Name: CANONICUS * SACHEM OF THE NARRAGANSETT TRIBE
Birth: 1562 in Cape Cod, MA
Death: 4 JUN 1647 in probably MA
Change Date: 10 JUL 2008
SACHEM (CHIEF) OF THE NARRAGANSETTS
A BIOGRAPHY OF CANONICUS, by Larry Overmire:
A man of extraordinary ability, Canonicus was the chief sachem of the Narragansett Indians and the most formidable enemy of Massasoit's Wampanoag confederation. He was sachem (chief) when the pilgrims set about establishing Plymouth Colony. In January of 1622, he sent them a bundle of arrows wrapped in the skin of a rattlesnake--a challenge of war. Gov. Bradford returned the snakeskin filled with gunpowder. The Pilgrims then set about fortifying their village.
While the Wampanoag allied themselves with the Massachusetts Englishmen, Canonicus and his Narragansetts established strong relations with Roger Williams and the settlers of Rhode Island.
"Canonicus, the sachem of the Narragansetts, whose territory had escaped the ravages of the pestilence, at first desired to treat of peace; in 1622, a bundle of arrows, wrapped in the skin of a rattlesnake, was his message of hostility. But, when Bradford sent back the skin stuffed with powder and shot, his courage quailed, and he sued for amity." -- George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol.1, p.211, courtesy of Bruce Cox.
"Canonicus, now chief of the Narragansetts, had given his allegiance to the king and was at peace with the colonists. The Rhode Island colony had received its charter from the king, and were taking no part in the war. In spite of all this, the united Colonies formed an army to attack a peaceful tribe of Indians located outside their jurisdiction. This army formed in Boston, marched through Providence and Warwick on their way to the Great Swamp. By morning the tribe of Narragansetts was exterminated, save for a few who had escaped. A thousand Indians had been killed, about one third having been burned to death. The whites lost from two to four hundred. This was like a signal to all the tribes, and a pitiless war was now started, a war that the Indians felt was for their very existence. All the settlements suffered, even Providence, the home of Roger Williams, the best friend the Indians ever had. Roger Williams and his family were unharmed, although they refused to flee to safety.. For a while the Indians were seemingly successful, but as soon as the colonists became organized, and their families were in safe places, the Indians began to lose, and finally the noble heated Cononchet, chief sachem of what was left of the Narragansetts, was captured and killed. Four months afterward, King Philip was slain, and with these two powerful chiefs gone, the Indians became demoralized, and the colonists gained the upper hand. (1676) Those captured were slain or sold into slavery. Never were a people more thoroughly extirpated than were the Narragansetts." --from The House of Carr--A Historical Sketch of the Carr Family from 1450 to 1926 by W.L. Watson. pp. 18, 19, courtesy of Bruce Cox.
"In the book "Bearse-Bears-Barss Family, Genealogy of Augustine Bearse and Princess Mary Hyanno" by Franklin Bearse, it tells of the Vikings coming to the Wampanoag area about 1001-1016. "They were fierce, red haired, pale faced men who came, to what is now Massachusetts, mixed their blood with the Wampanoag Indians and went back to the endless waters and were never seen no more. "Wampanoag" means "White Indian." Mary Hyanno (born 1625) was of light complexion and had flaming red hair. These stories were written for record from the legends passed on from one generation to another in the Wampanoag tribes." His mark was a bow, with arrow pointing up. Canonicus and his Nephew, Miantunnomoh gave the Prudence Island to Roger Williams, later to become Rhode Island. They also gave Aquidneck to Anne Huthinson and her followers at Roger's request." --Bruce Cox
KING PHILIP'S WAR, 1675-76, by Larry Overmire:
King Philip was the chief of the Wampanoag Indians and the son of Massasoit, the chief who had befriended the Pilgrims and celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1620. King Philip resented the intrusion and domination of the colonists and led an uprising of several tribes, including the Narragansetts, in 1675-76, terrorizing New England in what would become known as the bloodiest Indian War ever to take place there. By the time the war ended 52 out of 90 New England settlements had been attacked, 12 completely destroyed. King Philip himself was trapped and killed in Aug. 1676.
THE GREAT SWAMP FIGHT, 1675
The English attacked and burned a fortified Narragansett Indian village in the Great Swamp Massacre, which completely destroyed the Narragansett nation.
THE NARRAGANSETT INDIANS
The Narragansetts were indeed a strong and noble race and known for their integrity. They were very generous to their white neighbors in Rhode Island.
Roger Williams believed the English king had no right to claim Native American lands. This opinion quickly got him into trouble and the Puritans banished him from Massachusetts. He founded a new colony in Rhode Island and established good relations with the Narragansetts.
EASTERN TRIBES AT THE TIME OF THE MAYFLOWER
"When the pilgrims landed there were three Federations (Confederations) on the east coast from Maine to Florida. The Iroquois, Algonquain, and Muskogee. Under the Iroquois there were 5 nations; Cayouga, Onandoga, Mohawk, and a couple of others. Later the Tuscurorah joined them and they are now the League of 6 nations. Our Constitution was derived in part from their constitution. The founding fathers sent 2 representatives to them to study their constitution, (The Great Law, or The Great Brotherhood), and Benjamin Framklin was the scribe. In thanks, the US sent them a gift of thanks. The Muskogee were the tribes to the south including Creek, Seminole, Caribe, and others. The Wampanoag had 5 nations; Wampanoag, Pequot/Mohegan, Massachusetts, Nauset, and Narragansett. The Narragansett was considered Wampanoag however, I've proven that they did not come from the same common ancestor as some of the other nations did, but were descended from "refugee slaves" to quote William Bradford." --Mary Hilliard, expert on Native American genealogical research
USE OF THE WORD "SACHEM"
"Chief" was used by western tribes. "Sachem" was used by east coast tribes. The pilgrims invented the term "Chief Sachem" to describe the head Sachem over all the lesser Sachems.
WARNING: Some show Canonicus as the son, not the grandson, of Tashtassuck, born as early as 1636 and died bef 1620.
Presidents George H. W. and George W. Bush are descendants.
Notes on this website are authored by Larry Overmire, unless noted otherwise. Permission of the author is required to reproduce elsewhere.
1) Bruce Cox Database
2) Pedigree of Canonicus
3) Narragansett Indians' Teepee
4) Alice Raven Database
5) Chief Sachem Canonicus
6) The House of Carr--A Historical Sketch of the Carr Family from 1450 to 1926 by W.L. Watson.
7) Fate of Eastern Native Americans
8) E-mail from researcher and Native American genealogical expert Mary Hilliard, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, 7 Dec 2004
9) Mary Hilliard Database, 11 Nov 2004
Father: Wessonsuoum * of the Narragansett Tribe b: BEF 1520 in CT
Mother: Keneschoo * of the Narragansett Tribe b: ABT 1525 in CT
Posh-Pw * of the Narragansett Tribe b: 1565 in Narragansett, Washington, RI
- Change Date:
10 JUL 2008
- Note: 17:25
- Daughter of Canonicus * Princess of the Narragansett Tribe b: 1567 in Cape Cod, Barnstable Co., MA