Samoset

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Samoset (ca. 1590–1653) was the first Native American to speak with the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony. On March 16, 1621, the people were very surprised when Samoset walked straight into Plymouth Colony where the people were living. He greeted them in English. Samoset said he had learned some of the language from some English fishermen that came to Maine.[1]

Samoset was member of the Wampanoag tribe that lived in Maine. He was an important man within his tribe. Samoset talked with the leaders of Plymouth Colony. A few days later he came back with Squanto, an Indian leader who also spoke English.[2]

Samoset is also sometimes called Somerset. The name Somerset may have been given by the English men whom came from Somerset in England.[3] Capt. Levett met Samoset, along with other Native American leaders, in 1624 in the harbor of present-day Portland, Maine.[4]

Samoset Comes to Plymouth Colony - From Mourt's Relation (1622)[change | change source]

This is part of an account of the first meeting with Samoset by the people of Plymouth Colony:

Friday the 16th was a fair warm day....We were finishing our work, when a strange looking men, a man which caused us to be surprised becaused he seemed unafraid .... walked into the village. We stopped him. ... He spoke to us in English, and was friendly. He said he had learned some English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monhegan Island, and he gave us their names. He was a man who spoke freely and openly. We questioned him about many things. He was the first Indian we met. He said he was from Morattiggon and been 8 months in these parts. He told us of every area, and of their chiefs, and their number of men. The wind being to rise a little, we put a coat about him, for he wore very little clothes. He had a bow and two arrows. He was a tall straight man, the hair of his head black and very long but had no hair on his face at all; he asked for a drink and we gave him strong water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard (duck), all which he liked well. He said he had also eaten this food before with the English that had come before where he was from.

He told us the place where we now live was known as Patuxet by the Indians. Four years ago all the Indians who lived there died of a sickness and none were left, so they cannot hurt us, or to say the land where we now live belongs to them. All the afternoon we spent talking with him; we thought he would leave that night, but he did not leave. Then we thought to carry him on shipboard, and he intended to leave, but the wind was high and the water not deep enough so he could not return back that day. We lodged him that night at Stephen Hopkins house, and watched him.

The next day he went back to the Massasoits, the tribe of Indians where he lived. Before he left, Samoset told us that his tribe lived were our nearest neighbors. Samoset told us that there were sixty Indians in the tribe. He also told us of another tribe, the Nausets, which were southeast of Plymouth Colony had one hundred men within the tribe. He warned us that this group of Indians were very angry at the Europeans, and about 8 months ago killed three Englishmen, and two more escaped to Monchiggon. Samoset said they were Sir Ferdinando Gorges and his men. He was very surprised at the tools the Europeans had brought with them and said he would return to the woods where they were and bring them to us. He also said that some of Indians had a cruel trick played on them by the Europeans. They had taken twenty Indians, and carried them away, and sold them for slaves.

Saturday, in the morning we said goodbye to Samoset, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring. He promised within a night or two to come again, and to bring with him some of the Massasoits, our neighbors, with such beavers' skins as they could carry with them.[1]

Fictional representation[change | change source]

This story was adapted for an episode of "The Mayflower Voyagers", of the Peanuts television miniseries This is America, Charlie Brown.

Samoset appeared in William Bradford: The First Thanksgiving, 1992 direct-to-video episode of Animated Hero Classics. He was voiced by Michael Howard.

Namesakes[change | change source]

The Samoset Council of the Boy Scouts of America (located in northern Wisconsin) is named after Samoset.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Edward Winslow; William Bradford (1865) [1622]. Henry Martyn Dexter. ed. Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth Boston: John Kimball Wiggin. pp. 83–84.
  2. "Squanto (Tisquantum) (1590? - 1622)". Encyclopedia of North American Indians. 1996. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  3. Matthews, Albert (1904). "Note on the Indian Sagamore Samoset". Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (Boston: The Society) 6: 59–70 at 60. OCLC 1564125. https://books.google.com/?id=vvo7AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA60. Retrieved 2008-12-02.  (Of course, by that time Levett himself was residing in the West of England, and was married to a woman from Somersetshire.)
  4. Maine: A Guide 'Down East,' Federal Writers' Project, Houghton-Mifflin Company, Boston, Mass., Printed by the Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1937