A sachem[p] or sagamore is a paramount chief among the Algonquians or other northeast American tribes. The two words are anglicizations of cognate terms (c.1622) from different Eastern Algonquian languages. Some sources contend the sagamore was a lesser chief than the sachem.[1][2] [3][4]



One source explains:

According to Captain John Smith, who explored New England in 1614, the Massachusett tribes called their kings "sachems" while the Penobscots (of Maine) used the term "sagamos" (anglicized as "sagamore"). Conversely, Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley of Roxbury wrote in 1631 that the kings in the bay area were called sagamores but were called sachems southward (in Plymouth). The two terms apparently came from the same root. Although "sagamore" has sometimes been defined by colonists and historians as a subordinate lord, modern opinion is that "sachem" and "sagamore" are dialectical variations of the same word.[5]

Cognate words

Family Language Word Notes
Eastern Algonquian Proto-Eastern Algonquian *sākimāw Reconstructed original
Lenape sakima derived from earlier form sakimaw[6]
Narragansett sâchim anglicized as sachem[7]
Eastern Abnaki sakəma anglicized as sagamore[7]
Malecite-Passamaquoddy sakom [8]
Western Abnaki sôgmô [9]
Central Algonquian Proto-Central Algonquian *hākimāw Reconstructed original
Anishinaabe ogimaa [10]
Algonquin ogimà [11]
Ottawa gimaa [12]
Potawatomi wgema anglicised as Ogema
Northern East Cree uchimaa [13]
Southern East Cree uchimaa [14]
Naskapi iiyuuchimaaw [15]


The "great chief" (Southern New England Algonquian: massasoit sachem) whose aid was such a boon to the Plymouth Colony is remembered today simply as Massasoit.[16] Another sachem, Mahomet Weyonomon of the Mohegan tribe, travelled to London in 1735, to petition king George II for fairer treatment of his people. He complained that their lands were becoming overrun by English settlers. Other sachem included Uncas, Wonalancet, Madockawando, and Samoset.

In popular culture


    [p]   ^ The word "sachem" is pronounced either "Say-chuhm, Sah-".[3]

  1. ^ "sachem". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2000. 
  2. ^ "sagamore". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2000. 
  3. ^ a b "sachem". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  4. ^ "sagamore". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  5. ^ Life & Times: Squaw Sachem", Hawthorne in Salem, The Daily Times Chronicle, Winchester Edition (MA), December 1999, accessed 27 Jan 2010
  6. ^ "sakima". Lenape Talking Dictionary. Retrieved 2011/02/19. 
  7. ^ a b Goddard, Ives (1978). "Eastern Algonquian languages", in "Northeast", ed. Bruce G. Trigger. Vol. 15 of Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William C. Sturtevant. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, pg. 75
  8. ^ Francis, David A., Sr. et al. Maliseet - Passamaquoddy Dictionary. Mi'kmaq - Maliseet Institute
  9. ^ Laurent, Joseph (1884) New familiar Abenakis and English dialogues the first ever published on the grammatical system
  10. ^ Nichols, John, and Earl Nyholm. (1995). A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  11. ^ Mcgregor, Ernest. (1994). Algonquin Lexicon. Maniwaki, QC: Kitigan Zibi Education Council.
  12. ^ Rhodes, Richard A. (1985). Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  13. ^ Bobbish-Salt, Luci et al. (2004–06). Northern EastCree Dictionary. Cree School Board.
  14. ^ Neeposh, Ella et al. (2004–07). Southern EastCree Dictionary. Cree School Board.
  15. ^ MacKenzie, Marguerite and Bill Jancewicz. (1994). Naskapi lexicon. Kawawachikamach, Quebec: Naskapi Development Corp.
  16. ^ Note that this massa- element meaning "great" in the Massachusett language also appears in the name of the Massachusett (i.e. "Great Hills people") and subsequently in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  17. ^ Governor's press release announcing creation of the Sachem

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • sachem — [ saʃɛm ] n. m. • 1801; mot iroquois, attesté en angl. 1622 ♦ Vieillard, « ancien » qui faisait fonction de conseiller et de chef chez les peuplades indiennes du Canada et du nord des États Unis. Fam. Grand sachem : grand personnage, chef. ●… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sachem — ou sagamore ou sagamo ou saqamaw, désigne le chef suprême d une tribu amérindienne. Il s agit souvent d un ancien qui jouait le rôle de conseiller et de chef chez les Amérindiens (Premières Nations) du Canada et des États Unis. Contrairement au… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • sachem — SACHÉM s. m. membru al consiliului la unele triburi indiene din America de Nord. (< fr. sachem) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Sachem — Sa chem (s[a^] chem), n. A chief of a tribe of the American Indians; a sagamore. See {Sagamore}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sachem — chief of an Amer. Indian tribe, 1620s, from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachimau chief, ruler, cognate with Abenaki sangman, Delaware sakima, Micmac sakumow, Penobscot sagumo (source of sagamore, 1610s). Applied jocularly to a prominent member of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • sachem — ☆ sachem [sā′chəm ] n. [< Algonquian languages of SE New England: cf. Massachusett sontim, Narragansett sâchim] 1. among some North American Indian tribes, the chief (of the tribe or of a confederation) 2. any of the leaders of the Tammany… …   English World dictionary

  • Sachem — Als Sachem bezeichnete man den Friedenshäuptling jeder größeren indianischen Siedlung; ihm unterstanden die anderen Führer und die Kriegshäuptlinge. Bei den Irokesen wurde ein Sachem immer von Frauen, den Klanmüttern, gewählt. Alle Sachems… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • sachem — noun /ˈseɪtʃəm,ˈsatʃəm/ A chief of a tribe of the American Natives; a sagamore. Planted with their broad ends on the deck, a circle of these slabs laced together, mutually sloped towards each other, and at the apex united in a tufted point, where …   Wiktionary

  • sachem — (sa chèm ) s. m. Se dit des vieillards qui forment le conseil de la nation parmi les peuplades de l Amérique du Nord. •   Depuis la chasse du castor où le sachem aveugle raconta ses aventures à René, CHATEAUBR. René …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Sachem — Sa|chem [ seitʃəm] der; [s], s <über engl. sachem aus gleichbed. Algonkin (einer nordamerik. Indianersprache) sachima(u)>: a) erblicher Oberhäuptling bei einigen nordamerik. Indianerstämmen; b) jeder indian. Häuptling, bes. im Sinne eines… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

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