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Leni Lenapee Parent Stock of the Algonquin

 Native American Nations | Massasoit of the Wampanoags                    

     I have already referred to the Leni Lenapee as the parent stock of the Algonquins; and to the fact of their subjugation by the Five Nations at some time between 1649 and 1672; but as I did not call attention to the depth of their degradation, this chapter would hardly be complete without further reference to it. So complete was their defeat and submission to their conquerors, that they were compelled to forego the use of arms and to assume the name of "women." So when Penn made his famous treaty with them in 1682, he treated with "women" and not with warriors.

     When the Five Nations afterwards allotted land to them, and they were crowded by the encroachments of settlers, they moved even further west than they were ordered, and espoused the cause of the French in their wars with the English.

     At the outbreak of the revolution they declared their independence of their conquerors, and a few years later at a public council, the Five Nations confessed that the Lenapee were no longer women but men; and thus the stock that had peopled nearly all the north-eastern part of the continent came into its own again. At the time of which we write they had not been reduced to a state of vassalage. but were still the grandfather of the other tribes of the Algonquin family and lived in their ancient hunting grounds, a free people, just as their descendants lived in all the vast territory the limits of which I have already outlined.

     Here they and their children of the other tribes fished the streams whose banks are now lined with the cities of the strangers from across the great waters whom they welcomed with open arms, and who repaid their hospitality by waging upon them a perpetual war of extermination. Here they hunted the primeval forests, which the settlers' axe has laid low that the giant trees might contribute to the requirements of a people to whom the Indian methods of living were but a tradition of the past. Here, too, their war whoops resounded as they waged their internecine war upon each other; and here, when the tomahawk had been buried, they smoked the pipe of peace, and its smoke ascending wafted their prayers to the Great Spirit, whose existence revealed itself to them in every object that came within range of their observation.

     The Wampanoags, Narragansetts, Pequots and Mohicans were so closely associated with the various affairs growing out of the first contact of the whites with Massasoit and his Wampanoags that I shall consider them further in subsequent chapters, which will also contain occasional reference to the Massachusetts; and, as the individuality of the sachems was a potent factor in the attitude of their tribes, due attention will be given to the prominent leaders of their people.

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Massasoit of the Wampanoags

Massasoit of the Wampanoags

 

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