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Wamsutta (b. c. 1634 - d. 1662), also Alexander Pokanoket as he was called by New Englandmarker colonists, was a leader (sachem) of the Wampanoag native American tribe.

Family

Wamsutta was the eldest son of Massasoit and brother of Metacomet. He married Weetamoo. He received the name "Alexander" from English settlers in 1656.

Leadership and death

In 1660, Massasoit died and Wamsutta assumed leadership of the Wampanoag, becoming leader of all the Native American tribes between the Charles River in Massachusettsmarker and Narraganset Baymarker in Rhode Islandmarker, including the tribes in eastern Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. He substantially increased the power of the Wampanoag by selling land to other colonies (as a result of a collapse of the fur trade), and in 1662 this resulted in his being summoned to and seized by the Plymouth Court. After being questioned Wamsutta became ill and soon died.

The cause of death was disputed, and Wamsutta's brother Metacomet (who now assumed leadership of the Wampanoag) suspected that he was poisoned. Wamsutta's death was one of the factors that would eventually lead to the 1675 King Philip's War.

Some historians believe Wamsutta was poisoned or tortured by Governor Bradford,who saw him as a threat. But considering Bradford's previous peaceful relations with Wamsutta's father, Massasoit, his devout Christian character, and the Pilgrim's nature to treat the Indians with respect, such speculation is doubtful. Nevertheless, Bradford must have had cause for concern, as Wamsutta was summoned at gunpoint by Bradford and died shortly after being held involuntarily for 3 days. Nan Apashamen,Wampanoag historian at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, was working on research which heavily suggested that Wamsutta's name had changed to "Moanam" and that the frequently referred to "Moanam" was in fact Phillips' father, not brother.

Wamsutta and Pometacom(Alexander and Phillip, respectively)both studied at the newly established Harvard College.

Legacy

The name, Wamsutta, has been used in a number of areas:

References

  • (See ship namesake section)



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