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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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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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