Sunday, September 13, 2009


The following poem was written as a paean to Teweeleema (Melinda Mitchell) of Lakeville by Timothy Otis Paine (1824-95), Reverend of the Swedenborgian Church at Elmwood in East Bridgewater. In the poem, Paine, an avid local historian, makes note of several local features including the Satucket River in East Bridgewater, Nunckatesett (Town River) in Bridgewater and West Bridgewater, and closer to home Nahteawamett (Betty's Neck) in Lakeville. Wonnocooto was a location along the Satucket River in East Bridgewater. Ousamequin was one of the names of Massasoit. (Paine's spellings have been retained as written).


Princess Massasoit,
Daughter of the chieftain,
Long descended, hail I
Thee the lineal ruler
Of these natal wildwoods.

The Satucket River
And her bordering valleys
And the hills above them
Crowned by Wonnocooto
Claim their pristine monarch.

Spindles of the cornfield
Fingers multitudinous
To the Indian heavens,
Silent and unanimous,
Raise in attestation.

Every year the flowers,
With traditional memory
Of they great grandsire
And new childlike wonder,
Open to behold thee.

And the great-eyed squirrel
In the sinewy oak top,
Mindful of thy fathers,
Holds the acorn breathless
Watchful of thy fingers.

I, too, lore instructed,
See the awful moccason
On thy foot imperial,
And dread Metacomet
Rises up in vengeance.

In the flying car train
Sitting at a window
Looking on the woodland,
Thoughts of Ousamequin
Smooth thy troubled forehead.

Merciful and pitying
Was the mighty peace king
Sent to make it easy
For the band of pilgrims
Driven to thy forests.

In thy crown of feathers,
Lonely Tewelema,
Thou art going silent
To the Nahteawamett
On the Assowamsett;

To the Reservation
Held by old tradition;
And thy aged mother
Looking from the cabin.

Gone to the Ponemah
We shall miss you absent.
When the sparrow twitters
Then we will remember
Thee, O Chic-chic-chewee.

And when fairs are crowded
On the Nunckatesett,
Then thou, Indian maiden,
Shalt appear in vision
From the isles of chieftains.

"Tee-we-lee-ma the Last Surviving Descendant of Massasoit", postcard, c. 1905
A number of postcards were published at the turn of the century depicting both Teweeleema and her sister Wootonekanuske. This view depicts Teweeleema in the modified Native dress she was accustomed to wearing. While the title on the front of the card labels Teweeleema as the last descendant of Massasoit, her sister survived her and Native tradition holds that there are in fact descendants of the great Wampanoag sachem living today.
Paine, Timothy Otis. Selections from the Poems of Timothy Otis Paine. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1897.


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