You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Massasoit’ tag.

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.

 

———————-

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

Advertisements

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.

King Philip

King Philip

The next day Massasoit and sixty of his warriors visited the English. They did not go into the English village, but stopped on the top of the hill nearby.

Philip was not with them, for at this time he was too young to go so far away from home. We can imagine his feelings, however, when he saw his father and the warriors start out on their journey.

 

They were dressed in costumes that would look very strange if seen on our streets to-day. Their clothing was made of the raw skin of wild animals. Their feet were protected by moccasins made of thin deerskin. Each one was tall, erect, and active, with long, coarse, black hair falling down his back.

 

None of them had any physical deformities, for it was the custom of the tribe to kill any child that was born deaf, dumb, blind, or lame.

 

Each one was decked with his personal ornaments. These did not consist of gold, silver, diamonds, or any other precious stones so familiar to us. The Indians knew nothing about these. Their ornaments consisted of ear-rings, nose-rings, bracelets, and necklaces made out of shells or fish-bones or shining stones, which were very common in that neighborhood.

 

Their faces were smeared with heavy daubs of paint. Each one had a cloak thrown over his shoulders, and he also wore a head-dress made of feathers or quills. To Philip it seemed as if he had never seen anything so imposing.

 

We can imagine how eagerly Philip listened to the story that his father told when he came back home: how the settlers came out to meet him on the hill, and made him a present of three knives, a copper chain, and an ear-ring, besides several good things to eat, very different from anything he had ever tasted before.

 

Then Massasoit described the treaty that he had made with the palefaces in which the settlers and the Wampanoags had agreed to remain friends and to help each other in every way they could. To make the treaty as strong as possible, the palefaces had written it down on paper and had signed their names to it. The Indians did not know how to read or write. That was something that they had never heard of before. But they drew rude pictures at the end of the writing and called these pictures their names.

 

Philip never tired listening to the stories about the palefaces. He was still too young to be taken to their settlement, but he longed for a chance to see them.

 

Suddenly, one day in the middle of the summer of 1621AD, about four months after the Indians had made their treaty with the whites, six warriors came into the little Indian village at Mount Hope with two men, who Philip saw were palefaces. They were not so tall as the Indians. They were thicker set, and their faces were covered with beards.

 

Massasoit recognized them immediately, for they were some of the party that he had met at Plymouth. They had come on a friendly visit to him, and had brought him a red cotton coat and a copper chain. Philip was greatly pleased to see the palefaces, of whom he had heard so much. He listened to their stories, answered their inquiries in regard to Indian life, and learned what he could about their homes and customs.

 

After this, the settlers called on the Indians many times, and Philip soon became very well acquainted with them.

 

During the next few months several white men came from England and settled at Weymouth, a few miles north of Plymouth. These new settlers were not so honest as those that had settled at Plymouth. They stole from the Indians and otherwise injured them, and caused them to plot against all the whites in the country. But before their plans were carried out Massasoit was taken sick. The medicine man was called in.

 

The medicine man was the physician. He had learned the medicinal virtues of a few simple herbs. He knew how to bind up wounds in bark with certain preparations of leaves, and he could also cure a few fevers. He went through many magical ceremonies with howls, roars, and antics of various kinds. If the sick man became well, the medicine man took all the credit; if the patient died, then the medicine man said that the bad spirit had too strong a hold on him.

 

But the medicine man did not help Massasoit. Philip watched by his father’s side and saw him grow worse day by day. He remembered how, only a few years before, the smallpox had carried away large numbers of the Indians, and now he began to think that the days of his father, too, were numbered.

 

But one day a paleface, one of the leaders of the colony at Plymouth, came into the Indian village. He sent the medicine man away and tenderly nursed Massasoit himself. He gave him medicine, nourished him with several little delicacies, and brought him slowly back to health.

Massasoit was so grateful for the kindness shown him that he told the palefaces of the Indian plot against them.

The whites at Weymouth were driven away and the palefaces at Plymouth continued to live on most excellent terms of friendship with the Wampanoags.

 

In the years that followed, Philip became better acquainted with the whites, and while he never loved them, he had great respect for their wisdom.

———

From a soon to be published book titled “Stories and Legends from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Rhode Island”

During the following summer young Philip heard many an interesting story about the English. Squanto himself came to see Massasoit several times, and from him Philip heard the story of his adventures across the sea.

 

Late in the fall, long before Philip had lost his interest in the stories of Squanto, another English vessel arrived on the coast of the Indian country.

 

On the eleventh day of November, 1620AD, the vessel anchored near Cape Cod. Sixteen palefaces came ashore. They did not act like the others who had preceded them. They made no effort to become acquainted with the Indians, but spent their time in looking around and in examining the country.

 

They found four or five bushels of corn, which had been stored for the winter by an Indian, and carried it away to their vessel.

 

This angered the Indians, and we can well imagine the thoughts that passed through the mind of the boy Philip when he heard that the English had stolen the corn that belonged to a poor Indian, one of his father’s friends.

The Indians talked the matter over by their camp fire, and little Philip listened to the story as eagerly as he had listened to the story of Squanto six months before.

 

A week or so later, more news came to Mount Hope. The palefaces had visited the shore a second time, and on this occasion had stolen a bag of beans and some more corn. How Philip’s anger increased as he heard his father talk the matter over with the other Indians!

 

A few days afterwards Philip heard still other news of the English. They had come ashore a third time. The Indians had watched them from a distance. Finally, when a good opportunity offered itself, thirty or forty Indians quietly surrounded the palefaces, and at a given signal every one of them yelled at the top of his voice and began to shoot arrows at the hated visitors.

 

For a time it looked as if the palefaces would be driven into the water. But soon they fired their guns, and the Indians ran away frightened at the noise.

Philip was greatly interested in the description that was given of a gun. He had never so much as heard of one before, and he thought it very strange that any one should be afraid of little pieces of lead. He could not see why it was not as easy to dodge bullets as it was to dodge arrows.

 

A week or two later still further news was brought to Massasoit’s village. The palefaces had left Cape Cod and had sailed across the bay to Patuxet (to which the English gave the name of Plymouth). There they had gone ashore and had built some log cabins, evidently with the intention of staying for some time.

 

This was something that the Indians could not understand. Every day some of them went to the top of the hill which overlooked the little settlement to see what the English were doing. Then they returned to Mount Hope with something new to tell about the palefaces, and Philip eagerly listened to every story that was related.

 

Several meetings of the Indians were held during the winter, at which Philip was always present, and finally one of their number, whose name was Samoset, was sent to Plymouth to ask the English why they had settled in this land which belonged, of right, to the red men.

 

Samoset returned a few days later. He told his story to the Indians around the camp fire, little Philip, as usual, paying great attention to what was said.

 

Samoset said that the palefaces had been very kind to him, and had told him that they had come to this country to settle, that they wanted to live on the most friendly terms with the red men, and that they desired to pay not only for the corn and beans which they had taken, but also for the land on which they had built their village.

 

At the close of his story the Indians expressed themselves as satisfied with the palefaces, and Philip felt that perhaps the English were not so bad as he had thought them to be.

Samoset was then sent to the settlers to tell them that Massasoit and some of his friends would like to meet them for a friendly talk about many things that might otherwise become a cause of disagreement between them. He brought back word that the English eagerly welcomed the opportunity to meet the Indians, and had offered to see them on the following day.

—————–

From a soon to be published book entitled “Stories from Marthas Vineyard (Nantucket and Rhode Island)”

Massaouit and his two SonsIn the early evening, during his boyhood days, Philip delighted to sit near the camp fire where the members of his tribe were wont to gather. There he eagerly listened to the stories of adventure told by his elders, and wished that he was old enough to enter into the sports that they so interestingly described.

Although children were not expected to talk in the presence of their elders, Philip frequently showed his interest in their stories by asking many questions in regard to the places visited by the older Indians.

 

In those days news traveled slowly from one little village to another, for there were neither telegraphs nor telephones; no, not even railroads. In fact, there were no roads, and even the paths through the woods were so little used that it was difficult to find one’s way from one place to another. The Indians kept no animals of any kind, and always traveled from place to place on foot.

 

One pleasant evening in June, in the year 1620, little Philip noticed that there was less general story-telling than usual, and that the Indians seemed greatly interested in a long story which one of their number was telling. He could not understand the story, but he frequently caught the words, “Squanto” and “English.” These were new words to him.

 

The next evening, as Philip and his brother were sitting by the fire, they asked their father what had caused the Indians to be so serious in their talk, and what the long story was about.

“Squanto has come home,” his father replied.

 

“And who is Squanto?” asked Philip.

 

Then his father told him a story, which was too long to be repeated here. But in brief it was as follows:

Several years before—long, in fact, before Philip was born—a ship had come from across the sea. It was larger than any other vessel the Indians had ever seen.

 

The only boats that Philip knew anything about were quite small, and were called canoes. They were made either of birch bark fastened over a light wooden frame, or of logs that had been hollowed by burning and charring.

 

But the boat from across the sea was many times larger than any of theirs—so Massasoit explained to the boys—and had accommodations for a great many men. Instead of being pushed along by paddles, it was driven by the wind by means of large pieces of cloth stretched across long, strong sticks of wood.

 

The Indians did not go down to the shore, but watched this boat from the highlands some distance inland. Finally the vessel stopped and some of the men came ashore. The Indians looked at the strangers in astonishment. Their skin was of a pale, whitish color, very different from that of the Indians, which was of a copper or reddish clay color.

 

King Philip Paddling his canoeThe white men, or the pale-faced men, as Massasoit called them, made signs of friendship to the Indians, and after a few minutes persuaded them to go down to the shore. There the two peoples traded with each other. The Indians gave furs and skins, and received in return beads and trinkets of various kinds.

 

When the vessel sailed away it carried off five Indians who had been lured on board and had not been allowed to return to shore. These Indians had not been heard from since, and that was fifteen years before.

 

Little Philip’s eyes increased in size, and instinctively he clenched his fists at the thought of the wrong that had been done his people by the palefaces.

 

His father went on with the story, and told him how the Indians then vowed vengeance on the white man; for it was a custom of the Indians to punish any person who committed a wrong act towards one of their number.

 

From time to time, other vessels visited their shores, but no Indian could ever be induced to go on board any of them.

 

Nine years later, another outrage was committed. The palefaces while trading with the Indians suddenly seized upon twenty-seven of the latter, took them to their vessel, and sailed away with them before they could be rescued. Is it any wonder that Philip felt that the whites were his natural enemies?

 

After that time, Massasoit said, the Indians had refused to have any dealings with the whites. Whenever a white man’s vessel came in sight, the Indians prepared to shoot anyone that came ashore. And now another white man’s vessel had arrived on the coast, and several of its crew had landed in spite of all that could be done to prevent them.

 

To the great surprise of Massasoit’s men, there was an Indian with these palefaces. And that Indian proved to be Squanto, one of the five who had been taken away fifteen years before.

 

This is but a bare outline of what Massasoit told his sons. It seemed to the lads like a fairy tale, and for days they talked of nothing but this strange story.

——-

From a soon to be published volume – “Legends and Stories from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Rhode Island”.

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

——————

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

Advertisements