Massachusetts Indian Tribes
The Mahican extended over most of
Berkshire County, where they were represented mainly by the Housatonic or
Stockbridge Indians. (See
Meaning "at the range of hills," by which is meant the hills of Milton.
Massachuset belonged to the
Algonquian linguistic stock, their tongue being an n-dialect, and formed
one group with the Narraganset, Niantic (East and
and probably the Nauset.
Location. In the region of Massachusetts Bay
between Salem on the north and Marshfield and Brockton on the south. Later
they claimed lands beyond Brockton as far as the Great Cedar Swamp,
territories formerly under the control of the Wampanoag.
says that there were "three kingdoms or sagamoreships having under them
seven dukedoms or petty sagamores." Some of these undoubtedly correspond
to the divisions recently worked out by Speck (1928) by means of
provincial documents. He identifies six main divisions, two of them
further subdivided, all called by the names of their chiefs, as follows:
(1) Band of Chickataubut (including the later bands of
Wampatuck and some other of his heirs and a district and band earlier
controlled by Obatinnewat or Obtakiest), all of the Massachuset territory
south of Charles River and west of the neighborhood of Ponkapog Pond.
(2) Band of Nanepashemet, all the Massachuset territory north of Charles
River. Nanepashemet's domain was afterward divided among his three sons:
Winnepurkit, owning about Deer Island and in Boston
Wonohaquaham, owning about Chelsea and Saugus
Montowampate, owning about Lynn and Marblehead.
(3) Band of Manatahqua, about Nabant and Swampscott.
(4) Band of Cato, a tract 5 miles square east of Concord River.
(5) Band of Nahaton, around Natick.
(6) Band of Cutshamakin, Cutshamequin, or Kutchamakin, about Dorchester,
Sudbury, and Milton.
Conohasset, about Cohasset.
Cowate, "Praying Indiana," at the Falls of Charles River.
Magaehnak, probably "Praying Indians," 6 miles from Sudbury.
Massachuset, location uncertain.
Mishawum, at Charlestown.
Mystic, at Medford.
Nahapassumkeck, in the northern part of Plymouth County, probably
on the coast.
Natick, "Praying Indians," near the present Natick.
Neponset, on Neponset River about Stoughton.
Nonantum, on Nonantum hill, in Newton.
Pequimmit, "Praying Indians," near Stoughton.
Pocapawmet, on the south shore of Massachusetts Bay.
Punkapog, "Praying Indians," near Stoughton.
Sagoquas, south of Cohasset.
Saugus, near Lynn.
Seccasaw, in the northern part of Plymouth County.
Titicut, "Praying Indians," possibly Wampanoag, in Middleborough
Topeent, on the north coast of Plymouth County.
Totant, at or near Boston.
Totheet, on the north coast of Plymouth County.
Wessagusset, near Weymouth.
Winnisimmet, at Chelsea.
Wonasquam, near Annisquam, Essex County, perhaps a later
History. The Massachuset were visited by several voyagers,
beginning at least as far back as the time of John Cabot but were first
particularly noted by Captain John Smith, who coasted their territory in
1614. In 1617 they were much reduced by a pestilence and about the same
time they were depleted by wars with their northeastern neighbors. The
Puritans settled in their country in 1629, and mission work was soon begun
among them, and was pursued with particular zeal by John Eliot. The
converts were gathered into separate villages, where they gradually
declined in numbers and presently disappeared as distinct bodies, though a
few descendants of the Punkapog town people are still living in Canton,
Mattapan, and Mansfield.
Population. The number of Massachuset is
estimated by Mooney (1928) to have been 3,000 in 1600. In 1631 it was
reduced to about 500, and soon considerably below that figure by smallpox.
Connection in which they have become noted. The
Massachuset gave their name to Massachusetts Bay and through that to the
present Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Massachuset are also noted as
the tribe in which the famous apostle to the Indians, John Eliot, labored,
through whom a large part of them were gathered into villages of "Praying
Indians." The "Eliot Bible" and other works by him have preserved a
knowledge of the Massachuset language to our own day.
Crispus Attucks, who was killed in the Boston massacre and is
generally regarded as the first victim of the American Revolution, was of
mixed Negro-Massachuset ancestry. The marriage of Winnepurkit, a
Massachuset chief whose lands were about Boston Harbor, to the daughter of
Passaconaway, chief sachem of the Pennacook, was made by Whittier the
subject of a poem, "The Bridal of Pennacook."
Meaning unknown. Also called: Cape Indians from their situation.
Connections. See under discussions of the Massachuset.
Location. All of Cape Cod except the
extreme western end
Speck (1928) has
identified the following: Iyanough, Wiananno, or Hyannis (centering about
Barnstable); Manomoy, or Monomoy (about Chatham); Nauset (from Eastham to
at Skauton Neck, Sandwich, Barnstable County.
Ashimut or Ashimuit, at a large spring near the junction of
Falmouth, Mashpee, and Sandwich Townships, Barnstable County.
Coatuit, near Osterville, Barnstable County.
Codtaumut or Cataumut, in Mashpee Township.
Cummaquid, at Cummaquid Harbor.
Manamoyik, near Chatham.
Mashpee, on the coast of Mashpee Township.
Mattakees or Mattakeset, in Barnstable and Yarmouth Townships.
Meeshawn, in Provincetown or Truro Township.
Nauset, near Eastham.
Nemskaket, on or near Nemskaket Creek.
Nobsqussit or Nobscusset, near Dennis.
Pamet, near Truro.
Pawpoesit, near Barnstable.
Pispogutt or Pispogutt, in the western part of Barnstable County,
near Buzzards Bay.
Poponesset, near Poponesset Bay.
Potanumaquut, on Pleasant Bay near Harwich.
Punonaknit, at Billingsgate near Wellfleet.
Satuit, on Cotuit River near Mashpee.
Sawkatuket or Satucket in Brewster or Harwich.
Skauton, near Sandwich, probably on Buzzards Bay.
Sokones or Succonesset, near Falmouth.
Wakoquet, or Waquoit, near Waquoit or Weequakit, in Barnatable
Wessquobs or Weesquobs, near Pocasset.
Many of these contained Wampanoag Indians and some Indians of other
History. From the exposed
position of the Nauset on Cape Cod their territory came under the
observation of many of the earliest explorers, but actual contact with the
people was not so simple a matter. In 1606 Champlain had an encounter with
them. In 1614. Hunt carried off 7 Nauset Indians and 20 Patuxet of the
tribe whom he sold into slavery. They seem to have escaped the great an
England pestilence of 1617. Although they behaved in a hostile manner
toward the Pilgrims at their first landing in 1620, they soon became firm
friends and even rendered some assistance against King Phillip (1675-76).
Most of them had been Christianized before this
time and collected into churches. In 1710 many died of fever, but the
number of Indians in Nauset territory was increased by additions from
other tribes driven from their proper territories, so that the population
of the principal Indian settlement at Mashpee has not fallen below 200
down to the present day, though a great deal of mixture with other races
has taken place.
The number of the Nauset was estimated by Mooney (1928) at 1,200 in 1600. In
1621 they were believed to number 500; in 1674, 462 were reported in the various
inhabited centers on Cape Cod, containing Nauset, Wampanoag, and other Indians.
In 1698, 515 Indians were reported from Mashpee, mainly Nauset and Wampanoag. In
1767, 292 were reported at the same place and the number has varied between 200
and 300 down to 1930. The United States Census of 1910 reported 206 Indians of
this band, all but 5 in Massachusetts. Speck (1928) estimates that there were
230 in 1920, all of whom were mixed-bloods. The census of 1930 returned only 38
Indians from Barnstable County and 54 from Massachusetts, but it may be
Connection in which they have become noted. As already remarked, it was in
the Nauset territory and in considerable measure through their blood that
the Massachusetts aborigines maintained their existence longest. Nauset
Beach, Nauset Harbor, and Nauset Light perpetuate the name.
From Nipmaug, "fresh water fishing place."
Nipmuc belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family,
their language being an l-dialect. Their nearest relatives were the other
tribes of Massachusetts and the tribes of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and
the Hudson River Valley.
Location. The Nipmuc occupied the central plateau of Massachusetts,
particularly the southern part of Worcester County, but they extended into
northern Rhode Island and Connecticut. (See also
Subdivisions and Villages
Acoomemeck, location uncertain.
Attawaugan, near Attawaugan in the town of Killingly, Conn.
Chabanakongkomun, near Dudley.
Chachaubunkkakowok, location uncertain.
Coweset, in northern Rhode Island west of Blackstone River.
Magunkaquog, at Hopkinton.
Manchaug, near Oxford.
Manexit, near Thompson, Conn.
Mashapaug, at Mashapaug Pond in the town of Union, Conn.
Medfield, native name unknown.
Menemesseg, near New Braintree.
Metewemesick, near Sturbridge.
Missogkonnog, location uncertain.
Muskataquid, location uncertain.
Nashobah, near Magog Pond, in Littleton.
Nichewaug, about Nichewaug, near Petersham.
Pakachoog, near Worcester, probably in Millbury.
Quabaug, near Brookfield.
Quadick, near the present Quadick Reservoir, Thompson County, Conn.
Quantisset, on Thompson Hill, near Thompson, Conn.
Quinebaug, on Quinebaug River near Quinebaug Station, town of Thompson,
Quinetusset, near Thompson in northeast corner of Connecticut.
in northeastern Connecticut.
Tatumasket, west of Mendon, in the southern part of Worcester County.
Wabaquasset, about 6 miles from Quinebaug River, south of Woodstock,
sometimes regarded as an independent tribe.
Wacuntug, on the west side of Blackstone River, near Uxbridge.
at New Braintree.
History. There was no coherence among the people bearing the
name of Nipmuc and some of them were from time to time attached to the
more powerful tribes in their neighborhood, such as the Massachuset, Wampanoag, Narraganset, and Mohegan. The Whites first met them
after Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay were settled. In 1674 there were
seven villages of Christian Indians among the Nipmuc but in 1675
practically all took part with King Philip against
the colonists and at its close fled to Canada or to the tribes on Hudson
Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 500 independent Nipmuc
in 1600. If we consider as Nipmuc the Indians returned from Worcester County, Mass., and Windham and Tolland Counties,
Conn., in 1910, there were then 81.
following bands of
Pennacook lived in the north
eastern part of Massachusetts: Agawam, Nashua, Naumkeag, Pentucket,
Wachuset, Wamesit, and Weshacum. (See New Hampshire.)
Connections. The Pocomtuc belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family,
and spoke an r-dialect, their nearest relatives probably being the
Location. The Pocomtuc home was in the present counties of
Frank in, Hampshire, and Hampden, Mass., and in the neighboring parts of
Connecticut and Vermont.
Subdivisions and Villages
Agawam, about Springfield, their principal village
of the same name being on Long Hill.
Mayawaug, near W. Suffield, town of Suffield, Conn.
Nameroke, in the town of Enfield, east of Thompsonville, Conn.
Nonotue, a division and village about Northampton.
Pocomtuc, a division in Deerfield River Valley and the adjacent
parts of the Connecticut River Valley, the principal town of the same name
Deerfield. (See also Vermont.)
Scitico, near the place of that name in the eastern part of the
town of Enfield, Conn.
Squawkeag, on both sides of Connecticut River in the northern part
of Franklin County, their principal village, of the same name, being near
History. The fort of the Pocomtuc proper, on
Fort Hill near Deerfield, was destroyed by the Mohawk in 1666. The
Pocomtuc combined with the
Narraganset and Tunxis in attacks on the
Mohegan chief, Uncas, and later joined the hostile Indians under King
Philip. At the close of the war they fled to Scaticook on the Hudson,
where some of them remained until 1754, going then to St. Francis, Canada.
Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that
there were 1,200 Pocomtuc in 1600. If we count as Pocomtuc the Indians
returned from Hampden and Hampshire Counties in 1910, there were then 23
left, but they may have been of quite other origin.
The name has the same meaning as Abnaki,
"eastern people." See
Notes About the Book:
Source: The Indian Tribes of North America, by John R. Swanton, 1953, Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bulletin 145, US Government Printing Office, Washington DC.
Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr'd. Minimal editing
has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual