Massachuset Indian Chiefs and Leaders

Attacks, Crispus

Attacks, Crispus. An Indian-Negro half-blood of Framingham, Massachusetts, near Boston, noted as the leader and first person slain in the Boston massacre of Mar. 5, 1770, the first hostile encounter between the Americans and the British troops, and therefore regarded by historians as the opening fight of the great Revolutionary struggle. In consequence of the resistance of the people of Boston to the enforcement of the recent tax laws a detachment of British troops had been stationed in the town, to the great irritation of the citizens. On Mar. 5 this feeling culminated in an attack on the troops, in front of the old State House, by a crowd made up largely of sailors, and said to have been led by Attucks, although this assertion has been denied by some. The troops retaliated by firing into the party, killing four men, of whom Attucks was the first to fall. A monument to his memory was erected in Boston Common by the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1888. Although the facts in regard to his personality are disputed, the evidence goes to show that Attucks was a sailor, almost a giant in stature, the son of a Negro father and an Indian mother of Framingham, or the neighboring village of Natick, formerly the principal Indian mission settlement of Massachusetts. The name Attucks, derived from his mother, appears to be the Natick (Massachuset) ahtuk, or attuks, small deer.

See further:

  • G. Bancroft, Hist. U. S.;
  • Appleton’s Encyclop. Am. Biog.;
  • Am. Hist. Rec., I, Nov., 1872. (J. M.)


Chickataubut (‘houseafire’). A Massachuset sachem of the region about Weymouth, Massachusetts, whose enmity against the English was early aroused by their depredations on the tribal cornfields and desecration of his mother’s grave.  In 1621, with several other chiefs, he submitted to the English authority, and in 1631 visited Gov. Winthrop at Boston, behaving “like an Englishman.”  In 1632 he served against the Piquot and died the next year of smallpox.  He was a man of note and influence.

Chhikataubut, or Chikkatabak, – in English, a house-afire, was a sachem of considerable note, and generally supposed to have had dominion over the Massachusetts Indians. Thomas Morton mentions him in his NEW CANAAN, as sachem of Passonagesit, (about Weymouth,) and says his mother was buried there. I need make no comments upon the authority, or warn the reader concerning the stories of Morton, as this is done in almost every book, early and late, about New England; but shall relate the following from him.

In the first settling of Plymouth, some of the company, in wandering about upon discovery, came upon an Indian grave, which was that of the mother of Chikataubut. Over the body a stake was set in the ground, and two bear-skins, sewed together, spread over it; these the English took away. When this came to the knowledge of Chikataubut, he complained to his people, and demanded immediate vengeance. When they were assembled, he thus harangued them: ” When last the glorious light of all the sky was underneath this globe, and birds grew silent, I began to settle, as my custom is, to take repose. Before mine eyes were fast closed, me tho’t I saw a vision, at which my spirit was much troubled, and trembling at that doleful sight, a spirit cried aloud, ‘Behold! my son, whom I have cherished; “ee the paps that gave thee suck, the hands that clasped thee warm, and fed thee oft; canst thou forget to take revenge of those wild people, that hath my monument defaced in a despiteful manner; disdaining our ancient antiquities, and honorable customs. See now the sachem’s grave lies like unto the common people, of ignoble race defaced. Thy mother doth complain, implores thy aid against this thievish people new come hither; if this be suffered, I shall not rest in quiet within my everlasting habitation.” 1

Battle was the unanimous resolve, and the English were watched, and followed from place to place, until at length, as some were going ashore in a boat, they fell upon them, but gained no advantage. After maintaining the fight for some time, and being driven from tree to tree, the chief captain was wounded in the arm, and the whole took to flight. This action caused the natives about Plymouth to look upon the English as invincible, and this was the reason why peace was so long maintained between them. Of the time and circumstances of this battle or fight we have detailed at length in a Previous chapter.

Mourt’s Relation goes far to establish the main facts in the above account. It says, “We brought sundry of the prettiest things away with us, and covered the corpse up again,” and, “there was variety of opinions amongst us about the embalmed person,” but no mention of the bear-skins.

From a comparison of the different accounts, there is but little doubt, that the English were attacked at Namskekit, in consequence of their depredations upon the graves, corn, &c. of the Indians.
In 1621, Chikataubut, with eight other sachems, acknowledged, by a written instrument, which we have already given, themselves the subjects of King James. Ten years after this, 23 given, 1631, he visited Governor Winthrop at Boston, and presented him with a hogshead of corn. Many of sannops and squaws” came with him, but were most of them sent away, “after they had all dined,” although it thundered and rained, and the governor urged their stay; Chikataubut probably feared they would be burdensome. At this time he wore English clothes, and sat at the governor’s table, “where he behaved himself as soberly, &c. as an Englishman.” Not long after, he called on Governor Winthrop, and desired to buy clothes for himself; the governor informed him that “English sagamores did not use to truck; 2 but he called his tailor, and gave him order to make him a suit of clothes; whereupon he gave the governor two large skins of coat beaver.” In a few days his clothes were ready, and the governor “put him into a very good new suit from head to foot, and after, he set meat before them; but he would not eat till the governor had given thanks, and after meat he desired him to do the like, and so departed.”

June 14, 1631, at a court, Chikataubut was ordered to pay a small skin of beaver, to satisfy for one of his men’s having killed a pig, which he complied with. A man by the name of Plastowe, and some others, having stolen corn from him, the same year, the court, Sept. 27, ordered that Plastowe should restore “two-fold,” and lose his title of gentleman, and pay £5. This I suppose they deemed equivalent to four-fold. His accomplices were whipped, to the same amount. The next year we find him engaged with other sachems in an expedition against the Pequots. The same year two of his men were convicted of assaulting some persons of Dorchester in their houses. “They were put in the bilboes,” and himself required to beat them, which he did. 3

The small-pox was very prevalent among the Indians in 1633, in which year, some time in November, Chikataubut died.

The residence of the family of Chikataubut was at Tehticut, now included in Middleborough. He was in obedience to Massasoit, and, like other chiefs, had various places of resort, to suit the different seasons of the year; sometimes at Wessaguscusset, sometimes at Neponset, and especially upon that part of Namasket‡ called Tehticut. This was truly a river of sagamores. Its abundant stores of fish, in the spring, drew them from all parts of the realm of the chief sachem.

In deeds, given by the Indians, the place of their residence is generally mentioned, and from what we shall recite in the progress of this article, it will be seen that the same chief has different residences assigned to him.

August 5, 1665, Quincy, then Braintree, was deeded by a son of Chikataubut, in these terms 4 :

“To all Indian people to whom these presents shall come; Wampatuck, alias Josiah Sagamore, of Massathusetts, in Newengland, the son of Chikataubut deceased, sendeth greeting. Know yoo that the said Wampatuck, being of’ full age and power, according to the order and custom of the natives, hath, with the consent of his wise men, viz. Squamog, his brother Daniel, and Old Hahatun, and William Mananiomott, Job Nassott, Manuntago William Nahantonli 5 ” “For divers goods and valuable reasons therunto; and in special for” £21 10s. in hand It was subscribed and witnessed thus:
JOSIAH, alias WAMPATUCK, his marke.
DANIEL SQUAMOG, and a mark.
OLD NAHATUN, and a mark.
ROBERT, alias MAMUNTAGO, and a mark.
In presence of


Corbitant. A Massachuset sachem. He was a determined foe of the English, and when Massassoit entered into an alliance with them he strove to wrest the chieftaincy from the latter and form a league with the Narraganset to expel the intruders. He caught and tried to kill Squanto, whom he called the tongue of the English, and Hobomok, their spy and guide. With other hostile chiefs he signed a treaty of peace with the English in 1621. 6Citations:

  1. If this be fiction, a modern compiler has deceived some of his readers. The article in the Analectic Magazine may have been his source of information, but the original may be seen in Morton’s New Canaan, 106 and 107.[]
  2. However true this might have been of the governor, at least, we think, he should not have used the plural.[]
  3. “The most usual custom amongst them in exercising punishments, is, for the sachem either to beat, or whip or put to death with his own hands, to which the common sort most quietly submit.” Williams. Namauasuck signified in their language fishes, and some early wrote Namascheuck.[]
  4. History of Quincy, by Rev. Mr. Whitney, taken from the original in the possession of Hon. J. Q. Adams.[]
  5. Nahaton, or Ahaton, and the same sometimes written Nehoiden. See Worthington Hist. Bedlum 21. He sold lands upon Charles River in 1680.[]
  6. Drake, Book of Indians, 93, 1880.[]

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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