Massachuset (măsəchōˈsĭt) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). In the early 17th cent. they occupied the territory around Massachusetts Bay and ranged northward. They then numbered some 3,000, but by 1631, after wars and pestilence, they were reduced to some 500. Soon thereafter they adopted Christianity and moved, with other converts, into the villages of the praying Indians. Here they ceased to have a separate tribal existence. The Massachuset owned and occupied the site of Boston.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.