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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 29 September 1621

29 Sep 2021 2:56 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Sachem on the run

The travellers slept in the boat last night, and then went ashore. There they found a pile of lobsters “that had been gathered together by the savages, which we made ready under a cliff.  The captain set two sentinels behind the cliff to the landward to secure the shallop, and taking a guide with him and four of our company, went to seek the inhabitants; where they met a woman coming for her lobsters, they told her of them, and contented her for them.” She told them where the local Massachuset natives were; “Tisquantum went to them; the rest returned, having direction which way to bring the shallop to them.  The sachem, or governor of this place, is called Obbatinewat, and though he lives in the bottom of the Massachusetts Bay, yet he is under Massasoit.” He treated the visitors very kindly, but explained to them that he was scared, on the run, and “durst not then remain in any settled place, for fear of the Tarantines.”  The “Tarantines” were later identified as the Abnakis, who controlled all the land from Casco Bay (in what is now Maine) up to New Brunswick.  This was a hard place to grow crops, so in the fall they headed south to steal corn: it appears that the starving Pilgrims’ actions at Corn Hill last December were not at all unusual, or limited to the Pilgrims.  Obbatinewat was also afraid of “the Squaw Sachem, or Massachusets queen,” another enemy who was after him. “We told him of divers sachems that had acknowledged themselves to be King James his men, and if he also would submit himself, we would be his safeguard from his enemies, which he did, and went along with us to bring us to the Squaw Sachem. Again we crossed the bay, which is very large and hath at least fifty islands in it; but the certain number is not known to the inhabitants.”  Some islands had been cleared and recently inhabited, although the people had either died or moved away.   It was dark before they arrived at the other side of the bay where the squaw sachem was supposed to be; the Indians went ashore to see if anyone was there, but they found no one.  “That night also we rode at anchor aboard the shallop,” safe but uncomfortable.

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