PART B — Dawnland Diaspora Directors


We continue herein consideration of circulating-sakamos – leaders of or from one place, but active at or in another. Fluid voluntary societal organization allowed the Wabanaki peoples this very adaptive- advantageous status-&-role of mobile-manager. (Please see prior reports for organizational details.)

In Part A, discussion centered upon three sakamos of the early 17th Century, before the long period of Anglo-Indian wars which began in 1675. If both Indian trade-wars and European-disease epidemics had forced Wabanakis to relocate & regroup during the earlier period, the Anglo-Indian wars caused an even greater Dawnland Diaspora, as European usurpation of Wabanaki lands & freedoms hit hard & fast.

Herein, Part B discusses some circulating-sakamos during this later period (1675-1763). Together, English push and French pull virtually reorganized the Wabanaki landscape, resulting in displaced persons (both leaders and followers), displaced groups (families, villages, bands, & peoples), and displaced loyalties (domestic & foreign).

In my several short word-sketches that follow, I play bibliographer more than biographer. My intent is to include more cases by telling fewer details, but nonetheless stating where there is more information available

War # and Names . years of conflict
known in North America by these names known in Europe by these names
1. King Philip’s War Northern Front . 1675-1678
1st Maine Indian War
Wabanaki Rebellion
(no European Counterpart)
2. King William’s War . 1688-1699
1st French & Indian War
St Castin’s War
War of the League of Augsburg
War of the Grand Alliance
3. Queen Anne’s War . 1702-1714
2nd French & Indian War War of the Spanish Succession
4. Abenaki War . 1721-1726
Gov Dummer’s War
Lovewell’s War
Grey Lock’s War
(no European counterpart)
5. King George’s War . 1744-1749
3rd French & Indian War
Gov Shirley’s War
War of the Austrian Succession
6. The French & Indian War . 1754-1763
4th French & Indian War Seven Years’ War
7. War for American Independence . 1775-1783
American Revolution (French fought British, too)
8. War of 1812 . 1812-1815
2nd War for American Independence (during Napoleonic Wars)


The story of the Pennacook people keeping their lives but losing their Merrimack River valley homelands to English encroachments is outlined in my report MM-SS-2, under the specific heading “Passaconaway & Wanalancet”. Kancamagus (aka John Hawkins / Hogkins) was the grandson of Passaconaway and the nephew of Wanalancet, but he broke with their long-term policy of keeping peace with the English. His own distrust of the English was heightened by fears that they were encouraging Mohawk raids on the Pennacooks, inasmuch as they were not discouraging them.

The outbreak of King William’s War brought both opportunity to take vengeance against the English and encouragement by the French to take it. So, Kancamagus helped lead a successful joint Pennacook-Saco (Pigwacket) raid on Dover, NH (27 June 1689), making Major Richard Waldron a special target (in retribution for Waldron’s trickery against hundreds of Indians at a bogus “conference” in fall 1676, during King Philip’s War). Then, in response to the Dover, NH raid, Massachusetts Colony put a bounty on Kancamagus’s head. So he & his Pennacook warriors removed eastward into Maine, to join with anti-English factions among Abenaki bands there.

Kancamagus was living with Worombo, an Androscoggin River chief (& likely K’s father-in-law), at “Worombo’s Fort” in today’s Auburn ME, when both chiefs became the missed targets of Major Benjamin Church’s punitive raid there in mid-September 1690. Church did capture the wives & kin of both men, thus forcing both Kancamagus and Worombo to participate in two truce conferences in Maine (at Wells and at Sagadahoc) in the fall of 1690. Yet neither of them appeared as promised at the formal treaty conference at Wells on 1 May 1691.

Colin G Calloway (1988:285) states that Kancamagus “may have died soon after [1 May 1691] since there is no mention of him during the rest of King William’s War [1688-99] or Queen Anne’s War [1702-14], and, had he lived, he would undoubtedly have played a noticeable role in those conflicts.” Calloway’s article, titled “Wanalancet and Kancagamus: Indian Strategy and Leadership on the New Hampshire Frontier” (pages 264-290 of Historical New Hampshire, Vol.43 No.4, Winter 1988), is the best source of information about Kancamagus that I know of, and it cites various other sources as well as providing context. (Note: I’m told that a faultily-set “spell-check” consistently misspelled K’s name throughout!)


Paramount-sakamo Passaconaway’s Pennacook Confederacy takes its name from his own village of Penacook, where the Contoocook River joins the Merrimack River (in today’s Concord NH). Passaconaway developed a personal alliance both by his own talents and by carefully marrying-out his children. Apparently he built upon an earlier Pawtucket Alliance, centered downstream at Pawtucket Falls (in today’s Lowell MA), which may have lost its edge but not its all during the great epidemic of c1617. Eventually Passaconaway became the superchief of all the Merrimack River Natives, and later transferred that honor to his son Wanalancet c1660.

All that is the background for understanding how Wattanummon, who was born in the 1660s in the lower Merrimack valley as a Pawtucket, became one of the “chief captains” of Wanalancet (who died c1697). Sometimes with Wanalancet and sometimes on his own, Wattanummon personally lived the Dawnland Diaspora. He had friends among the English, the French, and several traditional and regrouped Native peoples. His leadership abilities allowed him to serve as a sakamo of the Pigwackets, whose home-base was at today’s Fryeburg ME. And he “transiently lived as a Cowassuck [Co’os, northernmost Connecticut River], and temporarily resided at Schaghticoke [Scaticook, near Albany NY]”, according to his recent biographers Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney (1994:221).

Haefeli & Sweeney’s fascinating study appears, in English, as “Wattanummon’s World: Personal & Tribal Identity in the Algonquian Diaspora”, in pages 212-224 of Actes du Vingt-Cinquieme Congres des Algonquinistes (aka Papers of the 25th Algonquian Conference), William Cowan, ed., 1994, Ottawa: Carleton University.

Wattanummon was not a Pennacook war-chief like Kancamagus, but English scalp-bounty-hunters seldom cared about such details, and during Queen Anne’s War such so-called “scouts” surprised and killed Wattanummon and the Indians he was living with at that time. A 1968 New Hampshire historical marker, “Located on east side of NH 25 in Rumney at the Rumney Safety Rest Area”, tells the story thus:

“BAKER RIVER. Known to Indians as Asquamchumauke, the nearby river was renamed for Lt. Thomas Baker (1682-1753) whose company of 34 scouts from Northampton, Mass. passed down this valley in 1712. A few miles south [near where Baker River joins Pemigewasset River in today’s Plymouth NH] his men destroyed a Pemigewasset Indian village. Massachusetts rewarded the expedition with a scalp bounty of £40 and made Baker a captain.” — p.69, NH Historical Markers (7th Edition, 1980) Concord: NH State Historical Commission.

PAUGUS (died 1725) SCATICOOK (a once-Mahican village, joined by Pennacook-&-other refugees)

Today’s Fryeburg ME area held the principal village of the Pigwacket / Pequawket band of the Abenaki-Pennacook peoples, and also an Indian fort called Narracomecock / Crokemago. Pigwacket village seems to have run the gamut from full to empty in population and from hostile to friendly regarding the English, at different times, during the long period of Anglo-Indian wars. Pigwacket had some important chiefs, thereat & elsewhere, but the most famous of all – Paugus, who died close-by – did not live there and was not a Pigwacket, despite the folklore claiming otherwise.

A disorganized but intense battle was fought at-but-not-in Pigwacket on Sunday 9 May 1725, which neither “side” won, and both “leaders” were killed in action. Captain John Lovewell of Old Dunstable MA (today’s Nashua NH area) led his militia-band of scalp-bounty-hunters on a campaign into Ossipee and Pigwacket territories to avenge Indian raids on English settlements. Near Saco Pond (now Lovewell Pond) beside the Saco River, Lovewell’s attempt to surprise Pigwacket village was itself surprised into premature action by a lone Indian hunter, nearby Indians followed on – and the rest is folklore!

New Englanders immediately and for a century afterward created song & story accounts of this fight as being at least the Patriotic Sacrifice For Manifest Destiny if not the Epic Struggle Between Good and Evil, with (head-hunter) Lovewell playing Good Tragic Hero and (visiting war-chief) Paugus cast as Evilest Villain. And as New Englanders started migrating westward they took this venom with them and spat it at all the Indians of the prairies-plains-&-beyond as they encountered them. Ben Franklin’s uncle penned the first & best ballad about it in 1725, and the last & worst ballad (but the most-lasting, alas) was written c1825 by Professor Thomas C Upham at Bowdoin College in Brunswick ME. Then or later, two of Upham’s best students in the Class of 1825 also got involved: Longfellow and Hawthorne.

Henry W Longfellow already at age 13 had published his very first poem –”The Battle of Lovell’s Pond”; and for the 1825 Pigwacket Centennial he published his “Ode Written for the Commemoration at Fryeburg of Lovewell’s Fight”. (Longfellow would evolve, eventually viewing Indians as Noble Savages – see his “Hiawatha”.) Nathaniel Hawthorne, in 1832, used the Pigwacket fight as the starting point for his short-story “Roger Malvin’s Burial”. (Hawthorne often used Indians as symbols of Wild(er)ness, in opposition to the Puritans as symbols of the constraints of Civilization.)

~~~For the Pigwacket Ballads, see Bulletin of the Folk-Song Society of the Northeast, 1932, No.4 pp.3-9; 1933, No.5 pp.17-19; 1933, No.6 pp.3-4. Also, pp.127-139 of Songs & Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks with Other Songs from Maine, collected & edited by Roland Palmer Gray, 1925, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

~~~For Longfellow & Hawthorne (plus Whittier) in context, see “The Wabanaki in 19th-Century American Literature“, by Alvin H Morrison, 1981, pp.5-20 in Papers of the 12th Algonquian Conference, William Cowan, ed., 1981, Ottawa: Carleton University.

The modern scholar who has studied the Pigwacket fight most thoroughly was Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, who died in 1946. Her detailed documented accounts are the best sources I know of, although new facts may yet reopen her apparently-closed-case. Regarding the identity of Paugus, see Eckstorm’s article “Who Was Paugus?”, in pages 203-226 of New England Quarterly, Vol.12 No.2, June 1939. According to her, Paugus was Paucanaulemet, a visiting Scaticook. The last paragraph (on pages 225-226) of Eckstorm’s article follows, in toto.

“The facts are these. There was a Scaticook Indian named Paucanaulemet, living near Albany, New York, a ward of the Mohawks. While hunting with his family near Concord, New Hampshire, he was taken captive and carried to Boston and there kept in prison for more than a year. Released at the request of the Mohawks, he went home to Scaticook and the next year slipped away and joined the St. Francis Indians of Canada. In September, 1724, he was with a war-party of French Mohawks who attacked Old Dunstable and killed a number of people. The next spring he raided the Maine coast and, while returning to Pigwacket, engaged Captain John Lovewell’s troop at Saco Pond. There he was killed, May 9, 1725, and there he lies buried. The rest is folklore.”


Of all the Pigwacket war-chiefs, none was hated more by the English and loved more by the French than Nescambiouit / Assacumbuit / Escambuit. He seems seldom to have been at Pigwacket, because he traveled so often & so far. He is known to have made several confrontations on the New England frontier.

His most extensive trips were: In 1696 north to Newfoundland with a French military expedition; In 1705 east to Versailles (France) to meet, & to receive gifts from, King Louis 14; In 1716 west beyond Lake Michigan to live among the Fox Indians for a while. Supposedly he had killed 150 English by 1705, but both that claim and his supposedly being knighted by King Louis are now considered merely folklore. Indeed, beyond documented foreign affairs and his hyped reputation, very little really is known about him.

Nescambiouit is so ripe for rhetoric it is no wonder that a 250-page book about him appeared in 1998: Abenaki Warrior, by Alfred E Kayworth, Boston: Branden Publishing Co. The author summers regularly in one of “Escumbuit’s” old haunts, and (quite understandably) wanted to learn all that he could about him and then to share his findings. The resulting book certainly is a good story (even if somewhat confusedly told, because it is so complex), but necessarily it is mostly legend & conjecture, not really biography & history. The larger-than-life image of its subject surely would have pleased the old chief himself, even if it does not quite satisfy modern ethnohistorians.

The more-scholarly, and of necessity much-briefer, account of Nescambiouit’s activities that I would recommend is by Thomas Charland, appearing as pages 494-496 in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol.2 (1969), gen.ed. David M Hayne, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. It includes many specific references, both for further study and for understanding the necessary historical contexts.


With the major offensive exceptions of Chief Gray-Lock’s campaign of repeatedly raiding the western Massachusetts frontier and the Etchemin campaign of repeatedly sea-raiding New England ships, Governor Dummer’s War (aka the Abenaki War, or Lovewell’s War) was a time for defensive actions by several Wabanaki bands & their leaders, especially in today’s Maine & New Hampshire. New England militias took & kept the offensive, thereby dislodging if not defeating several Wabanaki communities & sakamos. The 1725 fight at Pigwacket which killed Lovewell & Paugus (see above) was only a stalemate, but nonetheless Pigwacket village was vacated for a while at least, which gave the English an advantage.

Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, in her 1945 book Old John Neptune, so concisely summarized several other effects in Maine that I quote her extensively here [but with my EMPHASES added].

“In old times, the ETCHEMINS…occupied the Maine coast from the KENNEBEC eastward and also the PENOBSCOT Valley. The Castine Indians, or PENTEGOETS [of eastern Penobscot Bay], were of this…[people]. During Dummer’s War, when they were pressed by the English, who burned their fortified town at Old Town [up Penobscot River] in 1723, the ETCHEMINS withdrew [eastward] to Machias [River] and the St.Croix [River]; while the ABNAKIS from the [upper] KENNEBEC [and westward], driven out by the [English] destruction of Norridgewock in 1724, filled in and took their [Etchemins’] places up the [Penobscot] river.” — Eckstorm (1945:18)

“The coastwise WAWENOCKS [from the east side of the KENNEBEC River-mouth to the lower west side of PENOBSCOT Bay (but not as a sub-group of the Etchemins, apparently)]…had to retire [northward] to Canada with… [refugee] others or mingle with the eastern tribes.” — Eckstorm (1945:79)

The highly successful English attack on Norridgewock (23 August 1724) was a true victory-&-defeat. Three times before, starting in 1705, the inhabitants of this combination Indian-town / French-mission had fled before an attempted English strike, but the fourth time was both different and deadly. For 30 years, Jesuit missionary Sebastien Rale had preached French religion & politics to his flock there, but when Father Rale, Chief Bomoseen, and several other sakamos all died together in the 1724 English attack, the surviving refugees were leaderless as well as homeless.

According to Eckstorm, the Norridgewock-on-Kennebec refugees (and other Dummer’s War Displaced-Persons) found a new home at vacated-&-burned Old-Town-on-Penobscot, and turned to Old Town’s former Etchemin people (then concentrating in southeastern Maine) for new leadership, which was then provided by their leader-elite Neptune family. (Remember, from MM-SS-2, that both Bashaba and Madockawando were Western Etchemin paramount-sakamos – Etchemin leadership was a tradition.)

Eckstorm presents her case thoroughly in her 1945 book Old John Neptune & Other Maine Indian Shamans, which I still consider to be the best scholarly book yet on Maine Indian ethnohistory. (OJN is back in print, since 1980, in paperback, from University of Maine Press’s Marsh Island Reprints, Orono ME.) Eckstorm also is the only scholar to consider in depth the lasting importance of shamans (traditional spiritual leaders) in Wabanaki leadership.

POLIN (died 1756) “Pesumpscot” / “St.Francois” / “Arssagunticook” PIGWACKET

The disruptions of Wabanaki communities caused by English push & French pull, which led to the diaspora & regrouping of the Wabanaki peoples, marked the entirety of the long period of Anglo-Indian wars (1675-1763), including the several intermissions of “peace” between specific wars. Indeed, such disruptions would continue long after the wars period, as Whitemen’s “peacetime” politics and land “development” became the new true enemies of the Wabanakis.

The English, and later the Americans, at first naively but later maliciously, incorrectly interpreted any / all temporary Wabanaki “disappearance” from known places of residence & hunting-fishing grounds as being permanent abandonment because of supposed “withdrawal to Canada”. Yet wishes did not make facts. Repeatedly, Wabanaki groups, from families through villages, returned to their earlier locations again, whenever opportunity allowed, from whatever perfectly-logical (to the Wabanakis) other places they had gone in the meantime – sometimes far-away, other times very nearby but “hidden in plain sight”.

The best single article discussing this major issue is “The ‘Disappearance’ of the Abenaki in Western Maine: Political Organization & Ethnocentric Assumptions”, by David L Ghere, 1993, in pp.193-207 of American Indian Quarterly, Spring 1993, Vol.17 No.2. (And, Wabanaki fluid social organization is outlined by me online in MM-SS-1, and reviewed in MM-SS-3-A, of this series.) We now return to a man who personally exemplified the “here-today, gone-tomorrow, but still associated” phenomenon: Polin.

Part A of this MM-SS-3 ended by mentioning Chief Polin’s 1739 success at getting the Massachusetts governor & council to decree that fish-ways be built into Presumpscot River dams. But, back on the Maine frontier, the Boston decree was not enforced, meaning that Polin’s people could not fish the river as they had done traditionally for sustenance. So, Polin gradually became hostile to the English settlers, then was killed in his raid on New Marblehead (now Windham ME) in 1756. We conclude this Part B with him, too.

Taking Polin’s story further is difficult, because I know of only three mentionings of him in “primary sources”:

~The August 1739 Massachusetts records refer to “Polin the Sachem of the Pesumpscot Indians”, and state that Polin’s answer to the Governor’s question of “How many Familys have you att Pesumpscot?” was “About 25 Men besides Women & children”.— Maine Historical Society, Baxter Manuscripts, Vol.23 (1916), pp.257-261.

~Records of the conference for the 1749 Treaty with the Eastern Indians at Falmouth Maine, in an item dated 8 October 1749, state that “Pooran, Chief of the St.Francois” was expected to attend. However, no further mention of him occurs, by that name or any variation thereof, and he did not sign the 1749 Treaty. — Maine Historical Society, Collections, Vol.4 (1856), pp.145-167.

~~~An item in Notes of Massachusetts Governor William Shirley’s Council Meeting of 25 July 1754 at Boston states: “His Excellency mentioning to the Board the many Outrages & Hostilities suppos’d to be done by one Polan an Arssagunticook Indian. / Unanimously advised that his Excellency be desir’d to pursue such measures as he shall think most proper for taking & securing the said Indian that so any further mischief may be prevented being done by the said Indian.”— Maine Historical Society, Baxter Manuscripts, Vol.24 (1916), p.17.

Apparently one can find only in “secondary sources” the descriptions of Polin’s death & burial in mid-May 1756, and these accounts are hardly uniform. I have lamented this unpleasant fact at some length online in SPAP Report No.I-6 “Proper Names”, and will not repeat all that here. Suffice it to say that Thomas Laurens Smith’s 1873 History of the Town of Windham, p.19, states, about the war-party: “The Indians were of the Rockameecook tribe (so called), commanded by Poland, their king.” The only sense that I can make of that is that Smith may mean only the Indian fort’s name, at Pigwacket (Fryeburg): Narracomecock / Crokemago. If so, Smith’s apparent obfuscation actually is a help!

Inasmuch as modern archaeologists have not yet found any evidence of a real Indian village or town from the Contact-Colonial Era (1600-1775), either on the Presumpscot River or in the Sebago Lake region (and they have had to look, because of antiquity laws), an obvious question is, “Then where did Polin’s people really live?” Their fishing on the Presumpscot probably was only seasonal, and a fishing-camp has been found at the first-falls, where Christopher Levett in 1624 stated that sakamo Skedraguscett “hath a house”.

Because the Saco River is so very close to the west side of Sebago Lake, it seems more likely that the Saco, rather than the Androscoggin River, was the connection-of-choice with the far hinterland, for Polin’s people. And Pigwacket village / town was on the Saco, in the hinterland. Pigwacket, then, is my choice for Polin’s people’s home-base, and whenever Pigwacket was a dangerous residence, then St.Francis / Odanak mission / town (on the Arsikontegok / Arosaguntacook / St.Francis River in southern Quebec) became their best other place to live, for a while at least.

Therefore, Polin properly could be called all of these: a Presumpscot, a Pigwacket / Saco, and a St.Francis / Arosaguntacook – because he was of or from all of them, and at or in all of them, from time to time, as a diaspora-directing circulating-sakamo, or mobile-manager indeed. What Polin should not be called is a Sokoki, because Sokokis is an erroneous name for the Saco River (and Pigwacket) Indians. Yet Polin is called that, repeatedly, even today. John G Whittier’s 1841 poem does not mention Polin by name, but “The Burial-Tree of the Sokokis” is supposed to be about Polin’s burial by his retreating warriors. (Sokoki is a French variation of Squakheag, and the real Squakheags / Sokokis lived on the middle Connecticut River, in north-central Massachusetts.)

Although it depicts a rather pompous sakamo, the following passage (written by an Englishman residing in coastal Pennacook country in the early 1630s) is too vivid to ignore. It appears internally in Chapter 5 (titled Of Their Apparel, Ornaments, Paintings, & Other Artificial Deckings) of William Wood’s (1635) NEW ENGLAND’S PROSPECT*. It well exemplifies the genre of biased antique Euramerican accounts from which ethnohistorical anthropology must seek data about Frontier-Encounter-Era Native Americans.

“xxx But a sagamore with a humbird in his ear for a pendant, a black hawk on his occiput for his plume, mowhacheis for his gold chain, good store of wampompeag begirting his loins, his bow in his hand, his quiver at his back, with six naked Indian spatterlashes** at his heels for his guard, thinks himself little inferior to the great Cham. He will not stick to say he is all one with King Charles. He thinks he can blow down castles with his breath and conquer kingdoms with his conceit xxx”

The logo shown at the right and used here for this Sakamo Series of Mawooshen Memos is a silhouette of a 19th-century drawing (probably based on Wood’s 1630s statement, just quoted) supposedly depicting 17th-century Pennacook paramount-sakamo Passaconaway.

*NEW ENGLAND’S PROSPECT. William Wood [1635, 2nd Ed]. Edited by Alden T Vaughan (1977). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press [1993, 1st Paperback Ed]. Pages 84-85.

** “A variant of ‘spatterdash’—a kind of legging worn to protect trousers from spatter. Here used figuratively.”—p 85 of Vaughan (1977).