ASTICOU, sagamo of the Armouchiquois (Penobscots) on the frontiers of Acadia; fl. 1608–16.
According to Lescarbot he was the successor of Bessabes, who succeeded Onemechin (Olmechin) on the latter’s death in Membertou’s war of revenge (1607). The cause of this war against the Armouchiquois was their slaying of Panounias in revenge for previous slayings of Armouchiquois by Touaniscou, a Micmac. Bessabes in turn had been slain by the English because of the treachery of his followers in dealing with their abortive colony of Norumbega or Sagdahoc, planted by Sir John Popham and others in 1607 but withdrawn the following year. In Bessabes’ place the Indians “brought down from the backcountry a chief named Asticou, a man grave, valorous and feared, who in the twinkling of an eye will gather together a thousand Indians.” He, in a statesmanlike manner, demanded that Angibault dit Champdoré, who had been sent by Du Gua de Monts in 1608 to pick up any furs gathered in the winter and to report on his colony, send him a representative of the Etchemins (Malecites) to treat with him. As a result Ouagimou was chosen and peace concluded with due ceremony between the Etchemins and the Armouchiquois at Chouacouët (Saco) in 1608.
During the next five years the fate of Acadia lay in the hands of the Biencourts and the Jesuits. Biard had visited the site of the English colony with Charles de Biencourt in 1611 and thought that the French could forestall any future English attempt at settlement. When he and his fellow Jesuits, backed up the Marquise de Guercheville, set out in 1613 to found a colony on the English site, it was only by chance that they emerged from a fog at Île des Monts-Déserts, opposite the headquarters of Asticou.
Asticou now appears in a different role, as an ally of the French, hoping to induce the Jesuit colony to stay at Saint-Sauveur. His followers enticed Father Biard to visit him on the grounds that he was sick unto death and feared to die without baptism. Although Biard found that Asticou was suffering only from a cold, the ruse gave him an opportunity to examine Asticou’s headquarters – apparently Pemaquid – with which he was so much impressed that, after consultation with his colleagues and Captain René Le Coq de La Saussaye, he decided to go no farther. But the plans of both Biard and Asticou were suddenly frustrated by Capt. Samuel Argall of Virginia, who attacked the settlement in July 1613 and carried off all the Frenchmen.