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Removes 19 & 20: Wachusett
In April, Weetamoo traveled, with her captive and company, to the Nipmuc stronghold of Wachusett, where she reunited with Quinnapin and joined in council with many other Native leaders. The Nipmuc people hosted a great spring gathering, where people discussed the process of peacemaking, which was initiated by leaders at Kwinitekw and in Nipmuc country, with colonial leaders in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Peacemaking protocols included the exchange of captives. Mary Rowlandson understood that her redemption rested on diplomatic exchange between Massachusetts colony and the leaders gathered at Wachusett, including Weetamoo, as well as discussions within Indigenous councils. She noted that she participated in the council, learning how to advocate for herself. When the Nipmuc leaders sent a letter to the Massachusetts council by the messenger Tom Neponet, Rowlandson asked him to include a request to send tobacco along with the "pay" for her redemption, recognizing Indigenous protocols.
James Printer was among those scribes who wrote letters for the sachems who gathered at Wachusett, and he served as interpreter in negotiating Mary Rowlandson's release. Weetamoo played a key role in these councils, seeking not only the "pay" for Rowlandson, but the redemption of her own kin. As the letter that traveled back with Rowlandson revealed, all of the leaders together had come to consensus, seeking a return to their planting places. As John Russell wrote,
For Weetamoo, this meant the possibility of return to her planting grounds at Pocasset.
Mr Hoar when he Came in with Mrs Rolinson brought with him a letter subscribed by Philip, The old queen & sundry Sachems containing a desire of peace. or rather an overture for a Cessation yt they might quietly plant at Mendam, Groten Quabaog &c.
Rowlandson also described the "great day of Dancing" which took place at Wachusett, an important part of the annual spring gatherings, as well as these crucial councils. They had "removed" from one location at Wachusett to another, following the raid on Sudbury. Here, they built a "great Wigwam," large enough "to hold an hundred" people. Weetamoo and Quinnapin took the lead, alongside three other couples (whom Rowlandson neglects to name), adorned with the wampum that symbolized their leadership and their alliance. The eight leaders may have represented the four directions of this confederation.
Four Directions from WachusettWachusett is a monadnock, a stand-alone mountain, as well as the region that surrounds the mountain, a homeland within the Nipmuc country. Today, Wachusett remains a central part of Nipmuc space, a place of memory and continuance.
From the top of Wachusett, you can see in all four directions, throughout the Nipmuc country, and into all of the neighboring territories. You can see to the south, where colonial forces wreaked devastating havoc in the Wampanoag and Narragansett countries after Mary Rowlandson's return. You can see far to the west, where many Native people from the Connecticut River Valley sought refuge from that violence. You can see to the east, where colonial forces contained the families of scouts. You can see to the north, where some people escaped, and many others continued to resist, while multiple leaders pursued the peacemaking initiated at Kwinitekw and Wachusett.
Click here to view these locations in the map of Mary Rowlandson's removes or in the interactive story map.