On the Sunnyside – a history of the town (part 2)

by Alexander Rudge PhD
(C) Rudge, Ipswich Press, 1978

Local Mythology

Moshup (also spelled Maushup, Maushop, and several other ways by different tribes, and sometimes referred to as a “transformer” by folklorists.) was an Indian Giant, who had lived in harmony with the People of the First Light to the South East, but had fallen out with them because they would not heed his warnings of the coming of pale evil. For details of how Moshup was asked to let the People fend for themselves and was turned into a white whale, see Appendix 2. For details on how Moshup the Giant warned the Wampanoag People to the South, then left them forever, see Appendix 3. NOTE: several conflicting accounts exist of Moshup’s fate after leaving the Wampanoag.

Moshup met Squant the Sea Woman, after defeating the man-eating Bird Demon. For details of how they came together, see Appendix 4. When he resisted her embrace and returned to his wife, he found that she was lying with the Bad Indian of the North. Enraged he returned to Squant’s embraces, not realising that his wife had been true to him, and had been forced to lie down.

Granny Squannit – Moshup’s wife even though, as leader of the magical woodland Little People (makiawisug), she married only to bring balance with the large and great beings her husband represented – came to Eagle Bay in search of her husband, fearing for him in his sadness at her shame. For details of Granny Squannit, see Appendix 5. When she found him in the embrace of Squant in a round cave of salt water she flew into a rage. her magical powers over the sea and with storms had often resulted in devastating weather caused by Squannit’s arguments with her husband. She stamped her tiny rabbit feet, leaving the shape of the bay delta seen today off the coast of Sunnyside, which caused the whole northern side of the land to rise like a ripple on a pond. It is said that the Manuxet River runs now where the shore line used to be; and, in deed the river does run remarkably parallel to the shore. The cave where Squant and Mashup lay sleeping was raised up above the sea, and Granny Squannit stamped her feet again to make the (Manuxet) river flow round, rather than into the basin, to deprive Squant of water so she would wrinkle and age in the Sun, and be beautiful no more. It is said that the unusual salt deposits found at the base of Sunnyside are all that remains of Squant’s sea spirit body.

When Squant felt the sea taken from her, she awoke and was angry. However, she had been nestling Moshup so he would not wake, so was too slow to escape. Squannit called to the local people, and told them to gather stone and special earth and bury Squant, so she would never escape. This punishment for her husband and his lover seemed good to the People, so they agreed to bring stone and special earth and built the mound upon them both. When Squant felt the special earth and stone placed upon her, she cried out a curse. One day a whale would come and walk the land, and fly in the wind, and would steal the fire from inside all that had laid a hand to burying her and Moshup, who kept sleeping, unaware of any of his wife’s revenge. And so it was that the People Who Live near the Great Hill (Massachuset) were burned and scattered as dust, and are no more.

For a list of other significant deities, see Appendix 6

One thought on “On the Sunnyside – a history of the town (part 2)”

  1. Please be aware that this is a fictionalised retelling of several Wampanoag and Massachuset tales, purely for the purposes of providing a mythological basis for the (also fictitious) town of Sunnyside. If you came here via search, all the “appendices” mentioned are real links to legend.

    Any resemblance to real persons, deities or insanity-inducing monsters, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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