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Waban (c.1604—c.1685)[1] was a Native American of the Nipmuc group[2] and was the first Native American to be converted to Christianity in Massachusetts.[3]


Waban was born about 1604 at Musketaquid, near the present town of Concord. His conversion to Christianity came on October 28, 1646 (Julian calendar), when the missionary Reverend John Eliot preached his first sermon to Native Americans in their own language in Waban's large wigwam in Nonantum, Massachusetts, and Waban and many of his tribe were converted.

Waban maintained close and friendly relations with the white settlers of Massachusetts and, in April 1675, reported to an English magistrate that trouble was brewing amongst the Wampanoags. Within two months, Waban's predictions came to pass when a Wampanoag named Metacomet, known as "King Philip," led his nation in the initially successful King Philip's War. Metacomet's subsequent death in August 1676 signalled the end of the brief war, and the rebellion soon collapsed due to a lack of leadership. Nevertheless, Waban, falsely accused of being a conspirator, was imprisoned in October 1675. After a brief period of captivity, Waban was released in the spring of 1676 and returned to his settlement of Natick, Massachusetts.

Waban is often considered to be tribal chief of the Nonantum tribe, but this is a misnomer. According to John Eliot, Waban was actually "the chief minister of justice",[4] not a "sachem", but the title "chief minister of justice" is not used by Native Americans. In reality, Waban did not hold an authoritative, political position within his own nation.

The exact date of Waban's death is not known, with it being reported as early as late 1676 or early 1677[5] and as late as ca. 1685.


One of the villages of the city of Newton, Massachusetts, is named Waban, while Nonantum is another village in the city.

Waban Hill is a geologic feature in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, in the eastern part of Newton, Massachusetts.[6]

One United States Navy ship, USS Waban, a steamer in commission from 1898 to 1919, has been named for Waban, and kept the name (as SS Waban) while in post-Navy mercantile service from 1919 to 1924.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Namesake information for steamer USS Waban in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/w1/waban.htm dates Waban's death at late 1676 or early 1677
  2. ^ U.S. Naval Historical Center, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: USS Waban ship namesake paragraph
  3. ^ Waban, the Wind and Dictionary of Amwerican Naval Fighting Ships: USS Waban
  4. ^ As another variation, U.S. Naval Historical Center, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: USS Waban claims in its ship namesake paragraph that Waban became a "justice of the peace" after his 1676 release from prison
  5. ^ U.S. Naval Historical Center, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: USS Waban claims this approximate date in its ship namesake paragraph
  6. ^ Praying Indians


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