sa·​chem ˈsā-chəm How to pronounce sachem (audio) ˈsa- How to pronounce sachem (audio)
: a North American Indian chief
especially : the chief of a confederation of the Algonquian tribes of the North Atlantic coast
: a Tammany leader
sachemic adjective

Examples of sachem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Few people bother to visit the statue of Ousamequin — the chief, or sachem, of the Wampanoag Nation whose people once numbered somewhere between 30,000 to 100,000 and whose land once stretched from Southeastern Massachusetts to parts of Rhode Island. Dana Hedgpeth, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Nov. 2021 For instance, most history lessons of the early days in Massachusetts Bay Colony end with the diplomatic alliance of Massasoit, a sachem, or leader, of the Wampanoags, offering food to the starving Pilgrims in exchange for protection against the powerful Narragansett Tribe in 1621. Kendra Nordin Beato, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Nov. 2020 Or Opeka, a Shawnee sachem who shrewdly negotiated with the governor of Pennsylvania in 1710 to spare the lives of his people accused of killing colonists? Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 20 Sep. 2022 Larry Fisher, chief sachem of the Mattakeeset Massachuset tribe leads a traditional song honoring the tribal land and ancestry at Titicut Indian Reservation in Bridgewater, Mass, Nov. 27, 2020. WSJ, 17 June 2022 This relationship was based on a treaty of mutual protection, signed on March 22, 1621, by Gov. John Carver and the sachem Ousamequin, better known as Massasoit. WSJ, 29 Nov. 2021 Some scholars counter that Mason’s statue should remain — with the addition of statues of Indigenous leaders, such as the Mohegan sachem Uncas and the Pequot Sachem Sassacus. Rick Green,, 17 Nov. 2021 The Pokanoket tribe and their sachem Massasoit shared in three days of feasting and entertainment with English colonists in the autumn of 1621, helping to inspire the holiday of gathering and giving thanks, according to the museum. From Usa Today Network and Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 15 July 2021 Staten Island’s last unbought parcel was sold, in 1670, by a Raritan sachem named Pierwim. Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, The New Yorker, 13 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sachem.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Narragansett sâchim

First Known Use

1622, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sachem was in 1622

Dictionary Entries Near sachem

Cite this Entry

“Sachem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


sa·​chem ˈsā-chəm How to pronounce sachem (audio)
: a North American Indian chief
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