In honor and recognition of November being Native American Heritage Month, here is a look at some of the Native Americans whose names are assigned to streets and roads in Mashpee. Here are four such roadways; others will be discussed in a subsequent column.
Annawon Road is named after Annawon (also spelled Annawan or Anawon) of the Wampanoag Tribe. He served under Ousamequin (Massasoit), “Great Leader” of the Wampanoags during the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, and was believed to be Ousamequin’s brother-in-law.
During the King Philip War in 1675-1678, he became the chief counselor and strategist to Metacomet (Metacom), also known as King Philip.
During the war, Annawon led the attacks on the settlements of Swansea and Plymouth. He was with Philip at Philip’s death and he continued to urge his warriors to stand and fight. He was later captured in a swamp near Mattapoisett. Brought to Plymouth with many of his men, he was seized by a mob and beheaded. With his death, the Wampanoag Confederacy came to an end.
Canonchet Avenue is named after Canonchet (also spelled Cannonchet or Canochet), proud sachem of the Narragansetts, and friend of King Philip.
He was urged to yield to the colonies and turn against King Philip. “Deliver the Indians of Philip? Never! Not a Wampanoag will I ever give up,” Canonchet said.
He joined Philip in the war, delivering some 4,000 warriors into the conflict and leading them on successful attacks on the English settlements. His people suffered the worst defeat of the war, however, in what is known as the Great Swamp Fight on December 19, 1675. Colonial forces, in a surprise attack, breached his village, setting most of the wigwams on fire. Many were able to escape but as many as 600 were slaughtered—many of them women and children—with 400 more captured and then sold into slavery.
Canonchet proceeded to supplant Philip as the supreme Indian military commander in Southern New England. Largely under his direction, the Indian Confederates achieved great success.
According to one historical source, Canonchet “maintained the war with his whole energy; never had the English suffered so many disasters as for the several months after the battle in the Great Swamp.”
Canonchet was captured in April of 1676; the English sentenced him to death, shot him and then beheaded him. His head was sent as a trophy to colonial officials in Hartford, Connecticut.
Hiacoomes Circle is named after Hiacoomes (1610s–1690), who was a Chappaquiddick Wampanoag from Martha’s Vineyard. In 1643 he became the first member of his tribe to convert to Christianity under the missionary Thomas Mayhew Jr. He then, with the assistance of Mayhew, become a leading preacher to his fellow Wampanoag on the island, playing a major role in the widespread conversion of the Wampanoag from their traditional beliefs to Christianity.
He continued to play a major role in spreading Christianity, so that by 1660 nearly all the island’s Wampanoag community had formally become Christian. In 1670 the first formal Wampanoag church building was created on the island, with Hiacoomes ordained as minister. He died in 1690.
Ninigret Avenue is named after the sachem Ninigret (c. 1610-1677) of the eastern Niantic tribe, who were based in the Rhode Island area. Ninigret developed a plan to expel the colonists from his area and he tried to form alliances with other tribes in that attempt. He waged war against the Long Island tribes who had placed themselves under the protection of the New England Colonists.
When demanded to appear before the English at Hartford, he refused, causing Massachusetts Bay Colony to declare war on him. He kept the Niantics out of the King Philip War and so escaped the ruin which overtook other tribes.
Missionary Thomas Mayhew Jr. tried to get Ninigret to permit him to preach to his tribe. Ninigret replied, “Go and make the English good first.” Today a bronze statue of Chief Ninigret stands in the Watch Hill section of Westerly, Rhode Island.