The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

August 4, 2017

Sachems' (Chiefs') Marks from Early Rhode Island

I've photographed these marks directly from Fone's Record,
1660; they are Native American signatures on early documents
around the time of Rhode Island's founding. They constitute
another layer of identification, largely but not entirely,
between the Narragansett and the colonists. Roger Williams
is prominent here, as are two Sachems who were his friends.
Williams is also known for his code used in scriptural
notes; this was recently decrypted.

The marks are part of American history, touching on code
and codework. I'm grateful to Rhode Island State Archives
for permitting me to photograph the signatures. No flash
was used and the camera was hand-held.

There is additional material in the images, including
drawn wax seals, Williams' signature on the charter of
Providence, etc.

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