In 1660 there came a grand embassy from
Uttapoingassinem, the new emperor of the Piscataway tribe, one of
the Algonquian-speaking tribes of southern Delaware and eastern
The grand embassy was bringing a present to the
colonial governor of Virginia, and expressing the desire to continue
the tribe's peaceful existence with its neighbours, thanks to an
agreement made with the governor's predecessor.
Perhaps quite naturally when presented with a claim
of rank which was higher than that of his own monarch, King Charles
II of England, the governor asked whether the emperor had obtained
his title by succession or election. The chief ambassador, the emperor's
brother, expounded the matter as follows:
Long ago [this would be around 1260-1300 as
calculated back from the current emperor] there came a king from
the Eastern Shore who ruled over all the Indians now inhabiting
within the Province [the Algonquian-speaking lands of eastern Virginia],
and also over the Patowinecks [Patawomeck] and Susquehannoughs
[Susquehannock] whom, for that he did as it were embrace and cover
them all, they called Uttapoingassinem.
He, dying without issue, made his brother king
after him, after whom succeeded his other brothers, after whose
death they took a sister's son; and so from brother to brother, and
for want of such to a sister's son.
If the claim is correct then this Uttapoingassinem
managed to dominate the three tribes, and perhaps others who were
not named, or who had since become amalgamated with them, or had
otherwise ceased to exist, or even those who had subsequently been
dominated by the Powhatan confederacy.
Although we should be thankful that the story
exists when so much about the pre-Columbian natives is entirely
unknown, it's a shame that more explanation isn't provided. This
eastern shore was the Chesapeake peninsula along the Atlantic coast,
 but how did this emperor establish his power over the tribes to
his west? No mention is made of any fighting, so was it simple a
case of one Algonquin tribe demonstrating clear dominance over the
others and therefore being accepted as a father figure? How does
this relate to the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock? Surely some
form of conquest is required where they are concerned?
Perhaps some support is available for this theory
in the statement that it is the tribes who call this emperor
'Uttapoingassinem'. Indian leaders are notorious for having multiple
names which may be suitable for certain situations or forms of
address. Whatever his name may have been to his own people, these
tribes name him for their situation and for their form of address to
him. This again suggests that he was a welcome emperor.
The next section of the story would also seem to be
relevant to all three tribes, Piscataway, Patawomeck, and