Chapter 7. How Did the Pawtucket Make Sense of Their World?

Chapter 7. How Did The Pawtucket Make Sense of Their World?


The Algonquians were matter-of-fact, even sanguine, about matters of life and death—and as red in tooth and claw, so to speak, as their prey and their enemies. Nevertheless, their burials and totems and other practices attest to their beliefs in a positive afterlife and a vast spirit world overseen by a higher power, called by many Gitchi Manitou or Great Spirit. At the same time, everything in nature was endowed with innate manna-like spiritual power (manitou, or manitôk ormanidoo) that could increase or decrease, be transferred, cause physical transformations, and work magically for good or bad. These beliefs shaped people’s body images and identities, their relationships with each other, and their behavior toward others, nature, and the land. I think these beliefs are the whole reason behind the incredible mismatch between them and the Europeans, equally driven by their beliefs. Thus, I lay their ultimate mutual failure in cultural contact at the feet of religion (if such a metaphor can be entertained), and some other historians would agree. The earliest Indian wars against European missionaries and settlers were as much attacks on Christianity as efforts to reclaim territory [1].

Algonquians believed in a three-part intersecting universe, with an upperworld (skyworld), earth, and a lowerworld (waterworld). According to various ethnological and ethnohistorical accounts, god-like beings, demi-gods, ancestors, demons, spirits, and elf- or troll-like creatures inhabited these worlds along with (or in) the people, plants, animals, landforms, stars, and natural phenomena. In addition to having manitou, everything identified as “animate” was anthropomorphized, and this included trees and rocks. Talking to the wind, reading animal encounters as omens, acting on dreams, hiding from meteor showers, transforming through spirit possession, and leaving offerings at cracks in bedrock would all have been normal. The universe was alive in every way, and it was always possible that you couldn’t believe your eyes–that nothing was what it seemed. It was magic realism in real time, time that continually curved and recurved in circles, for Native Americans lived in a nonlinear multiverse. Europeans’ superstitions were no match, and Europeans ultimately lived in a post-Enlightenment empirical world of cause and effect—a linear world of beginnings, middles, and ends—a world where things were expected to be rational, and where monotheism and religious dogma had the power to simplify everything—a world infinitely commodifiable [2].

Algonquians, in contrast, did not at first grasp the idea that land and resources could be commodified and exchanged, any more than we at first understood how cubic feet of air over highways could be bought and sold for commercial development. Algonquians also  believed that supernatural beings governed every aspect of the natural world. The sun, moon, stars, thunder, rain, springs, trees, rocks, plants, animals—things, conditions, and events designated as “alive”—all had both consciousness and spiritual power. Shamans invoked and channeled this manitou as they mediated between people and the spirit world. Anthropologists call this belief in a spirit world animismand in nature’s consciousness asanimatism. Algonquian spiritualism included belief in all forms of magic and the practice of sorcery or witchcraft. The shaman’s ritual paraphernalia used in sorcery, which included quartz crystals, polished gemstones, and the bones of small animals, were carried in a medicine bag and kept secret. The celebrated Native American culture of respect for all things was essentially born of fear and uncertainty in the face of a multi-faceted, all-powerful, and unpredictable supernatural world [3].

A Small Sample of Algonquian Spirits [4]

Algonquian Name English Translation
Kautantowit; Cautantowwit

(also Keihtanit, Keihtan)

Great Spirit, place of Great Spirit (Giver of corn, squash, and beans)
Manit, Manitou (Manitoo); Manittoowock; Manitoog (plural) Spirit; Spirits, gods
Nammanittoom My Spirit
Nuttauquand Spirit of My People
Keesuckquand Sun Spirit
Kesuckanit God of Day
Nanepaushat Moon Spirit
Chekesuwand West Spirit
Womopanand East Spirit
Wunnanameanit North Spirit
Sowwanand South Spirit
Squauanit Woman’s Spirit
Muckquachuckquand Children’s Spirit
Paumpagussit Sea Spirit
Abbomocho (Hobbomock, Chepi) Healing Spirit; Death Spirit
Yotaanit Fire Spirit
Nashauanit Spirit of the Creator
Woonand (Wunnand; Woonanit) Spirit of Goodness
Mattand (Mattanit Spirit of Evil
Nisquanem Spirit of Mercy
Mosquand Bear Spirit
Psukand Bird Spirit
Tunnuppaquand Turtle Spirit
Nimbauwand Thunder Spirit
Hussunnand Stone Spirit
Askuquand Snake Spirit
Seipanit River Spirit
Cowawand Pine Tree Spirit
Ohomousanit Owl Spirit
Moosanit Moose Spirit
Quequananit Earthquake Spirit

Shamans also were involved in keeping time for the Algonquian ceremonial calendar, and remains of these calendars may still be seen in boulder fields in New England landscapes. These ceremonial landscapes reflect the solar, lunar, and astral cycles by which people tracked ceremonial time. They are manipulated landscapes in which boulders and false horizons mark observation posts, sightlines, and alignments to skyworld events. There is a native solar observatory on Pole Hill in Riverview, Gloucester, for example, with reference rocks and sightlines for the summer solstice sunrise and sunset, the winter solstice sunrise and sunset, the spring and fall equinoxes, and other astronomical events, such as the traverse of Ursa major through the winter night sky. The observatory was first built by Algonquians between 2 and 3 thousand years ago, with the sighting stones organized around a central reference point on the north-south aligned axis. The cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) were central concepts in Algonquian cosmology, practice of medicine, burial practices, and use of divination [5].

Pole Hill Solar Observatory and Calendar

As in ancient Southwestern, Mexican, Mesoamerican and South American societies, observed movements of the sun, moon, and stars in their skyworld cycles guided the spiritual life of the community. In New England, for example, each year when the Milky Way is near the horizon the spirits of the deceased could find their way to the skyworld on the starry path under a nearby constellation’s protection from underworld spirits. Astronomical observations also guided the community’s seasonal activities, such as the bear sacrifice in winter, the New Year’s celebration in spring, thanksgiving for the first harvest of green corn in mid-summer, and thanksgiving for the last harvest before fall’s first frost [6].

Milky Way Pathway for the Ancestors and the Ursa Major Asterism


Algonquian Thanksgiving

Colonists in Virginia observed Algonquians there “dancing around posts” each fall, with gourd rattles and leaves or branches, each dancer taking a turn to present a sheaf and make a short speech. Each post likely represented a harvest month—April through October, with each dancer singing the praises of the spirit responsible for a particular food plant or other natural resource harvested during a given month in the annual cycle.

Algonquian Thanksgiving

The naked figure in the center of the “Thanksgiving” depiction with the two women is very likely the shaman, and perhaps the grouping represents the concept of fecundity over all [7]. Thanksgivings as feast days were a Native American tradition that the Pilgrims recognized or adopted in a kind of syncretism, blending the Christian tradition of giving thanks to God for one’s daily bread with the pagan harvest festivals of Neolithic Europe and the Native American tradition of giving thanks to the spirits for the fruits of their seasonal harvests. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, today, the “First Thanksgiving” is commemorated from the Native American point of view in a plaque proclaiming it as a National Day of Mourning in light of history.

 National Day of Mourning

Observations of the moon’s cycles were also important. The Algonquian solar calendar was 13 months of 28 days, while the lunar calendar was 12 lunations of 29 days. The solar and lunar calendars were reconciled by observing at 11-day intervals. Eleven days denotes the difference between the length of the solar year and the 12 lunations, and that difference can be used to predict in advance when a leap month (or 13thmonth) was needed [8].

Algonquian Lunar Calendar

Early Winter January Old Moon, Moon after Yule Wolf Moon, Ice Moon, Greeting Maker Moon, Forgiveness Moon
Mid-Winter February Wolf Moon, Candles Moon Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Storm Moon, Breaking Branches Moon
Late Winter March Lenten Moon, Chaste Moon Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Death Moon, Moose Moon, Spring Maker Moon
VERNAL EQUINOX: Day and night equal in length; start of growing season.
Early Spring April Egg Moon Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Waking Moon, Birds Returning Moon, Sugar Maker Moon
Mid-Spring May Milk Moon Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Hare’s Moon, Earth Moon, Field Maker Moon
Late Spring June Flower Moon, Rose Moon Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Planting Moon, Hoer Moon
SUMMER SOLSTICE: Days longer than nights; height of growing season.
Early Summer July Hay Moon, Mead Moon Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Grass Cutter Moon, Blueberry Maker Moon
Mid-Summer August Grain Moon Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Lightning Moon, Meal Maker Moon
Late Summer September Fruit Moon, Barley Moon Harvest Moon, Corn Moon, Corn Maker Moon
AUTUMNAL EQUINOX: Day and night equal in length; end of growing season.
Early Fall October Harvest Moon Hunter’s Moon, Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Blood Moon, Falling Leaves Moon
Mid-Fall November Hunter’s Moon Beaver’s Moon, Frost Moon, First Snow Moon, Freezing River Maker Moon
Late Fall December Oak Moon, Moon Before Yule Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon, Winter Maker Moon
WINTER SOLSTICE: Nights longer than days; height of winter.

Places like Pole Hill were ceremonial landscapes besides, with glacial erratics modified into effigy stones as objects of veneration and other stones split, piled, or moved to invite or bar spirits or to make enclosures as sacred spaces. These were objects and places where observers watched the sky, shamans meditated, people gathered for ceremonies, and the young made spirit quests and dreamed dreams. Dreams and the waking dreams called vision quests were achieved through fasting, smoking, exposure to the elements, and dehydration.

Shamans rocked boulders balanced on bedrock to make a loud noise and shake the earth, announcing messages from spirits and perhaps scaring or thrilling young initiates wandering around in search of their personal totems. Stones were a medium of spiritual expression. People passing by a place respectfully dropped a stone where an important event had occurred in the life of the community—an act of bravery or sacrifice, a treaty or trade agreement, a tragedy or mystery—creating over time great stone cairns [9].

Examples of effigy stones on Cape Ann (Ravenswood, Dogtown, Andrews Woods, Pole Hill)

It cannot be denied that Native Americans in New England intentionally raised, perched, piled, stacked, balanced, rocked, carved, inscribed, split, and wedged open rocks for symbolic and practical purposes. However, the provenance and authenticity of rock piles we see today are uncertain. Some were formed by retreating glaciers, modified by colonists or modern developers, or even created by townies and tourists over the past 300 years. Skeptics have claimed that only Europeans (Vikings, Celts, or English colonists)—or aliens from outer space—had the technology to move such massive boulders, much as Egyptians were believed to have been incapable of building their pyramids or Easter Islanders of erecting their moai(giant stone heads). But archaeologists have confirmed many stone

constructions as authentically Native American, and, of course, the Indians could use the laws of motion as well as any human to make megaliths or move mountains. Agassiz Rock in Manchester-by-the-Sea is a case in point [10].

Agassiz Rock



A Sample of Native Stoneworks on Cape Ann 


Algonquian cosmology and astrology are supported by myths and legends, like the story of the three hunters chasing the sky bear and wounding it, its blood causing the leaves to turn red in fall, and the bear recovering in hibernation until the stars rise again in spring. In some versions the bear dies and its cub emerges from the den to renew the cycle of the circumpolar stars. Other stories feature tricksters and transformers—powerful beings and culture heroes, such as Gluscap (Glooskap, Kluscabi), who, along with the Great Spirit, created the earth, caused the origins of all things, kept nature in balance, and helped people adapt. Great respect was accorded to creatures able to transform themselves—shape-shifters, such as butterflies and frogs.

Glooscap with the Animals, Glooscap Heritage Center, Millbrook, Nova Scotia

Algonquian creation stories illustrate how the people cameto terms with a natural and supernatural world they saw as imperfect and irrational (or disappointing and crazy), a conclusion completely different from that drawn by Puritans. While possibly revealing missionary influences, the stories nevertheless contrast in other interesting ways with the Judeo-Christian origin myth represented in Genesis [11].

In the Beginning

Here is an abridged version of the Algonquian creation myth in which Manito creates the world on the back of a turtle, collected by an ethnographer in 1949. The Abenaki teller of the creation story prefaced it as follows [12]:

In my dream, I awakened, I turned to my side and saw the morning sun shining through a dew-covered spider web. So beautiful it was! It was filled with sparkling color, a million tiny lights in a hand’s breadth. A black and yellow spider was busy repairing a tear in the web from an insect that got away. The spider stopped and stared at me. It spoke to me in a tiny little voice and said, “This is a Dream Net. It only lets good dreams through. This hole was left by the dream you are dreaming now!”

Maheo, the Great Manito, Creator, became tired of the endless silence and darkness at the beginning of time. He wished to fill endless space with light and the joyful movement of life. Out of his great hands flew the sparks of the creation fire, filling endless space with light. He bid Mikchich, the Great Turtle, to emerge from the water and become land. With his strong hands he molded a creation world with mountains and valleys. He put the waters all where they should be and set white clouds sailing in the blue sky. Then, the Manito looked at all this and said to himself, “This is the creation world I want. Now I will fill this place with the happy movement of life.”

      The Great Manito thought about what kind of life he would make. He carefully considered how he would make a perfect web of life with each creature just so and in perfect place. Each should have a perfect way of life and all would be happy. Long into that last night before creation began, the Manito thought out a perfect plan, and then he fell asleep, exhausted. Soundly did he sleep, and his sleep was filled with dreams. Strange dreams he had.

      The Great Manito dreamed of a strange creation world, filled with strange beings, not at all what he had planned. They walked on four legs, some on two. Some creatures crawled, some flew with wings. Some of these swam with fins. There were plants spreading out, covering the ground everywhere. Insects buzzed, geese honked, and moose bellowed. Men sang and called to each other in this strange dream. This was a world with no design at all, no order. This was a bad dream. No world of creation could be this imperfect, this mad!

      And then the Great Manito awakened to see a porcupine nibbling on a twig. To his dismay he realized the world of his dream had become Creation!

So even for gods, dreams can come true. Dreamcatchers were replications of the spider’s web and were woven, decorated, and hung as objects of individual expression. Small dreamcatchers were hung on cradleboard frames in front of babies’ faces to ensure they had pleasant dreams.


While the aim of Puritan religion was redemption of the soul, the central theme of traditional Algonquian belief and expression was the attainment, conservation, and use of spiritual power. Spiritual power came from one’s kinship and ancestry, spirit guide or totem, personal visionary experiences or dreams, special talents or skills, and luck or success in forming relationships or making a living. Spiritual power also came from touching sacred objects and being in sacred places, and from handling dangerous or unusual objects containing spiritual power (such as scalplocks taken as coups, snakes, quartz crystals or polished gemstones, and specially carved effigies of spirits in stone or clay). Ones’ spiritual power could be protected through right living, ritual observances, such as sweat lodge purification, and the use of amulets or personal medicine bundles. Power also came from communally shared expressions directed toward spirits, such as praying, chanting, dancing, and drumming—the powwow [13].

Colonists understood that Native Americans already had their own traditions of spiritualism and worship. John White drew Jamestown “Indians Praying”, for example—Algonquians chanting and shaking rattles together around a sacred fire intended to invoke beneficial spirits and carry prayers or wishes to the Great Spirit. The Europeans at first identified with these expressions but later came to see them as invalid and ultimately Satanic [14].

“Indians Praying”    

White’s watercolors of Algonquians in Virginia shows how they stored and attended to bodies of their dead in special wigwams or raised smokehouse-like structures for several days. After funerary rites, the bodies—no longer in rigor mortis and beginning to decompose—were then “flexed” into a fetal position (sometimes referred to erroneously as a “sitting” posture) and wrapped in woven fiber cloth (or cornstalk mats or birch bark in the north). Sometimes the flexed body was placed inside a specially made basket coffin and otherwise was covered with woven mats along with selected possessions as grave goods. A warrior, for example, might be buried with his arrows, quiver, bow, and coups. The body, mat bundle, or basket coffin was then interred in the ground in a communal unmarked earthen mound or in a stone chamber in an upland area designated as sacred. In some groups, bodies were later ceremonially disinterred, defleshed, and the bones painted with red ochre, bundled together, and reburied in ossuaries [15].

Algonquian charnal house   

 Archaeological evidence confirms that Algonquian burials were placed on north- or northeast-facing level ground or in low mounds in sandy or otherwise easily-dug soil overlooking a body of water—a river, lake, or the sea. Bodies were placed flexed on the side, facing either east, with the feet facing east to facilitate passage to the spirit world, or facing southwest, where the ancestors of Late Woodland immigrants resided. In the Algonquian medicine wheel, north represented (among other things) the wisdom and spirituality of old age and east represented rebirth. The presence of a burial ground is a clear indicator of permanent or regular seasonal habitation, and the more remains there are, the greater the likelihood of finding a permanent or continuously occupied village of some size. In Agawam and elsewhere, some burials were exhumed by colonists and paraded as an act of disrespect, as happened with Masconomet’s remains until citizens intervened. In other communities, township founders’ graveyards were extensions of Native American burial grounds, as at Seaside Cemetery in Lanesville. Many early maps note the location of Indian burial grounds. Native American gravesites have been found in many parts of Essex County, including Andover, Beverly, Salem, Haverhill, Georgetown, Newbury, Ipswich, Hamilton, Gloucester, Manchester, Rowley, and Salisbury. The most extensive finds have been made in Marblehead, like Ipswich the likely site of a large permanent village by the time of English contact [16].

Philip Freneau (1752-1832), a romantic poet of the Revolutionary period, was impressed with the spirituality of Native American burials. In his 1787 poem on the subject, he reimagines the flexed burial with grave goods as the individual “seated” with peers, preparing for a hunt, as in life. References to “sitting chiefs” in colonial accounts and early American literature refer to mortuary remains. Freneau’s poem also refers to a great rock and an old elm tree, additional features of the landscape that Algonquians would likely have chosen to site a burial ground. Here is a portion of the poem, “The Indian Burying Ground” [17]:

In spite of all the learned have said,

I still my old opinion keep;

The posture that we give the dead,

Points out the soul’s eternal sleep.

Not so the ancients of these lands–

The Indian, when from life released,

Again is seated with his friends,

And shares again the joyous feast.

His imaged birds, and painted bowl,

And venison, for a journey dressed,

Bespeak the nature of the soul,

Activity, that knows no rest.

His bow, for action ready bent,

And arrows, with a head of bone,

Can only mean that life is spent,

And not the finer essence gone.

Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,

No fraud upon the dead commit,

Yet, marking the swelling turf, and say,

They do not lie, but here they sit.

Here, still a lofty rock remains,

On which the curious eye may trace

(Now wasted half by wearing rains)

The fancies of a ruder race.

Here, still an aged elm aspires,

Beneath whose far-projecting shade

(And which the shepherd still admires)

The children of the forest played.


Indian Burials in Massachusetts

Unexcavated mounds and looted chambers are all that remain of pre-contact Native American burials in Massachusetts. Specific site locations are kept confidential to prevent further desecration. The undisturbed burial mound shown here is in Rockport, while the disturbed stone chamber is in southern Worcester County. Nipmuc descendants believe their ancestors built the chamber as an ossuary for their dead. Burial practices changed over time. Archaic period burials in permanent sand dunes and ledges above riverbanks, for example, predate Woodland period burials in clam middens and earthen mounds on upland terraces. Funerary practices simplified, especially as a consequence of epidemics, when large numbers of dead taxed tradition. Ultimately, single Christian-style burials without headstones replaced flexed individual burials, which in turn had replaced family or group burials in chambers or mounds [18].

Burial Mound and Stone chamber

In Cape Ann and Essex, more than 50 Indian burials have been discovered and reported over the past 300 years. Add to that the unreported, as well as undiscovered, Indian graves that were destroyed or are still here. Pawtucket skeletons have been disturbed or taken from known sites in Annisquam, Bay View, Dogtown, Wingaersheek, Castleview, Coffin Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Argilla Road in Ipswich, Coles Island, Hog (Choate) Island, and Castle Neck, for example, and many more from sites in Ipswich north and Salem-Beverly south. Today burials are protected by NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. As a consequence of this legislation, many skeletal remains and grave goods have been returned to tribal councils for ceremonial reburial in sacred ground [19].

Based on descriptions written by Roger Williams and others, Algonquians in New England had less elaborate funerary practices than those in Virginia. According to a second-hand colonial account of an Agawam (Pawtucket) funeral in Ipswich during Masconomet’s time [20]:

When the mourners came to the grave, they laid the body near by, then sat down and lamented. He observed successive tears on the cheeks of old and young. After the body was laid in the grave, they made a second lamentation; then spread the mat, on which the deceased had died, over the grave; put the dish there, in which he had eaten, and hung a coat of skin on an adjacent tree. This coat none touched, but allowed it to consume with the dead. The relatives of the person, thus buried, had their faces blacked, as a sign of mourning.

Mourning Paint from Tantasqua

Tantasqua Graphite Mine in Sturbridge

 The blacking worn by the Agawam mourners was possibly obtained from a mine in Middleton or was traded for from the Tantasqua (or Tantiusques) graphite mine in Sturbridge, MA—today a historic 57-acre open space reservation. Black face paint for mourning—a commodity in great demand in New England trade—was made from graphite (carbon) that the Nipmuc mined, and the mine is still there on Rte. 124 and the road to Lead Mine Pond Rd. The carbon was powdered and mixed with animal fat to make black greasepaint. Algonquians used red greasepaint, from iron oxide or powdered hematite and animal fat, as warpaint. White paint was made from calcite dust and kaolin clay. In 1636 the governor of Ipswich, John Winthrop Jr. bought Tantasqua from the Nipmuc. Other native mines he acquired around that time for the Massachusetts Bay Colony included various bog iron pits, including the one in West Gloucester, and a native copper mine in Topsfield [21].

Colonial depiction of an Agawam burial

In this colonial depiction of an Agawam burial, first introduced in Chapter 2, Pawtucket relatives mourn as they place a body on its side to be flexed and wrapped in a woven fiber mat prior to burial in the earth [22]. The shaman kneels at the left under an oak tree, regarded as sacred, performing a funerary rite, interceding with the spirits on behalf of the spirit of the deceased and aiding the deceased’s passage to afterlife in the skyworld. After the mourning period the people will take great care not speak the deceased’s name, so as not to call back the spirit or impede its passage. In the picture the mourners’ dress reflects Puritan influence, within two generations, in the matter of nakedness, the subject of the next chapter.

Considering that this is how the Indians made sense of their world, we now must ask, how did the colonists make sense of the Indians?


Chapter 7 Notes and References

  1. Contemporary works describing Algonquian religion include Kathleen Bragdon’s Native People of Southern New England, 1500-1650 (1999), Robert Hall’s 1997 book, An Archaeology of the Soul: North American Indian Belief and Ritual, and William Simmons’ Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore 1620-1984(1984). Algonquians and Christianity is the subject of Chapter 8 of this book. For an anthropological perspective on Algonquian resistance to Christianity in the 17thCentury and an explanation of the manitou concept, see Neal Salisbury’s 1982 Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the making of New England 1500-1643.See also the 1983 review of his book by Alden T. Vaughn in The New England Quarterly (54), and Salisbury’s 2003 article in Ethnohistory50 (2): “Embracing Ambiguity: Native Peoples and Christianity in Seventeenth-Century North America”. Colonial sources on Algonquian religion include Roger Williams, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, Thomas Morton, John Winthrop, John Eliot, Daniel Gookin, and other 17thand early 18thCentury observers, referenced earlier in this book. See, for example, Karle Schleiff’s article, Stoneworks, Corn and Calendars, regarding Bartholomew’s Gosnold’s observations of native sun watching in 1602, at

2. Authentic expressions of magic realism in Algonquian spiritualism appear in early native texts. See especially the stream-of-consciousness-like account of Joseph Nicolar (1893), published in 2007 as The Life and Traditions of the Red Man: A Rediscovered Treasure of Native American Literature, edited by Annette Kolodny and Charles Norman Shaw. See alsoClara Sue Kidwell’s article, Ethnoastronomy as the Key to Human Intellectual Development and Social Organization. In Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance(2003). For an appreciation of the concept of ceremonial time in Algonquian culture, see John Hanson Mitchell’s 1984 book, Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile, and a review of this book in 1987 by Curtiss Hoffman in the Bridgewater Review5 (2), available online at

3. Sources on animism and animatism include Part 23 of the Encyclopedia of Religion(Hastings, 2003)  and Graham Harvey’s 2005 book, Animism: Respecting the Living World. For an example of the pervasiveness of animistic beliefs, read an in-depth study by Michel-Gerald Boutet, The Great Long Tailed Serpent: An Iconographical study of the serpent in Middle Woodland Algonquian culture (2011), at Classic ethnographic works on Algonquian shamanism include Frank G. Speck’s Penobscot Shamanism, in Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association 6 (1919) and Frederick Johnson’s Notes on Micmac Shamanism, in Primitive Man 16 (1943). See also William S. Simmons’ Southern New England Shamanism: An Ethnographic Reconstruction, in Papers of the Algonquian Conference7 (1976).

4. The chart in this chapter of selected Algonquian spirit names with English translations is from English and French missionary data on the Narraganset, Massachuset, Nipmuc, Abenaki, and Maliseet, as presented in the work of Frank Waabu O’Brien (Moondancer), and Julianne Jennings (StrongWoman). See their 2007 book, ACulturalHistoryof the NativePeoplesof SouthernNewEngland:Voicesfrom Pastand Present(BauuPress). Note that my chart omits the diacritical marks and alternative spellings in the original work, which may be recovered as desired from “Spirit Names and Religious Vocabulary” at

5. The germinal work on Algonquian ceremonial landscapes is by James Mavor and Byron Dix in Manitou: The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization(1989). See also Edwin C. Ballard and James W. Mavor, Jr., 2006, Case for the use of above surface stone constructs in a Native American ceremonial landscape in the Northeast, NEARA Journal40 (1), and Edward L. Bell, Discerning Native Placemaking: Archaeologies and Histories of the Den Rock Area, Lawrence and Andover, Massachusetts, Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut75 (2013). The solar calendar at Pole Hill (Sunset Hill) in Riverview, Gloucester, is presented in a 2014 paper by Mary Ellen Lepionka and Mark Carlotto, Evidence of a Native Solar Observatory in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society76 (1). For other examples of solar observatories in New England, see articles by Kenneth C. Leonard Jr.: Calendric Keystone? Archaeoastronomy10 (1987) and Identification and Preliminary Analysis of a Late Woodland Ceremonial Site in Southeastern Massachusetts, Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society71 (1) (2010); William Hranicky’s 2001 article, Difficult Run Petroglyphs: A Prehistoric Solar Observatory in the Potomac River Valley of Virginia, Quarterly Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Virginia 56 (2); Dix and Mavor’s Two Possible Calendar Sites in Vermont, in Archaeoastronomy in the Americas (1981); Tim Fohl’s Integrated Wetland-Dry Land Features with Astronomical Associations, in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 71:1 (2010); Edwin C. Ballard’s For Want of a Nail: An Analysis of the Function of Some Horseshoe or U-Shaped Stone Structures. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society60 (2) (1999); Frederick W. Martin et al., Archaeo-Astronomical Prospecting at the Moose Hill Stone Chambers. Archaeology of Eastern North America 40 (2012); and Michael S. Nassaney, The Significanceof the Turners FallsLocality in Connecticut River Archaeology, in The Archaeological Northeast, Mary Ann Levine, Kenneth E. Sassaman, and Michael S. Nassaney, eds. (1999). In 2013, because of its significance as a native solar calendar and ceremonial landscape, the Turners Falls site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

6. Useful general sources on archaeoastronomy are John Edwin Wood’s Sun, Moon, and Standing Stones(1978), George E. Lankford’s Reachable Stars: Patterns in the Ethnoastronomy of Eastern North America (2007), and William Tyler Olcott’s classic Star Lore of all Ages: A Collection of Myths, Legends, and Facts concerning the Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere (1911).Key works on archaeoastronomy in the civilizations of the Southwest, Mexico, and Mesoamerica include John A. Eddy, Astronomical Alignment of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel. Science 174 (1974); Munro S. Edmonson, The Book of the Year: Middle American Calendrical Systems (1988); Anthony Aveni, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico (1980); and Stephen  C. McCluskey, Historical Archaeoastronomy: The Hopi Example, in Archaeoastronomy in the New World, A.F. Aveni, ed. (1982). Direct linkages between New England and Mesoamerican ceremonial landscapes were proposed in 2006 by Timothy Fohl and Kenneth Leonard in a paper, Similarities of Ceremonial Structures in New England and Mesoamerica, presented at the 73rdAnnual Meeting of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation jointly with the Massachusetts Archaeological Society and The New England Antiquities Research Association in Fitchburg, MA. For the significance of particular constellations in Native American ceremonial landscapes, see, for example, Glenn N. Kreisberg’s Serpent of the North: The Overlook Mountain/Draco Correlation (2010), at; and the now classic works of Lynn Cesi, Watchers of the Pleiades: Ethnoastronomy Among Native Cultivators in Northeastern North America, in Ethnohistory 25 (4) (1978) and Von Del Chamberlain, When the Stars Came Down to Earth: Cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America (1982).

7. The “Thanksgiving” picture is an engraving by Theodore de Bry (1590) of a drawing that first appeared in Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia(1588). Having feast days for giving thanks was traditional in Algonquian culture, and thanksgiving feasts were conducted two or more times a year. The notion that there was a “first Thanksgiving” at Plymouth Plantation is an ethnocentric accounting based on William Bradford’s journal, now embedded in the American mind. Some surviving Native American communities make a point of not celebrating the Thanksgiving designated as a national holiday.

8. The lunar calendar presented here is a compilation from diverse sources based on French and English ethnolinguistic data for northern and southern New England and Canada, including interpretations by Christine Sioui Wawanoloath (, Marge Bruchac (, and the Old Farmers Almanac (

9. Many communities in New England have ethnohistorical accounts as well as physical examples of Native American rocking or balanced stones, cairns, effigy boulders, rock shelters, petroglyphs, and other stoneworks, some authenticated as Native American in origin and others shrouded in mystery or controversy. Mary and James Gage have controversially attempted to classify and describe native stoneworks in Handbook of Stone Structures in Northeastern United States(2008). See also Mary Gage’s article, New England Native American Spirit Structures, in the Spring 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 74 (1). See also articles and photographs by Peter Waksman, for example, at

10. Agassiz Rock in Manchester-by-the-Sea is featured as the cover photo of the Mavor and Dix book Manitou. Others who argue for Native American skill in creating monumental stoneworks that have survived to this day include Noel Ring, Ken Goss, and Ken Leonard in their paper, Northeast Native North American Astronomy and Engineering, read at the Eastern States Archaeological Federation Annual Meeting on October 31, 2013 (South Portland, ME). Skeptics’ views are represented in Kenneth L. Feder’s Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum(2011). Walam Olum is a purported and much debated native pictographic text expressing Lenape ancient history and mythology. Feder also includes Mystery Hill in Salem, NH, and Gungywump Swamp in Groton, CT, as examples of dubious archaeology, mainly because of documented or assumed tampering with those sites over the centuries and interpretations that are not evidence-based. See David P. Barron and Sharon Mason’s book, The Greater Gungywamp: A Guidebook(1994), David Goudsward and Robert E. Stone’s America’s Stonehenge: The Mystery Hill Story.(2003), and Mary Gage’s America’s Stonehenge Deciphered(2006). Other sources may be found on the “America’s Stonehenge” website at

11. See Nicholas Campion’s Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions(2012) and Frank G. Speck’s descriptions in Penobscot Transformer Tales, International Journal of American Linguistics1 (1918):; Wawenock Myth Texts from Maine, in Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution:43 (2) (1928); and Penobscot Tales and Religious Beliefs, Journal of American Folklore6 (1935). For an appreciation of the role of dreams and dreaming in Algonquian culture and the significantly contrasting world views of colonists and Indians, see Ann Marie Plane’s Dreams and the Invisible World in Colonial New England: Colonists, Indians, and the Seventeenth Century(2014). Among the many sources for particular Algonquian myths and legends are William Simmons’ papers, Return of the Timid Giant: Algonquian Legends of Southern New England, Algonquian Conference13 (1982); and Genres in New England Indian Folklore, Algonquian Conference15 (1984). A classic source is Charles G. Leland’s Algonquin Legends of New England(1884). You can read stories about Gluscap’s (Glooskap’s) exploits at

12. The creation myth presented here appears in Gerard Rancourt Tsonakwa and Tolaikia Wapitaska’s The Dreamer, in Welcome the Caribou Man: A Catalogue of Images and Stories from the San Diego Museum of Man:12-13 (1992).

13. Acquiring spiritual power or protection through the touching of sacred, dangerous, or emblematic objects is an example of “contagious magic”. Contagious magic is also used in witchcraft to cause harm or good to a person by manipulating associated objects, such as hair clippings, fingernail parings, or articles of clothing. Cultural anthropologists contrast contagious magic with “sympathetic” or “imitative” magic, in which rituals, such as fertility rites, serve to ensure that “like produces like”. Colonial perceptions of Algonquian spiritual practices and the social institution of the powwow are taken up in greater detail in Chapter 8.

14. John White’s watercolors and Theodore deBry’s engravings of them depict many aspects of Algonquian life in Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina. White’s depictions of Indians praying, an Algonquian charnal house, and others are in the British Museum. See Paul Hulton and David Beers Quinn,The American Drawings of John White 1577-1590, Vol. II, Reproductions of the originals in colour facsimile and of derivatives in monochrome (1964). For an appreciation of the historical and ethnographic importance of these images, see Lisa Heuvel’s 2010 article, Looking with Clearer Vision: The Significance of John White’s Watercolors, at the website of the Jamestown and Yorktown Settlement & Victory Center:

15. A principal source on Algonquian burial practices is Erik Seeman’s Death in the New World: Cross-Cultural Encounters 1492-1800(2011). For particular archaeological reconstructions, see, for example, Francis P. McManamon, James W. Bradley, and Ann L. Magennis’ CRM Study No. 17 (1986), The Indian Neck Ossuary(North Atlantic Regional Office, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior) and Gary D. Shaffer’s Nanticoke Indian Burial Practices: Challenges for Archaeological Interpretation, in Archaeology of Eastern North America33 (2005).

16. A definitive, if not up to date, source on burials in Massachusetts is Mary J. Haaker’s An Annotated Bibliography of Late Woodland Burials in Massachusetts, in Archaeological Quarterly6 (Fall 1984). Documented burial mounds survive in Salisbury, Newburyport, Nashoba, Lakeville, Cape Ann, and other sites in Massachusetts, and Indian burial grounds have been preserved in various localities on Cape Cod and the islands. Many 17thcentury colonial graveyards have native burials incorporated in them or on a perimeter.

17. Read the rest of Freneau’s poem at

18. Indian burials on Cape Ann and the surrounding area have been reported periodically since the Civil War Period. See, for example, F. W. Putnam, On Indian remains in Essex County, Proceedings of the Essex Institute 5:186 (1867). Reports of burials in the media include, for example, the Gloucester Daily Times, November 13, 1940: Cape Ann Rich in Indian Relics Rotarians Told by N. Carleton Phillips.

19. For a full explanation of NAGPRA, see the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. National NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act): See also The Law and American Indian Grave Protection on the website of the Indian Burial and Sacred Grounds Watch at The Massachusetts Historical Commission has a paper on What To Do When Human Burials Are Accidentally Uncovered, at

20. The description and illustration of the Agawam burial originally came from Roger Williams’ 1643 work, A Key into the Language of America, accessible online at The description was widely copied, and a similar account appears in the travel correspondence of John Dunton, an English bookseller, in which he claims to have witnessed an Agawam burial near Wonasquam on Cape Ann in 1686 (See Letters Written from New England. Prince Society Publications Issue 4 (1966). It is unknown whether Dunton was reporting what he saw or repeating what Williams wrote.

21.  The Tale of Tantiusques 1644-1909, is in The Winthrop Papers(Reel 38 Box OS2) in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Societyin Boston. A description of the Indians’ copper mines in Topsfield, by Mrs. G. Warren Towne, appears in The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, 2 (1892). For further perspective of Native American mining, see Mary Ann Levine’s papers:Native copper, hunter-gatherers, and northeastern prehistory (1999), at; and Native Copper in the Northeast: An Overview of Potential Sources Available to Indigenous Peoples, in The Archaeological Northeast(1999).

22. The original of this etching is in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, RI.



















Chapter 5.  What Native People Were on Cape Ann at the Time of Contact and Where Did They Come From?

 One is tempted to begin this chapter with who they were not, for there are many statements of fact in the historical record that turn out not to be true. For example, the people who were living on Cape Ann at the time of contact were not Massachuset. Nor were they Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Mahican, or Mohawk. They were Pawtucket and their original homelands were with the Pennacook in New Hampshire. It is surprising that this fact was not in our local historical canon. It is well documented in the earliest colonial literatures and attested to by oft-cited historical figures, such as the preacher to the Indians John Eliot and the first Indian agent for the Mass. Bay Colony, Daniel Gookin, not to mention by modern ethnographers.1

 Plaque Commemorating John Eliot’s Ministry among the Pennacook-Pawtucket at Wamesit



The colonists variously called the native people living on Cape Ann the Agawam, Naumkeag, Pawtucket, or Wamesit, depending on where they encountered them on their  subsistence rounds. On the coast in eastern Essex County on the Gulf of Maine the Pawtucket were called the Agawam, an extension of the name of their village on Castle Neck in Ipswich. On the coast in southern Essex County on Massachusetts Bay the Pawtucket were called the Naumkeag, an extension of the name of their village on the Bass River in Beverly-Salem. At Pawtucket Falls in Lawrence, where they exploited the spring fish runs, they were Pawtucket, and at their winter village at Lowell at the junction of the Merrimack and Concord rivers, they were the Wamesit. These Pawtucket were all the same people, however. When asked who they were, they had simply given the name of where they were at the time—their place or village. The Europeans misapplied those names to invent tribes where no tribe existed. Rather, Pawtucket lived in an amalgam of bands occupying what became Essex County, an outflow of the Pennacook of New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley. They called themselves “the people here” (Ninnuok). Pawtucket social organization and leadership are treated in more detail in Chapter 6.

The Pawtucket were Algonquian-speaking. They spoke a form of Eastern Algonquian, a so-called “genetic” language group (also known as Algic), descended from Proto-Algonquian around 3,000 years ago, which, in turn descended from proto-Algic around 8,000 years ago.2 Eastern Algonquian was the parent language of the Abenaki dialects spoken by the people of northern New England and Essex County, including the Pawtucket, as well as other dialects spoken by the Massachuset and others living to the south of them. Eastern Algonquian languages were spoken from circum-polar regions (for example, Innu) all the way to Chesapeake Bay (for example, Powhattan). Other, different, languages were spoken in Central Algonquian and Western Algonquian areas: in the northern plains (for example, Cheyenne); in the Great Lakes region (for example, Ojibwe or Chippewa); and in Canada (for example, Cree). So it’s a large language family in which all the people had common ancestors in the remote past, much as the 445 Indo-European languages comprise a family of related languages and dialects. The Algonquian-speaking peoples were descended from the first people to occupy northeastern North America after the end of the Ice Age.3

            Distribution Map of Native North American Language Families

People in the diagonally lined tan areas all spoke languages and dialects of the Algic (Algonquian) language family and were the first people to occupy North America.

 Algonquian Loan Words

English has many loan words from Eastern Algonquian languages, including many place names—such as Winnipesauke, Nashua, Chebacco, Agawam—and names for native plants (for example, sumac, squash, tobacco) and animals (for example, raccoon, chipmunk, muskrat).4

caribou opossum skunk
caucus papoose squash
chipmunk pecan squaw
eskimo pemmican succotash
hickory persimmon terrapin
hominy pokeweed toboggan
husky pone tomahawk
kinkajou (wolverine) powwow totem
moccasin quahog wampum
moose quonset (hut) wapiti (elk)
mugwump (warrior) raccoon wickiup
muskeg (swamp) sachem wigwam
muskrat sagamore woodchuck

In European historical literature, names of language groups, bands, tribes, chiefdoms, confederacies, and temporary alliances often are used interchangeably or are confused. For example, Algonquian is a language group and is not the same as the Algonquins (or Algonkins), who were Algonquian-speaking people occupying the St. Lawrence Valley and Ottawa Valley in Canada. Many similar confusions persist, such as the Mohegans and Mahicans, two entirely separate Algonquian-speaking peoples. The Mohegans, with their famous sachem Uncas, occupied the Thames River valley in Connecticut (formerly the Pequot River), while the Mahican Confederacy included a group of bands living in New York’s Hudson Valley. James Fennimore Cooper’s 1826 novel, Last of the Mohicans is about the New Yorkers, despite his misspelling of the name and appropriation of the Connecticut sachem’s moniker for one of his characters. Mahican territory encompassed western Massachusetts and the Mahicans and their allies the Pocumtuck were allies of the Pawtucket of Essex County and others against the Iroquois.5

Likewise, Iroquois is not the name of a tribe but of a language group (Iroquoian). It is also the name of the famous confederacy composed of a few Iroquoian-speaking tribes originally known collectively as the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Longhouse”). The Iroquois confederacy was composed of the Five Nations: the Mohawk (Kanien’kehaka), Seneca (Onondowaga), Cayuga (Gayogohono), Onondaga (Ononda’gega), and Oneida (Onyota’aka). The confederacy was founded by Ayenwatha of the Onandaga more than 600 years ago between 1400 and 1450 CE. The League of the Iroquois became the Six Nations in 1722 with the addition of the Tuscarora (Skaru’ren).6

All the native populations in the Northeast had similar material cultures and lifestyles because of their similar adaptations to their Eastern Woodland environment.  The Pawtucket were not Iroquois, however. They had a different language family and kinship system and traditionally did not build longhouses. It is wrong for our elementary school teachers to present Iroquois culture as local and to have students construct Iroquois longhouses instead of Algonquian wigwams. Iroquois never lived here. The Iroquoians–Huron (Wyandot), Erie, Susquehanna, and the nations of the Iroquois League—were traditional arch-enemies of the Pawtucket and other Algonquian-speaking peoples of New England.7

 Members of the Iroquois League

Song of Hiawatha

Artists and writers, along with schoolteachers, get things mixed up. The “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is an example.  Its title to the contrary, this narrative poem does not celebrate the life and legend of Ayenwatha of the Iroquois League but is about a fictional hero by another name belonging to the Algonquian Ojibwa. The confusion is based on errors in the work of the early ethnologist Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.8 Longfellow’s 1855 poem is a classic example of romanicism and mysticism in mid-19th century treatments of Native Americans. The following excerpt from the poem begins Chapter 1 of Part 1, “The Peace-Pipe”:8

On the Mountains of the Prairie,

On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,

Gitche Manito, the mighty,

He the Master of Life, descending,

On the red crags of the quarry

Stood erect, and called the nations,

Called the tribes of men together.


From his footprints flowed a river,

Leaped into the light of morning,

O’er the precipice plunging downward

Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet.

And the Spirit, stooping earthward,

With his finger on the meadow

Traced a winding pathway for it,

Saying to it, “Run in this way!”


From the red stone of the quarry

With his hand he broke a fragment,

Moulded it into a pipe-head,

Shaped and fashioned it with figures;

From the margin of the river

Took a long reed for a pipe-stem,

With its dark green leaves upon it;

Filled the pipe with bark of willow,

With the bark of the red willow;


Breathed upon the neighboring forest,

Made its great boughs chafe together,

Till in flame they burst and kindled;

And erect upon the mountains,

Gitche Manito, the mighty,

Smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe,

As a signal to the nations.

As the poem goes on, Manitou gathers the tribes, admonishes them for warring among themselves, and tells them he will send a prophet to show them the way of peace. The prophet is “Hiawatha” (modeled on the historical Ayenwatha), and the poem sets forth his fictional adventures, including his famously tragic love affair with “Princess” Minnehaha. In the process Longfellow mixes up historical tribes, languages, heroes, and legends, which readers of his day nevertheless took as truth. Other writers did the same thing, such that Native American “history” is rife with mistakes, misnomers, and misconceptions stemming from centuries of European Americans’ efforts to tell it.

The Pawtucket were closely related to the Pentucket to their immediate north, Abenaki-speaking people around Haverhill above the Merrimack. Pentucket translates as “At the bend in the large tidal river”. The area is erroneously identified as a tribal territory in Sidney Perley’s 1843 map of Essex County. Like the Pawtucket, the Pentucket were a  branch of the Pennacook of central New Hampshire. The Pennacook were Central Abenaki, closely allied with Western Abenaki of Vermont, such as the Sokoki and Missisquoi, and with the Eastern Abenaki of Maine, such as the Saco, Androscoggin, and Penobscot. Following European contact, these Abenaki-speaking groups were further allied through the Pennacook Confederacy, named after its most powerful group in 1620. The leader of that Confederacy was Passaconaway (Pappiseconewa), described in greater detail in Chapter 6. So, the Pawtucket were not an isolated band of Indians with seasonal migration between Lowell and the coast. They were connected in a vast network of sophisticated, nuanced, ever-changing relationships. Thus, the answer to the question of who they were turns out to be both more complex and more dynamic over time than we thought.9

            Abenaki Distribution in VT, NH, and ME

Pennacook permanent winter villages included Concord, New Hampshire, and the Pennacook Confederacy had its seat at Amoskeag, today’s Manchester, NH. Amoskeag village was by a waterfall that exists by that name in Manchester today. Amoskeag means “place for taking small fish,” referring to the alewives or shad (river herrings) and smelt that swam far upriver on the Merrimack to spawn. You can still see stone fish weirs or corrals made by the Indians at Amoskeag Falls.10

            Amoskeag Falls in Manchester, NH, Today

In 1640 there were 19 principal bands or sagamoreships in the Pennacook Confederacy, as recorded by Daniel Gookin and John Eliot:

Accominta York ME + Rockingham NH counties
Newichawawock (Norridgewock) York + Cumberland counties ME
Piscataqua (Pascataway) Stratford County NH + Oxford County ME
Monchiggan (Morattigan) Mohegan Island
Coosuc and Cowasuck (Cohassiac) Grafton + Coos counties NH
Winnipesaukee Carroll + Belknap counties NH
Pennacook Merrimack County NH
Amoskeag Hillsborough + Rockingham counties, NH
Squamscot Rockingham County NH
Winnecowet Rockingham County NH
Natticook Cheshire + Hillsborough counties NH
Souhegan Sullivan + Hillsborough counties NH
Agawam Northern Essex County MA
Naumkeag Southern Essex County MA
Pentucket Rockingham NH + Northern Essex MA
Wamesit (Pawtucket) Northern Middlesex County MA
Nashua (Nashaway) Hillsborough NH + Worcester County MA
Wachuset Northern Worcester County MA
Weshacum Northern Worcester County MA

            The Pennacook Sagamoreships 

The Pennacook Confederacy often allied with other Abenaki groups of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine to defend against their mutual enemies. Abenaki allies in Vermont included the Sokoki, for example, while New Hampshire allies included the Ossipee and  Pequawket (often written as Pigwacket). Abenaki allies to the east included at times the Saco (Sawacotuck), Kennebec, and Penobscot. During the 1650s, the Pennacook Confederacy also allied with some members of the Massachuset Alliance, especially the Nipmuc of Worcester County.11




Pawtucket Allies


    Sphere of Influence of the Pennacook Confederacy  

The Pennacook dominated the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. Pennacook is said to mean “at the bottom of the hill”, referring perhaps to a foothill of the White Mountains or to hills in Merrimack County, NH, near Suncook or Hooksett, both Pennacook sites—or perhaps Jeremy Hill in Pelham, NH. Another candidate is a hill above Long Pond in Dracut, MA, where the great Pennacook sachem Passaconaway is said to have resided.


Another translation of Pennacook is “Land of the Winding Hills” (penna = winding and sloping land + coo = continuous [as in a range] or abundant + k = place, land), referring to the southern foothills of the White Mountains. However, penna (plural pennak) is also Abenaki for “groundnut(s)”, small potato-like tubers that grow at intervals on a long, winding, continuous root. This food was critical for subsistence as a survival food to both the Indians and arriving colonists. As one or two others have suggested, the true meaning of Pennacook may be “Here Are Abundant Groundnuts”.12

Passaconaway was at his fort at the foot of Sugar Ball Hill (present-day Fort Eddy in Concord, NH) in 1659 (according to other sources this was in 1655) when, according to the ethnographer Henry Schoolcraft, he sold Pennacook to a Major Richard Waldron, having already given up his seat at Natticook. Other than these sites on the Merrimack River, Pennacook leaders favored the regions of Lake Winnepesaukee and Lake Ossipee and summered on the coasts of New Hampshire and southern Maine, including Ogunquit, Kittery, York Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth and Seabrook, NH, and Salisbury, MA. When explorer Bartholomew Gosnold went ashore to get directions at York Beach in 1602, he almost certainly was talking to Pennacook, as suggested in Chapter 4.13

So, in addition to Gloucester’s history being tied to the histories of other nearby towns and cities, Pawtucket history is tied as much to that of other New England states (especially Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), as it is to the history of Massachusetts. We can see the big picture in this context—the broader sweep of time and place, which seems important, because we live in a culture that prefers to keep things simple and tends to treat American history without reference to the history of the rest of North America.

Confusion about Pawtucket identity stems in part from their close associations with trading partners and shifting allies. The Pawtucket traded with members of the Massachuset and Wampanoag Confederacies to their south and west, especially with the Nipmuc. The Pawtucket and others carried out trade (in corn, stones, minerals, copper, shells, pearls, furs, medicinal plants, dried seafood, and finished goods) by canoe and via their extensive network of trails through woodland forests and along riverbanks. Many trails that the colonists made into roadways had been in use for a thousand years or more. Most ran east to west, connecting the coast to the interior, but also north-south along the coast and major north-south rivers such as the Connecticut, the Upper Merrimack, and the Hudson. The Pawtucket traded mainly with the Pennacook of New Hampshire, the Abenaki of Vermont and Maine, , the Nipmuck and Massachuset, and the Mahicans of the Hudson River Valley to the west.14

Algonquians of Southern New England

            Pawtucket Trading Partners

The history of Pennacook-Pawtucket alliances is quite checkered. Prior to European Contact the Pawtucket were part of an Eastern Abenaki coastal confederacy led by Bashabes, but this fell apart prior to 1600 when Bashabes was killed in a war with the Mi’Kmaqs. During the Contact Period, most Pawtucket were part of the Pennacook Confederacy, which gradually weakened. After King Philip’s War, some Pawtucket families looked to Chicataubut’s Massachuset alliance, but most distanced themselves from the southern New England groups. Pawtucket who had not already fled to Canada joined the Wabanaki, a powerful Abenaki confederacy centered on the Gulf of Maine that attacked English fisheries and settlements on the Maine frontier. Members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, including remnants of defeated Pennacook, including the Pawtucket, ultimately allied with the French.15

Strong Algonquian confederacies other than the Pennacook and the Wabanaki included the Wampanoag of the southeast coast of Massachusetts (the Pokanoket sachem “Massasoit” famously met William Bradford at Plymouth in 1620); the Nantucket alliance of islanders on Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket; the Massachuset of Boston and the Charles River watershed (first contacted by John Smith in 1614 and in 1629 by English colonists led by John Eliot); the Nipmuc, whose territory overlapped with the Pawtucket in Worcester County; the Narraganset of Rhode Island (Canonicus and Miantonomi sold “Providence” to Roger Williams in 1636); and the Pequot of Connecticut (who traded with the Dutch at Hartford in 1633 and ended up in a disastrous war with the English). The Algonquian confederacies maintained alliances for mutual trade, exogamous marriage, and aid against enemies, but they frequently realigned and sometimes turned on each other.16

 Algonquian Confederacies of the Northeast

The numbers on this map represent the chronology of confederacies to which the Pawtucket bands of Cape Ann belonged. Prior to 1600 (1 on the map) they were in a Penobscot-Abenaki confederacy led by a powerful sachem by the name of Bashabes. This confederacy ended when Bashabes was assassinated by Tarrantines (Mi’Kmaq), a historical event reported by Samuel de Champlain, which sparked a series of wars of retribution.

Algonquian Confederacies of the Northeast, 1600-1700

The Pawtucket of Cape Ann belonged to different overlapping regional confederations over time, represented by the numbers. The other four groups represent the other key confederacies of southern New England.

Next (2) the Pawtucket under Masconomet joined a confederacy, along with the Massachuset, led by the powerful Abenaki-Nipmuc sachem Nanepashemet, who summered in Marblehead. One of Nanepashemet’s sons was married to one of Masconomet’s daughters. In 1619, however, Nanepashemet, too, was killed by Tarrantines at his fort in Medford, a historical event reported by Edward Winslow. More warfare and realignments ensued. Nanepashemet’s widow became known as squaw-sachem. She remarried a Muskataquid shaman from the Lower Merrimack at Concord and brought her people into the new confederacy led by the powerful Pennacook sachem Passaconaway (Papisseconewa), who summered in Amoskeag (Manchester, NH). One of Squaw-sachem’s sons was married to one of Passaconaway’s daughters. Only one of her three sons survived the smallpox epidemic of 1633, but their stories are taken up in a later chapter.17

In 1644 most sachems and sagamores in the Passaconaway’s Pennacook Confederacy (3), including Masconomet, signed a declaration of allegiance to the King of England, agreed to become Christians, put themselves under the protection of the colonists, and attempted to maintain strict neutrality in times of conflict. This confederacy broke up in 1674 when some warriors joined King Philip’s War of the Wampanoags, becoming enemies of the English, who then indiscriminately attacked Indian villages or forced the people to live on reservations or in internment camps. In the aftermath of that war, most surviving members of the Pennacook confederacy ended up on slave plantation or fled to western allies, went north to Quebec, or joined Abenaki war parties on the eastern frontiers.

Some Pennacook joined the Wabanaki Confederacy (4), which had formed around 1610 and included Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Mi’Kmaq and was led by war chiefs such as the famous Membertou. Between 1680 and the Revolutionary War, members of the Wabanki Confederacy fought on the side of the French and were dedicated to expelling the English from coastal settlements and fisheries on the Gulf of Maine.18 The “Anglo-Wabanaki Maritime Wars”, in which Gloucester fishermen paid a high price for plying their trade, is taken up in another chapter.

After King Philip’s War other surviving Pawtucket and Pennacook of the Lower Merrimack Valley and Essex County allied themselves with the Massachuset sachem Chickatawbut of Neponsit (5) and his heirs and successors, largely because they had a special positive relationship with the English. Chickataubut had fought for the English against Metacomet (King Philip). As the Pawtucket, Pennacook, and Massachuset lost their discrete identities, other groups in southern New England survived in place in sufficient numbers to retain their identities even to the present day, including the Nipmuc, Mohegan, Pequot, and Wampanoag.19 Today there are no groups, however, who call themselves Pawtucket, Agawam, Naumkeag, or Wamesit.

So, just as you may express your identity as an Indo-European Germanic/English-speaking Cape Anner of Massachusetts in New England in North America, a Pawtucket was an Eastern Woodland Algonquian Abenaki-speaking Pennacook Indian of Essex County in New England in North America. And there is a lot more to their story. The wigwam-dwellers on Champlain’s map of Gloucester Harbor and the people identified in this chapter are one in the same. As I learned this, the “Agawam Indians” I thought I knew began to seem unfamiliar, even alien. And that’s another thing about real history: It is indeed strange. To know what really happened in the past, one needs to be open to the unexpected, the hidden, the odd juxtaposition, the untrumpeted. Untrumpeted heroes of this history include the Pennacook-Pawtucket sachems and sagamores who steadfastly strove to remain neutral during the turbulent colonial period, and this leads me to my next question: How were these people organized, related to each other, and led, and who were their leaders?



  1. References to the Pennacook are in Eliot’s Brief Narrative of the Progress of the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England, in the Year 1670: See also Cogley, Richard W. 1999. Eliot’s Mission to the Indians Before King Philip’s War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; and Eames, Wilberforce, ed. 1915. John Eliot and the Indians 1652-1657: Being Letters Addressed to Rev. Jonathan Hanmer of Barnstaple, England. New York: Museum of the American Indian:, John. 1671. Daniel Gookin’s 1674 descriptions of the Pennacook (Published in 1692, reprinted in 1792 and 1806) are in his  Historical collections of the Indians of New England and their several nations, numbers, customs, manners, religion, and government before the English planted there. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Paper 13: See also Gookins’ Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England in the years 1670-1677. The definitive modern ethnography of the Pennacook Indians is by David Stewart-Smith, in several works. See, for example, The Pennacook Lands and Relations: An Ethnography in The New Hampshire Archaeologist 33/34 (1994).
  2. The classification of languages of North America is presented authoritatively by Ethnologue at See also Steven Johnson’s historical linguistic analysis of Algonquian in Ninnuock: the Algonkian People of New England (Bliss, 1995) and the website of the Cowasuck [Kowasek] Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People (the People of the White Pines), especially the pages on N’dakina history, and The Abenaki Language,
  3. The map of Native American language families is at
  4. A good source for Algonquian loan words is Alexander Chamberlain’s 1902 Algonkian Words in American English: A Study in the Contact of the White Man and the Indian, in The Journal of American Folklore 15 (59): 240–267. Note that in English many loan words are corruptions of Algonquian words. Caucus, for example, comes from Algonquian caucauasu, “counselor” and hickory comes from the last syllables of pawcohiccora.
  5. Read James Fennimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (H. C. Carey & I. Lea, 1826). Note that originally there was never a group called the Mohicans; the name is a mash-up of Mohegans and Mahicans, two separate groups from Connecticut and New York respectively. Descendants of the New Yorkers refer to themselves as Mohicans, however. For a perspective on Mahican identity, see the web site of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians at
  6. The Iroquoian-speaking and Algonquian-speaking people of the Northeast represented different waves of immigration to the region with cultures that reflected similar adaptations to life in the Eastern woodlands but were otherwise quite different in kinship and social and political organization. For more on this, see, for example, Dean Snow’s ethnography, The Iroquois (Blackwell, 1994). Traditional and enduring enmity between the Iroquois, especially the Mohawk of upstate New York, and the Algonquians of New England is first attested in the accounts of Samuel de Champlain and early French missionaries. Both the French and the English exploited this enmity in their own aims for dominion over North America. For example, the French used Algonquians to defeat Mohawks living in the Champlain Valley and attempting to trade with the Dutch, and the British used Iroquois to defeat the Algonquians in King Philip’s war. Metacomet himself died at the hands of Mohawks with whom he had mistakenly sought refuge. See accounts by Increase Mather and Cotton Mather in Samuel Drake’s 1862 The History of King Philip’s War and Jill Lepore’s groundbreaking work, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (1998).
  7. Of the many excellent secondary sources on the history of the League of the Iroquois, I relied mainly on William Nelson Fenton’s The Great Law and the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy (University of Oklahoma Press, 1998) and Daniel Richter and James Merrell (eds.), Beyond the Covenant Chair: the Iroquois and Their Neighbors in Indian North America, 1600-1800 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003).
  8. See Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s Algic Researches (Harper 1839). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Hiawatha: A Poem” is at
  9. See Sidney Perley’s map in Chapter 2. English sources for the Pawtucket-Pennacook in Pentucket and the lower Merrimack Valley include Abiel Abbott’s 1829 History of Andover: From Its Settlement to 1829; Nathaniel Bouton’s 1856 The History of Concord: From Its First Grant in 1725, to the Organization of the City Government in 1853, with a History of the Ancient Penacooks….; George Wingate Chase’s 1861 The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts: From Its First Settlement, in 1640, to the Year 1860; John Pendergast’s 1991 The Bend in the River; and Arthur Veasey’s 2009 Olde Pentucket—Haverhill’s First Hundred Years. A useful general source for towns in Middlesex County is Duane Hurd’s 1890 History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: Vol. 1 (See, for example, his naming of sagamores on p. 811). See also sources cited in Notes for Chapter 2 on the history of Indians in Chelmsford, Dracut, Billerica, and Lowell. For example, read “Indian History” from the History of Chelmsford by Wilson Waters at, and Vol. I Charles Cowley’s 1862 . Memories of the Indians and Pioneers of the Region of Lowell (Library of Congress). Abenaki distribution in northern New England is described, for example, in Volume I (pp. 511-512) of William Williamson’s 1831 The history of the state of Maine: from its first discovery, A. D. 1602, to the separation, A. D. 1820 (Glazier, Masters & Smith); Donald Rickey’s 2000 Encyclopedia of New Hampshire Indians: Tribes, Nations, Treaties of the Northeastern Woodlands; and Gordon Day’s In search of New England’s native past, Michael K. Foster and William Cowan, eds. (UMass, 1998). See also George Varney’s 1886 History of Kennebec County, Maine in A Gazetteer of the State of Maine.
  10. See Amoskeag Fishways, Manchester, NH, at Amoskeag as a Pennacook administrative center and fishing site is described in John B. Clarke (1875), Manchester: A Brief Record of its past, a picture of its present, including an account of its settlement and of its growth as a town and city, as well as in Chandler Potter’s The History of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (1856). (See especially chapters III and IV). The Potter is the classic source for English accounts of the Pennacook in southern New Hampshire.
  11. I found the following the best sources on Abenaki-speaking people of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine: Michael Caduto, A Time Before New Hampshire: The Story of a Land and Native Peoples (University of New Hampshire Press, 2003); Federal Writers Project, New Hampshire: A Guide to the Granite State. U.S. History Publishers, 1989); Colin Calloway, The Western Abenakis of Vermont 1600-1800 (University of Okalhoma, 1990); and Thadeuz Pietrowski, Thadeuz, The Indian Heritage of New Hampshire and Northern New England (McFarland, 2002). For the names of Pennacook and Pawtucket villages, tribes, bands, and sagamoreships I have relied mainly on the books and articles by David Stewart-Smith, cited in previous chapters. Other sources on the Pennacook sagamoreships in New Hampshire include Duane Hamilton Hurd’s county-by-county histories: History of Rockingham and Stafford Counties (1882):; History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (1855):; and History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire (1855):
  12. See Chapter 1 sources for linguists proposing translations of Algonquian placenames. Pennacook possibly referring to “groundnuts” instead of “rolling hills” or “winding foothills” was first mentioned on page 149 in N. T. True’s 1868 Collation of geographical names in the Agonquin language, in the Essex Institute Historical Collections 8:144 (Salem, MA). He cites Penaqui-cook—“crooked place” but notes that French missionaries recorded pena (a potato-like tuber otherwise knows as groundnuts) as the root word for the name, with coo(k) referring to the ubiquitousness of groundnuts growing throughout that area.
  13. Passaconaway’s roles and lineage are explored in Chapter 6 and in detail in Access Genealogy, Pennacook Indian History: and in Charles Beals, Passaconaway in the White Mountains (1916) and Russell Lawson, Passaconaway’s Realm (University Press of New England, 2002). An excellent source on the Pennacook Confederacy is Dick Shovel’s essays in First Nations Histories at Passaconaway’s loss of Pennacook lands is described in Volume 12 of William Foster’s The Farmer’s Monthly Visitor (1852), including the sachem’s petition in 1662 to John Endicott of the General Court for sufficient land to plant enough corn to sustain his people, which the Court granted. Richard Waldron was a fur trader with a trading post at Dover, NH, called Cocheco. He was tortured and killed by Pennacook following King Philip’s War in retribution for his betrayal of long-standing friendship and trust (in which he used trickery to capture Indians for the slave trade). See Chapter 4 for Gosnold’s account of his encounter with Abenakis on the coast of southern Maine.
  14. Abenaki, Pennacook, and Pawtucket patterns of trade are considered in H. G. Brack’s Norumbega Reconsidered: Mawooshen and the Wawenoc Diaspora: The Indigenous Communities of the Central Maine Coast in Protohistory 1535-1620 (Davistown Museum Publication Series Volume 4, 2006). See also the trail maps for Agawam in Chapter 2 and Chester Price’s maps in Historic Indian Trails of New Hampshire, in The New Hampshire Archaeologist 14: 1-33 (1958). A source map of Native Settlements and Trails c. 1600-1650 appears on page 12 of Wilkie and Tager’s Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (1991): Other maps appear in William Haviland’s Canoe Indians of Down East Maine (The History Press, 2012) and Colin Calloway’s The Western Abenakis of Vermont 1600-1800 (University of Oklahoma, 1990). My maps of Pawtucket trading partners is an amalgamation from these sources.
  15. For a perspective on Pennacook allies in the Wabanaki Confederacy, see the web site of the St. Francis-Sokoki Band of Abenaki Indians at
  16. Details on the changing native alliances and confederacies in southern New England may be found in Dennis Connole’s 2007 Indians of the Nipmuck Country in Southern New England 1630-1750: An Historical Geography, and the Lewis and Newhall 1844 History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant, 1628-1893.
  17. See Dick Shovel and David Stewart-Smith for details on the Pennacook Confederacy.
  18. Between 1675 and 1775 members of the Wabanki Confederacy were involved in the harassment of English fishing fleets and settlements on the coast of Maine. These Anglo-Wabanaki Wars, as I call them, are the subject of a later chapter in this book.
  19. Note that historically there never was a Wampanoag tribe. Wampanoag was the name of a confederacy of surviving splinter groups, principally Pokanoket, who originally inhabited Boston’s south shore, Cape Cod, parts of Rhode Island, and the offshore islands. This Wampanoag Confederacy came into being during the mid-17th Century and ended with defeat in King Philip’s War, but the name survived and was and is used as a putative tribal name by descendants as well as by historians, who sometimes use the word interchangeably with Massachuset. It is attested that a Pennacook, or “Squam”, band of Indians living on Nantucket joined the Wampanoag Confederacy. They may have been self-exiles from Cape Ann, as were some Pawtucket families living with the Natick, also regarded as Massachuset or Wampanoag. Chickataubut’s representation of the Massachuset, attested in records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later the Province of Massachusetts Bay, extended to a loose confederation of surviving Wampanoag and other groups in coastal southern New England, including those on Nantucket and Martha’s Vinyard. Massachuset use of the English court system to champion native interests was a legacy of Chickataubut. Note that the Wampanoag Indians are referred to in historical literature as Philip’s Indians, and the name is not attested prior to Metacomet’s (Philip’s) succession to Massasoit’s sachemship after the assassination (by the English) of his brother Wamsutta (Alexander). Thus, Wampanoag may not mean “Eastern People” or “People of the First Light”, as has been claimed and repeated by both linguists and present-day Wampanoags. Nnnuog contracted to noag, meaning “dawn” does nothing to explain the Wampa portion of the name, which in any case does not translate as “people”. Noag also means “friends” or “kinsmen”, and [n]oag is a common suffix referring to people joined in a common endeavor. For example, mugwampoag means “warriors”. In historical context it seems more likely that Wampanoag means something like “Friends and kinsmen allied in war [against the English]” or “Band of brothers”. Like my retranslation of Wingaersheek, my take on Wampanoag is original so far as I know (and may not be welcome given the sheer weight of traditional belief).




Chapter 4 Who Else Came Here and What Did They Find?


It seems a simple enough question: Who else came here prior to settlement and what did they discover? Other than Champlain, I expected to confirm the landfalls of Columbus in the Caribbean, Ponce de Leon in Florida, Cartier in Newfoundland, Cabot in the Maritimes, Hudson in New York, and Smith in New England before getting to Bradford in Plymouth and the Dorchester Company, but instead I found a whole roster of complete unknowns (to me)—those who never made the history textbooks for undergraduates back in the day. For history is nothing if not selective. Those who may have seen the Algonquians of New England and Cape Ann prior to settlement included fleets of fishermen, fur traders, and slavers along with empire builders and those seeking gold, passages to the Orient, and eternal youth.

It’s perhaps easier to start with who did not come to Cape Ann, and that would include the Vikings. I found no evidence, not even a shred of circumstantial evidence, that Leif Ericson’s brother Thorvald was buried on Cape Ann in 1004 AD or even that Vikings actually set foot here. The surname actually was Eirikssen, and the father of Leif, Thorvald, and Thorstein Eirikssen was Erik Thorvaldson, or Erik the Red, the developer, if not discoverer, of Greenland.1

Robert Pringle, citing the 11th century Icelandic sagas in his 1895 history of Gloucester, says the Vikings named New England Vinland in 1007, but candidates for that name range from L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland to sites in New Brunswick; Newport, Rhode Island; Martha’s Vinyard; as far south as Virginia; and as far west as Minnesota. In Old Norse, vinland apparently could have meant “pastureland” or “meadowland” or “land of grapes” depending on how the word was pronounced. Those features of terrain would have been characteristic of New England, but hardly diagnostic of Norse exploration on Cape Ann. Algonquians created meadowland or parkland all along the Atlantic seaboard through their methods of land use, and wild grapevines grew on trees all up and down the coast between Newfoundland and New Jersey. The Sagas, meanwhile, refer to a heavily forested cape, not a parkland with vines, facing an elbow-shaped north-facing cape to its south, which Pringle and others took to mean Cape Cod.2

Confirmed Viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland

Surviving Viking maps of the North Atlantic rim extend no further south than 50 degrees north latitude, supporting the conclusion that the lands and peoples the Norse described may have included Algonquians but were all north of Cape Ann, which lies below the 43rd parallel. Even assuming the explorers sailed farther south than their maps record, the problem remains of a lack of accepted or substantiated evidence.3

Ancient Viking Map of the North Atlantic Rim

Ortelius’s Map of the Scandinavian World in 1573

According to the Icelandic sagas and the 15th century Skalholtsbok manuscript, Thorwald—fatally wounded by natives he had attacked—requested to be buried at Krossanes, “Cape of the Crosses”, a mistranslation of Krossarnes, “Crossness”. This burial site has been claimed by Hampton, NH (which has a rock with rune-like scratchings claimed to be Thorvald’s headstone); as well as by Cape Neddick, ME; Gloucester, MA; Boston; Nahant; Lynn; and Duxbury. Duxbury even named a promontory Krossanes, quoting the same words other towns use to justify their claims. Other supposed runestones in New England, such as Dighton Rock in Berkeley, MA on the Taunton River, have not been authenticated despite perennial speculation. In Massachusetts, artifacts or sites of proposed but disputed Norse origin have also been found in Cambridge, Hingham, Medford, and a number of spots on Cape Cod.4

Thorvald’s Alleged Gravestone in Hampton, NH


 Dighton Rock in an 1853 Daguerreotype

In 1874 an influential book by Rasmus Anderson broke the news that the Norse and not Columbus had discovered America. Anti-Catholic and nativist Scandinavian groups promoted the claim, and soon there were new Viking archaeological finds from Wisconsin to Boston, where E. N. Horsford “discovered” that Norembega was really a Viking settlement on the Charles River. Victorian enthusiasm for the newfound historical significance of the Vikings was honored in the Columbian Exposition (or Chicago World’s Fair) of 1893, where a replica of a Viking ship was displayed along with replicas of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria.5

The Viking en Route the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

 The exhibit of this replica of Leif Erikson’s Viking ship created a sensation at the Columbian Exposition and sparked a flurry of local efforts to “correct” their historical records. Historians of Cape Ann in the 1890s were not immune to the excitement. At that time, for the first time, the Vikings were added to local history. (James Robert Pringle, a journalist, publicist, and amateur historian living in Gloucester at the time, likely was influenced by the Viking craze.)

A postage stamp issued in the U.S. in 1925 commemorates the Viking ship featured in the Columbian Exposition. In 1919, the Scandinavian Fraternity of America petitioned Congress to declare officially that Leif Erikson discovered North America. Ultimately, in1964, October 9 became Leif Erikson Day as an optional holiday and alternative to Columbus Day on the national calendar. A Leif Erikson postage stamp was issued in 1968. Appropriation of the Vikings as a cultural icon includes statues and sports teams in communities as near as Rockport, MA and as far away as New Zealand with historically high populations of Scandinavian immigrants.6

            Viking Stamps

In his 1892 self-published History of Gloucester and Cape Ann, Pringle wrote that Thorwald was buried in Gloucester somewhere along the Back Shore. Earlier historians Adams, Babson, and Thornton had somehow failed to mention this. Norse literature states that Thorwald, sailing south in 1004 AD, had been going east around a rocky north-facing cape when he put ashore to mend a damaged rudder, found six Skraelings [natives] hiding under their beached canoes, killed them, except for one escapee, and was soon after mortally wounded in a retaliatory attack. It is written that he requested to be taken to a preferred spot to be buried and that the place be called Krossanes. According to Pringle, Krossanes was at Bass Rocks. There was even a Hotel Thorwald at Bass Rocks between 1899 and 1965, when it burned down. In 1909 it had 175 Rooms for Summer Tourists at $17.50 to $35 a Week.7

Hotel Thorwald in 1909

Norse literature also states that Thorvald’s burial site lay between two fjords, evidence of which neither Bass Rocks nor Cape Ann in general can provide. Pringle’s claim that Krossanes was on Cape Ann nevertheless persists as a part of our official history. A Krossanes does exist as a village in Iceland, Thorvald’s original homeland. Vikings are said to have gone to great lengths to have their bodies buried at home in Christian consecrated ground. Wherever in Vinland Thorvald was buried, his brother Thorstein later attempted unsuccessfully to retrieve the body in a subsequent expedition, most likely to rebury him in consecrated ground.8

That so many different towns wanted to be the home of the Vikings in America testifies to the enormous romance and caché the 19th century imagination attached to the drama of discovery. That was also the time when, in another great feat of imagination, a particular boulder on the beach became immortalized as Plymouth Rock. The boulder apparently had been identified in 1741, a hundred and twenty-one years after the Mayflower landing, by a 92-year-old church elder whose father had pointed it out to him on the beach (and who had not wanted a wharf to be built there).9

Plymouth Rock in the Victorian era (Hammett Billings, 1867)

But so much for who did not come to Cape Ann. Other than the Vikings at Vinland a thousand years ago, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, Breton, Dutch, and French explorations and settlements all predated the English by as much as a hundred years. Among the many explorers who visited New England shores prior to the first attempted settlements were, as expected, Giovanni Caboto (known as John Cabot) and his sons, starting in 1497, and John Smith, starting in a 1607 sail-by on his way to Virginia, less than a year after Champlain had come ashore in Gloucester Harbor. Most history texts fail to mention other early discoveries, however, such as the Portuguese Diogo Ribeiro’s 1529 sightings of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which have seven peaks above 5,000 feet and can be seen far out to sea.10

Textual and archaeological evidence shows that as early as the late 14th century Basque and Breton fleets fished the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, Georges Bank in the Gulf of Maine and Tillies Bank, Jeffrey’s Ledge, and Stellwagen Bank off the Massachusetts coast. Later English chroniclers, such as John Brereton, on a 1602 Sir Walter Raleigh-sponsored voyage with Bartholomew Gosnold and Bartholomew Gilbert, reported how they saw Indians rowing Basque barques and wearing Basque jackets and leggings. Martin Pring, sailing up the Penobscot River in 1603, also saw evidence of Basque contact. In 1604, Champlain encountered Basques fishing near Sable Island off Nova Scotia who told him that Basques had been fishing there for more than a hundred and fifty years.11

Cosa’s Basque World Map of 1505 with Sites in North America

Basque seasonal fishing stations were clustered along the coast of Labrador, such as at Red Bay, and at sites such as Port aux Basques and St. Anthony in Newfoundland. Newfoundland was the Antarctica of the 16th century (until 1583 when Humphrey Gilbert claimed it for Queen Elizabeth and England). Different European nations claimed different portions of the coastline to establish fishing stations and processing centers for their fishing fleets. In this way countries shared the great bounty of codfish and whales, driving bowhead and right whales to near extinction within a hundred years.12

The Basques exported fish and whale oil to Europe and imported glass beads to trade with the Inuit. The Bretons (from Brittany, geographically the French equivalent of England’s Cornwall) fished off Nova Scotia and in the Gulf of Maine and claimed to have explored the entire coast of North America prior to Spanish claims to Florida in 1513. Native Americans living on the coasts, the first to become acculturated and bilingual in contact situations, became important middlemen in the European trade.13

Breton Fishing Stations on the Coast of Nova Scotia and Maine


Fifteenth and sixteenth-century mapmakers did not have the benefit of the modern science of geodesy or global positioning systems based on satellite technologies. They did not even have the advantage of the sextant, a device invented in the late 17th century that used mirrors to measure the altitude of any object above the horizon line. Latitudes were well known, but longitude was a complex measurement and completely relative in the absence of a standard prime meridian. In addition to technical distortions, explorers’ interests, loyalties, and employers influenced what mapmakers portrayed on maps. Giovanni di Verrazano’s map of 1525, for example, reflected his desire to find silver in a city paradise the natives purportedly called Norumbega (or Norembega) and to discover a Northwest Passage to China through the Parte Incognita of the Americas. In 1542 Jacques Cartier, Jean Allefonsce, and other French explorers also described the fabulous Indian “kingdom” known as Norumbega. Maps claiming to show the location of Norumbega are as diverse as maps to El Dorado.14

Verrazano’s 1525 Map with Terra de Nurumbega in Southern New England


Mercator’s 1569 Map with Norombega on the Kennebec River

Ortelius’s 1570 Map with Norembega in Acadia

L’Escarbot’s 1606 Map with Norumbega on the Penobscot River

Like the cities of gold sought by the Spanish, Norumbega may have been a mythical place. It seems to have been somewhere in the homelands of the Abenaki, who might have been able to lead explorers to copper but not gold or silver. The “city” of Norumbega may have referred to the historically powerful Penobscot chiefdom called Norridgewock at the junction of the Kennebec and Sandy rivers in Maine. Later American maps show Norembega on the Charles River. In the 1800s Dorchester, Charlestown, Watertown, Newton, and Cambridge all claimed to be the site of the fabled city. From 1897 until 1963 a beautiful amusement park operated in Newton-Auburndale called Norembega Park (and I was among the last to go dancing there to big band music in the famed Totem Pole Ballroom).15

The Totem Pole

Other than silver, gold, the Northwest Passage, and Norumbega, old maps of the Northeast reveal early explorers’ hopes of finding copper on Maine’s coastal islands, sassafras on Cape Cod, peltry (furs) from Canada’s First Peoples, and Christian converts from wherever they could be found. Illustrated maps were used as advertisements for attracting investors in the fur trade, missionaries, and sponsors for exploration.16


Bressani’s 1657 Map of Jesuit Missions and Converts

Early explorers recorded their observations and experiences with Native Americans, starting with Columbus and the Spanish missionaries. Initial impressions seem remarkably the same. Columbus wrote in his letter book:17

As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us. Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk’s bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse’s tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black…; others with white, others with red….Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the [cause] of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language.

Columbus Fleet Meets the Arawakan Taino, 1492

Verrazano’s description of Native Americans of the Carolina coast, who were Algonquians, offers similar details:18

…Many people who were seen coming to the sea-side fled at our approach, but occasionally stopping, they looked back upon us with astonishment, and some were at length induced, by various friendly signs, to come to us. These showed the greatest delight on beholding us, wondering at our dress, countenances and complexion. They then showed us by signs where we could more conveniently secure our boat, and offered us some of their provisions. That your Majesty may know all that we learned, while on shore, of their manners and customs of life, I will relate what we saw as briefly as possible. They go entirely naked, except that about the loins their wear skins of small animals like martens fastened by a girdle of plaited grass, to which they tie, all round the body, the tails of other animals hanging down to the knees; all other parts of the body and the head are naked. Some wear garlands similar to birds’ feathers…. The complexion of these people is black, not much different from that of the Ethiopians; their hair is black and thick, and not very long, it is worn tied back upon the head in the form of a little tail. In person they are of good proportions, of middle stature, a little above our own, broad across the breast, strong in the arms, and well formed in the legs and other parts of the body….

A hundred years after Columbus and Verrazano and before Champlain came to Le Beauport (roughly between 1540 and 1605), other explorers visited the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. For example, in 1579 John Walker sailed with Simon Ferdinando for Sir Humphrey Gilbert to anchor in Penobscot Bay and met with Abenaki aboard his flagship. He is alleged to have taken 200 dried moose hides from an unattended storage site, suggesting that the Abenaki were already heavily involved in the fur trade by that time. Henry Hudson and Samuel Argall further explored the Penobscot River in 1609 and 1610 respectively.19

In 1583 Edward Hayes sailed to St. Johns with Humphrey Gilbert to claim Newfoundland for England. They discovered already well-established entrepreneurial French, Basque, Portuguese, and English fishing stations and sheep farms. Hayes’s account describes how they attempted to extend English sovereignty (e.g., you could get your ears cut off if you bad-mouthed Queen Elizabeth) and how on the return voyage Hayes’s ship the Golden Hind became the sole surviving vessel in a fleet of seven. Hayes wrote:20

We were in number in all about 260 men; among whom we had of every faculty good choice, as shipwrights, masons, carpenters, smiths, and such like, requisite to such an action; also mineral men and refiners. Besides, for solace of our people, and allurement of the savages, we were provided of music in good variety; not omitting the least toys, as morris-dancers, hobby-horse, and May-like conceits to delight the savage people, whom we intended to win by all fair means possible. And to that end we were indifferently furnished of all petty haberdashery wares to barter with those simple people.

In 1534 Cartier met the Beothuk of Labrador and Newfoundland, now said to be extinct. The Beothuk were non-agricultural, predated Algonquian occupation, did not speak an Algonquian language, and were seacoast-specialized. They were also noted for their ferocity and their extensive use of red ochre. Europeans were impressed with Beothuk stature and their ocean-going canoes, adapted for the sea with high gunwales, and with their ability to hunt marine mammals, including seals and porpoises. After a brief encounter, however, the Beothuk attacked to expel the Europeans, whom they saw, rightly, as invaders.21

Cartier Fleet Makes Contact with Beothuk in Newfoundland

The Beothuk

Cartier described the Beothuk as “red men” because of the red ochre they used as a protective coating on their skin. It’s claimed that’s how the term “redskins” subsequently got applied to all Native Americans. In his account of his voyage of 1534, Cartier describes how the Beothuk rubbed red ochre on everything—their bodies, hair, shelters, clothing, and implements. French contact was limited, however, because of Beothuk hostility and complete disinterest in the fur trade.22

Vikings may have had a similar experience with the Beothuk more than 500 years earlier. The skraelings (“false friends”, pronounced skray lingz), described in the Norse Sagas, attacked the Eriksons’ attempted settlements in Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia. Skraelings may have included the Beothuk as well as the Innu and the Thule, ancestors of the present-day Naskapi and Inuit peoples respectively.

Over the next three hundred years, as their cod fisheries, colonies, and slave trade grew, the Europeans and their Indian allies brought the surviving Beothuk of Newfoundland to near extinction. The English recorded the last-known individuals as the captive women Demasduit and Shanawdithit, their stories all the more tragic because they could not have been returned to their people. The fierce Beothuk reportedly sacrificially killed all individuals who had any, even unwilling, contact with their enemies.23

Demasduit (Mary March) was kidnapped by John Peyton Jr. in 1819 in an ambush that killed her husband and led to the death of her infant son. Lady Henrietta Hamilton painted a portrait of her before the Beothuk woman died of tuberculosis the following year. In 1823 Demasduit’s niece, Shanawdithit, and Shanawdithit’s sister and mother, all their kin gone, came out of hiding for protection, surrendering to an English trapper living nearby. Shanawdithit died of tuberculosis in 1829 as “the last” recorded Beothuk. In 1841 William Gosse made a posthumous painting of Shanawdithit (Nancy April), which clearly borrows from the earlier portrait.24

Demasduit and Shanawdithit


Although these women were memorialized as the last of their people, other Beothuk no doubt had survived by joining Mi’Kmaq settlements or marrying into other groups during the 17th and 18th centuries. Maybe Beothuk warriors were among the Mi’Kmaq whom the Penobscot, Pawtucket, Pennacook, and Massachuset later feared as the dreaded Tarrantines. Cartier refers to helping the Almouchiquois (Algonquians) against their enemy “the Terentynes”.

Martin Pring in the Speedwell; Robert Salterne in the Explorer; and Gabriel Archer, John Brereton and Bartholomew Gosnold in the Concord all wrote accounts of their New World encounters. Like other explorers before them, they sailed on several voyages in mix-and-match fleets under noble or royal or merchant sponsorship on missions of discovery, procurement of commodities, or colonization. Pring, for example, was in New England in 1602 looking for a site for a colony, again in 1603 looking for sassafras for Bristol merchants, and again in 1606 looking to establish fur trading posts on the Saco and Penobscot rivers.25

 History tends to oversimplify or condense such voyages, conflating ships’ captains with the explorers and their supercargo: companions, navigators, mapmakers, patent holders, sponsors, or monarchs. Historical statements such as “Gosnold landed on the coast of Maine” elevates the individual man and the achievement of landfall, obscuring the fact that several ships with hundreds of men on several voyages with several landfalls were involved and that Gosnold was not acting alone or even necessarily on his own initiative. Perhaps this is a human thing—how heroes and legends are cut away from the solid mountain of facts of the past and are carved and polished into the stand-alone monuments we like to celebrate.

In 1602, Gosnold got travel directions from Native Americans at a place he called “Savage’s Rock”, which, contrary to local speculation, probably was not on Cape Ann. The landing site is believed to have been Cape Neddick at York Beach, Maine, or Cape Porpoise at Kennebunkport, based on the Concord’s nautical data. They reported reaching Savage’s Rock at a little over 43 degrees north latitude, and that when they left they reached Cape Cod after fourteen or fifteen hours of sailing on a fresh breeze. Even by conservative estimates, they apparently would have overshot Cape Cod in that time if they had left from Cape Ann. So, the desire to have Gosnold here must, like the Vikings, be denied, though it should not matter. The Pennacook Gosnold parlayed with no doubt fished here.26

 Gosnold Fleet Meets Pennacook Near Agawam in 1602

 The Indians whom Gosnold, Brereton, and Archer encountered in Maine (and whom others encountered on the Piscataqua, Saco, Kennebec, and Penobscot rivers) undoubtedly were Pennacook or other Abenaki involved in trade with the French. With a piece of chalk Gosnold gave them, on the bedrock the Abenaki drew a map of the Massachusetts coast, including Cape Cod and the islands, which Gosnold reported to be completely accurate. Likewise the Pawtucket at Le Beauport later drew an accurate map for Champlain, including the islands of Boston Harbor and the six Massachuset chiefdoms, as described in Chapter 3.27

From Brereton’s report:28

[On] Friday, the fourteenth of May [May 24, 1602, New Style], early in the morning, we made the land, being full of fair trees, the land somewhat low, certain hummocks or hills lying into the land, the shore full of white sand, but very stony or rocky. And standing fair alongst by the shore, about twelve of the clock the same day, we came to an anchor, where eight Indians, in a Basque shallop with mast and sail, an iron grapple, and a kettle of Copper, came boldly aboard us, one of them appareled with a waistcoat and breeches of black serge, made after our sea-fashion, hose and shoes on his feet; all the rest (saving one that had a pair of breeches of blue cloth) were naked….These people are of tall stature, broad and grim visage, of a black swart complexion, their eyebrows painted white; their weapons are bows and arrows. It seemed by some words and signs they made, that some Basques, or of Saint John de Luz [Basques of Spain or France], have fished or traded in this place, being in the latitude of 43 Degrees (p. 2)…. [We] saw many Indians, which are tall big boned men, all naked, saving they cover their privy parts with a black tewed [tanned] skin, much like a Blacksmiths apron, tied about the middle and between their legs behind: they gave us of their fish ready boiled…whereof we did eat…they gave us also of their Tobacco….( p. 4). These people, as they are exceeding courteous, gentle of disposition, and well conditioned, excelling all others that we have seen; so for shape of body and lovely favor, I think they excel all the people of America; of stature much higher than we; of complexion or color, much like a dark Olive; their eyebrows and hair black, which they wear long, tied up behind in knots, whereon they prick feathers of fowls, in fashion of a crownet: some of them are black thin bearded; they make beards of the hair of beasts: and one of them offered a beard of their making to one of our sailors, for this that grew on his face, which because it was of a red color, they judged it to be none of his own. They are quick eyed, and steadfast in the looks, fearless of others harms, as intending none themselves; some of the meaner sort given to filching, which the very name of Savages (not weighing their ignorance in good or evil) may easily excuse: their garments are of Deer skins, and some of them wear Furs round and close about their necks…. Their women (such as we saw) which were but three in all, were but low of stature, their eyebrows, hair, apparel, and manner of wearing, like to the men, fat, and well favored, and much delighted in our company; the men are dutiful towards them  (p. 8).

Gosnold wrote in a letter to his father:29

We cannot gather, by anything we could observe in the people, or by any trial we had thereof ourselves, but that it is as healthful a climate as any can be. The inhabitants there, as I wrote before, being of tall stature, comely proportion, strong, active, and some of good years, and as it should seem very healthful, are sufficient proof of the healthfulness of the place.

Gosnold and his gentlemen adventurers wrote glowing accounts of good relations with the Algonquian peoples they encountered. Unlike the voyagers searching for treasure or a Northwest Passage, they were en route to try to establish a plantation on Cape Cod. Others were less respectful. In his 1603 voyage, Pring kidnapped some Abenaki on the Saco and Penobscot rivers to bring home to his sponsors. In his 1606 voyage, sailing for Sir Ferdinando Gorges, he reported that villages along the Piscataqua (Portsmouth, NH) had been abandoned. George Waymouth (Weymouth), sailing for Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1605 to find a site for a plantation on the southern coast of Maine, had also kidnapped Abenaki to bring home. On subsequent voyages Pring and other explorers carried a captive native with them to serve as an interpreter and guide. Champlain, too, was a beneficiary of this practice.30

Looking for sassafras to treat a growing number of syphilis cases back home, Pring explored the New England coast in 1603 and made landfall at Plymouth Harbor. As described to Richard Hakluyt in an account preserved by Samuel Purchas:31

During our abode on the shore, the people of the Countrey came to our men sometimes ten, twentie, fortie, or threescore, and at one time one hundred and twentie at once. We used them kindly, and gave them divers sorts of our meanest Merchandise. They did eat Pease and Beanes with our men. Their owne victuals were most of fish….These people in colour are inclined to a swart, tawnie, or Chestnut colour, not by nature but accidentally, and doe weare their haire brayded in foure parts, and trussed up about their heads with a small knot behind: in which haire of theirs they sticke many feathers and toyes for braverie and pleasure. They cover their privities only with a piece of leather drawne betwixt their twists and fastened to their Girdles behind and before: whereunto they hang their bags of Tobacco. They seeme to bee somewhat jealous of their women, for we saw not past two of them, who weare Aprons of Leather skins before them downe to the knees, and a Beares skinne like an Irish Mantle over one shoulder. The men are of stature somewhat taller than our ordinary people, strong, swift, well proportioned, and given to treacherie, as in the end we perceived….

 James Rosier wrote an account of his 1605 voyage on the Archangell with George Weymouth to Monhegan Island and the coast of Maine, which they called “the northern part of Virginia”. They were looking for a site for a fishing plantation and opportunities to trade for furs. According to Rosier’s description of their first contact with Native Americans:32

On May 30…about five a clocke in the afternoone, we in the shippe espied three Canoas [canoes] comming towards us, which went to the island adjoining, where they went a shore, and very quickly had made a fire, about which they stood beholding our ship: to whom we made signes with our hands and hats, weffing unto them to come unto vs, because we had not seene any of the people yet. They sent one Canoa with three men, one of which, when they came neere unto us, spake in his language very lowd and very boldly: seeming as though he would know why we were there, and by pointing with his oare towards the sea, we conjectured he meant we should be gone. But when we shewed them knives and their use, by cutting of stickes and other trifles, as combs and glasses, they came close aboard our ship, as desirous to entertaine our friendship. To these we gave such things as we perceived they liked, when wee shewed them the use: bracelets, rings, peacocke feathers, which they stucke in their haire, and Tabacco pipes. After their departure to their company on the shore, presently came foure other in another Canoa: to whom we gave as to the former, using them with as much kindnes as we could….The shape of their body is very proportionable, they are wel countenanced, not very tal nor big, but in stature like to us: they paint their bodies with blacke, their faces, some with red, some with blacke, and some with blew [blue]…. Their clothing is Beavers skins, or Deares skins, cast over them like a mantle, and hanging downe to their knees, made fast together upon the shoulder with leather; some of them had sleeves, most had none; some had buskins of such leather tewed: they have besides a peece of Beauers skin betweene their legs, made fast about their waste, to cover their privities….They suffer no haire to grow on their faces, but on their head very long and very blacke, which those that have wives, binde up behinde with a leather string, in a long round knot. They seemed all very civill and merrie: shewing tokens of much thankefulnesse, for those things we gave them. We found them then (as after) a people of exceeding good invention, quicke understanding and readie capacitie….

Then the next day:

[We] saw foure of their women, who stood behind them, as desirous to see us, but not willing to be seene; for before, whensoever we came on shore, they retired into the woods, whether it were in regard of their owne naturall modestie, being covered only as the men with the foresaid Beavers skins, or by the commanding jealousy of their husbands, which we rather suspected, because it is an inclination much noted to be in Salvages; wherefore we would by no meanes seeme to take any speciall notice of them. They were very well fauoured in proportion of countenance, though coloured blacke, low of stature, and fat, bare headed as the men, wearing their haire long: they had two little male children of a yeere and a half old, as we judged, very fat and of good countenances, which they love tenderly, all naked, except their legs, which were covered with thin leather buskins tewed, fastened with strops to a girdle about their waste, which they girde very straight, and is decked round about with little round peeces of red Copper; to these I gave chaines and bracelets, glasses, and other trifles, which the Salvages seemed to accept in great kindnesse.

Rosier goes on to describe how they then tricked and captured the five Abenaki at Pemaquid for Weymouth to bring back to England to his sponsors. Afterwards, Rosier observes:33

First, although at the time when we surprised them, they made their best resistance, not knowing our purpose, nor what we were, nor how we meant to use them; yet after perceiving by their kinde usage we intended them no harme, they have never since seemed discontented with us, but very tractable, loving, & willing by their best meanes to satisfie us in any thing we demand of them, by words or signes for their understanding: neither have they at any time beene at the least discord among themselves; insomuch as we have not seene them angry but merry; and so kinde, as if you give any thing to one of them, he will distribute part to every one of the rest.

 The Archangell in Penobscot Bay in 1605

Others followed, such as George Popham and Ralegh Gilbert, who sailed in two ships (Gift of God and Mary and John) with 120 people, including Skidwares, one of Weymouth’s Pemaquid captives. According to the chronicler, Skidwares promptly escaped upon repatriation to remain with his chief, Nahanada (or Dahanada), another captive who had previously been repatriated. In any case, Popham, sailing for the Virginia Company, carried a native captive as a guide. Encouraged by Pring’s findings the year before, Popham’s company was to found a fishing colony, fur trading post, and a fort on the Kennebec River. This was in 1607, the same year that Jamestown was founded in Virginia. Popham Colony, also known as Sagadahoc, like Roanoke, was, however, short lived.34

1606 Newport, Smith, and the Jamestown Fleet Meet Powhatan in Virginia

Popham’s company built Fort St. George on the Kennebec but abandoned it after a year, mainly because of problems with sponsorship and authorization back home. A first-hand account describes the Popham fleet’s contact with Native Americans at Pemaquid to the north:35

About midnight Captain Gilbert caused his ship’s boat to be manned with 14 persons and the Indian called Skidwares (brought into England by Captain Waymouth) and rowed to the westward, from their ship to the River of Pemaquid which they found to be 4 leagues distant from their ship where she rode. The Indian brought them to the savage’s houses, where they found 100 men, women, and children and their chief commander or sagamo, amongst them named Nahanada, who had been brought likewise into England by Captain Waymouth and returned thither by Captain Hanam setting forth for these parts, and some part of Canada the year before. At their first coming the Indians betook them to their arms, their bows and arrows, but after Nahanada had talked to Skidwares and perceived that they were Englishmen, he caused them to lay aside their bows and arrows, and he himself came unto them and embraced them and made them much welcome, and after 2 hours interchangeably thus spent, they returned aboard again. Captain Popham manned his shallop and Captain Gilbert his ship’s boat with 50 persons in both and departed for the River of Pemaquid, carrying with them Skidwares.  Being arrived in the mouth of the river there came forth Nahanada with all his company of Indians with their bows and arrows in their hands, they being before his dwelling houses would not willingly have all our people come on shore, being fearful of us. To give them satisfaction the captains with some 8 or 10 of the chiefest landed, but after a little parley together they suffered all to come ashore using them in all kind sort after their manner. Nevertheless after one hour they all suddenly withdrew themselves into the woods, nor was Skidwares desirous to return with us any more aboard.  Our people loath to offer any violence unto him by drawing him by force, suffered him to stay behind, promising to return unto them the day following, but he did not.

The writer of the account seems insensitive to the idea that the Abenaki chieftain and his warriors may have felt they had good reason to avoid further risk of abduction!

Popham observed French influence among the Eastern Abenaki and the Mi’Kmaq, their fierce leader Messamoet, and the Abenaki fear of them and other Tarrantines, such as those led by the dreaded Membertou of Nova Scotia. Henry Hudson, in Penobscot Bay in 1609, also remarked on French hegemony on trade in Maine and the Maritimes. By Hudson’s account:36

The seventeenth, all was mystie, so that we could not get into the harbor. At ten of the clocke two boats came off to us, with sixe of the savages of the countrey, seeming glad of our coming. We gave them trifles, and they eate and dranke with us; and told us that there were gold, silver and copper mynes hard by us; and that the Frenchmen doe trade with them; which is very likely, for one of them spake some words of French. So wee rode still all day and all night, the weather continuing mystie.

Captain John Smith seems to have had ambiguous or mixed reactions to the native peoples he encountered. His accounts express both admiration and contempt. He claimed friendship with an Abenaki chieftain in Maine but advertised New England to merchant investors as a place well stocked with natives as a ready supply of forced labor, who were otherwise easily vanquished. Between 1607 and 1609, his militancy in helping to establish the Jamestown Colony caused enduring enmity between the English and the Algonquian people living there (the Pocahontas story notwithstanding).37

Smith mapped New England in 1614 when in the employ of the Plymouth Company to explore the coast for a possible fishing colony. Smith named Cape Ann Tragabigzanda and the Three Turks’ Heads (presumably the Thatcher, Straitsmouth, and Milk islands), based on his previous adventures in the Ottoman Empire. He was captured as a mercenary in the Austrian army, enslaved, and bought by a Turkish nobleman. The nobleman gave Smith to his mistress, a Greek girl. Her name means “Girl of Trebizond” and she was not a Turkish princess, nor Smith’s mistress, although she apparently showed him kindness. Smith eventually managed to escape by decapitating three Turks, hence the Turks’ Head islands. James I of England, allowed his son, the future Charles I, to rename Tragabigzanda Capa Anna (soon shortened to Cape Ann on most maps) in honor of his mother, Queen Anne of Denmark.38

John Smith and Detail from his 1616 Map of New England


In A Description of New England (1616), Smith credits the discovery of New England to Sir Francis Drake (who, however, only saw the coast from Virginia to the Caribbean). Smith also credits the previous voyages of Gosnold, Weymouth, Popham, and Hudson.  These explorers did not set foot on Cape Ann, however, and I have not been able to confirm any actual landings here prior to 1623 other than Champlain’s.39

According to Smith’s A Description of New England (1616):40

As you pass the Coast still Westward, Accominticus [Agamenticus, e.g., Rye and York, ME, explored by Bartholemew Gosnold in 1602] and Passataquack [Piscataqua River at Portsmouth, NH, explored by Martin Pring in 1603] are two convenient harbors for small barks; and a good Countrie, within their craggie cliffs. Angoam [Ipswich-Essex] is next; This place might content a right curious judgement: but there are many sands at the entrance of the harbor: and the worst is, it is inbayed too farre from the deepe Sea. Heere are many rising hilles, and on their tops and descents many corne fields, and delightfull groves. On the East, is an Ile of two or three leagues in length [Plum Island]; the one halfe, plaine morish grasse fit for pasture, with many faire high groves of mulberrie trees gardens: and there is also Okes, Pines, and other woods to make this place an excellent habitation, being a good and safe harbor. Naimkeck [Naumkeag, probably incorporating Cape Ann] though it be more rockie ground (for Angoam is sandie) not much inferior; neither for the harbor [Gloucester Harbor], nor any thing I could perceive, but the multitude of people. From hence doth stretch into the Sea the faire headland Tragabigzanda [Rockport], front with three Iles called the three Turks heads: to the North of this doth enter a great bay [?Sandy Bay or Ipswich Bay], where wee founde some habitations and corne fields: they report a great River [?the Merrimack], and at least thirtie habitations do possesse the Countrie. But because the French had got their trade, I had no leasure to discover it. The Iles of Mattahunts [Nahant] are on the West side of this Bay [Salem Sound to Nahant Bay], where are many Iles, and questionlesse good harbors: and then the Countrie of the Massachusets, which is the Paradise of all these parts: for here are many Iles all planted with corne; groves, mulberries, salvage [savage] gardens, and good harbors; the Coast is for the most part, high clayie sandie cliffs. The Sea Coast as you pass, shewes you all along large corne fields, and great troupes of well proportioned people: but the French having remained here neere sixe weekes, left nothing for us to take occasion to examine the inhabitants relations, viz. if there be neer three thousand people upon these Iles; and that the River doth pearce many daies journeys the intralles of that Countrey.

Smith’s use of local Algonquian place names in his account include Angoam, Aggawom (Agawam), and Naimineck (Naumkeag). These names do not appear in any of his predecessors’ accounts, and Smith reports explicitly that he did not go ashore to investigate Cape Ann. Thus they had to be names that Smith learned from his Abenaki host on his visit to Maine in 1614, when he stayed ashore on the Kennebec River long enough to plant and grow a garden. His informant must have been Dohannida (whose name Weymouth’s Rosier wrote as Nahanada and Popham’s chronicler as Tahaneda), the Abenaki sagamore whom Weymouth kidnapped at Pemaquid and brought to England in 1605 and whom Thomas Hanam returned to Maine in 1606. Smith claims to have befriended Dohannida during his stay in Maine, and the sagamore certainly would have been familiar with the names of Algonquian territories and sagamoreships to his south.41

Interestingly, Angoam (or Aggowam), Naimkeck, and other names in Smith’s account are not shown on his 1614 map of New England. However, one version of this map shows places that had not yet been found or named by 1616 when the map was first published, such as Salem, Ipswich, and Plimoth. The explanation may be that the map was edited for new editions or others of his works, such as his Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, published in 1624. Smith‘s writings apparently were enormously influential; after 1616, most voyagers, including the Mayflower fleet, used his map for navigation.42

 Smith’s A Description of New England, 1616  and Generall Historie,1624


 1624 Version of Smith’s Map

 The Dry Salvages

Smith’s names for Cape Ann sites include the Dry Salvages (the last syllables rhyme with wages), islets off Straitsmouth. The meaning is unclear except that part of the rock outcrop is above the tide line and therefore dry, while another part (Little Salvages) is submerged at high tide. Smith wrote salvages for “savages”, from the French sauvage. Since he tended to see islands as heads or caps, with his mordant sense of humor perhaps he meant the heads of Algonquian swimmers, some wet or drowned and some dry. He bragged about shooting Indians as they swam. In any case, the Dry Salvages were the inspiration for a poem by T. S. Eliot, who sailed from Gloucester in his youth. At risk of digression, here is an excerpt from “The Dry Salvages,” the 3rd Poem of Eliot’s Quartets, 1941:43

 The river is within us, the sea is all about us;

The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite

Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses

Its hints of earlier and other creation:

The starfish, the hermit crab, the whale’s backbone;

The pools where it offers to our curiosity

The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.

It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,

The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar

And the gear of foreign dead men.

The sea has many voices,

Many gods and many voices.

The salt is on the briar rose,

The fog is in the fir trees.

The sea howl

And the sea yelp, are different voices

Often together heard; the whine in the rigging,

The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,

The distant rote in the granite teeth,

And the wailing warning from the approaching headland

Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner

Rounded homewards, and the seagull:

And under the oppression of the silent fog

The tolling bell

Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried

Ground swell, a time

Older than the time of chronometers, older

Than time counted by anxious worried women

Lying awake, calculating the future,

Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel

And piece together the past and the future,

Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,

The future futureless, before the morning watch

When time stops and time is never ending;

And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,

the bell.

Aground on the Dry Salvages

Studying history, it does seem sometimes that “the past is all deception”.

 So, this is all who came here, to answer this chapter’s question. What they all saw in the Algonquians and other natives, to put it bluntly, was primitive people of imposing stature and physique and some admirable qualities who nevertheless were racially, morally, and technologically inferior and therefore easily exploitable for goods and services or as commodities themselves. And now we must ask, what about those people? Especially: who, exactly, were the Pawtucket of Cape Ann?


Chapter 4 Notes and References

  1. That Vikings were very likely the first European discoverers of North America is well established. Claims about Vikings on Cape Ann, however, are not, although they are repeated in The Gloucester Massachusetts Historical Time-Line 1000-1999 compiled by Mary Ray and edited by Sarah Dunlap, published locally in 2000. The claims are referenced to a 19th century local publicist and amateur historian, Robert Pringle, and to a secondary source that cites Cape Cod as the Viking landing site in New England, not Cape Ann. Historians of Cape Ann writing prior to 1892 do not mention Vikings here. The translations of the Icelandic Sagas that I consulted for this chapter include the 3rd edition of B. F. DeCosta’s 1901 The Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen: Translations from the Icelandic Sagas, and the Rasmus B. Anderson translation of The Younger Edda (also Snorre’s Edda, The Prose Edda) by Snorre Snorri Sturluson, written in 1220. See A classic secondary (although not necessarily authoritative) source is Samuel Eliot Morison’s The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages.
  2. Pringle’s Souvenir History of Gloucester Mass 1623-1892, or History of the Town and City of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts contains unverified information on Vikings and other subjects. For more information on interpreting the meanings of Old Norse and Old Icelandic words and on determining the location of places described in the language of the Vikings, see and Read about the confirmed Viking UNESCO World Heritage Site in Newfoundland, L’Anse aux Meadows, at For a review of all the candidates for Thorvald’s (Leif’s bother’s) burial place, see Graeme Davis’s 2009 book, Vikings in America.
  3. See, for example, Abraham Ortelius’s 1570 Map of the Americas on the Wikipedia Commons:
  4. Krossanes (more properly Krossarnes) means “Cross Point” and refers to the point of land between two fjords where their waters cross as they meet the sea. Sites on the New England coast do not meet this criterion. The Hampton NH claim is debunked on several grounds, for example, in David Craig’s article, Thorwald’s Grave: Fact or Legend? in New Hampshire Profiles 23 (1), 1974. Alleged runestones in New England also have not been substantiated. “Runes” such as some that appear on Dighton Rock in Massachusetts are Native American petroglyphs, while others, such as the Kensington Stone in Minnesota, have been proven to be frauds. Likewise, claims that Algonquians were incapable of building Celt-like megalithic structures or stone structures employing lintels are demonstrably false. Read a critical review of other Viking site claims in Viking America: the First Millennium (2001) by Geraldine Barnes. In contrast, a popularization of the “mystery” of Vikings on Cape Cod is perpetuated in Robert Cahill’s New England’s Viking and Indian Wars (1986).
  5. Rasmus Anderson, son of Norwegian immigrants, popularized the idea of a Leif Erikson Day commemorating Vikings in America in his influential 1877 book, America Not Discovered by Columbus. Another great enthusiast was Bostonian Eben Norton Horsford. On October 29, 1887, at Faneuil Hall Horsford gave an address, “The Discovery of America by Northmen”, at the dedication of a statue of Leif Erikson. For more information about the Chicago’s World Fair and the ship The Viking, see The Book of the Fair: World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in the Paul V. Galvin Library Digital History Collection at
  6. The Scandinavian Fraternity of America (1915-1992) was a consolidation of previously founded organizations during the heyday of ethnic/immigrant fraternal associations in America, including the Scandinavian-American Fraternity (1893-1918) and others established in the 1870s.
  7. The story of Thorvald’s death and burial is told in the Groenlendiga Saga (Greenlander’s Saga) from the Flateyjarbók (Flat-Island Book), written about 1387. Contrary to Robert Pringle’s imagination, the Thorvald Hotel on Bass Rocks in Gloucester almost certainly did not mark the spot. In Einar Haugen’s 1942 translation (Voyages to Vinland: The First American Saga), Thorvald and a crew of 40 men set out in 1004 to further explore Vinland. The first summer they sail west from Leif’s camp in Vinland and discover “a lovely, wooded country” in which “the woods ran almost down to the sea, with a white, sandy beach. The sea was full of islands and great shallows.” Then, in the second summer they sail eastward from Leif’s camp and “along the coast to the north. As they were rounding “a certain cape”, a stiff storm fell upon them and drove them on shore, so that their keel was broken and they had to stay there a long time while they repaired the ship. Then Thorvald said to his men, ‘I wish we might raise up the keel on this cape and call the cape Keelness (Kjalarnes), and so they did. Then they sailed along the coast to the east, into some nearby fjord mouths, and headed for a jutting cape that rose high out of the sea and was all covered with woods. Here they anchored the ship and laid down a gangplank to the shore. Thorvald went ashore with all his company. Then he said, ‘This is beautiful, and here I should like to build me a home.’ After a time they went back to the ship. Then they caught sight of three little mounds on the sand farther in on the cape. When they got closer to them, they saw three skin-covered boats, with three men under each. They split up their force and seized all the men but one, who escaped in his boat. They killed all eight of them, and then returned to the cape. …” The men sleep after the killing spree and then on a premonition run to their ship. They discover they are under attack from “a host of boats…heading towards them from the inner end of the fjord.” A battle ensues and Thorvald is wounded in the armpit by an arrow. He says to his men, “This will be the last of me. Now I advise you to make ready for your return as quickly as possible. But me you shall take back to that cape which I found so inviting. It looks as if I spoke the truth without knowing it when I said that I might live there some day! Bury me there with a cross at my head and another at my feet, and ever after you shall call it Crossness (Krossarnes)”. And on this thread hangs the tale of a Viking grave in Gloucester. The reference to crosses may have been added to this saga at a later time. Thorvald’s was the first generation of Erikisens to fully embrace Christianity.
  8. As the Saga continues, in his attempt to retrieve his brother Thorvald’s body, Thorstein can’t locate Vinland. Thorfinn Karlsnefni, referenced on page 1 of the Gloucester Historical Time-Line, was not Thorstein’s, Leif’s, and Thorvald’s brother, as stated, but was the husband of Thorstein’s widow. He established trade with the skraelings as far south as Keelness, which was nevertheless well north of Cape Ann, and he is not known to have explored the coast as far as Virginia.
  9. Read the real story of Plymouth Rock at the History Channel:
  10. The explorers John and Sebastian Cabot, father and son, were among the famous merchant adventurers from Bristol, England. Both appear in a 1930 group portrait by Ernest Board (“Some Who Have Made Bristol Famous”) along with Martin Pring and Ferdinando Gorges. See P. L. Firstbook, The Voyage of the Matthew: John Cabot and the Discovery of America (1997) and Evan T. Jones, Alwyn Ruddock: John Cabot and the Discovery of America. Institute of Historical Research Volume 81, Issue 212 (May 2008): 224-254 (first published online: 5 APR 2007). Diogo Ribeiro’s map is reproduced on page 22 of Moses Sweetser’s 1882 book, The White Mountains: A Handbook for Travellers (see A classic primary source for early voyages is Samuel Purchas’s 1625 Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and lande Travells by Englishmen and others. A convenient collection of primary source accounts from Hakluyt is in Burrage’s 1906 Original narratives of early English and French voyages 1534-1608, reprinted in 1930 as Early English and French voyages, chiefly from Haklyyt, 1534-1608. A classic secondary source is Synge’s 1939. A Book of Discovery: the History of the World’s Exploration, from the earliest times to the finding of the south pole (see
  11. Jaime O’Leary describes Basque whaling ports in Labrador in the 17th Century (see John Brereton’s 1602 account of Bartholomew Gosnold’s voyage of discovery to New England, A brief and true relation of the discovery of the North Virginia, edited by Karle Schlieff, may be read at Read The Voyage of Martin Pring, 1603 at and Alfred Dennis’s 1903 interpretation of Pring’s first voyage at Juan de la Cosa’s circa 1500 Mappa Mundi, is described at For Champlain references, please see Chapter 3 of this book.
  12. Edward Hayes’ account of the Voyage of Sir Humfrey Gilbert, Knight, 1585 is in Henry S. Burrage’s 1908, Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Haklyut, 1534-1608: 177-222.
  13. Jacques Cartier’s 1543 “dauphin’s map” of North America shows Breton fishing posts on the coast of the Gulf of Maine as far as the Kennebec River.
  14. For early explorers’ maps see Terra Incognita. Early Accounts, the DeBry Collection of “Great and Small Voyages” at See also the Perry-Castañeda Library
Map Collection (Maps of North American discovery and expansion) at For a summary of Verazzano’s voyage along the North American coast in 1534 see William Hobbs article in Isis 41 (3/4, December 1950): 268-277. Sources for Norumbega include Emerson Baker et al., American beginnings: Exploration, culture, and cartography in the land of Norumbega (1994); Sigmund Diamond, April 1951. Norumbega: New England Xanadu. In The American Neptune Vol. 11: 95–107. An alternative history is offered in H. G. Brack’s 2006 Norumbega Reconsidered: Mawooshen and the Wawenoc Diaspora: The Indigenous Communities of the Central Maine Coast in Protohistory 1535-1620 (Davistown Museum Publication Series Volume 4). Marc Lescarbot’s 1609 map of Acadia is in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, RI. Lescarbot was on one of Sieur de Poutrincourt’s voyages of discovery, sponsored by Sieur de Monts (Pierre Dugua du Mons), a French Huguenot, who also sponsored Samuel de Champlain. For Jean Alfonse (Allefonsce) and others, see the Hakluyt. The detail of Norombega on the Kennebec is from Gerardus Mercator’s 1569 world map, Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendate Accommodata, which has copies in Paris, Breslau, Basel, and Rotterdam and can be readily viewed online. A source on Norridgewock is J. W. Hanson, History of the Old Towns Norridgewock and Canaan, Starks, Skowhegan, and Bloomfield… (1849) at
  15. The idea that Norumbega was on the Charles River in Cambridge or Watertown was promoted by Eben Norton Horsford in 1886 and 1889 in letters to the president of the American Geographical Society (“John Cabot’s Landfall in 1497 and the site of Norumbega” and “The discovery of the ancient city of Norumbega”). Cartographer Andy Woodruff considers this idea and presents Horsford’s and others’ maps at An article on Norumbega Park and the Totem Pole appears in a 1910 article by Charles Rockwood, “At the Gateway of Boston Harbor”, in The New England Magazine (42).
  16. Francesco-Giuseppe Bressani’s 1657 map, Novae Franciae Accurata Delineatio is in the National Archives of Canada.
  17. The quote from Columbus’s letter book comes from Christopher Columbus Log Excerpts, 1492 A.D. in The Franciscan Archive: The 1594 engraving of Columbus meeting the Taino is by Theordore de Brys, also the depictions in this chapter of Gosnold meeting the Pennacook and Newport meeting the Powhatan in what would become Jamestown.
  18. The quote from Verrazano’s account is in H. C. Murphy’s 1916 translation of Verrazano’s Voyage along the North American Coast in 1524.
  19. See, for example, B. F. DeCosta’s 1890. Ancient Norumbega, or the voyages of Simon Ferdinando and John Walker to the Penobscot River, 1579-1580.
  20. The quote from Edward Hayes’ account and other relevant excerpts are from George Parker Winship’s Sailors narratives of voyages along the New England coast, 1524-1624 (1905). See also Gillian Cell’s English enterprise in Newfoundland 1577-1660 (1969).
  21. See the 1906 edition by James Phinney Baxter of Jean Alfonce’s account of Cartier’s voyages: A Memoir of Jacques Cartier: Sieur de Limoilou, His Voyages to the St. Lawrence, a Bibliography and a Facsimile of the Manuscript of 1534. Note that Cartier’s chronicler Jean Alfonce, also spelled Allefonsce, was also known as Jean Fonteneau dit Alfonse de Saintonge, and he included the exploits of Cartier’s colleague in exploration, Jean François de sieur de La Roque Roberval. The image of Cartier meeting the Beothuk (the Red Men) is a 1915 copy by James P. Howley of an 1808 painting commissioned by the governor of Newfoundland as a kind of public relations outreach to the remaining Beothuk.
  22. See Note 21. Also see pages 55-70 in Frank Speck’s Beothuk and Micmac (1922).
  23. A definitive work is Ingeborg Marshall’s 1998 History and Ethnography of the Beothuk. (McGill-Queen’s University Press).
  24. Read more about Demasduit and Shanawdithit in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  25. See The Voyage of Martin Pring, 1603 and Brereton’s account of Gosnold’s discovery, referenced in Note 12.
  26. The story of Gosnold getting directions from the Abenakis at Savage’s Rock is told in A chronological history of New-England: in the form of annals, being a summary and exact account of the most material transactions and occurrences relating to this country, in the order of time wherein they happened, from the discovery of Capt. Gosnold, in 1602, to the arrival of Governor Belcher, in 1730…by Thomas Prince and Nathan Hale (1826).
  27. Compare this chalk on bedrock story with the six pebbles story in Chapter 3.
  28. This quote comes from Brereton’s account.
  29. The quote from Gosnold’s letter to his father is in “Master Bartholomew Gosnold’s Letter to his Father, touching his first voyage to Virginia, 1602,” Old South Leaflets 5 (120) and may be read at Virtual Jamestown:
  30. The practice of kidnapping Indians to be displayed in Europe and returned as translators and guides is described in more detail in Chapter 14. See George Prince’s 1857 account, “The voyage of Capt. Geo. Weymouth to the coast of Maine in 1605” in Maine Historical Society Collections VI: 291-306. See also Henry Burrage’s 1887 Rosier’s relation of Weymouth’s voyage to the coast of Maine, 1605, published by the Gorges Society. This practice of abduction was established early. In 1534, for example, Cartier took Donnacona (chieftain at what would become Quebec City) and several others to France and returned with those who survived on his second voyage to North America. Donnacona, although treated well, died soon after being taken to France a second time.
  31. Richard Hakluyt’s account is in Samuel Purchas. Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625). The Hakluyt detail is from a larger engraving entitled “England’s Famous Discoverers” in the National Maritime Museum, London.
  32. The quote is from James Rosier’ account, who was with Weymouth on the Archangel. See A True Relation of Captaine George Weymouth his Voyage. Made this Present Yeere 1605, pages 125-127 in the 1843 reprint by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The quote also appears in Burrage’s Early English and French voyages chiefly from Hakluyt 1534-1608 (1930).
  33. See Rosier’s account in Note 32.
  34. For the story of George Popham’s colony at Sagadahoc, see John Wingate Thornton’s August 29, 1862, speech at Fort Popham: Colonial Schemes of Popham and Gorges (Maine Historical Society). See also James Davies’ account. He was the navigator of Raleigh Gilbert’s vessel in Popham’s fleet. His Relation of a voyage to Sagadahoc, 1607-1608 was reprinted by the Hakluyt Society in 1849 and the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1880. The roles of Popham’s native guides, including Skidwares and Nahanada (who figures later as Captain John Smith’s informant at Pemaquid known as Dohannida) are taken up again in this chapter and in Chapter 14.
  35. This quote about Popham at Pemaquid is from A History of Pemaquid with sketches of Monhegan, Popham, Castine by Arlita Parker (1925).
  36. Messamoet and Membertou are in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. See, for example, The quote from Henry Hudson’s account is taken from the Hakluyt and also appears in the Burrage.


  1. Smith’s views on Native Americans, including their proposed use as forced labor and suppression during the founding of Jamestown, are abundantly evident in his 1608 account, A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as Hath Hapned in Virginia Since the First Planting of that Colony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last returne from thence. Written by Captaine Smith one of the said Collony, to a worshipfull friend of his in England (1608). See See also William Strachey’s 1612 account, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania, published by the Hakluyt Society (Volume 133) in 1953.
  2. See Smith’s Map of New England [in 1605], published in 1614, at, and compare this with his map of New England published ten years later in 1624 in Volume II of The generall historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles: together with The true travels, adventures and observations, and A sea grammar.
  3. Smith credits earlier discoverers of New England in his 1608 account, cited in Note 37. See also his 1616 account, A Description of New England: Or the observations, and discoueries of Captain John Smith (Admirall of the Country) in the north or America, in the year of our Lord 1614: With the success of sixe ships, that went the next yeare 1615; and the accidents befell him among the French men of warre: With the proofe of the present benefit this country affords: Whither this present yeare, 1616, eight voluntary ships are gone to make further tryall. This was published in 1837 in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 3rd series. 6: 103-140.
  4. This quote is from Smith’s Description of New England, cited in Note 39.
  5. Smith has little to say about Dohannida (Nahanada), except that befriending the chieftain gave him credit among the natives and some power over them. Smith’s summer in Maine with Dohannida is described in William Baker’s A maritime history of Bath, Maine and the Kennebec River region. (Marine Research Society of Bath, 1973). It seems likely that during that time Smith learned from Dohannida the Algonquian place names for coastal villages on the Gulf of Maine, including Cape Ann, that appeared on his 1616 and 1624 maps of New England.
  6. See Note 38. Smith’s 1624 map also includes the first colonies established by the Pilgrims. The most complete map appears in his 1630 account, The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of 
Captain John Smith in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, published by The Winthrop Society. Smith died in 1631.
  7. The Dry Salvages is the third poem of T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”, first published in February 1941 in the New English Weekly.
















Chapter 3 What did Champlain see in the “Cape of Islands”?

Chapter 3 What Did Champlain See in the “Cape of Islands”?

That the Pawtucket actually lived here is evidenced in Samuel de Champlain’s 1606 map of Gloucester Harbor (Le beau port) in what he called Cap aux Iles—“Islands Cape”. His map shows Pawtucket wigwams, gardens, and woodlots in parkland. The English later extended Native stages for drying fish on the southwest-facing slopes of the harbor where they first attempted to settle and built a fort (today known as Stage Fort).1

Champlain’s voyages to America started in 1603, when he first served as a mapmaker on French expeditions, and ended with his death in Quebec, New France, in 1635. He sailed along the northern New England coast to Cape Ann in 1604 and came ashore here in 1605 and 1606. His accounts of meeting the Pawtucket in Whale Cove and Gloucester Harbor indicate friendly, though increasingly wary, encounters.2

The Pawtucket signaled Champlain’s barque from Emerson Point after it rounded the cape in 1605. The French were skirting the offshore islands, not sure where to go. The Pawtucket sent up smoke signals at Emerson Point, which the French saw. The intent was for them to come ashore in Sandy Bay, where archaeological remains suggest a village was located, but after hemming and hawing they anchored eventually in Whale Cove when they got up the nerve to make contact. There was mutual ambivalence about making contact. Mariners had been attacked, and Indians had been abducted. The Algonquians had already had Europeans on their coasts for a hundred years or more. Shakespeare’s16th century play Henry IV makes reference to Indians from Maine on display in Queen Elizabeth’s court. As a public entertainment they were made to paddle their canoes on the Thames.3

Cap aux Iles (Cape Ann)


Sandy Bay

Whale Cove

Emerson Point

Gloucester Harbor


This is Whale Cove today, looking toward Straitsmouth Island. It’s on this expedition that the French gave the name Cap aux Iles, Islands Cape.



De Monts sent Champlain ashore to try to find out where they were. A whole train of navigators, explorers, merchantmen, and fishermen—some we’ve never heard of—had passed along the coast of New England prior to Champlain: Viking exiles, Diogo Ribeiro, Giovanni di Verrazano, Sebastian Caboto, Estévan Gomez, Jean Alfonse, André Thevet, John Hawkins, Bartholomew Gosnold, Martin Pring, George Weymouth, Henry Hudson, and John Smith, not to mention a host of nameless Basque and Breton entrepreneurs in the fishing industry. By all available evidence, however, Champlain was the first European ever to set foot on the Cape of Islands.4

Champlain’s map from Les Voyages shows Cap aux Iles and the coastline to the south that the Pawtucket obligingly drew for him. Champlain wrote in his diary:

We named this place Islands Cape, near which we saw a canoe containing five or six savages, who came out near our barque, and then went back and danced on the beach. Sieur de Monts sent me on shore to observe them, and to give each one of them a knife and some biscuit, which caused them to dance again better than before. This over, I made them understand, as well as I could, that I desired them to show me the course of the shore. After I had drawn with a crayon [chalk] the bay and the Islands Cape, where we were, with the same crayon they drew the outline of another bay, which they represented as very large; here they placed six pebbles at equal distances apart, giving me to understand by this that these signs represented as many chiefs and tribes.5

To Champlain’s sketch the Pawtucket had added the coast of Massachusetts Bay on the south side of Cape Ann, including Gloucester Harbor, Boston Harbor with all its Islands, and the shoreline as far Cape Cod. Then they placed six pebbles on the map to show the locations of the seats of the six powerful Massachuset sachemships to their south in the Charles River drainage area. They also added the Merrimack River, which the French had not noticed because Plum Island blocks its entrance.6








The six sachemships of the Charles River Valley included Weechaguskas (Wessagusset in Weymouth, near Quincy); Neponset (with Shawmut, near Canton); Ponkapoag (south of the Blue Hills in Milton and Dedham); Nonantum (Newton and Brookline), Nashaway (with Wachuset, around Leominster), and Nipmuc (Framingham to Worcester). These were Massachuset and Nipmuc groups. The Neponset and Ponkapoag later joined the Wampanoag further to the south, while the people at Nashua and Wachuset became more closely allied with the Pennacook to the north. The Pawtucket were friendly with the Nipmuc and the Massachuset.7



Nipmuc        Massachuset


Narraganset      Nauset

Niantic         Nantucket


Armed with his new map, De Monts sailed away from Whale Cove and went to Boston Harbor. His ship’s log noted missing Gloucester Harbor that year because the wind and tide at the time favored keeping on their tack toward the south. Navigation on the rocky New England coast was truly treacherous in the age of sail. Champlain returned the following year under his own command with Sieur de Poutrincourt and went into Gloucester Harbor. He anchored his barque on the leaward side of Ten Pound Island and went ashore at Rocky Neck to make repairs to their shallop. His map of Gloucester Harbor identifies Ten Pound Island, where they anchored; Rocky Neck, where they repaired their shallop; and a creek nearby where they washed their clothes.8

Shallop: From the French chaloupe, derived from the Dutch, sloep (sloop). The shallop was a heavy boat with both sails and oars and a shallow draft for navigating shallow waters, such as shoals and sand bars at river mouths. Variations on the shallop were indispensable for all the early explorers of the New England coast.9

Champlain’s Map of Le Beau port (Gloucester Harbor) includes a key for identifying the lettered sites on the map. Here is my version of his key, based on three different translations from the French and combining my notes with those from other sources.10

A. Place where our barque was (Gloucester’s Western Harbor to the lee of Rocky Neck)
B. Meadows
(Salt marshes)
C. Small island (Ten Pound Island; in the 1800s it was “forty rods long and thirty feet high with a lighthouse fifty feet above sea level” [a rod is 16.5 feet or 5.0292 meters]. Gloucester was sold for 7 pounds, not 10; Babson’s claim that the island’s name comes from an impoundment quota of ten rams is correct.)
D. Rocky cape
(Brace Rock and Bemo Ledge)
E. Place where we had our shallop caulked. (Rocky Neck, with Native-made causeway)
F. Little rocky islet, very high on the coast. (Salt Island)
G. Cabins of the savages and where they till the soil (Wigwams of the Pawtucket)
H. Little river where there are meadows. (Brook with marsh flowing into Fresh-Water Cove beside Dolliver Neck)
I. Brook
 (Emptying beside Cressey Beach, not Pavilion Beach per one source)
L. Tongue of land covered with trees, including a large number of sassafras, walnut-trees, and vines. (Eastern Point; in the 1800s it was three quarters of a mile long and about half a mile at its widest point, with a lighthouse sixty feet above sea level at the end to which Dogbar Breakwater was later added. Sassafras was a medicinal root in great demand in Europe as a cure for scurvy and syphilus. The cluster of rocks Champlain drew near L were later called Black Bess—possibly after the horse of Dick Turpin, an infamous 18th century outlaw who led the Essex Gang in England. In any case the name would not have been in reference to Queen Elizabeth.)
M. Arm of the sea on the other side of the Island Cape (The creek in the drowned marsh at Little Good Harbor Beach; probably not ‘Squam River flowing into Annisquam Harbor’, as another source suggests)
N. Small River (Brook near Clay Cove on the eastern branch of the inner harbor, today identified as Wonson’s Cove; another source says Cripple Cove nearby.)
O. Small brook coming from the meadows (Branch of the Little River, running through the Cherry Hill Marsh and the Train Bridge Marsh, joining the Annisquam near Gloucester Harbor above the Blynman Canal. Further to the north, Mill River and Jones River flow into the Annisquam River from opposite sides, which empties into Ipswich Bay.)
P. Another little brook where we did our washing (At Oakes’ Cove in the southwestern tip of Rocky Neck)
Q. Troop of savages coming to surprise us (On the eastern bank of Smith’s Cove, but Champlain probably misread their intentions.)
R. Sandy strand (Niles Beach; Interestingly, Champlain omitted Niles Pond and possibly did not see it or thought it was part of the ocean because of its unique proximity; the fresh water pond is separated from the sea only by a narrow natural dike that residents have reinforced over the generations.)
S. Sea-coast
(Bass Rocks and the back shore along Atlantic Ave.)
T. Sieur de Poutrincourt in ambuscade with some seven or eight arquebusiers
(Champlain’s detachment of marines)
V. Sieur de Champlain discovering the savages (Champlain’s caricature of himself freaking out highlights his sense of humor.)

Champlain’s map also shows our familiar harbor seals and a swordfish in what is now the head of the harbor! But we are left with so many questions! Why was Champlain here? What did he think of the Pawtucket and how and why did his views change? What kind of clothes were they wearing that they washed at Rocky Neck? And what’s all this about arquebusiers and an ambush?

In his first encounters with Native Americans, Champlain seems awe-struck and admiring. Though he called them sauvages (a term synonymous with “primitives” or “pagans”), Champlain described the Indians as tall—even some of their children were taller than the French—handsome, muscular, graceful, and playful. Champlain made drawings of the Indians he encountered, including this Pawtucket couple on Cape Ann, including symbols of their practice of agriculture. The woman is holding an ear of corn and a summer squash. The man sports hunting gear, and the plant growing between them looks like Jerusalem Artichoke. Champlain wrote that of the foods he sampled, the tuber of a plant with yellow flowers was delicious and tasted like artichoke.11

Other drawings Champlain and his mapmaker-artist Marc Lescarbot made show Algonquian men and women hunting and fishing and going to war. The legend for the etchings on the right identify women dancing at a harvest celebration, a woman on Cap aux Iles pounding dried corn in a log mortar, and a Saco warrior in basketry armor.12


Champlain also describes the plants and animals and the Algonquian’s corn plantations on cleared land; hillsides covered with currants and grapes; stands of hickory, beechnut, and walnut trees; feasts of passenger pigeons (which flocked in the millions and are now extinct); and useful communications with the natives of Cape Ann.

We saw some very fine grapes just ripe, Brazilian peas [beans], pumpkins, squashes, and very good roots, which the savages cultivate, having a taste similar to that of chards. They made us presents of some of these, in exchange for little trifles which we gave them. They had already finished their harvest. We saw two hundred savages in this very pleasant place; and there are here a large number of very fine walnut-trees, cypresses, sassafras, oaks, ashes, and beeches.13

In his earlier career Champlain had witnessed and recorded Spanish atrocities in Santo Domingo, in which everyone who refused to convert to Christianity was burned alive. The experience shaped his resolve to inflict no harm on the Native people he encountered unless attacked.14





His later encounters with the Pawtucket, however, were fraught with misunderstandings and suspicions. Champlain’s map of Le Beauport immortalizes an incident in which he discovers a suspected Indian ambush and his lieutenant Poutrincourt and their arquebusiers (marines with front-loading, smooth-bore, matchlock guns) form a defense. What really happened, and why? We need to know more to answer this question, but based on their meddling in Native politics and mishaps on Cape Cod, the Frenchmen may not have been overreacting!

According to Champlain’s account:

The next day, as we were caulking our shallop, Sieur de Poutrincourt in the woods noticed a number of savages who were going, with the intention of doing us some mischief, to a little stream…at which our party were doing their washing. As I was walking along this neck, these savages noticed me; and, in order to put a good face upon it, since they saw that I had discovered them…they began to shout and dance, and then came towards me with their bows, arrows, quivers, and other arms…. I made a sign to them to dance again. This they did in a circle, putting all their arms in the middle. But they had hardly commenced, when they observed Sieur de Poutrincourt in the wood with eight musketeers, which frightened them. Yet they did not stop until they had finished their dance, when they withdrew in all directions, fearing lest some unpleasant turn might be served them….15

Detail of “Ambush” from Champlain’s Map

A central figure near “V” waving his arms is Champlain as he portrayed himself. The “savages” are shown dancing in a circle to the right, and the “musketeers” (arquebusiers) are in formation at “T” at the bottom of the inset.

The arquebus was a matchlock gun, a simple machine in which a burning wick was let down on an opened flash pan containing gunpower. To be sure of having a flame to ignite the gunpowder when needed, arquebusiers often lit both ends of the wick, which risked burning up the wick prematurely and then not having a flame when you really needed it. This is how “burning your candle at both ends” came to mean dangerously overdoing things.16

What the Well-Dressed Arquebusier Wore in the first half of the 17th Century

Early arquebuses were too heavy to hold, load, and fire from the shoulder and had to be propped with a monopod. Later versions were lighter-weight muskets with various improvements to the firing mechanism.17 Imagine the Pawtucket hearing a round from an arquebus and watching the Frenchmen wash these clothes.

Under the auspices of Pierre de Mont and inspired by the exploits of the earlier French explorer, Jacques Cartier, Champlain was searching for a good site for the capitol of a French colony to be called New France. As a result of perceived Pawtucket hostility in the 1606 Rocky Neck ambush incident, he decided the Islands Cape was not the right place. Another reason was his observation that the Pawtucket were too preoccupied with fishing and farming to devote much time to hunting and trapping for furs, and that Cape Ann was somewhat scant in fur-bearing animals compared to Canada. The colony of New France was to be financed through the fur trade, making the hunting and foraging people to the north and along the St. Lawrence a more attractive prospect. The final deciding factor was that when not planning ambushes the Pawtucket seemed altogether too happy to see him. They undoubtedly wanted the guns and knives that the French were handing out to Pawtucket enemies to the north, especially the dreaded Tarrantines.18

It’s interesting to speculate what Gloucester would have been like as the capital of Henry IV’s or Louis XIII’s French-American colonial empire. As it happened, after considering Acadia and Port Royal in Nova Scotia, Cape Ann, and Cape Cod, Champlain and his patrons chose Quebec, founded as the capital of New France in 1608. In the Canadian Maritimes, French attempts at diplomacy exacerbated enmity among Native Americans at a time when they were not yet united against a common foe. An example is Champlain’s naïve interference in relations between the Micmac and their southern neighbors. In 1605 Messamouet, a Micmac (Mi’Kmaq) chieftain serving as a guide to the French in their quest to find a copper mine, and his lieutenant, Secoudon, traveled south with Champlain to Maine to visit Onemechin, a Saco (Choüacoet) sachem, and his second in command, Marchin. The goal was to enlist the Saco and their allies in the fur trade with the Micmac as middlemen. They did not realize that an alliance between “Almouchiquois” and “Souriquois” would be impossible.19

Messamouet led Champlain to the copper mine at E on this map of Port aux mines in Maine.




The many names for Native Americans given by discoverers can be confusing when reading primary source documents. In general, the French called the hunter-gatherer Native Americans of the St. Lawrence Valley the Montagnais (in the east) and the Algonquins (or Algonkins, in the west). Native Americans of the Canadian Maritimes and Nova Scotia, including the Micmac, they called the Souriquois (“agreeable people” in French), and the Abenaki people of the Maine coast, including the Penobscot, they called the Etchemins (“canoe men”). To the agricultural Algonquians of New England, including the Saco of southern Maine and the Pawtucket of Cape Ann, they gave the name Almouchiquois (or Armouchequois, meaning unknown). To the Algonquians, the Souriquois, and sometimes also the Etchemins, were their traditional mortal enemies, the Tarrantines.20

France’s “New World” in 1600

Red = Algonkins and Montagnais  Brown = Souriquois                                       Light orange = Etchemins                         Dark orange = Almouchiquois




Ostensibly, the purpose of Champlain’s trip was to establish a Micmac-Saco alliance in aid of the fur trade, but the Saco (an Almouchiquois people) were holding a Souriquois as a POW from a military campaign against the Micmac the previous year. Unbeknownst to Champlain and his men, the POW was a relative of Messamouet. Messamouet paid a rich ransom for his return, which Champlain refers to as a gift exchange, but Onemechin perversely handed over the POW to Sieur de Poutrincourt instead of returning him to Messamouet. Onemechin also returned “lesser gifts”—filling a canoe with corn, squash and beans in exchange for steel knives and copper pots. Meanwhile, Poutrincourt assumed he was being given the POW as a personal slave. Messamouet was outraged and humiliated, leading to a series of wars that continued over the next 30 years.21

These wars pitted Micmac and others of the Canadian Maritimes, armed with guns, against coastal Algonquians to the south, armed with bows and arrows. Tarrantines (pronounced Tar ran teens) was not an ethnic or tribal name but might have been a corruption of 17th century French slang for “the terrorists” or “terrible ones”. They were coastal Souriquois and Etchemins of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and northern Maine, and may have included fierce Beothuk exiles from Newfoundland with whom they had intermarried. The French epithet “The Tarrantines” may have stuck through pure fame, much as the Mongols became “The Golden Horde”.22

According to Champlain’s account of the Micmac-Saco falling out between Messamouet and Onemechin:

Sieur de Poutrincourt secured a prisoner that Onemechin had, to whom Messamouët made presents of kettles, hatchets, knives, and other things. Onemechin reciprocated the same with Indian corn, squashes, and Brazilian beans [kidney beans]; which was not very satisfactory to Messamouët, who went away very ill-disposed towards them for not properly recognizing his presents, and with the intention of making war upon them in a short time. For these nations give only in exchange for something in return, except to those who have done them a special service, as by assisting them in their wars.23

Champlain did not connect this situation in Maine in 1605 to the Pawtucket “hostility” and suspected ambush he perceived in Gloucester Harbor in 1606. If there was hostility, it most likely was a direct consequence of the French role in Tarrantine aggression against the Saco in Maine the previous year in Messamoet’s revenge. The Saco were Pawtucket allies against the Tarrantines. The Tarrantines for generations had paddled down from the north to make deadly raids on the coastal peoples of Casco Bay, Ipswich Bay, and Massachusetts Bay. Throughout the Northeast, raids and counter-raids were traditional and retaliatory. Other than getting revenge, Tarrantine goals were to steal corn, which would not grow well in the Maritimes or anywhere above the 50th parallel, to capture women, and to collect coups (scalps). In traditional warfare forces were evenly matched, attacks were low-tech and relied on surprise, and casualties were minimized to reduce retaliatory risks. That all changed, however, when the Tarrantines got French trade goods. With iron kettles, steel knives, and guns, the value of corn and other crops as spoils of war decreased, warfare became more deadly, and force of arms dictated outcomes.24

Taking Scalps


Traditionally, wearing a scalplock signaled manhood and warriorship. It was a long decorated hank of hair that your enemy would take, along with its patch of scalp, if he killed you in battle. Warriors counted and compared their coups, collected them on special poles, and decorated them and wore them as personal adornment. Collecting coups as an expression of a warrior culture later became a form of vengeful mutilation practiced on women and children as well as on male combatants and was practiced by the English colonists and militias as well as by the Native Americans.25

Between 1605 and 1635 the Tarrantines devastated coastal populations, including the Saco in Maine, the Pawtucket on Cape Ann, and the Massachuset to the south. The northern raiders always had superior force, because the French were trading guns for furs at Tadoussac, the center of the fur trade on the St. Lawrence, down-river from Quebec.

The Pawtucket sagamore who met Champlain at Gloucester Harbor in 1606 was Quiouhamenec (pronounced Kwee oh ham en ek), who probably had just received the news of the French-abetted Tarrantine attack against their allies the Saco the previous year. Things started well. Champlain then reports an odd occurrence in which a Saco sachem (Onemechin on a surprise visit, no doubt arriving to confront Quiouhamenec about his dealings with Champlain), refuses Champlain’s gift of a jacket. Onemechin tries on the jacket, takes it off, puts it on, takes it off, indicating discomfort, and finally hands it over to a subordinate.

The chief of this place is named Quiouhamenec, who came to see us with a neighbor [cousin] of his, named Cohoüepech, whom we entertained sumptuously. Onemechin, chief of Choüacoet [Saco], came also to see us, to whom we gave a coat, which he, however, did not keep a long time, but made a present of it to another, since he was uneasy in it, and could not adapt himself to it.26

Here is what the Saco sachem may have meant (of which Champlain had not a clue):

“You aided our enemies and we are angry about it. We would retaliate, but you are involved with our ally the Pawtucket. I’m very uncomfortable with this conflict of interest. What can I do? If I refuse the jacket it means a declaration of war against you and my ally. If I accept the jacket it means the Saco accept defeat and subordination to the Pawtucket and the French. I hereby defer judgment by bestowing the gift on my subordinate.”

By neither accepting nor rejecting the gift, Onemechin creatively avoids the twin catastrophes. Champlain surmises only that savages are not used to wearing clothing. Whether or not this interpretation is correct, relations between the “Indians” and the Europeans undoubtedly were studded with many such communication errors and misunderstandings throughout the contact period. Cross-cultural miscommunication is a whole field of study, and gift giving and reciprocity universally play important and complex roles in human relations. In any case, the alleged “ambush” incident at Rocky Neck happened the very next day, and Champlain sailed away, never to return.

In his memoirs Champlain gives no evidence of having understood his role or the role of the French fur trade in the ensuing conflicts among the Indians. In 1607 Onemechin and his lieutenants and a hundred warriors were killed in an attack led by the famous Micmac chieftain Membertou, and in 1608 Quiohamanek and his lieutenants and many warriors were killed during their attempted retaliation against Membertou and the Tarrantines.27

Nevertheless, Champlain had put Le Beau Port on the map of northeastern North America. By 1612 Le Beauport appeared on French maps. Two years later Captain John Smith bestowed the moniker Cape Tragabigzanda, after the name of the Greek girl to whom he was allegedly enslaved during an earlier misadventure in Turkey. This extravagant label appeared briefly on English maps when Charles I, heir to the English throne, renamed it Capa Anna after his mother.28

Champlain’s maps are surprisingly accurate for his day. He adapted his tools for ocean navigation (the quadrant and the astrolabe—simple machines) for use on land, and he had his men pace out distances as they walked the Cape Ann shoreline. Their unit of measure on land was the toise, equal to 1.94 meters or 6.4 feet. They plumbed harbor depths in fathoms. In the 17th century one French fathom was approximately 5.5 feet (or alternatively the arm span of the tallest sailor on board—to ensure a generous measure of depth in unknown waters). One English fathom was 6 feet, today’s international standard. Champlain’s harbor depths in French fathoms show that his ship—a small, three-masted, ocean-going 80-ton barque with a 35-foot keel, 14-foot breadth, and 6-foot hold—was anchored at Rocky Neck in only around 24 feet of water at mean tide. Oddly, with all the transformations the harbor has seen, the depth there is roughly the same today.29

Replica of the Don de Dieu during the 300th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City in 1908. The barque that Champlain sailed into Gloucester Harbor in 1606 was a different ship of the same size and design.


Nautical Map of Present-Day Gloucester Harbor







Throughout his tenure in New France, Champlain mapped every coastal settlement, river mouth, and harbor he came upon, including distances and depths in fathoms. He also drew illustrations of events he saw, such as celebrations, parleys, and battles. His shipmate Marc Lescarbot and the Jesuit missionaries who accompanied the explorers to New France also drew explanatory maps and illustrations. Comparing and interpreting such a wealth of visual evidence has proven a wonderful challenge.30

Champlain’s map of the St. Lawrence River system and the Maritimes, for example, shows wigwams as hills representing Native American settlements of different sizes.

Champlain’s route to the Massachusetts coast took him from Port Royal in Nova Scotia, past Acadia toward Casco Bay. He stopped in Penobscot harbor and made this map. There is Indian Island in the river, showing the layout of the village in Old Town, Maine, at that time.

His map of the estuary of the Saco River in Maine shows the Abenaki corn plantations and flake yards of Onemechin’s people, and some warriors, as well as a grampus (a kind of North Atlantic porpoise) and a whale in the bay.

                              Champlain’s Map of the Saco River Estuary

Champlain’s map of Plymouth harbor more than a decade before the English pilgrims came in the Mayflower shows the characteristic Indian corn plantations, plus a powwow in progress on a spit of land at the mouth of the harbor. The friendship that William Bradford’s party enjoyed initially was extended though exceptional individuals, such as Samoset (a visiting Abenaki), Squanto (Tisquantum, an escaped Patuxet ex-slave), and of course Massasoit. In general, however, the Wampanoags at Plymouth and the Nauset on Cape Cod did not extend friendship to the English Pilgrims because of prior negative experiences with Champlain and the French mariners.31

Edward Winslow’s Copy of Champlain’s Map of Plymouth Harbor

Those prior experiences included murder and mayhem. Champlain gave Nauset Harbor the name of Malle Barre (Bad Closing Off) because of its shallow access afforded by a sandbar at the harbor entrance and perhaps also because one of his men was killed there by the Nauset when he attempted to prevent what he saw as a theft—at “B” on Champlain’s map (foreground to the right). The cook was washing pots in a stream when a “savage” took one. This conflict may have stemmed from mutual ignorance of cultural values regarding private vs. communal property and theft vs. borrowing. Despite this encounter, between 1620 and 1675, around 500 Nauset cohabited with the English at this site.32

Champlain’s Map of Nauset Harbor

Champlain’s map keys often described specific events at the harbors he drew. For example here is a map of Stage Harbor in Chatham, or Monomoit, which Champlain called Port Misfortune. It traces an event in 1606 after leaving Cape Ann that contributed to Champlain’s decision to take Cape Cod, as well as Cape Ann, out of the running for the capital of New France. Here the French put ashore to explore and some men are left behind to bake bread. People who later became known as the Wampanoag attacked by surprise. They had gotten word of events at Mallebarre. There at Nauset the French had killed some Indians as a result of a misunderstanding over a copper pot that had left one Frenchman dead.

At Chatham the warriors at Monomoit killed a few of the men on kitchen duty and burned the bodies beside the cross the French had erected, which they tore down and broke. We see survivors fleeing, stuck with arrows, and they are briefly defended by Native converts, guides and interpreters who had accompanied Champlain. The French come to the rescue in a shallop that is beseiged by the Indians as it nears shore. The Indians are beaten back but not before more Frenchmen fall and die in the harbor. Sieur de Poitrincourt arrives in his boat to pick up the pieces, after which the French make sail. They follow the coast southward, stopping at Providence, Martha’s Vinyard, and Narragansett, then rounding Nantucket to sail home to France, never again to return to New England.33

Returning to Canada in 1608 to continue his explorations, Champlain dutifully illustrated the battles in which he aided the Almouchiquois (the agricultural Algonquians of New England) against their western enemy, the Mohawk or Kanien’kehaka (Maqui to the Algonquians), members of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. While their eastern enemies the Tarrantines wanted corn, the Mohawks wanted access to the coast and a greater share in the lucrative French fur trade. In these battles as few as three or four musketeers turned the tide against the Iroquois. The Iroquois later avenged these attacks with devastating defeats for the Pawtucket, Pennacook, Nipmuck, Mahican, Sokoki, Missisquoi, and other New Englanders.34

Here is Champlain in the center of this battle scene. He’s firing his arquebus at Mohawk warriors, who are shooting arrows at him in their first experience with guns in a joint Algonquian-French raid against the Mohawks. This took place in 1609 on the shores of what became Lake Champlain. No actual portrait of Champlain exists, but some of his maps may include “Where’s Waldo”-style self-portraits such as this one.35

Now we can answer the question that opens this chapter. All of Champlain’s maps from Quebec to Cape Cod show that he saw heavily populated harbors and river mouths. They prove without a doubt that Native Americans in considerable numbers (between 200 and 2,000 at any given site) were living in coastal and interior New England prior to colonial settlement, and from southern Maine southward they were practicing agriculture. Now a new question: Who else came here before the Friendship landed Dorchester Company fishermen at Gloucester’s Fishermen’s Field in 1623, and what did they see?



1. Of the translations of Champlain’s diary and account in Voyages, I relied most on the original 1878 translation by Charles Pomeroy Otis: Memoir of Samuel de Champlain, Volume II
1604-1610, especially for his descriptions of Le Beauport and encounters with the Indians. See’s_Voyages,_Translated_by_Charles_Otis,_Vol._II_1604-1608#cite_note-230 . See also Langdon and Ganong’s 1922 edition of The Works of Samuel de Champlain, published by the Champlain Society ( ), and Henry Biggar’s six volumes, The Works of Samuel de Champlain, prepared between 1922 and 1936 and reprinted in 1971 by the Toronto University Press. In these editions, Champlain writes volume 1 in 1599, volume II in 1603, volume III in 1613, and the last three volumes in 1632.
The original of Champlain’s map of Gloucester Harbor is in the Archive of Early American Images and Maps Collection at the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, RI, and versions of it can be readily found in Google Images.

2. Champlain anchored in what would become Boston Harbor but did not go ashore there. He sailed to Plymouth Harbor, then skipped Cape Cod Bay entirely and ended his New England landings at Nauset Beach. The map shows seven of his voyages of discovery between 1603 and 1624. See the Prince Society 1878 edition of Otis’s translation of Volume I of Voyages, edited by Edmund Slafter (available at and ), which includes maps and illustrations. An accessible French source is Des Sauvages: ou voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brouages, faite en la France nouvelle l’an 1603 (“Concerning the Savages: or travels of Samuel Champlain of Brouages, made in New France in the year 1603”), which describes Champlain’s first voyage to Canada as the guest of François Gravé du Pont, who was in search of the Northwest Passage.

3. The stories of Epenow and other Native abductees from the New England coast are told in Chapter 22.

4. Other voyages of discovery to New England and the Northeast are the subject of Chapter 4.

5. From Part IX of Volume II of the Otis edition of Champlain’s Voyages.

6. The same six chiefdoms of the Massachuset were later identified in other contexts by Edward Winslow (Mourt’s Relation 1622), Thomas Morton (New English Canaan 1632), Roger Williams (A Key into the Language of America 1643), Samuel Maverick (A Briefe Description of New England 1660), and Daniel Gookin (Historical Collections of the Indians of New England 1674). These are all available online.

7. The principal primary source for the ethnography of the Indians of New England, other than the first governors of the first colonies, is Daniel Gookin, the first Indian agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. See his 1674 account (Published in 1692, reprinted in 1792 and 1806), Historical collections of the Indians of New England and their several nations, numbers, customs, manners, religion, and government before the English planted there (Massachusetts Historical Society Collections): . See also the early historian William Hubbard’s 1801 work, A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New England 1607-1677 (Greenleaf) and Wendell Hadlock’s 1947 article, War among the northeastern Woodland Indians, American Anthropologist 49 (2).

8. Biographies of Champlain I consulted included Samuel Eliot Morison’s 1972 classic, Samuel de Champlain: Father of New France (Little Brown) available at and David Fischer’s 2008 tome, Champlain’s Dream (Simon & Schuster), although I found the latter too hagiographic to my taste.

9. For information on shallops, pinnaces, and other types of colonial and early American vessels, see, for example, Howard Chapelle’s 1951 article and others in American Small Sailing Craft: Their Design, Development, and Construction (W. W. Norton). The 2006 illustration of a shallop under sail is by Duane A. Cline. and the 1633 illustration of “mosquetero, piquero, and arcabucero” attire is in the Digital Gallery of the New York Public Library.

10. The interpretation of Champlain’s map key in this book is my own. Interpretations by editors of Champlain’s Voyages tend to suffer from unfamiliarity with Gloucester’s landmarks. A more accurate local interpretation is offered in Marshall Saville’s 1934 Champlain and His Landings at Cape Ann, 1605, 1606 (American Antiquarian Society). There is a copy in Rockport at the Sandy Bay Historical Society, which Saville founded to house his collection of Native American artifacts found on Cape Ann. Another intimate source, The Fishermen’s Own Book, published in Gloucester in 1882, offers the following interpretation Champlain’s Le Beau Port map key:
A, The place where our bark was anchored. B, Meadows. C, Little Island. (Ten Pound Island.) D, Rocky Point. (Eastern Point.) E, The place where we caulked our boat. (Rocky Neck.) F, Little Rocky Island.(Salt Island.) G, Wigwams of the savages, where they cultivate the earth. H, Little river, where there are meadows. (Brook and marsh at Fresh Water Cove.) I, Brook. (Brook which enters the sea at Pavilion Beach.) L, Tongue of plain ground, where there are saffrons, nut-trees and vines.(On Eastern Point.) M, The salt water from a place where the Cape of Islands turns. (The creek in the marsh at little good harbor.) N, Little river. (Brook near Clay Cove.) O, Little Brook coming from meadows. (This brook cannot now be exactly located.) P, A little brook where they washed their linen. (At Oakes’ Cove, Rocky Neck.) Q, Troop of savages coming to surprise them. (At Rocky Neck.) R, Sand beach. (Niles’ Beach, at Eastern Point.) S, The sea-coast. (Back side of Eastern Point.) T, The Sieur de Poutrincourt in ambuscade with seven or eight arquebusiers. V, The Sieur de Champlain perceiving the savages.

11. Champlain’s sketches of Indians along with his descriptive keys may be seen at from Volume 4 of G. -E. Desbarats’ 1870 work, Oeuvres de Champlain (2nd ed., Archives of Ontario Library), facing page 81.

12. See Marc Lescarbot. 1606 (2013). Nova Francia: A Description of Acadia, 1606. New York: Routledge.

13. From Part XIII of Otis’s translation of Champlain’s Voyages.

14. Champlain’s observations of Spanish colonialism in the 16th century are in Slafter, Rev. Edmund F. 1878. Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, Volume I: 1567-1635.

15. From Part VII of Volume II of the Otis edition of Champlain’s Voyages.

16. See an online video of the matchlock firing mechanism, From Matchlock to Flintlock, by the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center in Williamsburg, VA: . See also an expert’s blog on
Sellswords, mercenaries, and condotierri, They Shot at the Skies: Soldiers and Firearms of 16th Century at .

17. An authoritative source on early firearms is Charles Black’s translation of Auguste Demmin’s 1877 An illustrated history of arms and armour (a free read in Google Books). The 1633 illustration of “mosquetero, piquero, and arcabucero” attire is in the Digital Gallery of the New York Public Library.

18. Events surrounding Champlain’s departure from Cape Ann are described in Part XIII of Volume II of Otis’s translation of Champlain’s Voyages. In a letter to his monarch, also in Voyages, Champlain cites unpredictable natives and relative scarcity of fur-bearing animals as his reasons for seeking elsewhere to plant New France. A historical marker near the entrance to Gloucester’s Rocky Neck commemorates his visit to Le beau port.

19. Champlain describes the quest for American copper mines in Part III of the Prince Society edition of Voyages. Sources of metals and minerals, along with an abundant supply of furs, dictated the location of a capital for New France and at the same time muddied inter-tribal relations among native Americans. Sources on the French fur trade and its impacts on Native Americans of North America include Dean Snow’s 1976 article, The Abenaki fur trade in the sixteenth century in The Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology 6 (1); Colin Calloway’s 1991 Dawnland Encounters: Indians and Europeans in northern New England; Robert Grumet’s 1995 Historic contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today’s Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries; and Thomas Nixon’s 2011dissertation, The North American Fur Trade and its Effects on the Native American Population and the Environment in North America (see ).

20. See David Allen’s 2005 French Mapping of New York and New England 1604-1760 at . And Bernard Hoffman’s 1955 Map of Native Territories in 1700, in Souriquois, Etechemin, and Kwedech–A Lost Chapter in American Ethnography, in Ethnohistory 2 (1). For a perspective on ethnicity in the Northeast, see Bruce Bourke’s 1989 Ethnicity on the Maritime Peninsula 1600-1759, in Ethnohistory 36 (3) and Olive Dickason’s 2009 general reference, Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times (Oxford University Press).

21. A more complete account of this interaction and its potential for cross-cultural misunderstanding is given in Marc Lescarbot’s 1607 account, Defeat of the Armouchiquois Savages by Chief Membertou and his savage allies (translated by Thomas Goetz), in Papers of the sixth Algonquian conference, William Cowan, ed. (Carleton University, 1974).

22. For a perspective on conflict between Northeastern hunter-gatherers and New England horticulturalists, see Bruce Bourke and Ruth Whitehead’s 1985 article, Tarrentines and the Introduction of European Trade Goods in the Gulf of Maine, in Ethnohistory 32 (4).

23. The quotation is in Part XIII of Vol. II of Otis’s translations of Voyages and also on pages 6 and 7 of Morris Bishop’s Samuel de Champlain: The Life of Fortitude (Knopf, 1948).

24. Primary source accounts of Tarrantine raids on New England are in the papers of John Winthrop and John Winthrop Jr. Tarrantine raids on Cape Ann are also referenced in John Goff’s 2008 article, Remembering the Tarratines (sic) and Nanepashemet: Exploring 1605-1635 Tarratine War Sites in Eastern Massachusetts, in The New England Antiquities Research Association Journal, 39 (2). See also William Haviland’s 2010 Canoe Indians of Down East Maine (The History Press).

25. Scalping and scalp collecting were practiced in North and South America in pre-Columbian times in highly ritualized cultural contexts as an expression of a warrior code of conduct, including the scalplock hairstyle and collection of coups, during raids on other native people. The practice was transformed following European contact into acts of retribution performed by both Indians and colonists on combatants and non-combatants alike, often for bounty money. Popular present-day interpretation has it that colonists taught scalping to the Indians, but this simply is not true. Sound sources on this subject include James Axtell’s 1982 The European and the Indian: Essays on the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America (Oxford University Press); John Grenier’s 2005 The first way of war: American war making on the frontier, 1607-1814 (Cambridge University Press); and Richard Burton’s 1864 ethnographic “Notes on Scalping” in Anthropological Review ( ).

26. See Note 23.

27. For a perspective on unintended impacts of French contact on relations among the Indians, see Champlain’s Legacy: The Transformation of Seventeenth-Century North America, in The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000, by Fred Anderson and Andrew Clayton (2005) and Colin Calloway’s 2013 New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America (Johns Hopkins Press).

28. Champlain’s map of Gloucester Harbor is surprisingly accurate, based only on his astrolabe readings and pacing off of the land. Captain John Smith’s mapping of Cape Ann is described in more detail in Chapter 4 of this book. The original of Champlain’s 1607 map of the Northeast from Cape Sable to Cape Cod is in the Library of Congress.

29. French and other historical units of measure are explained in Measure for Measure by R. A. Young and T. J. Glover (Blue Willow, 1996). The vessel that Champlain moored in Gloucester Harbor may have been the Don de Dieu, described in William Wood’s 1915 All Afloat: A Chronicle of Craft and Waterways, or possibly a smaller barque built on the St. Lawrence specifically for exploring the northeastern coast, with an even smaller oared vessel in tow—a shallop or pinnace—for exploring up rivers en route. The contemporary map of Gloucester Harbor is a detail from the NOAA Nautical Chart for Ipswich Bay to Gloucester Harbor. The history of Gloucester Harbor, a fascinating study in itself, is found in publications of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, including a 2000 report, Review of Depth to Bedrock in Gloucester Inner Harbor and The Environmental History and Current Characteristics of Gloucester Harbor by Anthony Wilbur and Fara Courtney (2001): .

30. Champlain’s maps have been gathered in the Osher Map Library, including engravings of his maps of the St. Lawrence and the Saco River. : .

31. Champlain’s 1605 map of Plymouth Harbor, which he named Port St. Louis, may be seen on the web site of the Plymouth Colony Archive Project at See also a description of his visit there at

32. Champlain’s experience at Nauset and his map of Malle Barre are from Part XIV of Volume II of Otis’s translation of Champlain’s Voyages.

33. Champlain named Stage Harbor in Chatham Port Fortune and later Port Misfortune. See There are different stories about Champlain’s misadventure there, including an “official” local history that attributes loss of life to the theft of a knife. I have relied on Champlain’s account of what happened there, in which there is an unprovoked Wampanoag attack on men put ashore to bake bread and see to the provisioning of their vessel. The map story of this attack is Marc Lescarbot’s elaboration of Champlain’s original chart of the harbor.

34. For information on the founding of New France, I relied on Canadian sources, especially W. R. Wilson (2010) Eastern Woodland Indians & the Coming of the Europeans and New France, in Early Canada Historical Narratives at ; D. Garneau’s History of New France, in Canadian History Timelines ( ); and the Canadian History Directory (2009), Timelines for the History of New France 1385-1900: ( ). See also Francis Parkman’s 1983. Pioneers of France in the New World: the Jesuits in North American in the Seventeenth Century, in Volume I of France and England in North America (Library of America).

35. Champlain’s sketch of himself firing his arquebus at an Iroquois war party in 1609 is reproduced in the Otis edition of Voyages and elsewhere. No authentic portrait of Champlain is known to exist. The painting most commonly used shows Champlain as a d’Artagnan-like figure by Theophile Hamel (1870) after one by Ducornet (d. 1856), based on an earlier portrait of someone else entirely by Balthasar Moncornet (d. 1668).

CHAPTER 2 Notes and References

  1. Primary source accounts of Agawam include papers in the Essex Institute Historical Collections by Robert Rantoul (19: B126), Herbert Adams (19:153), George Phippen (1: 97, 145, 185), and Joseph Felt (4: 225), in addition to Felt’s history of Ipswich, which is based on colonial accounts. See, for example, Felt’s paper, “Indian Inhabitants of Agawam”, read at a meeting of the Essex Institute in Hamilton, August 21, 1862.
  2. Naumkeag and other villages, such as Mathabequa on the Forest River in Salem, are attested in the accounts of Edward Winslow in 1621 and 1624; members of Roger Conant’s party traveling from Fishermen’s Field in Gloucester to Salem Village in 1626; Francis Higginson’s account of 1629; and the 1680 testimonies of William Dixy, Humphrey Woodbury, and Richard Brackenbury, who described native farming settlements on the rivers running into Beverly and Salem harbors. See also Edward Stone’s History of Beverly, Civil and Ecclesiastical, from its Settlement in 1630 to 1842) and George Dow’s Two centuries of travel in Essex County, Massachusetts, a collection of narratives and observations made by travelers, 1605-1799 (The Topsfield Historical Society, Perkins Press. 1921).
  3. An account of Quasquacunquen (Quascacunquen) on the Parker River comes from Currier’s 1902 History of Newbury, which cites the Massachusetts Colony Records (Vol. 1: 146), Winthrop’s History of New England, p. 30, and Wood’s 1634 map of New England. These sources give Wessacucon or Wessacumcon as the original Indian name. In both forms, however, the name was a corruption of the native name for the Parker River and their village upon it. In addition, the name does not mean anything relating to the falls in Newbury in the Byfield parish, as claimed in all contemporary sources. The root words for water, falls, or river are not present in any form. Instead, in present-day Western Abenaki, as explained in Chapter 1, the name translates as “just right for gardens” (or “correct planting ground” or “perfect cropland”). Kwask (quasq; wess) = state of being + wai (ua; a) = “just right, correct” + kikwen (cunquen; cucon) = “fields for planting gardens/corn”, “cropland” = Kwaskwaikikwen (Quascacunquen; Wessacucon).
  4. The 1640 map of Newbury is from John J. Currier’s History of Newbury, Mass. 1635-1902: 63.
  5. When I asked to see their files on Native Americans, the Gloucester Archives in City Hall reported that there was only a folder of newspaper clippings and articles (the Peterson File), and that there were no Indians on Cape Ann at the time of English settlement!
  6. Massachusetts Historical Commission, 220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston 02125: My understanding of the workings and policies of the Massachusetts Historical Commission comes in part from a personal interview with Jonathan Patton, Preservation Specialist there, on September 5, 2013.
  7. LeBaron, J. Francis. 1874 (1931). Archaeological Atlas of Castle Neck, Ipswich. Salem, MA: Peabody Essex Museum. I am indebted to Tom Beddall of Ipswich for access to this map.
  8. Information about the specific geographic locations of Masconomet’s fort and residence and deeded land comes from Tom Beddall of Brookline and Choate Island, MA. His sources include 17th century documents in the Essex Quarterly Court Records, on microfilm in the Massachusetts state archives, transcribed in the 1930s by WPA workers under the direction of Harriet Silvester Tapley, author of Chronicles of Danvers (Old Salem Village) 1623-1923. Other sources brought to my attention by Tom Beddall are unpublished first-person accounts and anonymously published articles by Rufus Choate, referenced in Downriver: A Memoir of Choate Island by Mary Wonson, Roger Choate Wonson, and Agnes Choate Wonson. Rufus Choate, who signed his columns as “Chebacco” or “Observer” and the like, published, for example, an article on “Masconomet and His Foes—Where the Chief Lived” in the September 8, 1893 issue of Echo. A history of English occupation of Hog Island is set forth in Duane Hamilton Hurd’s History of Essex County, Volume 2.
  9. The history of Masconomet and his relationship with John Winthrop Jr. and the settlers of Agawam is recorded in John Winthrop’s Journal (1790); letters of John Winthrop Jr. in the Winthrop Papers; essays by Robert S. Rantoul in the Historical Collections of the Essex Institute in Salem (19: B126 and 4: 225), and in Joseph Felt’s History of Ipswich… (1966), available at See also Felt’s paper “Indian Inhabitants of Agawam,” read at a meeting of Essex Institute on August 21, 1862, reproduced in the Essex Institute Historical Collections 4: 225-228.
  10. Goff, John V. 2008. Remembering the Tarratines and Nanepashemet: Exploring 1605-1635 Tarratine War Sites in Eastern Massachusetts. In The New England Antiquities Research Association Journal 39 (2): Also: Vaughan, Alden T. 1995. New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians, 1620-1675, 3rd ed., p. 52. The Tarrantine Wars are taken up in more detail in a later chapter.
  11. Descriptions of Algonquian defenses come from Edward Winslow’s narratives of 1622 (Mourt’s Relation) and 1624 (Good Newes from New England). Native forts in Salem-Beverly are also referred to in George D. Phippen’s testimony, “Of Salem before 1628” in the Essex Institute Collection, Volume 1 and Joseph Felt’s “Historical sketch of forts on Salem Neck”, Volume 5: 255. Old Castle on Castle Lane in Pigeon Cove, Rockport, is believed to have been built in 1712 by Jethro Wheeler and by virtue of its name was very likely built on the site of a native fort. In considering geography and the history of Tarrantine attacks, it seems certain that watchtowers would have been erected at points with clear sightlines to river entrances.
  12. For colonial laws and ordinances regarding livestock, see the Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New-Plimoth, and Generall Laws of the Massachusetts Colony, revised and published, by the Order of the General Court (1632-1676) http://www.princelaws.pdf; also at See also the classic Nathaniel Shurtleff’ 1853 Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay And General Court, Vol. I, 1628-1641 and Vol. II 1642-1649 in the Massachusetts Archives in Boston. A less convenient but to the point source on microfilm in the Archives is Volume 30: Indian, 1603-1705: Records detailing the interactions between the Massachusetts Bay government and native peoples in New England and New York, which is indexed.
  13. Deeds to Gloucester and other towns in Essex County—originals, typescripts, and historical context—are on the web site of the Salem Registry of Deeds, Native American Deeds Collection:
  14. The deeds Masconomet and his heirs signed are in the Salem (MA) Registry of Deeds. See also Peter Leavenworth’s article (1999), “The Best Title That Indians Can Claime”: National Agency and Consent in the Transferal of Penacook-Pawtucket Land in the 17th Century, New England Quarterly 72 (2): 275-300.
  15. See Sidney Perley’s 1912 The Indian land titles of Essex County, Massachusetts and Map of Indian Lands and Localities in Essex County Massachusetts. These documents are on the Salem Registry of Deeds web site. The text can be read on
  16. Sidney Perley 1912: 88-134. See also Williams & Tyng et al., Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Volume 51 (1852).
  17. The story of Endicott’s surveyors talking to Indians at Wingaersheek is cited in Babson (1860); Adams (1882), The Fisher Plantation of Cape Anne, Part I of The Village Communities of Cape Ann and Salem, Historical Collections of the Essex Institute: 19; and Thornton (1854), The Landing at Cape Ann: or, The charter of the first permanent colony on the territory of the Massachusetts Company. My refutation of the idea that Wingaersheek is a “low Dutch German loan word and etymology for Wingawecheek are laid out in Chapter 1.
  18. Gloucester Daily Times, November 13, 1940. Cape Ann Rich in Indian Relics Rotarians Told
  19. Carleton Phillips, 23 samples of pottery from Riverview; Phillips, N. Carleton. 1940 and c. 1941. Unpublished untitled transcripts of talks given in Gloucester (MA) on the archaeology of Cape Ann. Gloucester, MA: Cape Ann Museum. See Mary Ellen Lepionka, Fall 2013, Unpublished papers on Cape Ann Prehistory. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 74 (2): 45-92. Also: Lepionka, Fall 2017, Speck in Riverview. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 78 (2): 60-70. See also Frank Speck, Massachusetts Indians, especially relating to Cape Ann, Gloucester Daily Times, Aug. 4., 1923; and Dodge, Ernest S., 1991, Speck on the North Shore, in the Life and Times of Frank G. Speck (Roy Blankenship, ed.): 42-50.
  20. Reference to Endicott’s 1642 division of the Indians’ “hoed land” on Cape Ann is in The charters and general laws of the colony and province of Massachusetts (Boston, MA: B.T. Wait and Co., 1814). See also Young, Alexander. 1846, Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1623-1636, Volumes 41 and 49. Boston, MA: C. C. Little and J. Brown, and Phillips, James Duncan. 1933. The Landing of Endecott. Chapter IV in Salem in the Seventeenth Century. Boston: Houghton.
  21. Documentary evidence includes letters of the first settlers, anecdotal accounts of visitors and descendants, records of Indian land sales, and a hand-drawn map locating an Indian plantation at Old Garden Beach. Cornhill St. for Middle St. appears on an early map and is noted in Babson (1860).
  22. “Names of the Rivers and the names of ye cheife Sagamores yt inhabit upon Them from the River of Quibequissue to the River of Wenesquawam.” [“from the Penobscot to the Annisquam”], n.d. (c. 1602-1610); British Library, Egerton Manuscripts 2395 [Fol. 412]. Wonasquam appears on Capt. John Smith’s 1614 Map of New England [in 1605]: The detail of Wonasquam on Wood’s map comes from Robert Raymond, 1926 (Reprinted 1969), William Wood’s Map and Description of New England in 1635 (from New Englands Prospect…,William Wood, 1635, pp. 31-38). Also appears in A Book of Old Maps Delineating American History…, Emerson D. Fite and Archibald Freeman, eds.: 136-139: Josselyn’s reference to Wonasquam appears in his 1674 (reprinted 1865) An Account of Two Voyages to New-England Made during the years 1638, 1663:
  23. Dunton, John. 1686. Letters Written from New England. Prince Society Publications Issue 4, Ayer Publishing (1966 edition).
  24. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1846), John Dunton’s Journal: 121-122.
  25. Roger Williams’ account of Agawam and Narragansett burial practices is Chapter 32 of his book A Key into the Language of America (1643).
  26. For information on Passaconaway and his descendants, see Russell Lawson’s Passaconaway’s Realm (2002) and Charles Beals’ Passaconaway in the White Mountains (1916). For Nanepashemet and his descendants, see Ellen Knight’s Nanepashemet Family Tree in the Wiser Newsletter. Volume 11, Issue 2 (2006): Nanepashemet.pdf.
  27. I used Frederick William Gookin’s 1912 biography Daniel Gookin 1612-1687, Assistant and Major General of the Massachusetts Bay Colony: His Life and Letters and Some Account of his Ancestry. The discrepancy in the date of his death is because until 1752 the colonial year began on March 25. Thus Gookin’s March 19 death date would have been in 1686, the same year that Wonalancet and Owufsumug died and John Dunton visited Wonasquam. Moderns have corrected pre-1752 colonial dates to correspond to a January 1 start date for each new year, although for dates between January 1 and March 25 some scholars write the alternatives with a slash, e.g., 1986/87.
  28. See Ebenezer Pool, Pool Papers, Vol. I (1823). This is a typescript ms, in the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester. A handwritten original (or copy) is in a filing cabinet in the basement of the Sandy Bay Historical Society.
  29. Pool’s reference to installment payments and payments in kind rather than cash are born out in Harry Wright’s 1941 article, The Technique of Seventeenth Century Indian Land Purchases, in Essex Institute Historical Collections 77: 185-197. The Massachusetts Historical Commission Archives in Boston has Records of Deeds by the Massachusetts General Court between 1620 and 1651; Gloucester Records for 1642-1874 (Microfilm A 632); Town Records of Deeds for Gloucester and others from 1701 to 1914; the Commoner’s Book for 1707 to 1820; and Minutes of Meetings of Proprietors of Common Lands. Gloucester Town Records (Vol. I 1642-1714) in the Gloucester Archives in City Hall do not refer to purchases of Indian lands. Gloucester’s 1684 purchase of Pawtucket land on Cape Ann is in the Book of Indian Records for Their Lands in the DuBois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The Massachusetts Historical Commission in Boston also has a copy.
  30. Lepionka, Mary Ellen and Mark Carlotto. Spring 2015. Evidence of a Native American Solar Observatory on Sunset Hill in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 76 (1): 27-42.
  31. For an appreciation of the importance of skywatching in the ancient world, see John Mitchell’s 1984 Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile. See also Anthony Aveni’s People and the Sky (2008), and Lynn Ceci, 1978, Watchers of the Pleiades: Ethnoastronomy Among Native Cultivators in Northeastern North America. Ethnohistory 25 (4): 301-317.
  32. See Obadiah Bruen’s Town Record of 1650 and the Babson about the naming of hills in the development of Gloaster Plantation (Gloucester).
  33. David Stewart-Smith’s and Frank Speck’s ethnographies and the works of Colin Calloway were my principal anthropology sources for understanding Pawtucket-Pennacook social organization, political structure, and kinship system.
  34. The story of Samoset, an Abenaki sagamore, who greeted the Mayflower colonists in English and introduced them to Squanto (Tisquantum), a returned Patuxet kidnapee, comes from William Bradford’s history of Plimoth Colony, Edward Winslow’s Mourt’s Relation, Christopher Levett’s Voyage to New England begun in 1623 and ended in 1624, and the 1893 biography of Levett (sometimes written as Leverett; Bradford wrote Levite) by James Phinney Baxter.
  35. The trail maps were created in 2002 by GIS Director Tom O’Leary of the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds (used with permission). They are in the Native American Collection on the web site of the Registry of Deeds as Ancient Indian Trails and Canoe Routes of Essex County. More trail maps for the Pawtucket-Pennacook may be found in Chester Price’s 1958 article, Historic Indian Trails of New Hampshire (The New Hampshire Archaeologist 14: 1-33), and in Wilkie and Tager’s Map of Native Settlements and Trails c. 1600-1650, page 12 in the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (1991). See
  36. Phillips, Stephen Willard. October 1955. Evolution of Cape Ann Roads and Transportation 1623-1955. In Transportation. Salem, MA: Essex Institute Publications.
  37. Haviland, William A. 2012. Canoe Indians of Down East Maine. Charleston, SC: The History Press. Also, Edwin Tappan Adney, 1964, Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America (with Howard I. Chappelle). Bulletin of the United States National Museum (Washington DC), Republished in 2014 with Howard Chapelle and John McPhee, Skyhorse Publishing (New York).
  38. Information about native canals and causeways is anecdotal or ethnohistorical, based on colonists’ accounts, cited in the early histories of Newbury and Ipswich. See, for example Joshua Coffin’s 1845 A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845, John Currier’s History of Newbury, Mass. 1635-1902, and Joseph Felt’s History of Ipswich.
  39. The Cow Island causeway at the southern end of Riverview, which no longer exists, is referenced in Stephen Phillips’ article, Evolution of Cape Ann Roads and Transportation 1623-1955, in Transportation (October, 1955, Essex Institute Publications). Cow Island is now indistinguishable from the Riverview mainland. The map is a detail from Plan of Annisquam River in City of Gloucester, made in December 1911. It is online as a product of a defunct government agency, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Harbor and Land Commissioner’s Office, which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  40. Native rock features and stoneworks, including ceremonial stone landscapes (CSLs) and petroglyphs, are taken up in greater detail in Chapter 7.
  41. Roads, Samuel. 1880. History and Traditions of Marblehead, Chapter I. Boston: Houghton Osgood & Company.
  42. Pawtucket seasonal migration between Wamesit in the vicinity of Lowell and the Essex County coasts is attested in the accounts of John Winthrop Jr., Daniel Gookin, Joseph Felt, and the earliest histories of Lowell, Chelmsford, Billerica, and Dracut, including Charles Cowley’s 1862 Memories of the Indians…. (Vol. I). Also Frederick Coburn, 1920, History of Lowell and Its People.
  43. Depending on water level you could travel by canoe from Ipswich Bay to the Merrimack River with only minor portages via the waterways of the Shawsheen Valley. Each of these locations had desirable resources. For example, outcrops on the Skug River were the nearest sources of steatite or soapstone for carving bowls and atlatl weights. Following the Shawsheen River you would come out in the vicinity of North Andover or Lawrence and then would travel west on the Merrimack to Pawtucket Falls and Wamesit in Lowell. See
  44. The prejudicial view that New England Algonquians were inconsequential because they “wandered” and did not build cities or monuments was first expressed by early archaeologists of the post-Civil War era, such as F. W. Putnam, and has tended to persist until the present day.




CHAPTER 2: Where are Agawam and Wenesquawam?

As established in Chapter 1, the places the English called Agawam, Chebacco, Wingaersheek, and Wonasquam describe different portions of eastern Essex County and originated as Abenaki-based Algonquian place names. The place names originally referred to villages rather than sovereign territories, but were expanded by the English to describe putative tribal territories.1 Thus “Agawam”, in addition to being the name of a principal village, was the name given to the area between the Merrimack River and Salem Harbor within the jurisdiction of the sagamoreship led by Masquenominet at the time of contact. This wider area encompassed the shores and fresh and salt marshes of the estuaries and bays of the Annisquam, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, and Parker rivers and their tributaries, as well as Plum Island and Plum Island Sound.

Perley’s Map of Indian Lands

Sidney Perley’s 1912 Map of Indian Lands, based on colonial records, shows three divisions of Indian territory in Essex County: Pentucket, with a principal village at Haverhill, was “at the bend in the big tidal river”, referring to the Merrimack where it bends to the east and branches south as the Concord River; Agawam, including Cape Ann, was “beyond the marsh” or “other side of the marsh” along the shore; and Naumkeag (Nahumkeak) encompassed Beverly, Peabody, Middleton, Danvers, Salem, and Marblehead.2

The three regions on Perley’s map were all occupied by the Pawtucket in common tenancy. It was a misconception of colonial observers that these were discrete sovereign territories. There actually were no Pawtucket tribes. Placenames named only rivers and the villages upon them and by extension the sagamoreships occupying them. The English interpreted those names within their own political frame of reference to mean sovereign tribes or nations, and the native leaders as chiefs or kings. A sagamore, however, was just the head of an alpha lineage or high-status family, the group leader and representative of their shared lineage, identified by a sacred ancestor in the form of a spirit or animal totem. Sagamoreships were inherited father to son, occasionally to widow or daughter. A sachem, on the other hand, was the chosen leader of several related or confederated sagamoreships or bands. Thus the two terms, sachem and sagamore, were not synonymous as is sometimes claimed or assumed. Pawtucket social organization is explored in greater detail in Chapter 6.

Prior to contact by 500 years or more, the people had permanent and semi-permanent agricultural settlements on uplands associated with the estuaries of the rivers emptying into Ipswich Bay. Large Pawtucket coastal agricultural villages attested in early accounts as occupied at the time of first contact included Quascacunquen (Kwaskwaikikwen, Indian Hill, West Newbury), Agawam (Castle Neck, Ipswich), Wenesquawam (Wanaskwiwam, Riverview, Gloucester), and Naumkeag (Nahumkeak, Salem-Beverly).3

Coastal Villages on Ipswich Bay

Quascacunquen, for example, is preserved as the name of the Parker River in a 1640 map of Newbury, which also identifies Indian Hill at the headwaters of the Artichoke River.4

1640 Map of Newbury Showing the Parker River as Quascacunquen River and the location of Indian Hill




This map of the Parker River watershed shows the two names for the same village in colonial literature and how its name would appear today in Western Abenaki. The smaller red circle locates an archaeological site on Plum Island, a summer camp used by the people.

Knowledge about the exact location of Agawam Village has long been suppressed, raising questions about a conflict between the public’s right to know local history and stewards’ needs to protect sites from looting and desecration. In addition, some homeowners conceal finds on their property in the mistaken belief that disclosing them would somehow result in loss of property (or construction of a casino). An underworld exists of unscrupulous collectors who would not hesitate to desecrate a grave to find objects to sell in online stores. Today, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act serves to protect burial sites and sacred objects, but the state has extended secrecy about Native sites to the extent that residents did not know there were ever any Native Americans living on Cape Ann!5 Site reports of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) archaeological studies are sequestered in the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s closed archives and are not made public knowledge.6

Le Baron’s 1874 archaeological map shows the location of Agawam Village on Castle Neck River, on the “other side of the marsh”, today called Wigwam Hill. Its neighborhoods would have included the areas around Argilla Road, Fox Creek Road, and Labor-in-Vain Road.7 Le Baron’s map also shows the sites of extensive shell middens on Castle Neck, the location of Castle Island, where Masquenominet had a fort, his farm on Argilla road, his council site on Castle Hill, his early residence on Tilton Hill, his later residence on Hog (Choate) Island, and his final resting place on Sagamore Hill in South Hamilton.8

            Detail from LeBaron’s Archaeological Map

 Castle Neck

 Agawam Hills

In 1631 and 1632 the Massachusetts Bay Colony sent John Winthrop Jr. and eleven other  men from Charlestown to Agawam to assess the area for a plantation, to evict English squatters—those who bought land directly from the Indians and were living there before the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony—and to discourage settlement by the French, who were establishing fur trading posts along the coast. The Winthrop party helped Masquenominet repel deadly Tarrantine attacks on his fort on Castle Island, his residence on Tilton Hill, and defenders at the village on Wigwam Hill. The fort on Castle Island guarded the entrance to the Castle Neck River, a Tarrantine attack route.9

Tarrantine attack routes were from Nova Scotia and settlements on the Bay of Fundy down through the Gulf of Maine to Casco Bay,  Cape Ann, and as far as Cape Cod.



 Pawtucket defensive positions on the sea consisted of lookout towers and forts that guarded against raids from the east by the Tarrantines of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes—Mi’Kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. They raided their southern neighbors for corn, which would not grow at their latitudes.10 To the English colonists the wooden forts of the natives resembled medieval castles, with moats, ramparts, turrets, and parapets for dumping stones down on attackers—described in detail by Edward Winslow in 1621 on a visit to Naumkeag.11 The English called native forts “castles”, and there are sites all up and down the coast bearing placenames with the word castle in them. There are several instances of Castle Hill, Old Castle, Castle Point, Castleview, and Castle Island, for example, from Maine to Maryland. In each locality, it is likely that a fort guarded a river entrance, ringed with strategically placed watchtowers.

In 1634, Masquenominet complained to the Massachusetts General Court that Charlestown’s hogs were destroying Indian corn, and the Court decreed in 1636 that hogs had to be kept fenced or impounded on islands.12 In 1637, following another Tarrantine attack in which colonists helped to defend him, in gratitude Masquenominet signed a deed granting his farmland between Chebacco Creek and Labor in Vain Creek (known historically as Argilla Farm) to John Winthrop Jr.13 Then in 1638 Masquenominet signed another deed granting Winthrop all the rest of Greater Agawam for the establishment of the English colony of Ipswich. In that deed “Agawam” extends from the Merrimack River to the Saugus River, and from the Concord River on the west to Cape Ann on the east and Salem on the south.14

Masquenominet’s First Deed, readable on Salem Registry of Deeds web site.

In 1700, with the aid of magistrates Joseph Foster and Moses Parker, Masquenominet’s grandchildren filed suit in the Mass Bay Colony General Court against Gloucester and other towns in an effort to receive final installments on sections of land Masquenominet had originally sold to them in aggregate. They won their case, and the General Court ordered Gloucester to pay a final installment in cash in the amount of £7 to Masquenominet’s heirs in exchange for clear legal title to Gloucester and Essex. The heirs included Samuel English and his wife Susannah, Joseph English, John Umpee, and Jeremiah Wauches and his wife Bettey.15 Interestingly, Gloucester’s official history does not mention the facts of this case, only that in 1701 Samuel English redeeded 10,000 acres to Gloucester for £7. Other towns, such as Wenham, countersued in the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court, claiming that their original Indian deed was valid, and lost.16

1700/1701 Deed to Cape Ann (Gloucester, Rockport, Essex), readable on Salem Registry of Deeds website.


The part of Greater Agawam called Wenesquawam (Wanaskwiwam), which Josselyn and others referred to as Wonasquam, likely included a village by that name in Riverview on the Annisquam River as well as the region of present-day Gloucester and Rockport, inclusive of the river islands, harbor and back shore, Rocky Neck, Eastern Point, Riverdale, Annisquam, Bay View, Lanesville, Dogtown, Andrews Point, Pigeon Cove, Old Garden, Land’s End, West. Gloucester, and other neighborhoods. The area called Wingaersheek (Wingawecheek) likely included a settlement on the Jones River Saltmarsh, incorporating the dunes of the beach by that name as well as Coffin’s Beach and the islands on the eastern shores of Essex Bay, such as Cole’s Island.17

Location of Wanaskwiwam in Riverview






Location of Wingawecheek 




Based on archaeological evidence, especially the excavations of N. Carleton Phillips and Frank Speck, Wanaskwiwam was in Riverview near Curtis Cove just north of Pole Hill.18 Families also occupied campsites on the river islands (Rust Island and Pearce Island in particular), Planter’s Neck overlooking Lobster Cove in Annisquam, Fishermen’s Field on the harbor (as shown on Champlain’s map), and on other coves ringing the cape. Native planting grounds—for maize cultivation requires frequent shifting to new ground with fresh soil—would have been, for example, in Gloucester’s Riverdale on Mill River, along Cherry St., above Old Garden Beach in Sandy Bay, and behind Wingaersheek Beach along Atlantic St. Families also occupied resource procurement sites in West Gloucester on Little River and Jones River and on the islands of Essex Bay. The Pawtucket were growing corn at these sites. John Endecott purchased “hoed ground” from the Indians on Cape Ann.19 Settlers of Gloaster Plantation gave the name Cornhill Street to what was later named Middle Street20

As explained in Chapter 1, the earliest documentary evidence for Wanaskwiwam is as Wenesquawam in the Egerton Manuscript in the British Library, an anonymous explorer’s account pre-dating 1610 entitled “Ye Names of Ye Rivers and Ye Sagamores Yte Inhabit Upon Them”. The name Wonasquam is later attested in Capt. John Smith’s 1624 map of New England, William Wood’s 1635 map, and John Josselyn’s accounts of his voyages to New England.21 Documentary evidence for an Indian village by that name is also found in the travel journal of John Dunton, a London bookseller scouting out the new American market for his wares.22 Dunton wrote in 1686 that he took a trip from Ipswich to Gloucester to see an Indian village called Wonasquam, which he reported to be in grave decline. He wrote in his letter:

After a long and difficult ramble [on the Agawam Trail from Ipswich to Gloucester, led by native guides], we came at last to the Indian town call’d Wonasquam. It is a very sorry sort of town, but better to come to it by land instead of by water, for ‘tis a dangerous place to sail by, especially in stormy weather.23


John Dunton                                          Ebenezer Pool

During his visit, Dunton encountered natives wearing the black facepaint of mourning and claims to have attended a funeral and ritual burial in honor of a very important but  unidentified sagamore near Wonasquam Village. His description of funeral rites is similar to one written decades earlier by the Rhode Island colonial governor Roger Williams, who had witnessed an Algonquian burial in Agawam. It has been suggested that Dunton plagiarized Williams’ account, but nothing else in his journal points to any desire to sensationalize his travel experiences, and it would not be unusual for two descriptions of the same ceremony to be similar.24

There may well have been a mourning ceremony in Wonasquam in 1686 when Dunton was there. That was the year Wonalancet, Passaconaway’s son, died and Passaconaway’s grandson Kancamagus sold the last of the Pennacook homelands to the English. Passaconaway had famously and peacefully led a confederacy of Pennacook-Abenaki bands and tribes, including the Pawtucket of Wamesit and Agawam, from the beginning of the Contact Period to around 1669. John Owufsumug also died in 1686—the son-in-law of Sagamore George, the youngest son of the famous sachem Nanepashemet, who had led the Pawtucket, Nipmuc, and others prior to English settlement.25 Another loss that year was Daniel Gookin, the first government Indian agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and champion of the New England Indians. It is reported that he was widely mourned by Native Americans, who wore black face paint for him. They knew that without Gookin they would no longer receive government protection from the English.26

 Algonquian Funeral as Described by Roger Williams: The mourning family places the body on the right side in a flexed position. The deceased is covered in a mat and interred with grave goods. A shaman (under the sacred oak) officiates.



Anecdotal evidence for a village in Gloucester is also found in the papers of Ebenezer Pool of Rockport, who in 1823 recorded his grandfather’s and great grandfather’s stories about an Indian village of 20 to 30 wigwams just north of Pole Hill (Huckleberry Hill on early maps) in Riverview.27 A village of that size would have had a population of between 100 and 300 individuals. Pool also wrote about the practice early colonists had of paying for land in kind in installments, mainly with bushels of Indian corn. There is a record of sale of the last Pawtucket lands on Cape Ann in 1684 in exchange for Indian corn and other commodities.28

The existence of a Native village in Riverview is also supported by the discovery in 2013 by the author of a Native astronomical observatory and ceremonial landscape on Pole Hill. The site, still under investigation, has boulder alignments for the solstices and equinox dating to between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago.29 Observation posts for lunar standstills and  the rising and setting of some bright stars and key constellations remain to be confirmed. The Algonquians were skywatchers. Villages were sited near places where shamans could observe the sun, moon, stars, and other celestial events.30 Pole Hill is described in greater detail in Chapter 7.

Summer Solstice Sunset                  Winter Solstice Sunset



Pole Hill with Wanaskwiwam Beyond               Some Sightlines

Like Agawam, Wanaskwiwam also would have had defensive fortifications. On Cape Ann the most likely locations of Native watchtowers and forts would have included Squam Rock and Wigwam Point in Annisquam with their sightlines to the barred entrance of the Annisquam River. Governor’s Hill overlooking Gloucester harbor  and the sea beyond was originally called Castle Hill and then Lookout Hill before its name was changed first to Beacon Pole Hill and then to Governor’s Hill.31 Fortifications at Folly Point and the “Old Castle” site in Pigeon Cove would have protected Pawtucket living on Sandy Bay from the eastern enemies.

The Algonquians of Essex County, though widely dispersed as seasonally migrating bands, were connected with one another when they came together at their agricultural and winter villages as well as through marriage, transportation and trade, a tradition of pilgrimage, and mutual defense. All the people who distributed themselves among the river drainage systems on which life depended were connected through band exogamy, for example—a marriage rule in which women marry out of their groups and move into their husbands’ bands.32 The bands were all deeply interrelated through a millennium or more of intermarriage. The Pawtucket and other eastern Algonquians thus had kinsmen all up and down the coast. The very first native person the Mayflower Pilgrims met in Plymouth in 1620, for instance, was an Abenaki sagamore from Pemaquid, Maine, on pilgrimage, who, to everyone’s astonishment, spoke English. Samoset had learned English through encounters with men of the English fishing fleets coming seasonally to Monhegan Island and Casco Bay in Maine.33 Those encounters first predated the Pilgrims in New England by around 50 years.

Algonquians also were connected by an extensive system of canoe routes, portages, and trails that joined coastal and inland villages. In Essex County, trails on land included the Mystick Trail to Boston, Naumkeag Trail between Andover and Salem, Abenaki Trail to Maine, Pennacook Trail to New Hampshire and Canada, Agawam Trail between Salem and Ipswich, Squam Trail connecting Cape Ann to Salem and Ipswich, and the Wamesit Trail between Salem and Lowell. Pawtucket transportation in and around Agawam and Naumkeag and trade routes to the interior and the north, as well as warpaths, followed these trails.34 Routes 127, 1A, 133, 22, 97, and 62 began as Indian trails.35

Native American Trails of Essex County

Pawtucket Trails in Agawam

Travel was by canoe wherever possible. Cape Ann is at the southern limit of birchbark canoe culture, with dugout canoes predominating further south.36 To reduce the number of portages and to protect Agawam transportation routes from exposure to the open sea, the Pawtucket cut canals between rivers and across the marshes to create an inland waterway behind Plum Island. A 3-kilometer channel through the saltmarsh connected the mouth of the Merrimack River to Plum Island Sound, for example, and another connected Essex Bay to the Jones River and thence the Annisquam River. Native canal building was reported anecdotally by Ipswich and Newbury colonists, who attempted to maintain the inland waterways for a time.37

The Pawtucket also built causeways to connect inshore and river islands to the mainland. Champlain’s map shows a Native-built causeway to Rocky Neck, for example. According to one colonial account, Cow Island in the Annisquam, now part of the mainland, is another example.38 Earthworks and stoneworks are a well-documented feature of Native American culture in New England.39 The Pawtucket also strategically reduced and fortified natural causeways to create easily defended islands. Necks of land, such as Marblehead Neck, and peninsulas with narrow access were desirable as redoubts against enemy attacks. Nanepashemet’s summer retreat at Marblehead Neck is an example.40 Colonists later used the river islands in husbandry to segregate (or impound) animals by species or sex—hence the names Cow Island (or Milk Island), Ram Island, Hog Island, Pound Island, and the like.


Cow Island with Indian Causeway, opposite Rust Island

 Marblehead Neck

Although the people were connected with each other in multiple ways, they did not constitute a monolithic culture, act unilaterally, or move en masse. Every family followed its own preferences and stayed or left campsites and villages at will. Before they became villagers, the Pawtucket were exclusively seasonal migrants. Each spring for about a thousand years, families left their permanent winter settlements, such as Wamesit in Lowell, and dispersed to their summer camps in Agawam and Wenesquawam to fish and later to farm .41 The Lowell-Lawrence area, the Pawtucket home base at the junctions of the Merrimack, Concord, and Shawsheen rivers, has surprising proximity to Gloucester—a day’s walk. It was an easy trek of less than 30 miles by land and canoe, with portages from the Shawsheen Valley to the Parker and Ipswich rivers.42

 Shawsheen Watershed

 Shawsheen River

This seasonal migration between fixed points within the same small area is not the same as nomadism. Nomads are pastoralists who continually wander within a much larger territory to find fodder for the domesticated herd animals on which they depend. Native Americans of New England did not have domesticated animals, and they were not wanderers. At the same time, their villages were not strictly permanent with complete sedentism leading to city-building. The people did not build permanent structures but moved their villages within an area to take advantage of fresh soils and water supplies and seasonal subsistence and luxury resources. This mixed economy with a lack of cities and monumental architecture led early historians and anthropologists to dismiss Algonquian societies as comparatively lacking in “civilization” or “culture”. Even early archaeologists regarded New England Indians as inconsequential, especially compared to the civilization builders of Mexico and Central and South America. Algonquian sites were shell heaps and burial mounds rather than temples and pyramids.43

So this was Agawam and Wenesquawam. The Pawtucket and their Algonquian ancestors and the people who preceded them came here by these coastlines, rivers, and trails over the past 11,500 years or more. The ground we live on today conceals traces of the lives of the 20 million or so other families who were here during that time hunting, foraging, fishing, digging for clams, or farming—including the Pawtucket family that according to Samuel de Champlain had a wigwam on my street in Cripple Cove on Gloucester Harbor. What else did Champlain’s maps and journals show?













History of Cape Ann Preface

Agawam and Wenesquawam: A History of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, from the Last Ice Age to 1750


In 2010, while browsing in Dogtown Bookstore on Main Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I happened upon a 48-page booklet called The First People of Cape Ann: Native Americans on the North Coast of Massachusetts Bay, by writer and researcher Elizabeth Waugh (Dogtown Books, 2005). The cover caught my eye—A 1911 painting by illustrator N.C. Wyeth of two Native American youths cavorting in a New England salt marsh—and the subject interested me. My careers have spanned anthropology and archaeology, high school and college teaching, and educational publishing, and I have lived on Cape Ann at least half of my life. Like so many others who live here, I am in love with the place.

In Waugh’s book I saw pictures and stories about local archaeological finds, useful lists of sources and collections, and excerpts from the accounts of European voyagers and colonists. Then, on page 28, I saw Samuel de Champlain’s map of Gloucester Harbor, first published in 1607, edifying proof that Native Americans had indeed lived here.  There were their wigwams, smokehouses, flake yards, and gardens. Furthermore, there was a wigwam where my street is today. I was electrified. I had always been told that Native Americans did not live on Cape Ann but only came occasionally to hunt. I did not know they were farmers! I did not even know they had a name—the Pawtucket (aka the Agawam Indians)! Growing up on Cape Ann, I had never been told anything at all about Indians here. Why was that?

My first thought was that my grandchildren should know about this—on Champlain’s map there is a wigwam at their house too on Beacon St. I think we all should know intimately our time and place in the context of history, local as well as global. I discovered that aside from a field trip to a local museum (where Native American artifacts are not exhibited) and a brief social studies unit on Native Americans in general (for which there rarely is time), local history is not taught systematically at any grade level in Gloucester. What local history is offered is about the Pilgrims and Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the development of Cape Ann’s fishing and shipbuilding industries, granite quarries, and artist colonies.

Local histories and librarians have long assured us that the Indians went extinct before the English settled here—that they had killed each other off in internecine warfare or had all died of disease in a mysterious virgin soil epidemic. Cape Ann’s “Indians”, if they are mentioned at all, are described erroneously as Massachuset, Nipmuc, Wampanoag, and/or Iroquois, when they actually belonged to none of these groups. I learned from authoritative sources that they were Pawtucket, a branch of the Pennacook from New Hampshire, an Abenaki-speaking people of northern New England.

Yikes! Next, I obtained permission to enlarge and laminate copies of Champlain’s map, thinking I would develop a little curriculum around it for my granddaughter Willa and her classmates, then in third grade. Maybe other teachers in the district would find it useful too. What could be more exciting than the way of life of the people who made a living on your street three thousand years ago, following earlier people whose ancestors hunted mastodons on Jeffrey’s Ledge and swordfish in Gloucester Harbor? What a great context, I thought, for teaching science, math, engineering, technology, language arts, history, all the other humanities—in fact, everything.

My little curriculum soon expanded to five notebooks filled with information from downloaded primary source texts and images; activity kits for making wigwams, cast nets, fish weirs, atlatls, baskets, pots, and wampum; stones for pecking tools and grinding corn; samples of heirloom corn cobs, dried venison, and smoked herring; map-making and solar calendar-making supplies; and other discoveries—and I was nowhere near done! I embarked on a campaign to see and document all the collections of Native artifacts I could find and began more scholarly investigations into the literature.

In the spring of 2011, I attempted to present some of my discoveries to a group of nine children, ages eight to ten, in a five-week after-school enrichment program at the West Parish School in Gloucester. I told them I was learning new things and we were in a group investigation together and that we would ask and answer our own questions. “Cool,” they said. “Way cool.” But it was too much to do in the little time we had, field trips were not permitted in the after-school program, and some of the questions I had, along with some of the answers I was finding, were more for older students and adults. In one of my presentations to Middle School students, the story I had to tell about Native Americans on Cape Ann diverged from the received story they expected, and I was not invited back.

More important, some answers I was finding were quite different from those in the 19th century histories that had become ingrained in common belief. I developed a series of slide lectures based on my research and began giving presentations to adult audiences. I also began photo documenting all the collections of Indian artifacts taken from Cape Ann that I could find in museums, historical societies, and private stashes. There was so much! The archaeological evidence bespoke a long and rich history of Native life here.

It was then that I decided to abandon developing curriculum for students in favor of writing a book for general readership. I would reach out to everyone and anyone who might support the idea of reshaping our ideas about the past based on evidence and who might be willing to weave more local and regional history—the real story—into the education of our children. I would write a succinct, illustrated history for the general public about the people who were here before us and the ways they and their world changed between 14,000 years ago and the War of Independence.

This is that book—although, alas, not so succinct after all. There is just too much to tell. It’s like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, his opus spun from a single question he asked about the causes of differences between have and have-not human societies. In like fashion, I start by asking and then attempting to answer my own questions about the past. Who were the Indians here on Cape Ann really? Where did they come from and when? Who came before them? How did they live? How did they use and change the environment? How did they adapt to European contact and settlement? How did colonists relate to them? What happened to them? Where are they now? How does their legacy affect us today?

I’ve found more to the answers than I thought possible—about Native American history, the history of contact, and the origins of English communities on Cape Ann. Each chapter has moved farther away from classroom lesson plans and more into serious scholarship and historiography. I’ve tried to be scrupulous with source citations and references, but these are by no means impeccable. Academic scholars may cringe, but they are not my true audience, which may not need all the notes and references I’ve carefully tried to include. My audience is the people who live here or come here and love the place as I do.

The more I study, the surer I am that much of what we think happened isn’t really true, and that a lot happened that we don’t know about. The local historical canon is inaccurate and often misleading. The official history is based largely on the works of Victorian Era historians (e.g., Thornton, 1854; Babson, 1860; Hurd, 1888; Pringle, 1892, and others) and contains contradictory timelines, factual errors, curious omissions, and debatable interpretations. Those stories have been repeated, conflated, and compounded over the generations and, where there is any awareness at all, seem to have set like concrete in the collective mind. This is too bad but not surprising. National, ethnic, civic, class, political, religious, intellectual, and personal pride or conviction are known to have distorted historical interpretations in all times and places. The story of Cape Ann is no exception.

Essex County’s old town histories barely mention “the Indians”, except as victims of epidemics, signers of deeds, and subjects of uprisings or fears thereof. But they were here throughout the Contact Period. English historians of the 19th century barely mention Champlain and French precedence here in favor of Sir Walter Raleigh and other Elizabethan adventurers, who were never here, and Captain John Smith, who visited Maine but sailed past Cape Ann on his way to Jamestown. The Victorians embraced Smith’s swashbuckling Jamestown story and colorful naming of places on Cape Ann after his foreign military campaigns—for example, Rockport after his Turkish slavemistress Tragabigzanda, and the Turks’ Head Islands after the three heads he severed while making his escape. The early historians also were far more interested in the fiction of buried Vikings on Cape Ann than in the fact of Basque and Breton trade with the Cape Ann Indians even before the time of Columbus. And they certainly did not want to acknowledge a hundred years of state-sponsored genocide carried out by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, if they even knew about that at all. Through archival power, state secrets can run pretty deep.

Taking old biases and new evidences into account, we can legitimately question the transmitted story of Cape Ann. I believe we should try to make that story whole and get it right. So, to the extent possible—for little modern paleoanthropology, archaeology, ethnohistory, or historiography has been done for Cape Ann since World War II—I aim to set the record straighter. My main reason for writing, nevertheless, is simply to share the answers I have found to my questions—those that arose when I first saw a wigwam on my street in Champlain’s map and those that came up in the course of my research. For this kind of enlightenment, I didn’t want to be an audience of just one.

Mary Ellen Lepionka,  April 1, 2018

CHAPTER 1  What do our Algonquian place names really mean?


CHAPTER 1  What do our

Algonquian place names really mean?

 The Native Americans who lived on Cape Ann most recently, known as the Pawtucket, were also called the Agawam and the Wamesit by colonists and early historians. All three names refer to places—villages—rather than to people or territories, however, and they were all the same people. Confusion over group names arose partly because the Algonquians of New England usually referred to themselves simply as belonging to a village, or as “the people”(Ninnu) or “the real/original people” of whatever place or landscape they were in at a given time (Ninnuock, “the people here”). Place names usually were not unique, furthermore, but could apply to any location where the landscape had the same geographic or ecological features. There are other places called Agawam and Pawtucket, for example. People understood from local context the particular place of the same name that was being referred to. Another source of confusion in Algonquian place names is European observers’ mistakes in hearing, transcribing, and translating the words.1

In Essex County, most translations of Pawtucket place names we have today are not correct. One reason is that linguists have theorized on the basis of the wrong languages—John Winthrop’s notes on Pokanoket, for example, or Roger Williams’s dictionary of Narraganset, John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into Massachuset, John Trumbull’s dictionary for Natick, and later linguists’ work, for example on Delaware and Wampanoag. However, the Pawtucket of Essex County originally came from New Hampshire and southern Maine and spoke a different language, a dialect of Western Abenaki. Abenaki-derived languages thought to have become extinct include Nipmuc and Pennacook, known as Loup languages (Loup A and Loup B) in French ethnographic terms. It is unlikely that the Pawtucket knew the languages of southern New England except as needed for trade and alliance. Early explorers observed as much.2


  Another reason that we have incorrect translations is that in writing Algonquian words Europeans not only did not understand the intricate grammar but also had difficulty speaking and transcribing phonetically the unfamiliar sound combinations they were hearing. Algonquian word order is object-subject-verb, Yoda-like, and pluralization is accomplished by a k sound in the middle of a word for singular, and g sound for plural (e.g., wikwam, wigwam). Algonquian languages are highly nasalized and include glottal stops, for example, which French, Dutch, and English speakers transcribed variously and inconsistently as /qu/, /k/, /g/, or /’/, making it difficult to know from transcriptions exactly how Algonquian speakers pronounced words. (A chapter appendix offers a pronunciation guide for saying Algonquian names.) In using present-day reconstructions of Abenaki dialects to analyze Pawtucket words and introduce new translations, my work departs from a large body of earlier linguistic research.3

Colonial observers who met “the people” at Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River between Lowell and Lawrence, where they gathered in spring in large numbers to harvest river herring, or alewives, called them the Pawtucket. This history chooses that term to refer to the Native Americans who occupied Cape Ann and the rest of Essex County during the last thousand years or so. Pawtucket or Pautukit means “At the falls on the tidal river”, in this case referring to the Merrimack (Abenaki Molodemak). The people fished there in April en route from the winter village of Wamesit to their summer camps and villages on the shores of Essex County. Pawtucket is a place name in other areas as well, notably Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which topographically is also on the Atlantic fall line. (Pawtuxet, with the diminutive /s/ sound in the middle, referring to another site in Massachusetts, means “At the falls on the small tidal river”).4

Pawtucket Falls near Lowell, MA

The fall line marks the drop in elevation between the Appalachian piedmont and the coastal plain all along the Atlantic seaboard. To Native Americans the fall line represented the place on tidal rivers and streams where fresh water and salt water meet, an optimal site for fishing and the location of many villages. In New England topography and Pawtucket place names, the histories of Native Americans and Europeans intertwine, and these intertwined stories move forward and backward together in time. River sites had economic importance for both groups. River junctions where natives camped or erected villages became the sites of the first colonial trading posts, for example, and falls where the people fished became the sites of the first watermills.5

The Atlantic Fall Line

Cities of the East are located along the Atlantic Fall Line, which extends from Alabama to the Canadian Maritimes. Native American villages and the earliest European settlements also were sited on falls, which often required portages to travel further inland by water. On the North Shore of Massachusetts the fall line is near the ocean, with the coastal plain broadening to the south.

Colonists who encountered “the people” in their permanent winter village of Wamesit (Wah me sit) in what is now Lowell at the junction of the Merrimack and Concord rivers, (which was part of Chelmsford, Billerica, and Dracut in colonial times), called them the Wamesit after the name of their village of around 2,500 acres. Wamesit (also Wamoset) was said to mean “Here is space for all”, referring to all the people who otherwise lived on the coastal saltmarshes. Wam (or wamph) was the root for “submerged land” or “land overflowed with water”. Agawam, referring both to a Pawtucket village on Castle Neck River in Ipswich and the larger territory of which it was a part, means “Other side of the marsh,” and WenesquawamWonasquam on old maps and the name from which Annisquam is derived—means “End of the marsh.”6

Wamesit Village Today

Today, the site of the Pawtucket village of Wamesit is partly buried under a Home Depot but otherwise remains largely undeveloped, framed by rock piles and overgrown with new forest.






The marsh referred to is the Great Salt Marsh that stretches down the Gulf of Maine from Hampton, NH to Cape Ann. In present-day reconstructed Abenaki, the “End of the marsh” name for Cape Ann would be written as Wanaskwiwam. Because of the nature of Algonquian place name construction, places are purely descriptive of the environment or its resources and thus are not uniquely named. There are other places named Agawam, for example, and Wamesit is also a present-day place name for a neighborhood in nearby Tewksbury, a street in Billerica, and a town near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.7

The village of Kwaskwaikikwen (Newbury, West Newbury, and Newburyport) was in the north of the area outlined in red. The village of Agawam was in Ipswich on the other side of the marsh, and the village of Wanaskwiwam was in Gloucester at the end of the marsh.

The English settlers who encountered the Pawtucket in Ipswich, Essex, and Cape Ann in the summers called them the Agawam Indians, a term still used today. Agawam is also a place name on colonial maps for an area that encompasses Gloucester and Rockport and the rest of eastern Essex County, including Manchester, Beverly, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham, Rowley, Georgetown, Topsfield, Boxford, Newbury, and Newburyport. The last recorded Contact-era sagamore of Agawam, whom the colonists called Masconomet or Masconomo and later Sagamore John, and his descendants signed over the deeds to these towns. This history thus is incomplete without the local histories of these other towns and beyond, for they were all part of the Pawtucket story.8


Chapter 6. How Were the Pawtucket Organized and Led?

Europeans had fundamental misunderstandings about Native American political systems and most did not appreciate that the groups they encountered had long and rich histories carefully preserved in oral traditions. Those misunderstandings and general ignorance became embedded in common belief and practice. The discoverers simply transferred European concepts to the people they encountered—for example, imputing the existence of tribes and clans with chiefs and sovereign territories.1 So pervasive was this invented reality that Native Americans themselves gradually adopted it. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The Algonquians of New England did not have tribes, did not have clans, did not have chieftainships, and did not have sovereign territories! But they did have a long and rich history and very complex political systems.

Algonquian sagamores were the elite or able heads of alpha families who represented their patrilineage and served as the leaders of their band. Leadership was inherited fathers to sons and sometimes to wives or daughters. The band was the extended family, with the sagamore’s brothers assisting him in his role. Bands moved through a common territory.2

Beyond kinship, Algonquian political organization was built on fealty or allegiance to a sachem (saw kum), chosen by consensus or majority vote to lead a number of interrelated bands. Thus, the terms sachem and sagamore are not synonymous, as is often implied, nor is either term synonymous with chief. In European history a chief was the head of a clan or tribe. A lineage is not a clan, however, and although both are based on the concept of a common ancestor, a band is not the same thing as a tribe. Bands are co-residing extended families with shifting composition and location, while tribes exist as corporate entities—independently of specific membership or residence—and occupy sovereign home territories.3

In other ways Algonquian and traditional European political organizations were similar. For example, peace pacts and military and trade alliances were cemented through marriage. And on behalf of their client bands, sachems sometimes allied themselves with or paid tribute to a grand sachem (whom Europeans referred to as a king or paramount chief), especially during times of threat or conflict.

The Salem Registry of Deeds charts documented sagamores and sachems in Essex County and other counties in Massachusetts during the colonial period. Most strove for neutrality. Neutral or peace-seeking leaders of the Pawtucket, Nipmuc, and Pennacook included Masconomet, Nanepashemet, Passaconaway, and most (but not all) of their heirs.4

Algonquian kinship systems were diverse, especially in the Northeast, but political and social organization was based first on kinship. For the Pennacook and Pawtucket kinship was patrilineal and patrilocal with preferential patrilaterial cross-cousin marriage and band exogamy. In other words, kinship was reckoned through males; a bride became a member of her husband’s band and moved to make her home near the husband’s family; and you ideally married a son or daughter of a paternal aunt (father’s sister) or the grandchildren of a paternal great aunt, who likewise were “cross-cousins” on your father’s side and therefore were defined as non-kin and eligible for marriage. You always married “out” of your band (exogamy).5

Patrilineal Descent (shown in blue)

The kin chart shows your patrilineage. Your band-the people you live with-would also include the wives and unmarried daughters of all the males in your patrilineage, 3 or 4 generations of them, assuming they have not started bands of their own, plus any unrelated others who have been accepted into your group. Kidnapping and adopting people from enemy bands was a traditional means of replacing members killed in wartime. If you are EGO in the diagram, your preferred marriage partner would be number 27 if you are male and 28 if you are female, as they are children of number 18, who is your father’s sister. A grandchild of number 12 would also be in the marriageable class. Numbers 23 through 26 are your sisters and brothers. Numbers 19 and 20 are cross-cousins on your mother’s side, while numbers 21 and 22 are parallel cousins on your mother’s side.

Your mother and mother’s sister you call “mother” and your father and father’s brother are both “father”—a form of classification called bifurcate merging. Meanwhile, your mother’s sister’s children and father’s brother’s children (parallel cousins) were classed as your sisters and brothers and thus were not eligible as marriage partners. Confusingly, anthropologists refer to this type of classification system as “Iroquois Kinship” because of the way cousins are differentiated. However, most Iroquoian-speaking people were matrilineal rather than patrilineal and were organized as matri-clans rather than as affiliated patrilineal bands. Much later in their history, some Algonquians, including many Pennacook, were interned with Iroquoians on reservations and adopted matrilineal kinship, clan membership, and tribal identity.6

Bifurcate Merging Kinship Terminology (Iroquois System)

In the diagram of bifurcate merging kinship classification, Mo stands for mother, Fa for father, FaZ for father’s sister, Mobr for mother’s brother, Br for brother, Z for sister, and CU for cross-cousin. Kin with symbols of the same color were called by the same kin term. The red square stands for “Ego”, the person reckoning his or her kin. Although the kinship classification system used by the Pawtucket and other Algonquians is called “Iroquois”, the people were not Iroquois linguistically or culturally beyond their shared adaptations as Eastern Woodland Indians.7