Sachem and Sagamore refer to 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.[1][2][3][4] 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 band thus led.[5]


The Oxford English Dictionary found a use from 1613. The term "Sagamore" appears in Noah Webster's first Am American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828, as well as the 1917 Webster's New International Dictionary.[6]

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[7]), modern opinion is that "sachem" and "sagamore" are dialectical variations of the same word.[8]

Cognate words

Family Language Word Notes
Eastern Algonquian Proto-Eastern Algonquian *sākimāw Reconstructed original
Lenape sakima derived from earlier form sakimaw[9]
Narragansett sâchim anglicized as sachem[10]
Eastern Abnaki sakəma anglicized as sagamore[10]
Malecite-Passamaquoddy sakom [11]
Western Abnaki sôgmô [12]
Wangunk sequin [13]
Central Algonquian Proto-Central Algonquian *hākimāw Reconstructed original
Anishinaabe ogimaa [14]
Algonquin ogimà [15]
Ottawa gimaa [16]
Potawatomi wgema anglicised as Ogema
Eastern Swampy Cree okimâw [17]
Northern East Cree uchimaa [18]
Southern East Cree uchimaa [19]
Naskapi iiyuuchimaaw [20]


The "great chief" (Southern New England Algonquian: massasoit sachem) whose aid was such a boon to the Plymouth Colony—although his motives were complex[21]—is remembered today as simply Massasoit.[22]

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, first published in 1826.
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville (first 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"[23] 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".[24]


  • 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



  1. ^ "sachem". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2000.
  2. ^ "sagamore". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2000.
  3. ^ "sachem". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  4. ^ "sagamore". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  5. ^ Kehoe, Alice. North American Indians, A Comprehensive Account. Third Edition. 2006
  6. ^ Jeffrey Graf, "Sangamore of the Wabash" from Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington, available at
  7. ^ Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Co. 1973. p. 1018. ISBN 0-87779-308-5.
  8. ^ Life & Times: Squaw Sachem", Hawthorne in Salem, The Daily Times Chronicle, Winchester Edition (MA), December 1999, accessed 27 Jan 2010
  9. ^ "sakima". Lenape Talking Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  10. ^ a b Goddard, Ives (1978). "Eastern Algonquian languages", in "Northeast", ed. Bruce G. Trigger. Vol. 15 of Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William C. Sturtevant. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, pg. 75
  11. ^ Francis, David A., Sr. et al. Maliseet - Passamaquoddy Dictionary. Mi'kmaq - Maliseet Institute
  12. ^ Laurent, Joseph (1884) New familiar Abenakis and English dialogues the first ever published on the grammatical system
  13. ^ De Forest, John William (1852). History of the Indians of Connecticut. p. 53.
  14. ^ Nichols, John, and Earl Nyholm. (1995). A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  15. ^ Mcgregor, Ernest. (1994). Algonquin Lexicon. Maniwaki, QC: Kitigan Zibi Education Council.
  16. ^ Rhodes, Richard A. (1985). Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  17. ^ MacKenzie, Marguerite (editor). (c2007). Wasaho Ininîwimowin Dictionary (Fort Severn Cree). Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre.
  18. ^ Bobbish-Salt, Luci et al. (2004–06). Northern EastCree Dictionary. Cree School Board.
  19. ^ Neeposh, Ella et al. (2004–07). Southern EastCree Dictionary. Cree School Board.
  20. ^ MacKenzie, Marguerite and Bill Jancewicz. (1994). Naskapi lexicon Archived 2008-05-27 at the Wayback Machine. Kawawachikamach, Quebec: Naskapi Development Corp.
  21. ^ See Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
  22. ^ Note that this massa- element meaning "great" in the Massachusett language also appears in the name of the Massachusett (i.e. "Great Hills people") and subsequently in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  23. ^ Hillhouse, James Abraham (23 May 2018). "The judgement. Sachem's-wood. Discourses: I. On the choice of an era in epic and tragic writing. II. On the relations of literature to a republican government. III. On the life and services of Lafayette. The hermit of Warkworth, by Bishop Percy". C. Little and J. Brown – via Google Books.
  24. ^ Spurrier, Simon (2006). The Culled. Abaddon Books. p. 198. ISBN 9781849970136.
  25. ^ "The Improved Order of Red Men".
  26. ^ "Governor's press release announcing creation of the Sachem" (PDF).
  27. ^ reserved, - 2018 - all rights. "Pentucket Regional High School Sachems Alumni - West Newbury Massachusetts MA".
39th Scripps National Spelling Bee

The 39th Scripps National Spelling Bee was held in Washington, D.C. in June 1966, sponsored by the E.W. Scripps Company.

13-year-old Robert A. Wake of Houston, Texas won by spelling "ratoon", a word which he had "never heard of". Second place went to Beth Sherrill, 14, of Lucy, Tennessee, who incorrectly spelled "sachem", followed in third place by Sonya Gilliam, 13, of Lubbock, Texas, who could not spell "muumuu".There were 71 contestants this year. The top three cash prizes were $1000, $500, and $250.In the fourth round, Rosalie Elliot, 11, of Central, South Carolina spelled "avowal" with such an accent that the judges weren't sure whether she used an "a" or "e" as the second to last letter. When the judges eventually asked her, she admitted she had spelled it wrong, getting a standing ovation for her honesty. This has become an often repeated anecdote.

At Sachem Farm

At Sachem Farm (also known as Higher Love, Trade Winds and Uncorked) is a 1998 drama film.

Atalopedes campestris

Atalopedes campestris (called sachem in the United States and Canada) is a small grass skipper butterfly. It has a wingspan of 35–41 mm (1 3⁄8–1 5⁄8 in). Male is orange, edged with brown, and has a large brown-black stigma. Female is darker with lighter markings in the center of the wing.


Corbitant was a Wampanoag Indian sachem or sagamore under Massasoit. Corbitant was sachem of the Pocasset tribe in present-day North Tiverton, Rhode Island, c. 1618–1630. He lived in Mattapuyst or Mattapoiset, located in the southern part of today's Swansea, MA.In the summer of 1621, he was involved in a minor altercation with the Plymouth colony involving the Patuxet refugee Tisquantum ("Squanto") at present-day Middleborough, Massachusetts. Corbitant had menaced both Tisquantum and his companion Hobomok for their close ties with the white strangers. Fearing for their lives, Hobomok was able to get away and escaped back to Plymouth, where he rallied the pilgrims under Miles Standish. Standish led ten men of Plymouth in arms to rescue Tisquantum from Corbitant. They attacked the Wampanoag village at Nemasket, but by that time Corbitant had released Squanto and withdrawn from the area. Corbitant was nominally obedient to the Great Sachem Massasoit of the Pokanoket. Although described as a "determined foe of the English," nonetheless, "with other hostile chiefs he signed a treaty of peace with the English in 1621."Tribes of the Wampanoag federation possessed hunting grounds at Cape Cod, Plymouth, Taunton, Attleboro, Middleboro, Hanson, Duxbury, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea, Mattapoisett, Wareham, and Fall River, in Massachusetts, as well as Tiverton, Aquidneck Island (Newport), Canonicut Island (Jamestown), Little Compton, Bristol, Warren and the lands west to the Providence River. About the year 1622 the Narragansett Federation under Canonicut seized the island of present-day Jamestown from Massasoit.

Farmingville, New York

Farmingville is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in Suffolk County, New York, United States. The population was 15,481 at the 2010 census.Farmingville is in the town of Brookhaven. The Brookhaven Town Hall is on the east side of Bald Hill in the community.

Sachem High School East is located in Farmingville.

Grand River Sachem

The Grand River Sachem is the oldest newspaper in Haldimand and Norfolk counties, Ontario. It was started in 1853 as the Cayuga Sachem by Thomas Messenger.

Messenger sold the Sachem and moved his press to Caledonia, Ontario in 1856. He started a new publication called The Caledonia Advertiser. Later that year, the Cayuga Sachem moved to Dunnville, Ontario and changed its name, so Messenger renamed his Caledonia publication to the Grand River Sachem. In 1865, after a devastating fire, the Sachem moved to a new building where it is still published today. The Sachem was a paid-circulation weekly for many years, switching to free distribution in 2004 after its purchase by Metroland Media Group from owner/publisher Neil Dring.

John Ferguson (New York politician)

John Ferguson (c. 1777—September 5, 1832) was the 52nd Mayor of New York City from March to June 1815. He was also Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall.


Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin (c. 1581 – 1661) was the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag tribe. The term Massasoit means Great Sachem.

Middleborough High School

Middleborough High School is a public high school located in Middleborough, Massachusetts, established in 1873. The school is currently located at 71 East Grove Street. Middleborough High has an approximate student enrollment of 850 students in grades 9–12. The school's mascot is known as the "Sachem" and the school colors are black and orange.


The Mohegan are a Native American tribe historically based in present-day Connecticut; the majority are associated with the Mohegan Indian Tribe, a federally recognized tribe living on a reservation in the eastern upper Thames River valley of south-central Connecticut. It is one of two federally recognized tribes in the state, the other being the Mashantucket Pequot whose reservation is in Ledyard, Connecticut. There are also three state-recognized tribes: Schaghticoke, Paugusett, and Eastern Pequot.

At the time of European contact, the Mohegan and Pequot were a unified tribal entity living in the southeastern Connecticut region, but the Mohegan gradually became independent as the hegemonic Pequot lost control over their trading empire and tributary groups. The name Pequot was given to the Mohegan by other tribes throughout the northeast and was eventually adopted by themselves. In 1637, English Puritan colonists destroyed a principal fortified village at Mistick with the help of Uncas, Wequash, and the Narragansetts during the Pequot War. This ended with the death of Uncas' cousin Sassacus at the hands of the Mohawk, an Iroquois Confederacy nation from west of the Hudson River. Thereafter, the Mohegan became a separate tribal nation under the leadership of their sachem Uncas. Uncas is a variant anglicized spelling of the Algonquian name Wonkus, which translates to "fox" in English. The word Mohegan (pronounced ) translates in their respective Algonquin dialects (Mohegan-Pequot language) as "People of the Wolf".Over time, the Mohegan gradually lost ownership of much of their tribal lands. In 1978, Chief Rolling Cloud Hamilton petitioned for federal recognition of the Mohegan. Descendants of his Mohegan band operate independently of the federally recognized nation.

In 1994, a majority group of Mohegan gained federal recognition as the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut (MTIC). They have been defined by the United States government as the "successor in interest to the aboriginal entity known as the Mohegan Indian Tribe." The United States took land into trust the same year, under an act of Congress to serve as a reservation for the tribe.

Most of the Mohegan people in Connecticut today live on the Mohegan Reservation at 41°28′42″N 72°04′55″W near Uncasville in the Town of Montville, New London County. The MTIC operate one of two Mohegan Sun Casinos on their reservation in Uncasville.

Neponset, Boston

Neponset is a district in the southeast corner of Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts. The Neponset Indians were the original inhabitants of this district and in 1646 John Eliot preached unsuccessfully to the Native American community in Neponset (Dorchester) led by Sachem Cutshamekin before the tribe moved to Ponkapoag.

Pequot War

The Pequot War was an armed conflict that took place between 1636 and 1638 in New England between the Pequot tribe and an alliance of the colonists of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies and their allies from the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes. The war concluded with the decisive defeat of the Pequots. At the end, about 700 Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. Hundreds of prisoners were sold into slavery to the West Indies; other survivors were dispersed as captives to the victorious tribes.

The result was the elimination of the Pequot tribe as a viable polity in Southern New England, and the colonial authorities classified them as extinct. Survivors remained in the area but were absorbed into other local tribes. In the late 20th century, people claiming to be descended from the Pequot tribe gained federal recognition as a modern-day tribe and were given reserves of land along the Thames and Mystic rivers in southeastern Connecticut.

Pocumtuck Range

The Pocumtuck Range, also referred to as the Pocumtuck Ridge, is the northernmost subrange of the Metacomet Ridge mountain range of southern New England. Located in Franklin County, Massachusetts, between the Connecticut River and the Deerfield River valleys, the Pocumtuck Range is a popular hiking destination known for its continuous high cliffs, scenic vistas, and microclimate ecosystems.

Sachem School District

Sachem Central School District is one of the largest school districts by population on Long Island and among all suburban school districts in New York, United States. Founded in 1955, the district now encompasses residents of the Census-Designated Places of Holbrook, Holtsville and Farmingville, as well as some parts of Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Ronkonkoma, Nesconset, and Bohemia. As of 2011, its district office is located in Lake Ronkonkoma at Samoset Middle School.

Sagamore of the Wabash

The Sagamore of the Wabash is an honorary award created by the U.S. state of Indiana during the term of Governor Ralph F. Gates, who served from 1945 to 1949. A tri-state meeting was to be held in Louisville with officials from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Aides to Gates learned that the governor of Kentucky was preparing "Kentucky Colonel" certificates for Gates and Senator Robert A. Taft, who was representing Ohio. The Indiana delegation decided to create an appropriate award to present in return.

The term sagamore was the term used by Algonquian-speaking American Indian tribes of the northeastern United States for the tribal chiefs. The Wabash is the "State River" of Indiana and major tributary of the Ohio River. Each governor since Gates has presented the certificates in his own way. Until 2006, the award was the highest honor which the Governor of Indiana bestows, a personal tribute usually given to those who rendered distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians and citizens who have contributed greatly to Hoosier heritage. The Sagamore award has been conferred upon both men and women. There is no official record of the total number presented, as each governor has kept his own roll; just as each has reserved the right to personally select the recipients. Some individuals have received the award more than once; for example, current Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has received the award twice and Indiana University chancellor Herman B Wells was honored six times.

Robert Charles Vollmer received the award in 2017.

Spirit of Adventure Council

The Spirit of Adventure Council is a regional council of the Boy Scouts of America. It serves the greater Boston, Massachusetts area.

USS Sachem (1861)

The second Navy vessel to bear the name Sachem, this screw steamer was built in 1844 at New York City, where it was purchased by the Navy on 20 September 1861.


Uncas (c.1588—c.1683) was a sachem of the Mohegans who made the Mohegans the leading regional Indian tribe in lower Connecticut, through his alliance with the English colonists in New England against other Indian tribes.


WSHR (91.9 FM, "91.9 The Arrow") is a radio station licensed to Lake Ronkonkoma, New York. The station is owned by the Sachem School District and operates with assistance from a grant by the U.S. Department of Education. It broadcasts out of both Sachem High School East and Sachem High School North. This school district owned radio station can be heard throughout central and western Suffolk County and parts of Nassau County.

On May 28, 2010, WSHR switched formats from a Jazz and Variety mix to Contemporary Hit Radio as "91.9 The Arrow."

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