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THE INDIAN DEED TO SALEM, 1686

In our City Hall is the INDIAN DEED by which the Naumkeags conveyed their real estate to Salem settlement. A sound and lawful document, and one of the oldest of its kind, it's dated 1686. By it, the Indians transferred to the white men all lands within bounds of the town, and water, too, and all above and all below said land and water.
The price was 20 pounds ($100) in English money. It was a lot of cash for those times. The Indians, going west to live where land was free and vast, sold out to the settlers. The deed, written on parchment, perhaps, is an ancient piece of leather and continues in good condition. It was written with quill pens. But how was made the ink that's clear and legible after 300 years and more?
Some Indians signed their names, and other signed with their marks----not an "X" like the familiar mark of today, but a mark apt and picturesque, like a peace pipe, a samp bowl, a beaver, an eagle or a bow and arrow.

Some of the names were hard to spell. For instance:

    Israel Quannophkownatt
    David Nonnuphannohow
    Thomas Vsoyekussennum
    Cicely Pataghuncksq
    Yawata, daughter of Nanapashment--which seem to show that Indian women had rights in property.

When an agent of King James came over, looking for choice pieces of property to claim for the Crown, the settlers said to him:
"You cannot have Salem Settlement. The land is ours. We bought it from the Indians and paid them for it."

However, it took the War of the Revolution and improvements in the land to prove the rights of the ancestors to the property bought from the Indians.

(Used with permission of the Salem City Clerk's Office Salem, Massachusetts)



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