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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nanepashemet Fact Checking

Mike Rockett posted this photo on Facebook yesterday and it is a bit troublesome.
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Someone back in the 1930's obviously missed the mark by calling Sachem Nanepashemet a Nipmuc.
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He was the Sachem of the Naumkeag Band of the Massachusetts tribe that actually lived  in Marblehead where this sign is set.   Or to be more accurate, this was a primary village location.  The Indians would seasonally migrate to other locations within their region and Nanepashemet died in a fortress that he built in Medford.
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He ruled the region from the Charles River in Boston to the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth and north to Indians in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
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The Nipmucs were allies of Nanepashemet and resided in Central Mass around Worcester and Grafton.  Nanepashemet sent his wife and children to live with the Nipmucs when he was under attack by the Tarratines/Micmac of the upper Maine Coast and Nova Scotia.   The Tarratines were bent on revenge to Nanepashemet because he had aided the Penobscots in Southern Maine who were at war with the Tarratines.  All the while his people were being ravaged by smallpox that they had been exposed to by European fisherman who were plying these shores before the Pilgrims landed in 1620.
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Nanepashemet's family escaped the disease because he had relocated them to live with the Nipmuc's and he was not affected because he was isolated in his war fortress in Medford (located behind the present site of Medford High School).
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The fort was eventually breached by the Tarratines in 1619 and the great Sachem, Nanepashemet, known as New Moon to his people because of his proclivity to take walks at night,  was killed.
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Sucks to be the Chief, I guess.
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But his wife, known only as Squaw Sachem ruled the remants of his territory along with his three sons until 1669 when she was felled by a stroke.  She remarried a chief from the Musketaquids of Concord, but was the uncontested ruler of her people until her death.  There is a mural depicting her in the Winchester Town Hall and she is reported to be buried somewhere in present day Winchester.
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Wouldn't you think that the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission would have checked the facts before they cast this metal commemorative sign?  I wonder if Liz Warren was on that Commission?

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