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the pokanokets

The Pokanokets, however, are a distinct people whose history was unfairly silenced after the King Phillip War.

In mid-1600s, the Pokanokets were led by King Phillip, also known as Metacomet who succeeded his father as the Massasoit (great leader) of the tribe. The heart of their territory was, and still is, much of the East Bay, including their spiritual highland on Mount Hope. King Phillip sought to live in harmony with the English settlers, as his father had, but as he watched his land and his tribesmen being taken away and killed, he began to change his tune. King Phillip declared that he wouldn’t die without claim to his own land, and thus the war began.

Although the war started off strong for the indigenous people, it ultimately ended in defeat for the Pokanokets, when King Phillip was killed and beheaded near Mount Hope. After that, any male claiming to be of the Pokanoket tribe was killed by the English — a Colonial-era law that is said to have remained intact until 2006. In fear of losing their lives, the Pokanokets learned to be close-mouthed about their identity. The outcome? A story known to few.



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