Copyright Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA

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Chauk Deed

In February 1667, a Pocumtuck deed was signed for land that would become the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts. A group of men from Dedham, Massachusetts, delegated John Pynchon, a well-known and powerful Englishman in Springfield, Massachusetts, to represent them in this land transfer. A sachem called Chauk or Chaque represented the Pocumtucks, the Native group whose homelands encompassed the land described in the deed. It is debatable whether Chauk could or intended to sell land to the English. To alienate land completely may have been beyond the authority of any one individual in Native American societies of the Northeast. The language of the deed suggests that Chauk viewed the agreement as a traditional transfer of land use. He reserved for the Pocumtucks fishing, hunting and gathering rights on the very land he had just "sold." European notions of exclusive land ownership and Native beliefs of land stewardship and usage were ultimately incompatible. Disagreements immediately arose as settlers moved into Deerfield and asserted what they saw as their exclusive rights to the land they had purchased.

Date: February 24, 1667 
Topic: Historic 
Materials: Paper, ink
Dimensions: H: 7.5 in.(19 cm.), W: 12 in.(30 cm.)  
Accession #: L98.012

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