||Massasoit Wampanoag was a Native American member of the Wampanoag tribe.|
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Massasoit, a Pokanoket Wampanoag Indian, was born about 1580 in the Massachusetts Bay area. His parents are unknown, but he had two brothers, Akkompoin and Quadequina. "Massasoit" was probably a title; by 1632 he is often referred to by the name of "Ousemequin” (Yellow Feather).  The Wampanoag did not have a written language, so he is known primarily through the writings of men like William Bradford and Edward WInslow.
European visitors to New England brought European diseases with them, and between 1615 and the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 as much as 90% of the Massachusetts Bay area Indian population had been wiped out. By 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived the remaining Wampanoag were under a great deal of pressure from the Micmac to their north and the Narragansett to their south. Massasoit was the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag and although they feared further disease from the new settlers, they also saw the English as possible allies.
The first meeting between the Plymouth colonists and Massasoit is recorded in Bradford's History of 'Plimouth Plantation:'
“But about ye 16. of March a certaine Indian came bouldly amongst them, and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it.... His name was Samaset; he tould them also of another Indian whos name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England & could speake better English then him selfe. Being, after some time of entertainmente & gifts, dismist, a while after he came againe, & 5. more with him ... and made way for ye coming of their great Sachem, called Massasoyt; who, about 4. or 5. days after, came with the cheefe of his freinds & other attendance, with the aforesaid Squanto. With whom, after frendly entertainment, & some gifts given him, they made a peace with him (which hath now continued this 24. years) " 
Most American school children know of Massasoit because of the help which saved the Pilgrims from starvation and death and images of the event called the "First Thanksgiving," but it is the 1621 treaty that insured Massasoit's place in American history.  The treaty pledged mutual support and respect between the English and the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag continued to maintain peace with the English colonists for the next fifty years although they received little in return and were pressured to cede more and more of their land.
The 2011 Native American dollar coin issued by the U.S. Mint memorializes this treaty. 
Edward Winslow described Massasoit as follows:
Massasoit became very ill in March of 1623 and the colonists received word that he had died. Learning that he was not in fact dead, Winslow went to his home. In his "Good newes from New-England" Winslow described in great detail the actions that were being taken to save Massasoit. Winslow dosed him with a "confection" and when Massasoit recovered Winslow took credit for curing him. 
The 1621 peace treaty between the English settlers and the Wampanoag, renewed in 1639, lasted beyond the death of Massasoit.
Soon after the death of Massasoit, Wamsutta and Metacomet went to Plymouth and requested the colonists to give them English names.  The court named them Alexander and Philip. Wamsutta (King Alexander), the eldest, became sachem of the Pokanoket on the death of his father. Wamsutta died within a year, and his brother Metacomet (King Philip) succeeded him in 1662.
Massasoit was believed to be buried at Burr's Hill in Warren, Rhode Island, but over the years the burial area was vandalized and damaged by construction activity. Human remains and artifacts were removed to several museums. Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe was able to reclaim funerary objects and remains believed to be those of Massasoit. They were reinterred at Burr's Hill on May 13, 2017.
The following are quotes from Drake’s 1841 “History of the Indians”:
"MASSASOIT, chief of the Wampanoags, resided at a place called Pokanoket or Pawkunuawkin, by the Indians, which is now included in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island. He was a chief renowned more in peace than war, and was, as long as he lived, a friend to the English, notwithstanding they committed repeated usurpations upon his lands and liberties.[p. 17]
"11 December 1620, O.S., the pilgrims had arrived at Plimouth, and possessed themselves of a portion of Massasoit's country. With the nature of their proceedings, he was at first unacquainted, and sent occasionally some of his men to observe their strange motions. Very few of these Indians, however, were seen by the pilgrims. At length he sent one of his men, who had been some time with the English fishing vessels about the country of the Kennebeck, and had learned a little of their language, to observe more strictly what was progressing among the strangers at his place of Patuxet, which these intruders now called Plimouth. This was in March 1621."[p. 21]
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