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I am proud to be a descendant, even though there are 10 generations between my tribe and me. Massasoit, my 11th great uncle, was the Sachem who made a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. His father, Wasanequin, is the last link I have found, but I hope when I go to Cape Cod my tribe will know more.
The Wampanoag/Pilgrim Treaty
About an hour after noon on a fair, warm day on March 22/April 1, 1621, Samoset and Squanto appeared in the village of Plymouth with some skins and newly caught and dried herrings to trade. They told the colonists that the great Sachem Massasoit was nearby with his brother Quadequina and all their men. About an hour later Massasoit came to the top of the hill with some sixty of his men. However, the Pilgrims were not willing to send their governor to meet them, and the Indians were unwilling to come to them. Squanto went again to Massasoit and brought back word that Massasoit wished to have trade and peace with them, asking the Pilgrims to send someone to parley with him.
Edward Winslow agreed to serve as diplomatic ambassador and went to Massasoit. The scene was described by Winslow in his Journal as follows:
“We sent to the King a payre of Knives, and a Copper Chayne, with a jewell at it. To Quadequina we sent likewise a Knife and a Jewell to hang in his eare, and withall a Pot of strong water, a good quantity of Bisket, and some butter, which were all accepted: our Messenger [Winslow] made a speech unto him, that King James saluted him with words of love and Peace, and did accept him as his Friend and Alie, and that our Governour desired to see him and to trucke with him, and to confirme a Peace with him, and his next neighbour: he liked well of the speech and heard it attentively, though the Interpreters did not well expresse it; after he had eaten and drunke himselfe, and given the rest to his company, he looked upon his messengers sword and armour which he had on, with intimation of his desire to buy it, but on the other side, our messenger shewed his unwillingness to part with it: In the end he left him in the custodie of Quadequina his brother, and came over the brooke, and some twentie men following him, leaving all their Bowes and Arrowes behind them. We kept six or seaven as hostages for our messenger.”
Captain Standish and William Brewster met the king at the brook with half a dozen musketeers, where they saluted him and he them. With Standish on one side of Massasoit and Brewster on the other, they escorted Massasoit to a house which was just being built. On the floor, the Pilgrims had placed a green rug and three or four cushions.
Winslow described Massasoit and his men as “…a very lustie [strong] man, in his best yeares, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech: In his Attyre little or nothing differing from the rest of his followers, only a great Chaine of white bone Beades about his neck, and at it behind his necke, hangs a little bagg of Tobacco, which he dranke and gave us to drinke; his face was paynted with a sad [dark] red like murray, and oyled both head and face, that he looked greasily: All his followers were likewise, were in their faces, in part or in whole painted, some blacke, some red, some yellow, and some white, some with crosses and other Antick [antique] workes, some had skins on them, and some naked, all strong, tall, all men in appearance…”
Immediately, Governor Carver came to the house with drum and trumpet after him and a few musketeers. Governor Carver kissed the hand of Massasoit and Massasoit kissed Carver before they sat down.
Governor Carver called for some strong water, and made a toast to Massasoit. Massasoit drank deeply of the liquor which made him sweat. Then, Carver called for fresh meat, which Massasoit ate and shared with his followers. Later in the text, Winslow remembered additional details:“…one thing I forgot, the King had in his bosome hanging in a string, a great long knife, hee marvelled much at out Trumpet, and some of his men would sound it as well as they could…”
TERMS OF THE TREATY
Following the introductory ceremonies, Carver and Massaoit agreed upon the terms of a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. The treaty of mutual support they negotiated said in part:
1. That he nor any of his should do hurt to any of their people.
2. That if any of his did hurt any of theirs, he should send the offender, that they might punish him.
3. That if anything were taken away from any of theirs, he should cause it to be restored; and they should do the like to his.
4. If any did unjustly war against him, they would aid him; if any did war against them, he should aid them.
5. He should send to his neighbors confederates to certify them of this, that they might not wrong them, but might be likewise compromised in the conditions of peace.
6. That when their men came to them, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them.
7. That King James would esteem Massasoit as his friend and ally.
Winslow concluded his account of the treaty signing as follow: “Wee cannot yet conceive, but that he is willing to have peace with us, for they have seene our people sometimes alone two or three in the woods at worke and fowling, when as they offered them no harme as they might easily have done, and especially because hee hath a potent Adversary the Narowhiganseis [Narragansetts], that are at warre with him, against whom hee thinkes wee may be some strength to him…”
Pokanoket is a tribe of Native Americans who trace their their lineage back thousands of years beyond the colonial days of the United States of America. We trace our ancestry through the bloodlines and the written and oral history of our people. We are the people of Massasoit Ousamequin, Massasoit Wamsutta, and Massasoit Metacom. We are Philip’s people, the people of Metacom. We are the people who celebrated the First Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims in 1621. We are the people who have endured much and who have returned, after a long journey through history to the present day and continue to look forward to the future.
Pokanoket is also a Nation. The Nation of Tribes you may have heard of referred to as Wampanoag ( pronounced wahm – peh – noe – ahg ) was known to our ancestors as the Pokanoket Nation. The Pokanoket Nation, also known as the Pokanoket Confederacy or Pokanoket Country, was comprised of a multitude of Tribes.
Each Tribe was comprised of Bands and Villages and the Pokanoket Tribe was the Headship of the Pokanoket Nation.
Pokanoket is also our home. Prior to the time of the pilgrim’s arrival in Plymouth, which used to be Patuxet, the realm of the Pokanoket included portions of Rhode Island and much of southeastern Massachusetts, including the surrounding islands around Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.
The Pokanoket social organization developed in a manner that differed from neighboring Native American Tribes, since Pokanoket was more socially structured and layered, as well as more politically complex.
Unique to the Pokanoket Tribe were the spirtual and military elite, know as the Pineese (Pineese Warrior), who protected and served the Massasoit (Great Leader). They are the spiritual guardians of Pokanoket Nation.
Pokanoket believed seven to be the perfect number of completeness, for we still believe in the Seven Spirits of the Creator.