In the conflict known as King Philip’s War (1675–1676), a coalition of Native American nations fought to check English expansion in New England. Leading the Native coalition were Philip, head of the Wampanoag Confederacy, and the female sachem Weetamoo, leader of the Pocasset member-nation of the Wampanoag. A remarkable number of sources describing Weetamoo’s life and leadership have survived, offering a rare opportunity to study the wide range of roles a female sachem assumed in peacetime and war. A woman of rank in the seventeenth century, Weetamoo ruled at a time when many Indigenous and European societies agreed that a woman’s claims to status and lineage could overcome the social limitations of gender. This article examines Weetamoo’s leadership and the pivotal roles she and other women of rank played in contests for power. It also encourages scholars to reevaluate Native women’s political and military influence in early America more broadly.


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pp. 37-60
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