter’s labor were lost.

He captured his game by shooting or snaring, or by catching it in pitfalls. When the hunting season was over he spent his time in fishing. Generally he caught his fish in nets, although occasionally he used a hook and line.

When not engaged in hunting or fishing, or attending a meeting of Indian princes, he was generally to be found near his wigwam, asleep or watching his squaw at work.

All the work around the wigwam was done by his wife or squaw. According to the Indian view she was his slave. She covered and lined the wigwam, plaited the mats and baskets, planted, tended, and harvested the corn and vegetables, cooked the food, ate the leavings, and slept on the coldest side of the wigwam.
Many Indians did not care very much for their squaws, and made their lives miserable by treating them badly, and showing them no sympathy nor love in any way whatever. But we are told that Philip was better than the other Indians in this respect. He loved his wife and treated her as a companion instead of as a slave.

Philip had no pots and kettles like ours. His wife roasted his meat by placing it on the point of a stake. She broiled it by laying it on hot coals or hot stones. She boiled it in rude vessels made of stone, earth, or wood, and heated the water by throwing hot stones into it.

Philip’s only garden tool was a hoe, made of clam shells or of a moose’s shoulder-blade fastened to a wooden handle. He also had a rude axe or hatchet made of a piece of stone, sharpened by being scraped on another stone, and tied to a wooden handle. His arrows and spears were tipped with bone or with triangular pieces of flint. These were all home-made, for Philip, like other Indians, was obliged to make his own hatchets and arrows.

Finally, Philip never went to the store to buy things to be used at home, for the Indians kept no stores. His wife raised the corn, squashes, and pumpkins, and he caught his own fish and game. These, with nuts, roots, and berries, gave him all the food he needed.

Native American Women at Work

During the next twenty years many more white men came and settled on or near the lands of the Wampanoags.

In the mean time, Philip grew to manhood and received the same education that was given to the other young men of his tribe. It was very different from the education received by us to-day. The Indians had no schools. Philip did not learn his A B C’s or the multiplication table. He never learned how to read or write. He knew nothing about science, and could not even count, or keep track of time.

His education was of a different character, and was intended to make him brave, daring, hardy, and able to bear pain; for these things were thought by the Indians to be of the greatest importance.

He was taught to undergo the most horrible tortures without a word of complaint or a sign of anguish. He would beat his shins and legs with sticks, and run prickly briars and brambles into them in order to become used to pain. He would run eighty to one hundred miles in one day and back in the next two.

When he neared manhood he was blindfolded and taken into the woods far from home to a place where he had never been before.

There he was left with nothing but a hatchet, a knife, and a bow and arrows. The winter was before him, and he was expected to support himself through it. If he was unable to do so, it was better for him to die then.

Philip passed the lonely winter far away from home. Many times did he wish that he was back in his father’s wigwam where he could talk with his parents and his brothers and his friends, and know what the palefaces were doing.

But he knew that if he should return to his little village before the winter was over he would be branded as a coward, and never be considered worthy to succeed his father as sachem.

A Young Hunter

A Young Hunter

What, he, Philip, a prince, afraid? No, no, no! Of course he was not afraid. What was there to be afraid of? Had he not always lived in the woods? Still, he was a little lonely, and once in a while he wanted someone to talk with.

So Philip went to work with a will. With his hatchet he cut down some small trees, made them into poles, and placed one end of them in the ground. With his knife he cut some bark from the trees and laid it over the poles so that he had a fairly comfortable shelter from the storms and winds which he knew would soon surely come. Then he spent several days in hunting birds and wild game in the forest. With his bow and arrows he shot enough to support himself through the winter.

Many an adventure did he have. Many a time did he lie down at night without having tasted food during the whole livelong day. Many a savage beast did he see, and on several occasions he climbed trees, or crawled into caves, or ran as fast as he could, to get out of their way.

But he had a strong will. He knew that the son of the grand sachem of the Wampanoags could do anything that any other Indian had done. And so he passed the long, cold winter, bravely and without complaining.

In the spring, when his father and friends came after him, they found him well and strong. His winter’s work had made him healthy and rugged. He was taken home, and a feast was prepared in honor of Massasoit’s son who had returned to his home stronger than when he had gone away the fall before.

During the next two moons—for the Indians counted by moons and not by months as we do—Philip led an idle life. He did no work of any kind. He was taking his vacation after the hard winter life he had led alone in the woods.

But his education was not yet finished. His body had been made strong. It was next necessary to strengthen his constitution against the evil effects of poison. He again went into the forest, and daily found poisonous and bitter herbs and roots. These he bruised and put the juices into water, which he drank.

Then he drank other juices which acted as antidotes and prevented his sickness or death. He did this day after day until his constitution became used to the poisons, and he was able to drink them freely without any harm coming to him.

Then he went home. The people sang and danced and gave him another great feast. He was now considered a man and ready to marry and have a wigwam of his own.

The wedding ceremony was extremely simple. There were no presents, no flowers, no guests, no ceremony, no banquet. Philip simply asked a certain woman to come and live with him. She came and was thereafter his wife, or squaw, as the Indians called her.

We have no record of the date of his marriage, for the Indians kept no such records. We only know that it took place soon after his return from his battle with poisons in the woods.

WigwamsMassasoit had several children. The eldest son was named Wamsutta, and the second Metacomet. In later years, the English gave them the names of Alexander and Philip, which are much easier names for us to pronounce.

We do not know the exact date of Philip’s birth, for the Indians kept no account of time as we do, nor did they trouble to ask anyone his age. It is probable, however, that Philip was born before 1620, the year in which the Pilgrims settled near the Wampanoags.

Philip spent his boyhood days playing with his brothers and sisters, and with the neighbors’ children; for although he was the son of a grand sachem, he had no special privileges above those of the other children around him.

We are apt to think of a prince as a man that does very little work. We expect him to attend banquets, to be dressed in military uniform, with a beautiful sword at his side and many medals on his breast, to be surrounded by servants, and to have everybody bow down to him and stand ready to do his bidding.

It was very different with Philip. He lived in no better way than did the other members of his tribe. His home was neither better nor worse than theirs. His food was of the same quality. His daily life was the same. He wore no uniform. He never heard of medals or badges. He had no servants. His father differed from the other Indians only in being their leader in time of war and in being looked up to whenever the chiefs of the tribe held a meeting, or council.
Philip’s home was not such as American boys and girls are brought up in. There were no toys, no baby carriages, no candy. There were no romps with the parents, for the Indians were a quiet, sober people, and rarely showed any affection for their children.

Philip’s father never played any games with him. In fact, in his younger days the boy never received very much attention from his father. He was taken care of by his mother. He was never rocked in a cradle, but was strapped in a kind of bag made of broad pieces of bark and covered with soft fur. Sometimes he was carried in this on his mother’s back, as she went about her work. Sometimes he was hung up on the branch of a tree.

The little house in which he lived was called a wigwam. It was circular, or oval, in shape, and made of barks or mats laid over a framework of small poles. These poles were fixed at one end in the ground, and were fastened together at the top, forming a framework shaped somewhat like a tent.
Two low openings on opposite sides of the wigwam served as doors. These were closed with mats when necessary, thus making the place tight and warm.
The wigwam had but one room. In the middle of it were a few stones which served as a fireplace. There was no chimney, but the smoke passed out through an opening at the top of the wigwam.

On one side of the fireplace was a large couch made of rough boards raised perhaps a foot above the ground and covered with mats or skins. The couch was very wide, so that Philip and the rest of the children could lie on it side by side at night.

On one side of the fireplace was a large couch made of rough boards raised perhaps a foot above the ground and covered with mats or skins. The couch was very wide, so that Philip and the rest of the children could lie on it side by side at night.

There was no other furniture in the room. A few baskets were hung on the walls ready for use. A few mats were placed here and there as ornaments. The dishes that held Philip’s food were rude vessels made of baked clay, of pieces of bark, of bits of hollowed stone, or of wood.
There was very little desire to keep the wigwam neat and tidy. It was used for only a few months, and then given up for a new one that was built nearby. In the summer it was customary to pitch the wigwam in an open place. In the winter it was pitched in the thick woods for protection from the winds and storms.

Such was the home in which Philip was brought up. It differed but little from those of his playmates, for there was no aristocracy among the Indians. The place where Massasoit and his family generally lived was near the present site of Bristol, on a narrow neck of land projecting into Narragansett Bay. It is now called Mount Hope, and is twelve or fifteen miles southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.

Mount Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Hope

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From a soon to be published book -Legends and Stories from Martha’s Vineyard.

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