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 Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (legally Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, Inc.) 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.
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.
Pilgrims settle at what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod near the abandoned village of Pahtuksut. Three years earlier, the Wampanoag had left after a smallpox outbreak ravaged the tribe.
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.
A Wampanoag home was called a wetu. Families erected these dwellings at their coastal planting grounds and lived in them throughout the growing season.
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?
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.
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.
Wampanoag women wore knee -length skirts. Wampanoag men wore breechcloths with leggings. Neither women nor men had to wear shirts in the Wampanoag culture, but they would dress in deerskin mantles during cool weather. The Wampanoags also wore moccasins on their feet.
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.
Born around 1596, Pocahontas was the daughter of Wahunsenaca (also known as Powhatan ), the powerful chief of the Powhatans, a Native American group that inhabited the Chesapeake Bay region. Little is known about her mother.
The Wampanoag suggested a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the Pilgrims would exchange European weaponry for Wampanoag for food. The feast of indigenous foods that took place in October 1621, after the harvest, was one of thanks, but it more notably symbolized the rare, peaceful coexistence of the two groups.
The Wampanoag Indians of eastern Massachusetts played a role in helping and teaching the Pilgrims how to survive in this new land. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims along with about 90 Wampanoag Indians, including their chief, Massasoit, celebrated the fall harvest.