Ousamequin (Massasoit), sachem of the Pokanoket

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Ousamequin (Massasoit), sachem of the Pokanoket's Geni Profile

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Also Known As: "Massasoit", "Wasanegin", "Wasamequin", "Woosamequin", "Asuhmequin", "Oosamequen", "Osamekin", "Owsamequin", "Owsamequine", "Ussamequen", "Wasamegin", ""Great Sachem"", "Ousamequin", "Ussamequin"
Birthplace: near Motaup (present-day Mount Hope), present-day Bristol County, present-day Rhode Island
Death: between September 1661 and December 1661 (56-65)
Pokanoket, Bristol County, Rhode Island
Immediate Family:

Son of Wasanegin the Great Sachem of the Pokanoket Tribe & Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag Nation
Husband of mother of Massasoit’s children
Father of Wamsutta / Alexander, sachem of the Pokanoket; Metacomet "King Philip"; Amie, daughter of Ousamequin (Massasoit) and unknown daughter of Massasoit
Brother of Quadiquina and Akkompion

Occupation: Chief of the Wampanoag confederacy
Managed by: Douglas Laurance Saunders
Last Updated:

About Ousamequin (Massasoit), sachem of the Pokanoket

Ousamequin, Sachem of Pokanoket & Massasoit of Wampanoag

Ousamequin, most commonly known to settlers as Massasoit, was both the Sachem ("Chief") of the Pokanoket Tribal Nation and the elected Massasoit ("Great Sachem") of the 69-Tribe Wampanoag Confederacy which consisted of the areas now called Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and the eastern half of New York's Long Island.
[Note: This profile defers to his actual name, not his Anglophone one. Contrary to populat belief "Massasoit" is not a given name, it is a title. Though not an asolute comparison, a modern-day example of these titles would be that a "Sachem" is similar to a governor of an individual U.S. state, while the "Massasoit" is similar to the elected president who is the senior governor of the entire United States.]

At the time of the pilgrims' arrival in Plymouth, the realm of the Pokanokets included parts of Rhode Island and much of southeastern Massachusetts. Ousamequin lived in Sowams, a village at Pokanoket in modern-day Warren, Rhode Island. He held the allegiance of lesser Pokanoket sachems. In 1621, he sent Squanto to live among the colonists at Plymouth.

Outbreaks of smallpox had devastated the Pokanokets, and Ousamequin sought an alliance with the colonies of New England against the neighboring Narragansetts who controlled an area west of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Samoset was a minor Abenaki sachem (sagamore) who hailed from the Muscongus Bay area of Maine, and he learned to speak English from fishermen who plied those waters. Ousamequin sent him to approach the colonists to find out whether their intentions were peaceful.

Ousamequin forged critical political and personal ties with colonial leaders William Bradford, Edward Winslow, Stephen Hopkins, John Carver, and Myles Standish, ties which grew out of a peace treaty negotiated on March 22, 1621. The alliance ensured that the Pokanokets remained neutral during the Pequot War in 1636. According to English sources, Ousamequin prevented the failure of Plymouth Colony and the starvation that the Pilgrims faced during its earliest years.

The text above incorporates text from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA.


As noted above, he is known as "Massasoit" to colonists, but that was actually his title. His given name, Ousamequin, means "Yellow Feather" (ousa = "yellow," mequin = "feather").

"Ousamequin" appears with many different spellings in English-language documents, including Woosamequin, Asuhmequin, Oosamequen, Osamekin, Owsamequin, Owsamequine, and Ussamequen.


The wife or wives of Ousamequin was not recorded, but records show that he had four known children:

  • Wamsutta, also known as Alexander (son); became Wampanoag chief after his father's death
  • Metacom, also known as Philip/King Philip, Metacomet, Pometacom, Philip Keitasscot, and Wewasowannet (son); became Wampanoag chief after his brother's death
  • Amie (daughter)
  • unnamed daughter

Older genealogies and histories list a third son, Sunconewhew (or Sonkanuhoo). In 1996, that was definitively disproven by Terence G. Byrne and Kathryn Fairbanks.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massasoit cites
    • "Native People" (page), "Massasoit (Ousamequin) Sachem" (section), MayflowerFamilies.com, webpage: MFcom-Native.
    • Bicknell, Thomas Williams (1908). Sowams, with Ancient Records of Sowams and Parts Adjacent. New Haven: Associated Publishers of American Records.
    • Winslow, Edward (1624). Good Newes from New England. London.
    • Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, New York 2006.
    • Lisa Blee and Jean M. O'Brien, Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.
    • Virginia Baker, Massasoit's Town, Sowams in Pokanoket, Its History Legends and Traditions, Published by the author, Warren, Rhode Island, 1904
  • Peirce, 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, p. 213; GoogleBooks
  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/Massasoit
  • https://nativenortheastportal.com/bio/bibliography/massasoit-1661
  • Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Vol. 11, No. 3. Massachusetts Archaeological Society. “Historical Approach to Titicut.” Maurice Robbins. PDF
  • http://nemasket.blogspot.com/2011/01/visit-to-zerviah-gould-mitchel...
  • https://www.thoughtco.com/profile-chief-massasoit-2477989 cites
    • Daley, Jason. “Massasoit, Chief Who Signed Treaty With the Pilgrims, To Be Reburied.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 21 Apr. 2017.
    • Hayes, Ted. “Burrs Hill Re-Burial to Be Solemn, Private Affair.” RhodyBeat, 12 May 2017.
  • “Massasoit.” http://mayflowerhistory.com/massasoit
    • “Massasoit Quotes." AZ Quotes.
  • “ Native American documents from the collections of Pilgrim Hall Museum” “ 1649 DEED NOTE: In 1645, the Plymouth Colony General Court granted the inhabitants of Duxbury the authority to purchase land from the Native people, which they did by deed. In 1656, this land was incorporated into a distinct township -- Bridgewater. The deed is between Miles Standish, Samuel Nash and Constant Southworth as representatives for all the inhabitants of Duxbury, and Ousamequin (here spelled "Woosamequin," alternative spellings were not uncommon in the 17th century). Ousamequin was the great Wampanoag sachem known most frequently as Massasoit. Ousamequin had two sons: Wamsutta/Alexander, who first succeeded his father in 1661, and Metacom/Philip, who became sachem upon Wamsutta/Alexander’s death in 1662. Ousamequin also had a daughter Amie, who married Tuspaquin, the "Black Sachem." Several copies of this deed were made in 1649, Pilgrim Hall has one of those copies. “
  • Americans of Royal Descent. edited by Charles Henry Browning. Pedigree XXlX. GoogleBooks
  • The Book of the Indians: Or, Biography and History of the Indians of North The Book of the Indians: Or, Biography and History of the Indians of North America; From Its First Discovery to the Year 1841. Samuel G. Drake. Benjamin B. Mussey, 1845 - Indians of North America - 708 pages. Page 17- GoogleBooks
  • Byrne, Terence G. and Kathryn Fairbanks. "Sunconewhew: 'Phillip's Brother'?" Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Vol. 57, Issue 2, Fall 1996, pp. 50-57.
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Ousamequin (Massasoit), sachem of the Pokanoket's Timeline

near Motaup (present-day Mount Hope), present-day Bristol County, present-day Rhode Island
Sowans, Mount Hope, Bristol, Rhode Island
September 1661
Age 61
Pokanoket, Bristol County, Rhode Island