sunksqua Weetamoo

Pocasset, Bristol, MA, United States

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sunksqua Weetamoo

Also Known As: "“the Squaw Sachem” Nanumoum Tatapanum Weetimore Weetamoe W EETAMOO Narragansett", "Weetamo Weetamoe Wenunchus Tatapanunum", "Namumpum"
Birthplace: Pocasset, Fall River, Bristol County, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Death: September 1676 (51-52)
Swansea, Bristol County, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America (Drowned in the Taunton River while fleeing from English )
Place of Burial: Taunton, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Corbitant and wife Corbitant
Wife of Wamsutta / Alexander, sachem of the Pokanoket; Quinnapin and Petonowowett
Mother of son of Alexander and Weecum Tuspaquin
Sister of Wootonckuaske

Occupation: Sunksqua of Pocasset; Wife of Wamsutta (aka Alexander)
Managed by: Lori Lynn Wilke
Last Updated:

About sunksqua Weetamoo

Weetamoo (c. 1635–1676), also referred to as Weethao, Weetamoe, Wattimore, Namumpum, and Tatapanunum, was a Pocasset Wampanoag Native American Chief. She was the sunksqua, or female sachem, of Pocasset tribe, which occupied contemporary Tiverton, Rhode Island in 1620.[1]

Queen Weetamoo is known today as the Squaw Sachem. There are parks named in her honor throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including the place of her death and where she ruled as Sachem: Swansea, Somerset, and Fall River in Massachusetts and Tiverton in Rhode Island.

In the Algonquian language of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northeastern United States and Canada, Weetamoo's name means "speak to them".[citation needed] She lived in Quequechan, now called Fall River, Massachusetts.[2]


Weetamoo was born in the Mattapoiset village of the Pokanoket or at Rhode Island's Taunton River area,.[3] She was known as a bead worker/quiller and dancer.[4] Her father was Corbitant, sachem of the Pocasset tribe in present-day North Tiverton, Rhode Island, c. 1618–1630.

Because her father had no sons, she became sunksqua, and was defended by an army of more than 300 men that she commanded.[3] Being a woman did not diminish her authority, despite many colonists' lack of understanding of her position. It has been theorized that some of the lesser known sachems assumed to have been male may have been female sunksquas, especially since female leaders were not unheard of among the Algonquian tribes.[5]

In her lifetime, she had five husbands:

  1. Her first husband, Chief Winnepurket, was the Sachem of Saugus, Massachusetts and died shortly after they were married.
  2. (alternatively known by the English as Alexander, a name which he retained until his death[1]), her second husband, was the eldest son of Massasoit, grand sachem of the Wampanoag and participant in the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims. They were married in or before 1653,[2] and [it is speculated that] she had one child with Wamsutta, although the date of birth and name are unknown. During their marriage, the tribe allied with the English against the Narragansett, though the English later broke their treaty with the tribe. Wamsutta became sick and died during negotiations with the English and his brother Metacom (Philip) succeeded him as Chief of the Wampanoag. Metacom's wife was Weetamoo's sister, Wootonekanuske.[6]
  3. Little is known about Weetamoo's third husband Quequequanachet,
  4. while she ended the marriage to her fourth husband Petonowit (called "Ben" by the English[2]) when he sided with the English during King Philip's War.
  5. Her final marriage was to Quinnapin, the son of Niantic Narraganset sachem Ninigret and grandson of powerful Narragansett sachem Canonchet. He was described as "a handsome warrior" and they were married in September or August 1675.[7] This marriage was designed to strengthen and reinforce the Wampanoag-Narragansett alliance against colonists.[8] The marriage appeared to have been strong and the pair had at least one child together, who died in 1676.[4] Quinnapin was captured in 1676.[7]

Death of the Wampanoag

On August 6, 1676, the English and the natives who had become their allies ambushed the Wampanoag. King Philip was betrayed by one of his own men, who shot and killed him on August 12, 1676. Englishmen decapitated and quartered his body. They placed his head on a stake and marched it through the streets of Plymouth, where it remained in public view for years.

Colonists systematically hunted down the other Indian leaders, killing some of them on sight and convincing others to surrender with promises of amnesty, then executing them. Weetamoo’s husband, Quinapin, escaped but was captured and killed on August 25, 1676 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Weetamoo lost her footing while trying to escape across the Taunton River and drowned. Her body washed ashore in Swansea, an English town, and her head was cut off and displayed on a pike in Taunton.

From what has been already stated, the reader will be led to conclude that Weetamoo must have been a woman of sorrow and acquainted with grief, and yet the story of all her sufferings has not been told – the sum total of her woes culminating in her singular death. Driven from pillar to post, as she had been by the English since uniting her fortunes with those of King Philip, and particularly since the star of his martial glory had begun seriously to wane – giving evidence that it was soon to set in the interminable darkness of an overwhelming defeat – her warriors, who at the commencement of the conflict had been numbered at three hundred men, were now reduced to twenty-six.
Her lands, that a short time before were of great value, now affording her no abiding place, she fled to the Niantic country, or what is now westerly Rhode Island, where being still pursued, she was found to have gone with her little band to Mettapoisett, now Gardiner’s neck, in Swansea. While concealed in that vicinity, a deserter from her camp, repairing to Taunton, acquainted the people of that place with her forlorn condition and present location, and, Judas-like, offered to discover to them her hiding-place.
Accordingly, twenty strong men volunteered to hunt down the defenseless woman, and with the Indian traitor for their guide succeeded in surprising the camp of the distressed fugitives, capturing all save Weetamoo, who seems to have preferred death to capture; for she made one desperate effort to escape, knowing, as she did, that the “tender mercies” of Christian whites, as exercised upon red heathen, “are cruel,” and upon a raft of broken pieces of wood she took to the water, and was seen no more until her corpse, entirely naked, drifted ashore.
This was seized upon by the whites; with savage triumph the head was cut off, carried to Taunton, and set upon a pole; where being seen by some Indian prisoners, it set them into a woeful and heart-rendering lamentation. It required the hard heart of a pious divine and christian minister, the Reverend Increase Mather, to clothe this sad story in language inhuman and almost devilish.
In describing the event, he said,

“They made a most horrid and diabolical lamentation, crying out that it was their queen’s head. If to lament the sad end of their queen was diabolical on the part of the Indians, what was this cruel mockery of their grief by a Christian minister, and what had the heathen to gain by listening to his teachings, or adhering to his practice?

Source: Indian History and Genealogy, Massasoit book, page 11


Pierce, Ebenezer Weaver, Mitchell, Zerviah G., Indian History, Biography and Genealogy: Pertaining to the Good Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag Tribe, and His Descendants, David Clapp & Sons; Boston, Mass., USA; 1878, Archive.Org

1 MIassasoit,^ alias Asameqiiin, or Osameqiiin, chief of tlie Wampanoag tribe of Indians at the time of the landing of the English at Plymouth, had children as follows :

2. Wamsutta,^ b. at date unknown; m. Namumpum, alias Tatapanum. alias Weetamoo, and sometimes called the Squaw Sachem of Pocasset. Wamsutta appears to have first received the name of INIoona- nam, which was changed in or about 1G41 to Wamsutta ; and a few years later he accepted from the English the name of Alexander. He d. in 1662. His wife, thus made a widow, contracted a second marriage with an Indian named Petonowo- wett; and as he took part with the English in King Philip's war, she left him and became the wife of a Narraganset Sachem named Quinapin whom the English put to death at Newport, R. L, Aug. 25, 1676. Weetamoo was drowned in Taunton River, Aug. 6, 1676. Her remains drifted on shore in the town of Swansea. (See pages 37 to 51 and 152.)

Frind Josiah Winslow Governor of Plimoth Colony

Weetomuw the quene of Pocaset and hir husband, showd mee a leter Constant Southworth and others names to it dated aprell 30: 75 - by which thay have great feare of opretion from the English, that thay could not tell how to trust mee, but that I wold to pleas English ioyne to do them rong therfore did not shew mee the leter untill the 24: of may alltho I had informed theme that I take my selef as much ingadged that thay should not be ronged as if thay wer my Cuntry men, and I of ther nation and ingadged on of ther counsell to his ruler or landlord and I so understood that I did not take that to be good to my selef or English which was by hurte to any and thay had purchased of mee so to promise them, - when I herd what thay informed me of ther Case I saied if it were true ther Case was good but I could no otherwise be absolute without I had heard both partys thay and Plimoth men wold defer them selefs as you thoft [thought] was for yourselefs and that later told ... iudgmentes allredy I saied in such Cases I thoft [thought] you wold be willing to have it... and here what Indians could say and so do as for what was ... and for that to take place - I earnestly desier you may so deall with them for acording to right I wold have them in submition to you the Case why thay so much stand upone for what thay wold now have ther bounds north and south is to maintaine a river at each end by which thay have gret dependanc for fish, but ar free to acomodat thee or home they shall admit with thee of fouer mile square of land at least at the hed of dartmoth bounds and of the lotes on the other side of the fales river and dout not but by having ther other bounds confirmed in your records thay shall agree to what more they will give them thay prefer so faier and as it apereth to mee desier only of you what is ther resonabell dew that I have larg hope you will not deny it and to have the diferanc desided as to them it may apere not to be by such as determen in ther own Case I am perswaided both mai be so satesfied , I am largly ingadged in my selef to manefest to them that I am not falce, but to indever thay may have right acording to English Law and hope it will not be in ani oposition to your desires or to your ruell in your Colony I know about 60 have confirmrd to the quens right to be to a far greter tract of land beside what now shee and thay would be contented with - if you will proseed to try the Case at your Court I having a gret desier that thay may not be scared to do rong, alltho I desier as much as any thay mai fear for having dun rong. I will be hir bayle if you will order it so as I may have a opertunity and if I can atend to maneg hir Case or send an aturny if thou canst be an instrument for ther peasabell setellment and by a way of peace thay promis not to be ungratfiill so I am thy true frind as it mai not be hurt to ani willing to serve thee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        John Easton 26: 3m: 1675


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sunksqua Weetamoo's Timeline

Pocasset, Fall River, Bristol County, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Plymouth, Massachusetts
August 16, 1676
Age 52
Head on Pole, Taunton, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States
September 1676
Age 52
Swansea, Bristol County, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America