Although relatively small in size, Mishawum was one of the most important territories in the Massachuset Federation. Situated mostly in present-day Charlestown and Chelsea, Mishawum was the gateway to most of the Massachuset villages.
Waterways were vital to the people of the Eastern Woodlands. Their principal mode of transportation was the dugout canoe. Waterways not only provided important trade routes, but they served as the highways of the First Nations -- crucial links to neighboring villages and tribes.
The Eastern Woodlands people commonly intermarried with neighboring tribes. So waterways were imoportant socially. Strong familial bonds formed with those neighboring tribes also strengthened alliances and made nations more powerful, and therefore more secure.
Upon the arrival of the European traders Mishawum's importance would grow dramatically. It provided direct access from Boston Bay to inland villages. It was one of the first areas where early contact between the English and the Indians took place. The settlement at Charlestown was one of the earliest English settlements in all of Massachusetts.
But Mishawum was a valuable piece of land for another reason -- fish. The area was abundant with fish. Not only did it provide sustenance for its immediate inhabitants, but it also gave them seemingly endless fertilizer for their crops of beans, corn, and squash.
It is certainly not surprising that Squaw Sachem would install her first born as Sachem of Mishawum. Wonohaquaham's friendly and jovial spirit was ideally suited to forming diplomatic relations with the English, which became vital to the survival of the Massachuset.
© 2005 The Menotomy Journal