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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.

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

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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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