Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

Squa sachem

"Squa sachem" was the common English transliteration of Saunkskwa, with "skwa" or "squa" being the suffix in Algonquian languages that denotes female. For example, in the Abenaki language, nolkaskwa means "deer woman." The word Saunkskwa (female leader, rock woman), like many other similar words in Algonquian languages, associated women with positive power and leadership. Settlers later transformed that suffix to a derogatory slur, changing the original meaning to a demeaning offensive insult that suggested Native women were "drudges," inferior to white women. Some Algonquian women have challenged and reclaimed the word "squa," although it remains controversial because of racist usage.