Famous Wampanoag

Famous Wampanoag Chiefs and Leaders

The Wampanoag Indians lived in what is now known as Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the early part of the 17th century.

The name means “easterners” and at one point, their population was 12,000. They were a loose confederacy made up of several tribes.

Famous Wampanoag People:

Annawan – A war leader.

Askamaboo – A Wampanoag female sachem at Nantucket.

Joan Tavares Avant – Author and historian.

Sachem Awashonks of the Sakonnet – A woman who at first fought the English but changed sides.

Blind Joe AmosFirst Wampanoag Baptist preacher.

Crispus Attucks – first man killed in the Revolutionary War.

Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first student at the Indian College at Harvard College

Corbitant – 17th century sachem or sagamore of the Pocassets.

Jessie Little Doe Baird – Linguist, co-founder and director of the Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project, which has been the first to revive a Native American language after all the speakers had died. In 2010 she was selected as a MacArthur Fellow.

Linda Coombs – Author and historian.

Cedric Cromwell, Elected Tribal Council Chairman, 2009

Sonny Dove, professional basketball player, New York City Basketball Hall of Fame

Epenow, a Nauset taken captive by English explorers in the 17th century, he was taken to England, where he learned the language. He convinced the English to return to North America, where he escaped and rejoined his people.

Amos Haskins, 19th-century whaling captain

Adrian Haynes – Chief of the Wampanoag People.

Vernon “Silent Drum” Lopez –

Massasoit – The Wampanoag sachem who first met the English. Father of Metacomet.

Metacomet (King Phillip or Metacom or Metacomet) – Massasoit’s second son, who initiated the war against the English known as King Philip’s War (1675–1676) in retaliation for the death of his brother at the hands of the English.

Leroy C. Perry – Chief of the Wampanoag

John “Slow Turtle” Peters – Supreme medicine man

Morgan James “Mwalim” Peters – Author, playwright, musician, composer, filmmaker, historian and educator

Paula Peters – Journalist and educator

Russell “Fast Turtle” Peters –

Samoset –

John SassamonHe reported to Plymouth governor Josiah Winslow that Metacom (Philip) was planning a war against the English and was found murdered a week later. Three Wampanoag warriors were put on trial for his murder and subsequently hanged.

Squanto (Tisquantum)-  Squanto was an English speaking Patuxet Indian who lived with the colonists and acted as a middleman between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, the Wampanoag sachem.

Captured by Captain Thomas Hunt in 1614 and taken to Spain, where he was sold as a slave to Spanish Monks. The Monks eventually freed him, and he made it back to his village in 1619.

Wamsutta -Massasoit’s oldest son (known by the English as King Alexander), who died under mysterious circumstances after visiting with English colonial administrators in Plymouth.

Another version says he died in the King Philip’s War by drowning while crossing the Taunton River trying to flee the English. Brother of Metacom

Weetamoo -Daughter and successor of Corbitant, the lady sachem or sagamore of the Pocasset. The whites cut off Weetamoo’s head and displayed it on a pike in Taunton, MA.

She was the wife of Wamsutta, a brother to King Phillip or Metacom and son of Massasoit.

Woonekanuske – Daughter of Corbitant and wife of Metacom.  Woonekanuske and son were sold into slavery and transported to Bermuda.

Wunnatuckquannumou – A Wampanoag female sachem on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Wampanoag Tribes:

Federally Recognized:

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (F)
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (F)

Massachusetts State Recognized:

Assonet Wampanoag Tribe  (S)
Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Tribe (S)
Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe (S)
Pocasset Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation (S)
Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe (S)


Article Index:

Blind Joe Amos, first Mashpee Wampanoag Preacher

Blind Joe Amos was the first ordained Mashpee Wampanoag Indian minister. He was a pastor with substantial credentials, a reputation for great sermons and a propensity to fiddle.

John Sassamon, the Praying Indian and traitor

 Sassamon (Christian name John) was a Christian Indian raised in Natick, one of the “praying towns” of the Wampanoag tribes. He was educated at Harvard College.

Metacomet, Wampanoag sachem

Metacomet was better known to whites as King Philip. He was also known as Metacom or Philip of Pokanoket.  He was the second son of the sachem Massasoit, and became a chief of his people in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died shortly after their father Massasoit.

(born c. 1638, Massachusetts—died August 12, 1676)

Metacomet or King Philip of the WampanoagsWamsutta’s widow Weetamoo , sunksqua of the Pocasset, was Metacomet’s ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacomet married Weetamoo’s younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them all. Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies following the defeat of the Native Americans in what became known as King Philip’s War.

King Philip’s people occupied a territory that bordered on present day Boston to the north, extending west to Warren, Rhode Island, and south and east to the coast of Cape Cod, including Martha’s Vineyard (Noepe) and Nantucket Islands. It is recorded that he bought his clothes in Boston.

In the spring of 1660 Metacomet’s brother Wamsutta appeared before the court of Plymouth to request that he and his brother be given English names. The court agreed and Wamsutta had his name changed to Alexander, and Metacomet’s was changed to Philip.  Metacomet was later called “King Philip” by the English.

King Phillip’s War

Metacomet used tribal alliances to coordinate efforts to push European colonists out of New England. Many of the native tribes in the region wanted to push out the colonists following conflicts over land use, diminished game as a consequence of expanding European settlement, and other tensions.

For 13 years Metacomet’s leadership kept the region’s towns and villages on edge with the fear of an Indian uprising. Finally, in June 1675, violence erupted when three Wampanoag warriors were executed by Plymouth authorities for the murder of John Sassamon, a tribal informer.

Metacom’s allies, including the Wampanoag, Narraganset, Abenaki, Nipmuc, and Mohawk, were at first victorious. They attacked over half of New England’s ninety-two towns. However, after fourteen months of savage fighting during which some 3,000 Indians and 600 colonists were killed, and 12 frontier towns were destroyed, food became scarce, and the indigenous alliance began to disintegrate.

Seeing that defeat was imminent, Metacom returned to his ancestral home at Mount Hope. As the colonists brought their growing numbers to bear, King Philip and some of his followers took refuge in the great Assowamset Swamp in southern Massachusetts. He held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers, but was eventually betrayed by an Indian informant.

Hunted by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, he was fatally shot by an Indian named John Alderman, on August 12, 1676, in the Miery Swamp near Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and nine-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda, along with others who surrendered.  Some of his supporters escaped to Canada.

Philip’s head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for more than two decades. His body was cut into quarters and hung in trees. Alderman was given Metacomet’s right hand as a reward. The fighting ended shortly after Metacom was captured and beheaded.

The remnants of Metacomet’s tribe are known today as the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.