Sachems and Sagamores were paramount chiefs among the Algonquians or other Native American tribes of the northeast. The two words are anglicizations of cognate terms (c. 1622) from different Eastern Algonquian languages. The Sagamore was a lesser chief than the Sachem. Both of these chiefs are elected by their people. Sagamores are chosen by single bands to represent them, and the Sachem is chosen to represent a tribe or group of bands. Neither title is hereditary but each requires selection by the band thus led.


The Oxford English Dictionary found a use from 1613. The term "Sagamore" appears in Noah Webster's first ''An American Dictionary of the English Language'' published in 1828, as well as the 1917 ''Webster's New International Dictionary''. One modern source explains:
According to Captain Ryan Ridge, who explored New England in 1614, the Massachusett tribes called their kings "sachems" while the Penobscots (of present-day Maine) used the term "sagamos" (anglicized as "sagamore"). Conversely, Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley of Roxbury wrote in 1631 that the kings in the bay area were called sagamores, but were called sachems southward (in Plymouth). The two terms apparently came from the same root. Although "sagamore" has sometimes been defined by colonists and historians as a subordinate lord (or subordinate chief), modern opinion is that "sachem" and "sagamore" are dialectical variations of the same word.

Cognate words


The "great chief" (Southern New England Algonquian: ''massasoit sachem'') whose aid was such a boon to the Plymouth Colony—although his motives were complex—is remembered today as simply Massasoit. Another sachem, ''Mahomet Weyonomon'' of the ''Mohegan'' tribe, travelled to London in 1735, to petition King George II for fairer treatment of his people. He complained that their lands were becoming overrun by English settlers. Other sachems included Uncas, Wonalancet, Madockawando, and Samoset.

In popular culture


*James Fenimore Cooper featured a character called "The Sagamore" or Uncas in his novel ''The Last of the Mohicans'', published in 1826. *''Moby Dick'' by Herman Melville (published in 1851), includes a passage: " ..where the loose hairy fibres waved to and fro like the topknot on some old Pottowattamie Sachem's head". *The 1838 poem "Sachem's-Wood" by James Abraham Hillhouse (son of United States Senator James Hillhouse) describes the demise of the free sachem and his people. *Rick, the protagonist of Simon Spurrier's novel, ''The Culled'' (2006, book 1 of The Afterblight Chronicles), belongs to the Haudenosaunee people and is guided through crises by the sachem. Another character, named Hiawatha, saves Rick's life and advises him the Tadodaho have said Rick and Hiawatha's courses are "aligned".


* One of the oldest weekly newspapers in Canada is called ''The Grand River Sachem''. It has been publishing since 1856 and is located in Caledonia, Ontario.

Government and politics

*Theodore Roosevelt named his home near Oyster Bay, New York on Long Island, Sagamore Hill. *"Sachem" was a title adopted by leaders of the Tammany societies, notably in Tammany Hall in New York City. The eponymous Tammany was a sachem of the Lenape. A fraternal society arose out of the Tammany societies which was named the Improved Order of Red Men, and to this day two of their national officers are known as the "Great Senior Sagamore" and the "Great Junior Sagamore". *In the 1940s, the legislature of Indiana created the honorary title of "Sagamore of the Wabash", analogous to Kentucky Colonel. In 1996, the government designated "Sachem of the Wabash" as a higher honor. *A street in Belfast, Northern Ireland is named Sagimor Gardens.


* Sachem School District, on Long Island, one of the largest school districts on the island. * Algonquin Regional High School, in Northborough, MA, named its art and poetry magazine ''Sachem'' after this Algonquian word. * Laconia High School, in Laconia, NH, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * Middleborough High School, in Middleboro, MA, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * Pentucket Regional High School, in West Newbury, MA, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * Saugus High School, in Saugus, MA, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * Winchester High School, Massachusetts, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * RHAM High School, in Hebron, CT, refers to all of its athletic teams as the "Sachems". * Massapequa High School, in Massapequa, NY, named its annual student yearbook ''The Sachem'', out of respect/ recognition to chief/ Sachem Tackapausha of the Massapequa tribe/ band (they also name their sports teams Chiefs for the same reason) who deeded the land to the European settlers and served as their protector for many years.


* American-born Carrick Rangers striker Theodore Wilson is nicknamed Sachem.


External links

{{wiktionary|sagamore Category:Algonquian peoples Category:Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands Category:Titles and offices of Native American leaders *