Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation.
The native inhabitants of the region around Plymouth Colony were the various tribes of the Wampanoag people, who had lived there for some 10,000 years before the Europeans arrived. Soon after the Pilgrims built their settlement, they came into contact with Tisquantum, or Squanto, an English-speaking Native American.
In summary, while not widely credited in history books for his role in helping the Pilgrims following the harsh winter of 1620/21, on 16 Mar 1621, our Council’s namesake, Samoset, an Abenaki sagamore, was the first Native American to contact the Pilgrims.
So they invited a member of the Wampanoag Nation, or People of the First Light – the loose confederation of south-eastern New England tribes whose ancestors were immortalised as the “friendly Indians” who welcomed the Pilgrims and feasted with them at the “first Thanksgiving” in 1621.
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. Our name, Wampanoag, means People of the First Light. In the 1600s, we had as many as 40,000 people in the 67 villages that made up the Wampanoag Nation.
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.
Squanto, also known as Tisquantum, was a Native American of the Patuxet tribe who acted as an interpreter and guide to the Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth during their first winter in the New World.
(English crops such as turnips, cabbage, parsnips, onions, carrots, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme might have also been on hand.) And for the starring dishes, there were undoubtedly native birds and game as well as the Wampanoag gift of five deer. Fish and shellfish were also likely on the groaning board.
The Native Americans welcomed the arriving immigrants and helped them survive. Then they celebrated together, even though the Pilgrims considered the Native Americans heathens. The Pilgrims were devout Christians who fled Europe seeking religious freedom.
The Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited present-day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years. They were part of a rich tapestry of indigenous people with a vast variety of tribes, societies and cultures numbering many times over those present today.
History of Plymouth Rock The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Harbor in 1620, after first stopping near today’s Provincetown. According to oral tradition, Plymouth Rock was the site where William Bradford and other Pilgrims first set foot on land.
Language: Wampanoag–also known as Massachusett, Pokanoket, Nantucket, Natick, Massasoit, Nauset, or Mashpee–is an Algonkian language of New England. The language is no longer actively spoken in Wampanoag communities today, although some Wampanoag people are trying to revive it.
Massasoit was the grand sachem (intertribal chief) of all the Wampanoag Indians, who inhabited parts of present Massachusetts and Rhode Island, particularly the coastal regions.
The Wampanoags’ enemies were most notably the Mohawks, a rival Native American group in western New England.