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 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.
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?
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.
A Wampanoag home was called a wetu. Families erected these dwellings at their coastal planting grounds and lived in them throughout the growing season.
Wampanoag children have always learned important skills from playing and watching the adults around them. Among other activities, they learned how to swim, shoot and dodge arrows, weave, sew, run swiftly, and play games of skill and chance as part of Wampanoag culture in the 1600s.
Aquinnah Wampanoag own 485 acres of land and are governed by an elected tribal council; the council also has a traditional chief and a medicine man as members. They maintain traditional governing roles by electing a sachem, a medicine man, clan matriarchs, and an elder council.
Indians spoke a dialect of the Algonquin language. A few spoke some English even before the Pilgrims landed at Plimoth in 1620. They learned from the English fishermen who fished for cod. Samoset was an Indian who said “Welcome, Englishmen,” much to the surprise of Miles Standish and William Bradford.
What the Pilgrims Really Ate At Thanksgiving Turkey, of course, was served (and has been the main entrée for almost 400 years). However, it was wild, not domestic, that the Pilgrims and Indians consumed. Fish. Bread, especially sourdough bread, which the Pilgrims called “Cheate Bread.” Cornbread was made from hominy. Corn. Vegetables. Dessert? Cutlery.
The Wampanoag have been planting crops for about 1,200 years. Many animals were hunted and eaten including deer, moose, beaver, rabbit, skunk, and raccoon.
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.
But after Champlain and Smith visited, a terrible illness spread through the region. Modern scholars have argued that indigenous communities were devastated by leptospirosis, a disease caused by Old World bacteria that had likely reached New England through the feces of rats that arrived on European ships.
During the winter, the passengers remained on board Mayflower, suffering an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. After it was over, only 53 passengers remained—just over half; half of the crew died as well.