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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.

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”