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Other Powerful Federations

 Native American Nations | Massasoit of the Wampanoags                   

Other powerful federations there were whose friendship or hostility were matters of life or death to hundreds, aye, even thousands of the early adventurers -who attempted to establish upon these shores homes for themselves and their posterity, adventurers only in the sense that they ventured everything, even life itself, upon a throw of the dice of fate. Drake speaks of five great Sachemries, the Pequots, Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Massachusetts, and Pawtuckets, and he speaks of them as though they were the only five federations in New England worthy the dignity of that designation, following Gookin in this respect; but it may be doubted whether some of these ever held in complete subordination many of the tribes which were at times closely associated with them. An illustration of this is seen in the Connecticut River Indians of various tribal designations, the Mohicans and Niantics who were among the deadly enemies of the Pequots, by whom they were conquered and reduced to such a state of subjugation that they may perhaps have been fairly counted as of the Pequot nation in the early colonial days.
The Tarratines - Another interesting group whose identity is not clearly established, is that known in New England history as Tarratines, Tarrateens or Tamentines, as the name is variously spelled. Who they were or whence they came is one of history's unsolved problems. That they were able to muster powerful raiding parties is clearly shown by the success with which they carried out their plundering expeditions against the tribes of Massachusetts and Wampanoags before the pestilence had decimated these two federations. That they were raiders and plunderers is clearly established by the testimony of contemporary writers, part of whose information was gleaned from the sufferers from their expeditions. The great invasion of Massachusetts and Wampanoag territories sometime between 1615 and 1617 is accepted as a historical fact; Bradford speaks of the Massachusetts being in fear of them in September, 1621, that being the season of their visitations to "reap where they have not sowed"; and Drake tells of an attack made by them upon the Indians at Agawam (Ipswich) in August, 1631, in which they killed seven.
      In the Planters' Plea they are spoken of as a predatory tribe living fifty or sixty leagues to the northeast
(of Massachusetts Bay); and it is there said that they raised no corn on account of the climate, but came down and reaped the Massachusetts Indians' harvest. Drake speaks of them as lying east of the Pawtucket, and also as lying east of the Piscataqua River, which would place them almost anywhere in Maine, as he does not attempt to give their precise limits. Albert Gallatin in his Archaeologia Americana, in which he calls the five federations of Southern New England by the general designation New England Indians, says the dividing line between these latter and the Abenaki was somewhere between the Piscataqua and the Kennebec, and cites Governor Sullivan as authority for placing it at the Saco River. He also calls attention to what he calls a confirmation of this by French writers who mention a tribe which they call the Sakokies, adjacent to the Abenaki and the New England Indians, and which was originally in alliance with the Iroquois, but were converted by the Jesuits and withdrew into Canada. Other writers locate the Tarratines definitely east of the
Penobscot, which would bring them between the Passamaquoddies and the Penobscots unless they were, indeed, roving members of one or both of these tribes. Gallatin makes no other mention of them as a tribe than to quote from Gookin, who speaks of the "Abenakis or Tarrateens, as they are called by the New England Indians." The two names are used by Gookin to designate all the Indians east of the Pawtuckets, and Schoolcraft accepts this classification. Gallatin further says: "The tribes of Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy were first called by the French Souriquois. They are now known as Micmacs. The French adopted the names given by the Souriquois to the neighboring tribes. The Etchemins, stretching from the Passamaquoddy Bay to St. John's Island and west of the Kennebec River as far as Cape Cod, they called the Almouchiquois."
     Etchemins means canoe men, and may well have been applied to the bold canoe men of all the shore tribes who navigated the deep waters of the sea, and Almouchiquois would then mean the same. If we attempt to give it any other meaning we are forced to the conclusion that the French or the Micmacs, whichever first defined their limits as above, knew very little about the people to the southwest, or that every one else is very much mistaken. Continuing Gallatin says: "The Indians at the mouth of the Kennebec planted nothing according to Champlain, but those further inland or up the river planted maize. These inland tribes were the Abenakis, consisting of several tribes, the principal of which were the Penobscots, the Norridgewocks and the Ameriscoggins, and it is not improbable that the Indians at the mouth of both rivers were confounded by Champlain with the Etchemins belonging to the same nation. The Etchemins comprise the Passamaquoddies in the United States and the St. John's in New Brunswick." In another paragraph he says that Champlain found no cultivation of the soil from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Kennebec River.

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Massasoit of the Wampanoags

Massasoit of the Wampanoags

 

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