The Wampanoag /ˈwɑːmpənɔːɡ/, also rendered Wôpanâak, are an American Indian people in North America. They were a loose confederacy made up of several tribes in the 17th century, but today many Wampanoag people are enrolled in two federally recognized tribes: the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts.
The Wampanoag lived in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the beginning of the 17th century, at the time of first contact with the English colonists, a territory that included Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket islands. Their population numbered in the thousands due to the richness of the environment and their cultivation of corn, beans, and squash (3,000 Wampanoag lived on Martha's Vineyard alone).
From 1615 to 1619, the Wampanoag suffered an epidemic, long suspected to be smallpox. Modern research, however, has suggested that it was leptospirosis, a bacterial infection also known as Weil's syndrome or 7-day fever. It caused a high fatality rate and decimated the Wampanoag population. Researchers suggest that the losses from the epidemic were so large that English colonists were able to establish their settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony more easily. More than 50 years later, King Philip's War (1675–1676) of Indian allies against the English colonists resulted in the death of 40 percent of the surviving tribe. Many male Wampanoag were sold into slavery in Bermuda or the West Indies, and some women and children were enslaved by colonists in New England.
The tribe largely disappeared from historical records after the late 18th century, although its people and descendants persisted. Survivors continued to live in their traditional areas and maintained many aspects of their culture, while absorbing other peoples by marriage and adapting to changing economic and cultural needs in the larger society. The last speakers of the Massachusett language Wôpanâak died more than 100 years ago, although some Wampanoag people have been working on a language revival project since 1993. The project is also working on curriculum and teacher development.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bristol County, Massachusetts, Dukes County, Massachusetts, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, Mashpee, Massachusetts and Nantucket, Massachusetts|
|English, historically Wôpanâak|
|Wampanoag spirituality, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Algonquian peoples|
Wampanoag means "Easterners" or literally "People of the Dawn." The word Wapanoos was first documented on Adriaen Block's 1614 map, which was the earliest European representation of Wampanoag territory. Other interpretations include "Wapenock," "Massasoit", and the exonym "Philip's Indians."
In 1616, John Smith erroneously referred to the entire Wampanoag confederacy as the Pokanoket, one of the tribes. Pokanoket was used in the earliest colonial records and reports. The Pokanoket tribal seat was located near Bristol, Rhode Island.
|Gay Head or Aquinnah||western point of Martha's Vineyard|
|Patuxet||eastern Massachusetts, on Plymouth Bay|
|Pokanoket||eastern Massachusetts and Bristol, Rhode Island|
|Pocasset||north Fall River, Massachusetts|
|Herring Pond||Plymouth & Cape Cod|
The Wampanoag people were semi-sedentary, with seasonal movements between sites in southern New England. The men often traveled far north and south along the Eastern seaboard for seasonal fishing expeditions, and sometimes stayed in those distant locations for weeks and months at a time. The women cultivated varieties of the "three sisters" (maize, climbing beans, and squash) as the staples of their diet, supplemented by fish and game caught by the men. Each community had authority over a well-defined territory from which the people derived their livelihood through a seasonal round of fishing, planting, harvesting, and hunting. Southern New England was populated by various tribes, so hunting grounds had strictly defined boundaries.
The Wampanoag have a matrilineal system, like many indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, in which women controlled property and hereditary status was passed through the maternal line. They were also matrifocal; when a young couple married, they lived with the woman's family. Women elders could approve selection of chiefs or sachems. Men acted in most of the political roles for relations with other bands and tribes, as well as warfare. Women with claims to plots of land used for farming or hunting passed those claims to their female descendants, regardless of their marital status.
The production of food among the Wampanoag was similar to that of many American Indian societies, and food habits were divided along gender lines. Men and women had specific tasks. Women played an active role in many of the stages of food production, so they had important socio-political, economic, and spiritual roles in their communities. Wampanoag men were mainly responsible for hunting and fishing, while women took care of farming and gathering wild fruits, nuts, berries, and shellfish. Women were responsible for up to 75 percent of all food production in Wampanoag societies.
The Wampanoag were organized into a confederation where a head sachem presided over a number of other sachems. The colonists often referred to the sachem as "king," but the position of a sachem differed in many ways from what they knew of a king. Sachems were bound to consult their own councilors within their tribe, but also any of the "petty sachems" in the region. They were also responsible for arranging trade privileges, as well as protecting their allies in exchange for material tribute. Both women and men could hold the position of sachem, and women were sometimes chosen over close male relatives.
Pre-marital sexual experimentation was accepted, although once couples opted to marry, the Wampanoag expected fidelity within unions. Roger Williams (1603–1683) stated that "single fornication they count no sin, but after Marriage… they count it heinous for either of them to be false." In addition, polygamy was practiced among the Wampanoag, although monogamy was the norm. Some elite men could take several wives for political or social reasons, and multiple wives were a symbol of wealth because women were the producers and distributors of corn and other food products. Marriage and conjugal unions were not as important as ties of clan and kinship.
The Wampanoag originally spoke Wôpanâak, a dialect of the Massachusett language which belongs to the Algonquian languages family. The first Bible published in America was a 1663 translation into Wampanoag by missionary John Eliot. He created an orthography which he taught to the Wampanoag. Many became literate, using Wampanoag for letters, deeds, and historic documents.
The rapid decline of Wampanoag speakers began after the American Revolution. Neal Salisbury and Colin G. Calloway suggest that New England Indian communities suffered from gender imbalances at this time due to premature male deaths, especially due to warfare and their work in whaling and shipping. They posit that many Wampanoag women married outside their linguistic groups, making it difficult for them to maintain the various Wampanoag dialects.
Some Wampanoag have been working on a language revival since 1993. The Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project is a collaboration of several tribes and bands led by Jessie Little Doe Baird. They have taught a few children who have become the first speakers of Wôpanâak in more than 100 years. The project is training teachers to reach more children and to develop a curriculum for a Wôpanâak-based school. Baird has compiled a 10,000-word dictionary from university collections of colonial documents in Wôpanâak, as well as a grammar, collections of stories, and other books.
Early contacts between the Wampanoag and colonists date from the 16th century when European merchant vessels and fishing boats traveled along the coast of New England. Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag in 1614 and sold them in Spain as slaves. A Patuxet named Tisquantum (or Squanto) was bought by Spanish monks who attempted to convert him before setting him free. He accompanied an expedition to Newfoundland as an interpreter, then made his way back to his homeland in 1619—only to discover that the entire Patuxet tribe had died in an epidemic.
In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, and Tisquantum and other Wampanoag taught them how to cultivate the varieties of corn, squash, and beans (the Three Sisters) that flourished in New England, as well as how to catch and process fish and collect seafood. They enabled the Pilgrims to survive their first winters, and Squanto lived with them and acted as a middleman between them and Massasoit, the Wampanoag sachem.
The Wampanoag suffered from an epidemic between 1616 and 1619, long thought to be smallpox introduced by contact with Europeans. However, researchers published a study in 2010 suggesting that the epidemic was leptospirosis, or 7-day fever. The groups most devastated by the illness were those who had traded heavily with the French, leading to speculation that the disease was a virgin soil epidemic. Alfred Crosby has speculated that the population losses were as high as 90 percent among the Massachusett and mainland Pokanoket.
Since the late 20th century, the event celebrated as the first Thanksgiving has been debated in the United States. Many American Indians argue against the romanticized story of the Wampanoag celebrating together with the colonists. Some say that there is no documentation of such an event, but there actually are two primary accounts of the 1621 event written by people who were present.
Massasoit became gravely ill in the winter of 1623, but he was nursed back to health by the colonists. In 1632, the Narragansetts attacked Massasoit's village in Sowam, but the colonists helped the Wampanoag to drive them back.
After 1630, the members of Plymouth Colony became outnumbered by the growing number of Puritans settling around Boston. The colonists expanded westward into the Connecticut River Valley. In 1637, they destroyed the powerful Pequot Confederation. In 1643, the Mohegans defeated the Narragansetts in a war with support from the colonists, and they became the dominant tribe in southern New England.
After 1650, John Eliot and other Puritan missionaries sought to convert Indians to Christianity, and the converted Indians settled in 14 "praying towns." Eliot and his colleagues hoped that the Indians would adopt practices such as monogamous marriage, agriculture, and jurisprudence. The high levels of epidemics among the Indians may have motivated some conversions. Salisbury suggests that the survivors suffered a type of spiritual crisis because their medical and religious leaders had been unable to prevent the epidemic losses. By the latter half of the seventeenth century, alcoholism had become rampant among Indian men. Many turned for help to Christianity and Christian discipline systems. Christianity also became a refuge for women from drunkenness, with its insistence upon temperance and systems of retribution for drunkenness.
Individual towns and regions had differing expectations for Indian conversions. In most of Eliot's mainland "praying towns," religious converts were also expected to follow colonial laws and manners, and to adopt the material trappings of colonial life. Eliot and other ministers relied on praise and rewards for those who conformed, rather than punishing those who did not. The Christian Indian settlements of Martha's Vineyard were noted for a great deal of sharing and mixing between Wampanoag and colonial ways of life. Wampanoag converts often continued their traditional practices in dress, hairstyle, and governance. The Martha's Vineyard converts were not required to attend church and they often maintained traditional cultural practices, such as mourning rituals.
The Wampanoag women were more likely to convert to Christianity than the men. Experience Mayhew said that "it seems to be a Truth with respect to our Indians, so far as my knowledge of them extend, that there have been, and are a greater number of their Women appearing pious than of the men among them" in his text "Indian Converts".  The frequency of female conversion created a problem for missionaries, who wanted to establish patriarchal family and societal structures among them. Women had control of property, and inheritance and descent passed through their line, including hereditary leadership for men. Wampanoag women on Martha's Vineyard were the spiritual leaders of their households. In general, English ministers agreed that it was preferable for women to subvert the patriarchal model and assume a dominant spiritual role than it was for their husbands to remain unconverted. Experience Mayhew asked, "How can those Wives answer it unto God who do not Use their utmost Endeavors to Perswade and oblige their husbands to maintain Prayer in their families?" In some cases, Wampanoag women converts accepted changed gender roles under colonial custom, while others practiced their traditional roles of shared power as Christians.
Massasoit was among those Indians who adopted colonial customs. He asked the legislators in Plymouth near the end of his life to give both of his sons English names. The older son Wamsutta was given the name Alexander, and his younger brother Metacom was named Philip. After his father's death, Alexander became the sachem of the Wampanoag. The colonists invited him to Plymouth to talk, but Wamsutta became seriously ill on the way home and died shortly after. The Wampanoag were told that he died of fever, but many Indians thought that he had been poisoned. The following year, his brother Philip (Metacom) became sachem of the Wampanoag.
Under Philip's leadership, the relationship changed dramatically between the Wampanoag and the colonists. Philip believed that the ever-increasing colonists would eventually take over everything—not only land, but also their culture, their way of life, and their religion, and he decided to limit the further expansion of colonial settlements. The Wampanoag numbered only 1,000, and Philip began to visit other tribes to build alliances among those who also wanted to push out the colonists. At that time, the number of colonists in southern New England already numbered more than double that of the Indians—35,000 vs. 15,000. In 1671, Philip was called to Taunton, Massachusetts where he listened to the accusations of the colonists and signed an agreement that required the Wampanoag to give up their firearms. To be on the safe side, he did not take part in the subsequent dinner. His men never delivered their weapons.
Philip gradually gained the Nipmuck, Pocomtuc, and Narragansett as allies, and the beginning of the uprising was first planned for the spring of 1676. In March 1675, however, John Sassamon was murdered. Sassamon was a Christian Indian raised in Natick, one of the "praying towns." He was educated at Harvard College and had served as a scribe, interpreter, and counselor to Philip and the Wampanoag. But, a week before his death, Sassamon reported to Plymouth governor Josiah Winslow that Philip was planning a war against the colonists.
Sassamon was found dead under the ice of Assawompsett Pond a week later; three Wampanoag warriors were accused of his murder by a Christian Indian and taken captive by the colonists; they were hanged in June 1675 after a trial by a jury of 12 colonists and six Christian Indians. This execution was a catalyst for war, combined with rumors that the colonists wanted to capture Philip. Philip called a council of war on Mount Hope; most Wampanoag wanted to follow him, with the exception of the Nauset on Cape Cod and the small groups on the offshore islands. Allies included the Nipmuck, Pocomtuc, and some Pennacook and eastern Abenaki from farther north. The Narragansett remained neutral at the beginning of the war.
On June 20, 1675 some young Wampanoags trekked to Swansea, killed some cattle, and scared the white settlers. The next day King Philip's War broke out, and the Wampanoag attacked a number of white settlements, burning them to the ground. The unexpected attacks caused great panic among the English. The united tribes in southern New England attacked 52 of 90 English settlements, and partially burned them down.
At the outbreak of the war, many pro-English Native Americans offered to fight with the English against King Philip and his allies, serving as warriors, scouts, advisers and spies. Mistrust and hostility eventually caused the English to discontinue Native American assistance, even though they were invaluable in the war. The English resented the Christian Indians "turning against them", ignoring their own part in the tensions. The Massachusetts government moved many Christian Indians to Deer Island in Boston Harbor, in part to protect the "praying Indians" from English vigilantes, but also as a precautionary measure to prevent rebellion and sedition from them. Mary Rowlandson's The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, an account of her months of captivity by the Wampanoag during King Philip's War, expresses English prejudice against the Christian Native Americans. She complains of their cruelties towards "fellow" Christians, singling Christian converts out for fierce verbal attacks.
From Massachusetts, the war spread to other parts of New England. Some tribes from Maine – the Kennebec, Pigwacket (Pequawkets) and Arosaguntacook – joined in the war against the English. The Narragansett of Rhode Island gave up their neutrality after the colonists attacked one of their fortified villages. In that battle, which became known as the "Great Swamp Massacre," the Narragansett lost more than 600 people and 20 sachems. Their leader, Canonchet, was able to flee and led a large group of Narragansett warriors west to join King Philip's warriors.
In the spring of 1676, following a winter of hunger and deprivation, the tide turned against Philip. The English troops set out on a relentless chase after him, and his best ally—Sachem Canonchet of the Narragansett—was taken captive and executed by a firing squad. Canonchet's corpse was quartered, and his head was sent to Hartford, Connecticut, to be put on public display.
During the summer months, Philip escaped from his pursuers and went to a hideout on Mount Hope. In August, after Indian scouts discovered the hideout, the English attacked, killing or taking captive 173 Wampanoag. Philip barely escaped capture, but among the prisoners were his wife and their nine-year-old son. Taken onto a ship at Plymouth, they were sold as slaves in the West Indies. On August 12, 1676, English troops surrounded Philip's camp, and soon shot and killed him. They cut off his head, displaying it for twenty years on a pike in Plymouth.
With the death of Philip and most of their leaders, the Wampanoags were nearly exterminated; only about 400 survived the war. The Narragansett and Nipmuck suffered similar rates of losses, and many small tribes in southern New England were, for all intents and purposes, finished. In addition, many Wampanoag were sold into slavery. Male captives were generally sold to slave traders and transported to the West Indies, Bermuda, Virginia, or the Iberian Peninsula. The colonists used the women and children as slaves in New England. Of those Indians not sold into slavery, the colony forced them to move into Natick, Wamesit, Punkapoag, and Hassanamesit, four of the original fourteen praying towns. These were the only ones to be resettled after the war. Overall, approximately five thousand Native Americans (forty percent of their population) and twenty-five hundred English colonists (five percent) were killed in King Philip's War. By this time, the English population had increased so much that, while significant, the losses were less important for their overall society.
The exception to relocation was the coastal islands' Wampanoag groups, who had stayed neutral through the war. The colonists forced the Wampanoag of the mainland to resettle with the Saconnet (Sekonnet), or with the Nauset into the praying towns in Barnstable County. Mashpee is the largest reservation set aside in Massachusetts, and is located on Cape Cod. In 1660, the colonists allotted the Indians about 50 square miles (130 km2) there, and beginning in 1665 they had self-government, adopting an English-style court of law and trials. The area was integrated into the district of Mashpee in 1763.
In the 1740s, during King George's War, John Gorham was in command of Gorham's Independent Company of Rangers. Initially, the company was made up of primarily Wampanoag men, and was stationed in Nova Scotia. Several of those who had remained neutral or were loyal to the English during the conflict migrated to Nova Scotia, beginning in the 1750s, and established a community on and around what is now Cape Sable Island.
In 1788 after the American Revolutionary War, the state revoked the Wampanoag ability to self-govern, considering it a failure. It appointed a supervisory committee consisting of five European-American members, with no Wampanoag. In 1834, the state returned a certain degree of self-government to the First Nations People, and although the First Nations People were far from autonomous, they continued in this manner. To support assimilation, in 1842 the state violated the Nonintercourse Act when it illegally allocated plots from 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of their communal 13,000 acres (53 km2), to be distributed in 60-acre (240,000 m2) parcels to each household for subsistence farming, although New England communities were adopting other types of economies. The state passed laws to try to control white encroachment on the reservation; some stole wood from its forests. A large region, once rich in wood, fish and game, it was considered highly desirable by the whites. With competition between whites and the Wampanoag, conflicts were more frequent than for more isolated Indian settlements elsewhere in the state.
On Martha's Vineyard in the 18th and 19th centuries, there were three reservations—Chappaquiddick, Christiantown and Gay Head. The Chappaquiddick Reservation was part of a small island of the same name and was located on the eastern point of that island. As the result of the sale of land in 1789, the Indians lost valuable areas, and the remaining land was distributed among the Indian residents in 1810. In 1823 the laws were changed, in order to hinder those trying to get rid of the Indians and to implement a visible beginning of a civic organization. Around 1849, they owned 692 acres (2.80 km2) of infertile land, and many of the residents moved to nearby Edgartown, so that they could practice a trade and obtain some civil rights.
Christiantown was originally a "praying town" on the northwest side of Martha's Vineyard, northwest of Tisbury. In 1849 the reservation still consisted of 390 acres (1.6 km2), of which all but 10 were distributed among the residents. The land, kept under community ownership, yielded very few crops and the tribe members left it to get paying jobs in the cities. Wampanoag oral history tells that Christiantown was wiped out in 1888 by a smallpox epidemic.
The third reservation on Martha's Vineyard was constructed in 1711 by the New England Company (founded in 1649) to Christianize the Indians. They bought land for the Gay Head Indians who had lived there since before 1642. There was considerable dispute about how the land should be cultivated, as the colony had leased the better sections to the whites at low interest. The original goal of creating an undisturbed center for missionary work was quickly forgotten. The state finally created a reservation on a peninsula on the western point of Martha's Vineyard and named it Gay Head. This region was connected to the main island by an isthmus; it enabled the isolation desired by the Wampanoag. In 1849 they had 2,400 acres (9.7 km2) there, of which 500 acres were distributed among the tribe members. The rest was communal property. In contrast to the other reservation groups, the tribe had no guardian or headman. When they needed advice on legal questions, they asked the guardian of the Chappaquiddick Reservation, but other matters they handled themselves. The band used usufruct title members had no legal claim to their land and allowed the tribal members free rein over their choice of land, as well as over cultivation and building, in order to make their ownership clear. They did not allow whites to settle on their land. They made strict laws regulating membership in the tribe. As a result, they were able to strengthen the groups' ties to each other, and they did not lose their tribal identity until long after the other groups had lost theirs.
Slightly more than 2,000 Wampanoag are counted as enrolled members of the nation today (many have ancestry including other tribes and races), and many live near the reservation (Watuppa Wampanoag Reservation) on Martha's Vineyard, in Dukes County. It is located in the town of Aquinnah (formerly known as Gay Head), at the extreme western part of the island. It has a land area of 1.952 square kilometres (482 acres), and a 2000 census resident population of 91 persons.
Several bands of the Wampanoag have organized governments: Aquinnah of Gay Head, Herring Pond, Mashpee, Pocasset, Pokonoket and Seekonk. Only the Aquinnah and Mashpee bands have gained federal recognition, although the other bands are recognized by the state of Massachusetts and have also applied for federal recognition as tribes.
Some genealogy experts testified that the tribes did not demonstrate the required continuity since historic times. For instance, in his testimony to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the historian Francis Hutchins said that the Mashpee "were not an Indian tribe in the years 1666, 1680, 1763, 1790, 1834, 1870, and 1970, or at anytime between 1666 and 1970 (Day 36, 130–140). In his opinion, an Indian tribe was "an entity composed of persons of American Indian descent, which entity possesses distinct political, legal, cultural attributes, which attributes have descended directly from aboriginal precursors." (Day 36, 124). Without accounting for cultural change, adaptation, and the effects of non-Indian society, Hutchins argued the Mashpee were not an Indian tribe historically because they adopted Christianity and non-Indian forms of dress and appearance, and chose to remain in Massachusetts as "second-class" citizens rather than emigrating westward (note: to Indian Territory) to "resume tribal existence." Hutchins also noted that they intermarried with non-Indians to create a "non-white," or "colored," community (Day 36, 130–140). Hutchins appeared to require unchanged culture, including maintenance of a traditional religion and essentially total social autonomy from non-Indian society."
The Aquinnah ("land under the hill") Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Massachusetts are the only Wampanoag tribe to have a formal land-in-trust reservation, which is located on Martha's Vineyard. Their reservation consists of 485 acres (1.96 km2) and is located on the outermost southwest part of the island. Aquinnah Wampanoag descendants formed the "Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc." in 1972 for the purpose of self-determination and receiving federal recognition. Its members received government recognition in 1987 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The tribe has 1,121 registered members.
Native Aquinnahers have a separate history; their myth has them arriving on an ice floe from the far North, and they sided with the white settlers in King Philip's War. They performed whaling from small boats, and the character Tashtego from the Great American Novel Moby-Dick is a harpooner from Aquinnah.
Gladys Widdiss, an Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal historian and potter, served as the President of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head from 1978 to 1987. The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head won federal recognition from the United States government during her tenure. Under Widdis, the Aquinnah Wampanoag also acquired the Herring Creek, the Gay Head Cliffs, and the cranberry bogs surrounding Gay Head (now called Aquinnah) during her presidency.
The Aquinnah Wampanoag are led by tribal council chair Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, who was elected to the post in November 2007. In 2010, Andrews-Maltais put forward plans for the development of an Aquinnah reservation casino, which was met with opposition by state and local officials. Current Chairperson is Tobias Vanderhoop.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe consists of more than 1,400 enrolled members who must meet defined membership requirements including lineage, community involvement and reside within 20 miles of Mashpee. Since 1924 they have held an annual powwow at the beginning of July in Mashpee. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council was established in 1972 under the leadership of its first president, Russell "Fast Turtle" Peters. In 1974 the Council petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs for recognition. In 1976 the tribe sued the Town of Mashpee for the return of ancestral homelands. The case was lost but the tribe continued to pursue federal recognition for three decades.
In 2000 the Mashpee Wampanoag Council was headed by chairman Glenn Marshall. Marshall led the group until 2007 when it was disclosed that he had a prior conviction for rape, had lied about having a military record and was under investigation associated for improprieties associated with the tribe's casino lobbying efforts. Marshall was succeeded by tribal council vice- chair Shawn Hendricks. He held the position until Marshall pleaded guilty in 2009 to federal charges of embezzling, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion and election finance law violations. He steered tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to politicians through the tribe's hired lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of numerous charges in a much larger scheme. Following the arrests of Abramoff and Marshall, the newly recognized Mashpee Tribe led by new chair Shawn Hendricks, continued to work with Abramoff lobbyist colleague Kevin A. Ring pursuing their Indian gaming-related interests. Ring was subsequently convicted on corruption charges linked to his work for the Mashpee band. Tribal elders who had sought access to the tribal council records detailing the council's involvement in this scandal via a complaint filed in Barnstable Municipal Court were shunned by the council and banned them from the tribe for seven years.
In 2009 the tribe elected council member Cedric Cromwell to the position of council chair and president. Cromwell ran a campaign based on reforms and distancing himself from the previous chairmen, even though he had served as a councilor for the prior six years during which the Marshall and Abramoff scandals took place - including voting for the shunning of tribe members who tried to investigate. A challenge to Cromwell's election by defeated candidates following allegations of tampering with voting and enrollment records was filed with the Tribal Court, and Cromwell's administration has been hampered by a series of protest by Elders over casino-related finances.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribal offices are located in Mashpee on Cape Cod. After decades of legal disputes, the Mashpee Wampanoag obtained provisional recognition as an Indian tribe from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in April 2006, and official Federal recognition in February 2007. Tribal members own some land, as well as land held in common by Wampanoag descendants at both Chapaquddick and Christiantown. Descendants have also purchased land in Middleborough, Massachusetts upon which the tribe under Glenn A. Marshall's leadership had lobbied to build a casino. The tribe has moved its plans to Taunton, Massachusetts but their territorial rights have been challenged by the Pocasset Wampanoag.
But Indian gaming operations are regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commission established by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It contains a general prohibition against gaming on lands acquired into trust after October 17, 1988. The tribe's attempts to gain approvals have been met with legal and government approval challenges.
The Wampanoag Tribe's current plan has agreement for financing by the Malaysian Genting Group and has the political support of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and former Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt, who is working as a lobbyist to represent the casino project. Both Kerry and Delahunt received campaign contributions from the Wampanoag Tribe in transactions authorized by Glenn Marshall as part of the Abramoff lobbying scandal.
In November 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law to license up to three sites for gaming resort casinos and one for a slot machine parlor. The Wampanoag are given a "headstart" to develop plans for a casino in southeastern part of the state.
The Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, headed by tribal council chair Kevin Harding, is not federally recognized. HIstorically one of the "praying towns" set up in the colonial era by The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, they are involved in the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project. In 1924 they helped organize the annual powwow at the beginning of July, which is now hosted in Mashpee. The first few pow wows in over 200 years were held at the Herring Pond Wampanoag Meetinghouse before expanding and moving to Mashpee. The Mashpee Wampanoag and Herring Pond both petitioned at the same time to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for recognition. They maintain offices in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The Herring Pond Tribe claims as traditional lands a territory which ranges from the Plymouth (Plimouth Colony) areas to the upper parts of Cape Cod (Bourne, Sandwich and Plymouth).
The Namasket (or Nemasket) Pokanoket Band was organized in 2000. It is one of the Pokanoket royal family clans of the Wattupa Reservation State Park in Freetown and Fall River, Massachusetts. Led by council chairman Chief George Spring Buffalo, it is clan members of the Pocasset State Recognized tribe. Tuspaquin and Anne [Black Sachem] was the Namasket Band of Royal family of the Pokanoket's resided in villages around the Taunton River near modern-day Middleborough, Massachusetts. It also included Squanto of the Patuxet tribe. Today's remaining Namasket lines are most related to the current-day Pocasset tribe of the Pokanoket Nation of Fall River.
The Pocasset Wampanoag band has held lands in Fall River, Massachusetts since colonial times. They are the descendants and heirs of the Natives described in a deed from Benjamin Church dated November 1, 1709. Their government is organized under a traditional, clan-based system. They manage a 201.2 acre reservation in Fall River recognized under international law via the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth and the 1725 Treaty of Boston. These treaties were entered into after the Queen Anne's War, following raids such as those at Deerfield and Haverhill.
In 1869 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed the "enfranchisement act". This act would dissolve reservation status for lands held by the tribes, replacing it with fee-simple property allocated to individual Indians upon application of any member of that tribe to the judge of probate in the county that the lands were located. The Pocasset resisted the enfranchisement act and prior attempts to divide the reserve into smaller parcels. In the late 20th century, they resisted an attempt to have their lands put into federal trust, managing to keep their lands intact. The Nation has members living throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. They applied for federal recognition in 1995, but were turned down.
|1610||6,600||mainland 3,600; islands 3,000||James Mooney|
|1620||5,000||mainland 2,000 (after the epidemics); islands 3,000||unknown|
|1677||400||mainland (after King Philip's War)||general estimate|
Conversion and Christianity:
State recognized Colonial Era Tribe
Aquinnah is a town located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Until 1997 it was called Gay Head. The population was 311 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and quiet natural serenity.
Aquinnah has become celebrated as a center of Wampanoag culture and a center of pride and tradition among members of the federally recognized Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head. They make up about one-third of the town's voters and are one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. This area is one of the earliest sites of whaling. The Wampanoag harvested whales from small boats and the shore, using harpoons, long before the 19th-century industry of whaling became the major maritime industry of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and New Bedford, Massachusetts.Assawompset Pond
Assawompset Pond is a reservoir/pond within the towns of Lakeville and Middleboro, in southeastern Massachusetts. It shares its waters with Long Pond and is openly connected with Pocksha Pond. These lakes provide a source of drinking water to the city of New Bedford, the largest city in southeastern Massachusetts. At almost four square miles, it is the largest natural lake in Massachusetts.
It is known in Wampanoag as Place of the White Stones and is host for the largest Alewife (Herring) run in the eastern seaboard. In the early spring the Nemasket River runs black with fish heading for the spawning grounds. The area known as Betty's Neck was one of the summer encampments for Native Americans who would traverse the Taunton River and Nemasket River to enter the pond. The Nemasket, being known as Where the fish are, explains the significance as a food source.
The origins of the King Philip's War started with the discovery of John Sassamon's body and the subsequent trial of his suspected murderers. His body was slipped under the ice on the pond and found the following spring. The outcome of the trial sparked the beginning of hostilities.
The pond was dammed in 1894 at the Nemasket River, which raised the water level about five feet.Chappaquiddick Island
Chappaquiddick Island (Massachusett language: Noepetchepi-aquidenet; colloquially known as "Chappy"), a part of the town of Edgartown, Massachusetts, is a small peninsula and occasional island on the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard. Norton Point, a narrow barrier beach, connects Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick between Katama and Wasque (pronounced way-sqwee). Occasional breaches occur due to hurricanes and strong storms separating the islands for periods of time. Most recently, the two were separated for 8 years from 2007 to 2015. Though both land forms have, over the course of history, mostly been connected to one another, Chappaquiddick is nevertheless referred to as an island.
Visitors come to the isolated island for beaches, cycling, hiking, nature tours and birding, and the MyToi Gardens, a small Japanese garden created amidst the native brush. Two fire trucks are stationed on the island from Edgartown. Chappaquiddick Road and Pocha Road, both paved, provide access to sandy, woodland roads, trails, and shorelines.
Chappaquiddick became internationally known following an eponymous incident in 1969, when U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy claimed to have accidentally driven his car off the island's Dike Bridge, fatally trapping his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, inside the vehicle.Corbitant
Corbitant was a Wampanoag Indian sachem or sagamore under Massasoit. Corbitant was sachem of the Pocasset tribe in present-day North Tiverton, Rhode Island, c. 1618–1630. He lived in Mattapuyst or Mattapoiset, located in the southern part of today's Swansea, MA.In the summer of 1621, he was involved in a minor altercation with the Plymouth colony involving the Patuxet refugee Tisquantum ("Squanto") at present-day Middleborough, Massachusetts. Corbitant had menaced both Tisquantum and his companion Hobomok for their close ties with the white strangers. Fearing for their lives, Hobomok was able to get away and escaped back to Plymouth, where he rallied the pilgrims under Miles Standish. Standish led ten men of Plymouth in arms to rescue Tisquantum from Corbitant. They attacked the Wampanoag village at Nemasket, but by that time Corbitant had released Squanto and withdrawn from the area. Corbitant was nominally obedient to the Great Sachem Massasoit of the Pokanoket. Although described as a "determined foe of the English," nonetheless, "with other hostile chiefs he signed a treaty of peace with the English in 1621."Tribes of the Wampanoag federation possessed hunting grounds at Cape Cod, Plymouth, Taunton, Attleboro, Middleboro, Hanson, Duxbury, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea, Mattapoisett, Wareham, and Fall River, in Massachusetts, as well as Tiverton, Aquidneck Island (Newport), Canonicut Island (Jamestown), Little Compton, Bristol, Warren and the lands west to the Providence River. About the year 1622 the Narragansett Federation under Canonicut seized the island of present-day Jamestown from Massasoit.Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks (c.1723 – March 5, 1770) was an American stevedore of African and native American descent, widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston massacre and thus the first American killed in the American Revolutionary War. Historians disagree on whether he was a free man or an escaped slave, but most agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre published in 1770 did not refer to him as "black" nor as a "Negro"; it appears that Bostonians viewed him as being of mixed ethnicity. According to a contemporaneous account in the Pennsylvania Gazette, he was a "Mulattoe man, named Crispus Attucks, who was born in Framingham, but lately belonged to New-Providence, and was here in order to go for North Carolina."Attucks became an icon of the anti-slavery movement in the mid-19th century. Supporters of the abolition movement lauded him for playing a heroic role in the history of the United States.King Philip's War
King Philip's War (sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, Pometacomet's Rebellion, or Metacom's Rebellion) was an armed conflict in 1675–78 between Indian inhabitants of New England and New England colonists and their Indian allies. The war is named for Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief who adopted the name Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.Massasoit had maintained a long-standing alliance with the colonists. Metacom (c. 1638–1676) was his younger son, and he became tribal chief in 1662 after Massasoit's death. Metacom, however, did not maintain his father's alliance between the Wampanoags and the colonists. The colonists insisted that the peace agreement in 1671 should include the surrender of Indian guns; then three Wampanoags were hanged for murder in Plymouth Colony in 1675 which increased the tensions. Colonial militia and Indian raiding parties spread over Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine over the next six months. The Narragansetts remained neutral, but several individual Narragansetts participated in raids of colonial strongholds and militia, so colonial leaders deemed the Narragansetts to be in violation of peace treaties. They assembled the largest colonial army that New England had yet mustered, consisting of 1,000 militia and 150 Indian allies, and Governor Josiah Winslow marshaled them to attack the Narragansetts in November 1675. They attacked and burned Indian villages throughout Rhode Island territory, culminating with the attack on the Narragansetts' main fort called the Great Swamp Fight. An estimated 150 Narragansetts were killed, many of them women and children, and the Indian coalition was then taken over by Narragansett sachem Canonchet. They pushed back the colonial frontier in Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Rhode Island colonies, burning towns as they went, including Providence in March 1676. However, the colonial militia overwhelmed the Indian coalition and, by the end of the war, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom fled to Mount Hope where he was finally killed by the militia.
The war was the greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of American colonization. In the space of little more than a year, 12 of the region's towns were destroyed and many more were damaged, the economy of Plymouth and Rhode Island Colonies was all but ruined and their population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Indians.King Philip's War began the development of an independent American identity. The New England colonists faced their enemies without support from any outside government or military, and this gave them a group identity separate and distinct from Britain.List of place names of Native American origin in New England
The region of New England in the United States has numerous place names derived from the indigenous peoples of the area. New England is in the Northeastern United States, and comprises six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Listed are well-known names of towns, significant bodies of water, and mountains. This list is a work-in-progress, and is not meant to be comprehensive, as several thousand names exist.Mashpee, Massachusetts
Mashpee is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, on Cape Cod. The population was 14,006 as of 2010. It is the site of the headquarters and most members of the federally recognized Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, one of two Wampanoag.
For geographic and demographic information on specific parts of the town of Mashpee, please see the articles on Mashpee Neck, Monomoscoy Island, New Seabury, Popponesset, Popponesset Island, Seabrook, and Seconsett Island.Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, Inc., formerly known as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, is one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. Recognized in 2007, they are headquartered in Mashpee on Cape Cod. The other tribe is the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha's Vineyard.
In 2014 the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe consists of more than 2600 enrolled members. In 2015 their 170 acres in Mashpee and an additional 150 acres in Taunton, Massachusetts were taken into trust on their behalf by the US Department of Interior, establishing these parcels as reservation land.Massachusett language
The Massachusett language is an Algonquian language of the Algic language family, formerly spoken by several peoples of eastern coastal and south-eastern Massachusetts and currently, in its revived form, in four communities of Wampanoag people. The language is also known as Natick or Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) and historically as Pokanoket, Indian or Nonantum.The language is most notable for its community of literate Indians and for the number of translations of religious texts into the language. John Eliot's translation of the Christian Bible in 1663 using the Natick dialect, known as Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, was the first printed in the Americas, the first Bible translated by a non-native speaker, and one of the earliest example of a Bible translation into a previously unwritten language. Literacy spread quickly as literate Indian ministers and teachers spread literacy to the elites and other members of their communities. This is attested in the numerous court petitions, church records, Praying town administrative records, notes on book margins, personal letters and widespread distribution of other translations of religious tracts throughout the colonial period.The dialects of the language were formerly spoken by several peoples of southern New England, including all the coastal and insular areas of eastern Massachusetts, as well as south-eastern New Hampshire, the southernmost tip of Maine and eastern Rhode Island, but was also a common second or third language across most of New England and portions of Long Island. The use of the language in the mixed-band communities of Christian converts—praying towns—also spread the language to some groups of Nipmuc and Pennacook.The revitalization of the language began in 1993 when Jessie Little Doe Baird (at the time with the last name Fermino) began the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP), which has successfully re-introduced the revived Wampanoag dialect to the Aquinnah, Mashpee, Assonet, and Herring Pond tribes of the Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the Islands, with a handful of children who are growing up as the first native speakers in more than a century. The Massachusett people continue to inhabit the area around Boston and other Wampanoag tribes are found throughout Cape Cod and Rhode Island. Other descendants of Massachusett-language speakers include many of the current Abenaki people and the locals of Saint David's Island, Bermuda, both of whom absorbed large numbers of Indians of southern New England in the aftermath of King Philip's War.Massasoit
Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin (c. 1581 – 1661) was the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag tribe. The term Massasoit means Great Sachem.Metacomet
Metacom (1638–1676), also known as Metacomet and by his adopted English name King Philip, was chief to the Wampanoag people and the second son of the sachem Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died shortly after their father Massasoit. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sunksqua of the Pocasset, was Metacomet's ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacomet married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them all. Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies following the defeat of the Native Americans in what became known as King Philip's War.
At the beginning Metacom sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.
But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them from the west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671, the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. Metacomet surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacomet led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion.Nemasket River
The Nemasket or Namasket River is a small river in southeastern Massachusetts. It flows north 11.2 miles (18.0 km) from Assawompset Pond in Lakeville and through Middleborough where it empties into the Taunton River.In Wampanoag Nemasket means Place where the fish are, because it is the largest alewife run on the eastern seaboard. The water is clear and there are several good places to put in, such as Old Bridge Street, Wareham Street and Oliver Mills on U.S. Route 44.
The Native American Wampanoag Indians would leave their winter encampments inland and navigate the Taunton River to the Nemasket River in the early spring to take advantage of the alewife run and relocate to their summer encampment on Betty's Neck on Assawompsett Pond. When Oliver Mills built the factory that spanned the river, it created contention with the Wampanoags by forcing them to portage around the facility.
The remnants of Camp Joe Hooker, a training camp for Massachusetts regiments during the American Civil War located on the left side of Staples Shore Road, and the tie-up for the side-paddle wheeler Assawompset can still be seen off the canal that cuts across the right hand side of the marsh between Bridge Street and Vaughn Street. This was a tourist destination (before the dam was erected) for folks that wanted to spend a day on Assawompset Pond.Nomans Land (Massachusetts)
Nomans Land (Wampanoag: Cappoaquit; also mapped "No Man's Land," "No Mans Land," or "No Man's island"), is an uninhabited island 612 acres (2.48 km2) in size, located in the town of Chilmark, Dukes County, Massachusetts. It is situated about 3 miles (4.8 km) off the southwest corner of the island of Martha's Vineyard.
The island was used by the United States Navy as a practice bombing range from 1943 to 1996. In 1998, the Navy transferred the island to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for use as an unstaffed wildlife refuge. Due to safety risks from unexploded ordnance and its value as a wildlife habitat, the island is closed to all public use.Patuxet
The Patuxet were a Native American band of the Wampanoag tribal confederation. They lived primarily in and around modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Patuxet have been extinct since 1622.Sonny Dove
Lloyd "Sonny" Dove (August 16, 1945 – February 14, 1983) was a Native American professional basketball player. As a star at St. John's University in New York, in his last season of 1967, Dove won the Haggerty Award. That year he was part of the United States basketball team that won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
His record has continued to make him one of the top players ever at St. John's. In 2005 Dove was among the first ten men selected for "Basketball Legacy Honors" at the university. In 2011 Dove was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.USS Wampanoag (ATA-202)
The second USS Wampanoag (ATA-202), originally USS ATA-202, was a United States Navy auxiliary ocean-going tug in commission from 1945 to 1947.
USS ATA-202 was laid down on 24 August 1944 at Port Arthur, Texas, by the Gulfport Boiler and Welding Works. She was launched on 10 October 1944 and commissioned on 8 December 1944.
ATA-202 completed her shakedown and training during the latter half of December 1944 and proceeded via the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. On 12 January 1945, she reported for World War II duty with the United States Pacific Fleet and, by late April 1945 had joined Service Squadron (ServRon) 10 at Ulithi Atoll in support of the Okinawa campaign. Late in May 1945, she moved to Okinawa for a brief tour of duty, then returned to her base at Ulithi Atoll in mid-June 1945. It is reasonable to assume that her round-trip voyage to Okinawa was for the purpose of towing battle-damaged ships back to Ulithi Atoll for repair.
ATA-202 continued her duty with ServRon 10 through the end of the war, in which hostilities with Japan ceased on 15 August 1945. She was awarded one battle star for her service during World War II.
ATA-202 returned to the United States in September 1945, and began nine months of duty in the 11th Naval District at San Diego, California. She was reassigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet's Texas Group at Orange, Texas, in March 1946 and reported there in July 1946. On 27 February 1947, she was decommissioned there and berthed with the Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. While in reserve, she was renamed USS Wampanoag on 16 July 1948.
Wampanoag remained in reserve until 25 February 1959 at which time she was loaned to the United States Coast Guard. In the Coast Guard, she became the USCGC Comanche (WATA-202), later redesignated WMEC-202 as a medium endurance cutter. On 1 June 1969, her name was struck from the Navy List and she was transferred permanently to the Coast Guard.
Comanche operated along the United States West Coast from 1959 to 1967. She moved her home port to Corpus Christi, Texas in 1967, then moved it again to Eureka, California, in 1969. She operated from Eureka until decommissioned by the Coast Guard on 30 January 1980 and laid up. She was sold into commercial service in 1991, and operated commercially in the Puget Sound area of Washington until laid up in 2000.
In 2007, the Comanche was given to the Comanche 202 Foundation, a non-profit founded on 11 September 2007, for the purpose of preserving, restoring and operating the last complete ATA and the first U.S. Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutter preserved on the west coast. As of 2015, she has been moored at the Tyee Marina, Tacoma, Washington, during the winter months and during the at the Bremerton Marina, Bremerton, WA and visits other Puget Sounds port. Comanche is frequently open for tours. Comanche is fully operational and makes cruises on the Puget Sound.Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is a federally recognized tribe of Wampanoag people based in the town of Aquinnah on the southwest tip of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The tribe hosts an annual Cranberry Day celebration.The tribe received official recognition in 1987, the same year that their land claim on Martha's Vineyard was settled by an act of Congress, with agreement by the state and the United States Department of Interior. The government took into trust on behalf of the tribe 485 acres of Tribal Lands purchased (160 acres private and approximately 325 acres common lands). In 2011 the state of Massachusetts passed a law allowing legalized gambling, and federally recognized Native American tribes began to develop proposals to develop casinos.
Faced with state opposition to a Class III facility on its land, in 2013 the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head proposed a Class II facility to be developed on its property. The state and town filed suit against it in federal district court, and the judge ruled in their favor. The tribe, together with the Department of Interior, appealed to the US Court of Appeals, First Circuit, defending its case in December 2016.Whitman River
The Whitman River is an 8.4-mile-long (13.5 km) river in Massachusetts that flows through Ashburnham, Westminster and Fitchburg. It arises from Lake Wampanoag in Ashburnham, travels through a couple of ponds in Westminster, and ultimately joins Phillips Brook in Fitchburg to form the North Nashua River.