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Massachuset [archive]

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The Massachuset are a North American Indian tribe which used to occupy more than twenty villages near the Charles and Neponset rivers, in eastern Massachusetts to the eastern shore of the Narragonseth Bay in Rhode Island. Boston and it’s suburbs were once Massachuset territory.


The Massachuset was a confederacy of related tribes, such as the Massachuset proper, the Nauset, the Niponuc, and the Wampanoag. They were a relatively small tribe which only numbered around 3,000 people in early colonial times. The tribe was broken up into bands, each ruled by a separate sachem, or sub-chief. Diseases, mainly small pox, introduced by the whites, and wars with neighboring tribes diminished the Massachuset’s numbers considerably by 1618. Many of the Massachuset’s villages were empty by the time settlers moved into the area. In the 1640’s, the Massachuset no longer existed as a separate, independent tribe. Many of the survivors were moved into mission villages where they eventually blended into everyday colonial life.


The Massachuset spoke the Algonquian language, which was the language and name of a North American tribe which inhabited areas of present day Quebec, Canada in the 17th century.

Daily Life:

Not much is known about these people as much of their culture disappeared before it could be recorded. They were known to have grown corn, and other vegetables in the fertile soil near the rivers. They were also fishermen who depended on the rivers and the ocean to supply them with food. They moved seasonally between set sites to best use their food sources.

Best Known Feature:

The Massachuset are probably best known for giving the state of Massachusetts it’s name.

Additional Reading

 Wampanoag Language
 Massachusett Legends
 Native Americans of Massachusetts

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