Barbados Native Names

         In 1811, the Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, asked the question:

         “Where today are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket and many other once powerful tribes of our people?”

         Among those once powerful tribes were the Seneca and Huron from Canada, the Pequot, the Powhatan Kingdom, the Wampanoag Federation, the Pamunky, the Pocomock with all the south-eastern tribes.  The Pequot and Narragansett for the most part would seem to have remained intact although Tecumseh’s query indicates otherwise.  Remnants of other native nations found shelter among their relations further west whereas the Carolinas tribes such as the Cusabo, Isaw, Wanniah, Elasie, Ashepoo, Edisto, Kiawa, Coosa, Pdah,  Sampa and Stono disappeared between 1680 and 1730 from the eastern seaboard of North America; yet several of these tribal names or abbreviations of honorific chieftain names can be found on slave lists and inventories in Barbados as a silent testimony to their sojourn.
          It has always been accepted that there were only a few “scattered” Indians from South America and the Caribbean islands whereas the plantation inventories and slave lists hold the evidence that the persons exiled from North America were not so few and the misnomers “negro” for the dark-skinned and “mulatto” for the tawny were used to obfuscate the truth of Native American ancestry.
          As in the case of Africa, which for millennia in partnership with the Middle East, supported the institution of slavery, denial of human rights and freedom was also practised in the Americas and there are several references to slaves being offered to the colonists.  The Calendar of State Papers for 1702 refers to a Carolina trade in slaves taken from inland territories in exchange for European goods. Those inland nations such as the Comanche/Shoshone have left names on 17th and early 18th century slave lists in Barbados which coincide with those found on
Other early censuses of the Natives of the Eastern Seaboard of North America are to be found on
These also yield names which coincide with those on Barbados Slave Inventories.
         Where the name was multi-syllabic it was abbreviated or spelt with slight variations to ensure the correct pronunciation such as Pacco for Pahko, Sockey for Saukey.  Others were:  Addapah; Ango; Aqua; Auco or Aucho; Chaner or Channa; Chappo; Chatto; Cheiree; Paubi.
          In some deeds, persons were called by the name of the tribe and this probably gave rise to the thesis of a ‘few scattered natives’ having been  enslaved on the islands and the even more ridiculous conjecture surrounding the name Baccora as referring to a “back-row” people.  The tribes noted on inventory lists are:  Arrough, Cussee, Tabacca, Causo, Cussaba, Issaa (another name for the Catawba), Seneca, Sioux (written as Seuw), Sevannah, Natche and Pdah.  Their descendants when manumitted adopted Christian names and it would seem that these are the people referred to in Barbados documents as the “abandoned” or the “unappropriated” people who congregated along the Bathsheba-Bath coast.  Early descriptions as to the complexion of the native people of North-East, South and Central America and the Caribbean speak to a people tawny to olive to white under the paint.

References: Chilton; Hakluyt; Strachey; Verrazzano.


The Bashaba

According to the preface of this poem to be found on    The poetical works of John Greenleaf Whittier :: :: University of Virginia Library
This is “… an old chronicle of border wars And Indian history…. A story of the marriage of the Chief Of Saugus to the dusky Weetamoo, Daughter of Passaconaway, who dwelt In the old time upon the Merrimack, “
A Bashaba was a ruler.  The name Bash appears on slave lists as well as the name Tamur.  According to the American preacher, Cotton Mather,  the wife of Metacomet was exiled with her son to Barbados.  Metacomet’s sister bore the name Weetamoe and George Runnymarsh Winnepurkitt, according to Ms. B. Olexer, (The Enslavement of the American Indian) was also enslaved on the Island of Barbados only returning in 1684 whereupon he died soon after.  This poem sheds a little light on native life before the European.

In the sunlight slanted.
Here the mighty Bashaba
Held his long-unquestioned sway,
From the White Hills, far away,
To the great sea’s sounding shore;
Chief of chiefs, his regal word
All the river Sachems heard,

At his call, the war-dance stirred,
Or, was still once more.
There his spoils of chase and war,
Jaw of wolf and black bear’s‘ paw,
Panther’s skin and eagle’ s claw,
Lay beside his axe and bow ;
And, adown the roof-pole hung,

Loosely on a snake-skin strung,
In the smoke his scalp-locks swung
Grimly to and fro.
Nightly down the river going,
Swifter was the hunter’s rowing,
When he saw that lodge-fire glowing
O’er the waters still and red;

And the squaw’s dark eye burned brighter,
And she drew her blanket tighter,
As, with quicker step and lighter,
From that door she fled.
For that chief had magic skill,
And a Panisee’ s dark will.
Over powers of good and ill,

Powers which bless and powers which ban,
Wizard lord of Pennacook,
Chiefs upon their war-path shook,
When they met the steady look
Of that wise, dark man.
Tales of him the grey squaws told,

When the winter night-wind cold
Pierced her blanket’s thickest fold,
And her fire burned low and small.
Till the very child abed,
Drew his bear-skin over head,
Shrinking from the pale lights shed
On the trembling wall.


THE soot-black brows of men, the yell
Of women thronging round the bed,
The tinkling charm of ring and shell,
The Powah whispering o’er the dead !
All these the Sachem’s home had known,
When, on her journey long and wild
To the dim World of Souls, alone,
In her young beauty passed
the mother of his child.

Three bow-shots from the Sachem s dwelling
They laid her in the walnut shade,
Where a green hillock gently swelling
Her fitting mound of burial made.
There trailed the vine in summer hours,
The tree-perched squirrel dropped his shell,
On velvet moss and pale-lined flowers
Woven with leaf and spray, the soft, e’vn sunshine fell !

The Indian s heart is hard and cold,
It closes darkly o’er its care,
And, formed in Nature s sternest mould,
Is slow to feel, and strong to bear.
The war-paint on the Sachem s face,
Unwet with tears, shone fierce and red,
And, still in battle or in chase,
Dry leaf and snow-rime crisped
Beneath his foremost tread.

Yet when her name was heard no more,
And when the robe her mother gave,
And small, light moccasin she wore,
Had slowly wasted on her grave,
Unmarked of him the dark maids sped
Their sunset dance and moonlit play
No other shared his lonely bed,

No other fair young head upon his bosom lay.
A lone, stern man. -  Yet, as some times
The tempest-smitten tree receives
From one small root the sap which climbs
Its topmost spray and crowning leaves
So from his child the Sachem drew
A life of Love and Hope, and felt
His cold and rugged nature through
The softness and the warmth
Of her young being melt.

A laugh which in the woodland rang
Bemocking April’s gladdest bird,
A light and graceful form which sprang
To meet him when his step was heard,
Eyes by his lodge-fire flashing dark,
Small fingers stringing bead and shell
Or weaving mats of bright-lined bark,
With these the household-god,Wetuomanit,
Had graced his wigwam well.

Child of the forest ! strong and free,
Slight-robed, with loosely flowing hair,
She swam the lake or climbed the tree,
Or struck the flying bird in air,
O’er the heaped drifts of winter s moon
Her snow - shoes tracked the hunter’s way;
And dazzling in the summer noon the blade
Of her light oar threw off its shower of spray!

COOL and dark, fell the autumn night,
But the Bashaba’s wigwam glowed with light,
For down from its roof by green withes hung
Flaring and smoking the pine-knot swung.

And along the river great wood-fires
Shot into the night their long red spires,
Showing behind the tall, dark wood,
Flashing before on the sweeping flood.

In the changeful wind, with shimmer and shade,
Now high, now low, that firelight played,
On tree-leaves wet with evening dews,
On gliding water and still canoes.

The trapper that night on Turee s brook,
And the weary fisher on Contoocook,
Saw over the marshes and through the pine,
And down on the river the dance-lights shine.

For the Saugus Sachem had come to woo
The Bashaba s daughter ,Weetamoo,
And laid at her father’s feet that night
His softest furs and wampum white.

From the Crystal Hills to the far south-east
The river Sagamores came to the feast ;
And chiefs whose homes the sea-winds shook,
Sat down on the mats of Pennacook.

With pipes of peace and bows unstrung,
Glowing with paint came old and young,
In wampum and furs and feathers arrayed,
To the dance and feast the Bashaba made.

And merrily when that feast was done
On the fire-lit green the dance begun,
With squaws shrill stave, and deeper hum
Of old men beating the Indian drum.

Painted and plumed, with scalp-locks flowing,
And red arms tossing and black eyes glowing,
Now in the light and now in the shade
Around the fires, the dancers played.

The step was quicker, the song more shrill,
And the beat of the small drums louder still
Whenever within the circle drew
The Saugus Sachem and Weetamoo.

The moons of forty winters had shed
Their snow upon that chieftain s head,
And toil and care, and battle’s chance
Had seamed his hard, dark countenance.

A fawn beside the bison grim,
Why turns the bride’s fond eye on him,
In whose cold look is naught beside
The triumph of a sullen pride?


A wild and broken landscape, spiked with firs,
Roughening the bleak horizon’s northern edge,
Steep, cavernous hillsides, where black hemlock spurs
And sharp, grey splinters of the wind-swept ledge
Pierced the thin-glazed ice, or bristling rose,
Where the cold rim of the sky sunk down upon the snows.
And eastward cold, where marshes stretched away,

Dull, dreary flats without a bush or tree,
O’er-crossed by icy creeks, where twice a day
Gurgled the waters of the moon-struck sea ;
And faint with distance came the stifled roar,
The melancholy lapse of waves on that low shore.
No cheerful village with its mingling smokes,
No laugh of children wrestling in the snow,

No camp-fire blazing through the hill side oaks,
No fishers kneeling on the ice below-
Yet midst all desolate things of sound and view,
Through the long winter moons smiled dark-eyed Weetamoo.

The grey and desolate marsh grew green once more,
And the birch-tree’s tremulous shade fell round the Sachem s door.
Then, from far Pennacook swift runners came,
With gift and greeting for the Saugus chief ;
Beseeching him in the great Sachem’ s name,
That, with the coming of the flower and leaf,
The song of birds, the warm breeze and the rain,
Young Weetamoo might greet her lonely sire again.

And Winnepurkit called his chiefs together,
And a grave council in his wigwam met,
Solemn and brief in words, considering whether
The rigid rules of forest etiquette
Permitted Weetamoo once more to look
Upon her father’s face and green- banked Pennacook.

With interludes of pipe-smoke and strong water,
The forest sages pondered, and at length,
Concluded in a body to escort her
Up to her father’s home of pride and strength,
Impressing thus on Pennacook a sense
Of Winnepurkit’s power and regal consequence.

So through old woods which Aukeetamitsa’s hand,
A soft and many-shaded greenness lent,
Over high breezy hills, and meadow land
Yellow with flowers, the wild procession went,

Till, rolling down its wooded banks between,
A broad, clear, mountain stream, the
Merrimack was seen.
The hunter leaning on his bow undrawn,
The fisher lounging on the pebbled shores,

Squaws in the clearing dropping the seed-corn,
Young children peering through the wigwam doors,
Saw with delight, surrounded by her train
Of painted Saugus braves, their "Weetamoo again.

The long bright days of summer swiftly passed.
The dry leaves whirled in autumn’s rising blast,
And evening cloud and whitening sunrise rime
Told of the coming of the winter-time.

But vainly looked, the while, young Weetamoo,
Down the dark river for her chief’s canoe ;
No dusky messenger from Saugus brought
The grateful tidings which the young wife sought.

At length a runner from her father sent,
To Winnepurkit’s sea-cooled wigwam went :
"Eagle of Saugus, in the woods the dove
Mourns for the shelter of thy wings of love."

But the dark chief of Saugus turned aside
In the grim anger of hard -hearted pride;
"I bore her as became a chieftain’s daughter,
Up to her home beside the gliding water.

"If now no more a mat for her is found
Of all which line her father’s wigwam round,
Let Pennacook call out his warrior train,
And send her back with wampum gifts again."

The baffled runner turned upon his track,
Bearing the words of Winnepurkit back.
“Dog of the Marsh, " cried Pennacook, “No more
Shall child of mine sit on his wigwam floor.”

Yet Winnepurkit came not - on the mat
Of the scorned wife, her dusky rival sat;
And he, the while, in Western woods afar,
Urged the long chase, or trod the path of war.

The wild March rains had fallen fast and long
The snowy mountains of the North among,
Making each vale a watercourse, each hill
Bright with the cascade of some new- made rill.

Gnawed by the sunbeams, softened by the rain,
Heaved underneath by the swollen current’s  train,
The ice-bridge yielded, and the Merrimack
Bore the huge ruin crashing down its track.

On that strong, turbid water, a small boat
Guided by one weak hand was seen to float;
Evil the fate which loosed it from the shore,
Too early voyager with too frail an oar.

Down the vexed centre of that rushing tide,
The thick, huge ice -blocks threatening either side,
The foam - white rocks of Amoskeag in view,
With arrowy swiftness sped that light canoe.

The trapper, moistening his moose’s-meat,
On the wet bank by Uncanoonuc’s feet
Saw the swift boat flash down the troubled stream
Slept he, or waked he? Was it truth or dream?

The straining eye bent fearfully before,
The small hand clenching on the useless oar,
The bead - wrought blanket trailing o’er the water
He knew them all - woe for the Sachem’s daughter !

Sick and a-weary of her lonely life,
Heedless of peril the still faithful wife
Had left her mother’s grave, her father’s door,
To seek the wigwam of her chief once more.

Down the white rapids like a sea-leaf whirled,
On the sharp rocks and piled-up ices hurled,
Empty and broken, circled the canoe
In the vexed pool below but, where was "Weetamoo ?


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