By James Clifton
  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

Massasoit (meaning "great sachem"), d. 1662, was the name used by early English colonists for the principal leader of the Wampanoag tribe, traditional inhabitants of present-day Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. His real name was Wawmegin, or "Yellow Feather." Introduced to the colonists by the Abnaki leader amoset, Massasoit remained friendly and accommodating to the newcomers throughout his lifetime. However, his second son, Metagomet, who became known to the English as Philip of Pokanoket or King Philip, adopted a different policy. Philip led the major Indian assault on the English settlements in 1675-76, attempting to drive the colonists out of and away from tribal lands.

James A. Clifton

Bibliography: Burton, A. H., Massasoit (1896); Dockstader, Frederick J., Great North American Indians (1977); Weeks, A. G., Massasoit of the Wampanoags (1919).

  • Subjects:
    Native American History, Colonial and Revolutionary America

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