Prior to 1617, Nanapashemet was one of the most powerful leaders in all of New England. He controlled a land area and a population equaled by few tribal federations from New Hampshire to Virginia. He appeared to have cordial trade relations with the Wampanoag and Narraganset to the south, the Nipmuc to the west, and the Pennacook to the north. However, he feared the Mahican Federation to the west. He also greatly feared the Mohawk even further west, who were part of the Iriquois Federation. The Mohawk and Mahican shared an alliance during Nanapashemet's reign.
The chaos created by the horrific disease that spread throughout Massachuset territory, as well as the relentless raids by the Mi'Kmag all along the coast, the Massachuset Federation began to fall apart. By the time the Mi'Kmag finally killed Nanapashemet in 1619, most of his sub-sachems were already scurrying to forge new alliances for the sake of their own survival.
© 2005 The Menotomy Journal