The Wampanoag tribe was known for their beadwork, wood carvings, and baskets. Here are some pictures of a Wampanoag basket being woven. Wampanoag artists were especially famous for crafting wampum out of white and purple shell beads.
The Wampanoag are one of many Nations of people all over North America who were here long before any Europeans arrived, and have survived until today. Many people use the word “Indian” to describe us, but we prefer to be called Native People. Today, about 4,000-5,000 Wampanoag live in New England.
The Wampanoag homeland included the territory along the East Coast from Wessagusset (today called Weymouth, Massachusetts ), to what is now Cape Cod and the islands of Natocket and Noepe (now called Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, respectively), and southeast as far as Pokanoket (the area which now encompasses Bristol
The food that the Wampanoag tribe ate included crops they raised consisting of the “three sisters” crops of corn, beans and squash together with Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, and zucchini. Meat included deer (venison), black bear, rabbit, grouse, squirrel, duck, geese, muskrat, beaver, otter, raccoon and turkey.
From 1615 to 1619, the Wampanoag suffered an epidemic, long suspected to be smallpox. Modern research, however, has suggested that it may have been leptospirosis, a bacterial infection which can develop into Weil’s syndrome. It caused a high fatality rate and decimated the Wampanoag population.
Life before the Mayflower In the 1600s, there were as many as 40,000 people in the 67 villages that made up the Wampanoag People, who firstly lived as a nomadic hunting and gathering culture.
Pumpkin Pie Both the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes indigenous to New England—possibly even during the harvest festival—but the fledgling colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust.
Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their cultures.
A tribal chief or chieftain is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom.
The Mayflower attempted to depart England on three occasions, once from Southampton on 5 August 1620; once from Darthmouth on 21 August 1620; and finally from Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620.
All of the pilgrims came on the Mayflower Samoset (ca. 1590–1653) was the first Native American to speak with the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony. On March 16, 1621, the people were very surprised when Samoset walked straight into Plymouth Colony where the people were living.
A Wampanoag home was called a wetu. Families erected these dwellings at their coastal planting grounds and lived in them throughout the growing season.
When the Pilgrims landed in 1620, they brought diseases like smallpox and diphtheria. Some English purposely distributed diseased blankets to the unsuspecting Wampanoags, thus wiping out entire villages.
Forty – five of the 102 Mayflower passengers died in the winter of 1620 –21, and the Mayflower colonists suffered greatly during their first winter in the New World from lack of shelter, scurvy, and general conditions on board ship. They were buried on Cole’s Hill.
If you’d like to learn to say a Wampanoag word, Wuneekeesuq (pronounced similar to wuh-nee-kee-suck) is a friendly greeting that means “Good day!” You can also see a Wampanoag picture dictionary here. What was the Wampanoag culture like in the past?