Petition of Sarah Mye and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

We are most certain that our many and late misfortunes have come to your knowledge.  However, we most humbly petition to Your Honors, presuming on your good natures, being assured by sundry examples of your compassion on the poor helpless, that you will take pity on the distressed truly deserving your tender compassions on us and set us free by restoring to us our once liberty and that we may enjoy our own property.  Again, we pray Your Honors to consider the many difficulties, disappointments and distresses that we do now meet with which doth reduce us to such necessitous circumstances that we cannot possible make a living.  In this our case, we hope Your Honors will be pleased to style us your friends and restore us to our once liberty and change our circumstances by standing between us and misfortunes.  We doubt not, Sirs, but your generosity and goodness is as great and tis to be hoped with all humility you will be pleased to interpose your good offices between ruin and we poor Indians. 

We beg Your Honors to restore us our liberty to choose our selectmen and town treasurer and try if we can't make the town charge lesser for these men lives such distance that they make a vast great charge.  We only beg for liberty most Honorable Gentlemen.  What nation is there has not their liberty besides us poor Indians?   Are we so bad that we must be deprived of our liberty or is it because our great men informs that we are incapable of acting our own business?  We don't want to take the whole case.  We wish to have one or two white men, one great man of authority to see justice done and take care of encroachments when complaints comes and keep our wood and timber together and provide hay suitable for our cattle that we may quit up our growing for planting and take fatherly care of our interests and not have it all to go to charge for Reverend Mr. Hawley, our present treasurer.   He conducts in such manner that he and the guardians gets the biggest part.  We depends that we can't be believed for he and the others that have concerns with our interests can and do talk so fair and make their side so good that we poor Indians can't be heard.  But Most Honored Gentlemen, if it was so that a committee should come and see our case and condition, then you would be fully satisfied we do not complain for naught and that we have reason enough to murmur, for what can people do when they have no liberty, for we are worse off than any bond slaves, for when they are sick their masters, by law, are oblige to support them out of there state, but when we are sick, we must support ourselves.

And the guardians and Reverend Mr. Hawley withholds our interest from his heirs in if any our near kindred dies, they takes their interest and hires it out and the nearest relation cannot have it and if they allow some they will hand it out in such small draughts that we must go after it as much as to earn it.  O' Sirs, ain't that cruel and oppressing the poor?  Our great men they pretends that they does this for our good and replies that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves, but, Most Honored Gentlemen, they does all this for their own good.  'Tis not for the love and good will that they owe to the poor Indians, but it is for their own profit.  But, and if, they have such great respects for us poor Indians let them do us some kindness without pay and that will prove their love towards us.  No, but they do it for to get our interest and they have got it almost all in their hands and are getting it.  And if we are so incapable of taking care our interest, how did our forefathers live?  They did live far better than we do now.  They did take care of their poor and enough better than they are taken care of now.  For our poor do all most suffer and our old people and the very cause of it is all by the guardians.  Before the guardians had taken place, we used to hire most of one another.  Those that kept team and plow for one another and draw wood for one another and take care of our poor and now they sees the ruins by the guardians.  We are encroached on and our interest has been going ever since old Cyril Otis deceased.  We poor Indians has not had a real friend since in his days.  The Indians used to keep cattle and have hay enough to keep them through the winter.  But, now it is not so and some of us can't get hay enough to keep one cow and what is in the treasury we get so little at a time the articles hardly pays for the time and we desire nothing but liberty.  And Most Honored Gentlemen, we dare presume to say if in case you knew our grievances which we labor under no doubt, but Your Honors would immediately grant us our liberty for, we thinks, that is the best property.  Reverend Mr. Hawley, our treasurer, he doth send us from one place for peck corn and another place for half-half bushel and keep us running from place to place for little food.  What time have we to labor?  And in this manner, we do labor, for our cattle often fetch hay in our baskets to keep our cattle alive when there is marsh enough on our plantation.  But that is hired out for money and the money we knows not where it goes and the greatest part of our interest goes in the same manner which we have no satisfaction for it and is this justice to deprive us of our property in this manner?  We humbly beg that Your Honors would consider our circumstances and gave us our liberty.  For we think we have taken deal of pains for liberty.  This is the third time we have came down for our liberty and not enjoyed it yet and the times grows no better but still grows worse.  And we cannot unavoidable endure the times which is brought on us by Reverend Mr. Hawley.  In what manner can people live if they have nothing to live on or nothing is their own?  We poor Indians is in this case for they are liable to come and take away our houses or cattle or everything that we doth enjoy, even our own children as well as what they have done and if they doth it what can we do?  We must not say nothing at all because we are bond people and have not the privilege of liberty and the very first foundation and the cause of all our distress is by the means of one man, Reverend Mr. Hawley, minister of the gospel.  We verily thinks 'tis enough for him to preach the gospel and keep to that closed, not take the whole town affairs on him.  Does he do this because we are poor ignorant creatures or doth he do it because it is the practice of a minister of the gospel 'tis to be feared among us that he is a bad man?  We mean not to judge him to hard, only by his proceedings and doings.  A tree may be known by its fruit according to scripture.   We have not informed all our grievances most Honored Gentlemen.  We pray Your Honors to take this, our petition, in Your Honored considerations.   We, the subscribers, this twenty eight day of May the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety two.

Sarah Mye, her mark
Noah Webquish, his mark
James Keeter, his mark
Abigail Pocknet, her mark                                                                                    
Ebenezer Queppish, his mark                                                                                                                                  
Benjamin Pocknet, his mark                                                                                                                   
Judah Moses, his mark                                                                                                                                 
Elizabeth Amos, his mark                                                                                                       
Joseph Webquish, his mark                                                               
Simon Keeter, his mark                                                                                          
Moses Pocknet, his mark                                                                                                        
Samuel Richards, his mark                                                 


This is the list of all the true proprietors that truly belongs to the land and of those that only belong by one of their parents either by male or by female, every Indian family.  These are the clear Indians' proportions and those there that mixed, which is half proprietors, are as many more besides the women proprietors that married black men and white men and mulattoes and besides the young ones from seventeen years and downwards and there is a vast sight of them, of their parents, either by male or female, every Indian family.      

The families, the true natives of the lands

Noah Webquish          1

Samuel Richard          2

Joseph Webquish        3

Simon Keeter             4

Moses  Pocknet          5

John Pocknet              6

Ebenezer Queppish    7

Isaac Amos               8

Joseph Amos             9

James Keeter           10

Jacob Keeter            11

Peter Keeter            12

Gideon Nautumpum 13

Simon Popmonet     14

William Richards       15

William Simon          16

Isaac  Simon            17

Joshua Robbins          18

Samuel Robbins         19

Judah Moses            20

Jeremiah Babcock    21

Zaccheus Popmonet 22

Benjamin Pocknet    23

Jonathan Pocknet     24

Abel Skipper            25

Hosea Richards         26


The widow proprietors

Mary Simons                    1

Elizabeth Amos                 2

Mary Simons                    3

Mary Popmonet                4

Elizabeth Nautumpum      5

Abigail Pocknet                6

Jeany Amos                     7

Sarah Keeter                    8

Bethiah Keeter                 9    



































Legislative Action:

In Senate June 7, 1792, Read and committed to Solomon Freeman and Hezekiah Davis, Esq. with such as the Honorable House may join to consider and report, sent down for concurrence,  Samuel Philips, President / In the House of Representatives June 8, 1792,  Read and concurred and Mr. Thatcher of Yarmouth, Mr. Knowles and Mr. Coffin are joined, David Cobb, Speaker  / Mr. Freeman  Mr. Davis  join,  Mr. Thatcher of Yarmouth, Mr. Knowles, Mr. Coffin