History/Travel

Moswetuset Hummock

Moswetuset Hummock

There are a couple of stories about how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts got its name.  One story points to the Blue Hills, which are prominent in Eastern Massachusetts.  The tribe that populated this area, “the Algonquian Indians whose name derived from mass-adchu-seuck or ‘people from the big hill'”. (answers.com)  The other story, points to Moswetuset Hummock.  Moswetusset Hummock, as www.discoverquincy.com states, “was the seat of the Massachusett Native American sachem, Chickatabot, where he negotiated with the early English settlers” supposedly including Myles Standish.  The pilgrims first settled 35 miles away in Plymouth in 1620 and started running into the natives in 1621.

The true origin was probably a combination of both.  The “people from the big hill” spent their summers fishing and farming near Moswetuset Hummock, and that’s where they met with the Pilgrims, who would have made the trip from Plymouth Harbor in the warmer months.

What’s notable about Moswetuset Hummock is that it looks much as it probably did then.  Sure, there are cinder paths, signs and other nods to modern times, but as you walk around the island you’re seeing roughly what Chickatabot and and those early settlers saw when they stood in the same spot 400 years ago.

Reality is a brute, and the facts were that Myles Standish was a thug who proactively killed and intimidated Native Americans, setting the table for many more generations of brutality on the native populations of North America.  Arrowhead Hill is one of the few undeveloped tracts of land in this part of Quincy.  It would have been interesting to have seen it 400 years ago.  Perhaps a warning to the native population to be a little more skeptical of the new neighbors would have helped, but in many ways the waves of encroaching settlers, combined with diseases and weapons the native population couldn’t imagine were going to wash over this land sooner or later anyway.

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