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The Story of Massasoit and Sachem Rock

Sachem Rock is a place in southeastern Massachusetts that is part of the early history of our nation.  It was the place where Massasoit (c. 1581-1661), Great Sachem of the Wampanoag, met with his seven Sagamores, or the Sachems of other tribes to discuss and weigh matters of great importance.  Strategic matters of sustenance and security such as alliance, defense, and counterattack against aggressive neighboring tribes.

In Massasoit’s time, Sachem Rock was a sheer rock outcropping of great height located close to the Sawtucket River.  Massasoit selected the site as an important meeting place, because it was close to Nemasket where Massasoit often lived when not in Mount Hope.   It was easy for Massasoit to travel to Sachem Rock using the Taunton and Sawtucket rivers, and it would be easy to identify this place by its unique geological feature.

Just four months after arriving in Plymouth, in March of 1621, the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Bay Colony were in dreadful circumstances.  The food supplies they had brought from England were insufficient to survive the harsh winter of 1621. Forty-five of the original one hundred two passengers that embarked on the Mayflower had already succumbed.  Those remaining were suffering from scurvy and exposure to the harsh climate. Many of the men were too sick to work, and only seven of the nineteen planned houses had been built during the first winter.

On March 16th, as if by providence, a Wampanoag Sagamore named Samoset, strolled right into the middle of Pilgrim encampment and proclaimed “Welcome Englishman”.  Samoset had learned some English from fisherman living in a fishing encampment on Monhegan Island.  A few days later, Samoset returned with Tisquantum (“Squanto”) who spoke more fluent English having been kidnapped to Europe years earlier by Thomas Hunt, a Lieutenant under the command of the English explorer, Captain John Smith.  Squanto told the colonists he would return with “the greatest commander of the country”.  He returned within a day, with the Great Sachem, Massasoit leading a train of sixty warriors.

On March 22nd 1621, Massasoit entered into a treaty with the Colony guaranteeing their security in exchange for an alliance against the Narragansett, the enemy of the Wampanoag.  Massasoit opened the Wampanoag winter food stores to the Pilgrims, and his people helped sustain the Colony by helping the Pilgrims fish, hunt, forage, and plant corn.  It is without doubt that Massasoit saved the Colony from certain starvation during its early years.

As time passed, the Pilgrims insisted that the expansion of their lands was necessary to support their growing colony.  Massasoit; unwavering in his loyalty and commitment to the Pilgrims, and over the protestations of some of his Sagamores, sold additional land to the Colony to keep the peace.

The first known land sale occurred on March 23rd 1649, on Sachem Rock, where Massasoit met with Myles Standish and two others and sold the land “called Saughtuckett… from weare 7 miles due east, and from the said weare 7 miles due west, and from the said weare 7 miles due north, and from the said weare 7 miles due south”.  The land was sold for consideration of seven coats, nine hatchets, eight hoes, twenty knives, four moose skins, ten and one half yards of cotton, and 20 pounds sterling.

In signing the deed, Massasoit used his Indian name Ousamequen and made his mark, a crude drawing of a gloved hand with four fingers pointed downward.

Our firm’s name was chosen as a reference to Massasoit and his place of counsel.  Massasoit’s steadfast and lifelong commitment to the well being of our forefathers, the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Bay Colony; have made him an exalted, though relatively unknown figure in American history. He deserves our reverence.

Most importantly, we have selected the name, Sachem Rock, to reflect Massasoit’s lofty morality and ethics, and more specifically his traits of integrity, magnanimity, and commitment.  Sachem Rock Wealth Management endeavors to embody these traits in the delivery of its services to all of our clients, and to all of our other stakeholders; internal and external, employee, service providers, and community.

 

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