Samoset, the Wawenock from Pemaquid

On March 16, 1621, Samoset, a sagamore of the Wawenock, cemented his place in history. He was the first Indigenous person to make contact with the colonists at Plymouth Plantation, startling them when he emerged from the forest and welcomed them in English. The extraordinary thing about Samoset’s story is that he was not from Plymouth. He was not even Wampanoag, or Patuxet, who lived in the area. Samoset’s home was more than 200 miles away on the coast of present-day Maine. Click here for a 52-minute video by the Old Bristol Historical Society in Maine.

In a presentation about her book, Here First, The Story of Samoset and the Wawenok of Pemaquid, author and librarian Jody Holmes Bachelder (above) tells the full story of Samoset who is best known for greeting the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1621.

In addition to that first meeting in Plymouth, Samoset’s life coincided with several important events during the period of early contact with Europeans, and his home village of Pemaquid lay at the center of Indigenous-European interactions at the beginning of the 17th century.

Samoset continued to serve as a diplomat throughout his life. In 1625 he conducted the first property sale between an eastern coastal Native American and the colonists, selling 1200 acres to John Brown. He signed another land deed in 1653, but afterward little is known about him, and he presumably passed away that same year.