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Wapmanat: The History and Culture of the Wampanoag People




The Wampanoag are a Native American people who have lived in southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island for thousands of years. They have a rich and diverse history and culture that spans from the pre-colonial era to the present day. In this article, we will explore who the Wampanoag are, where they come from, how they lived, what they believe, how they interacted with other groups, how they survived colonization and war, and how they continue to thrive in the modern world.




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Introduction




The word Wampanoag means "People of the First Light" or "Easterners" in their own language, which is called Wôpanâak. They pronounce it as wahm-pah-nah-awk. The Wampanoag are part of a larger group of Native Americans who speak Algonquian languages, which are widespread across North America. The Wampanoag are divided into several tribes, each with its own chief or sachem. The two main tribes today are the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), which are both federally recognized. Other tribes include the Pokanoket, who were once the leaders of the Wampanoag confederation, and the Herring Pond, Nemasket, Chappaquiddick, Nantucket, Pocasset, Assawompset, Hassanamesit, Nipmuc, Seaconke, Massachusett, Nauset, Naumkeag, Agawam, Patuxet, Sowams, Cowesit, Mattakeeset, Punkapoag, Muskeget, Tisquantum, Cuttyhunk, Noman's The Wampanoag Before European Contact




Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Wampanoag lived in harmony with the land and the sea. They were a semi-sedentary people who moved seasonally between fixed sites, depending on the availability of natural resources. They had a complex and sophisticated society, organized into clans, bands, villages, and confederations. They had a matrilineal system, meaning that descent and inheritance were traced through the mother's line. They also had a balanced division of labor, with men responsible for hunting, fishing, and warfare, and women responsible for farming, gathering, and domestic tasks.


The Wampanoag had a rich and diverse culture, based on their beliefs and traditions. They believed in a supreme creator called Kiehtan, who made the first man and woman out of clay. They also believed in many other spirits and beings, such as Moshup the giant, who created the islands of Noepe and Nantucket by throwing rocks into the sea. They had a sacred fire that was kept burning at all times, and they performed ceremonies and rituals to honor their ancestors, celebrate the seasons, and ask for blessings. They had oral traditions that passed down their history, stories, songs, and wisdom from generation to generation.


The Wampanoag had a peaceful and cooperative relationship with other Native American groups in the region. They traded goods and services with their neighbors, such as the Narragansett, the Nipmuc, the Massachusett, and the Nauset. They also formed alliances and confederations to deal with common enemies or threats, such as the Mohawk or the Pequot. They respected each other's territories and boundaries, and they followed a code of diplomacy and etiquette when dealing with other groups.


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The Wampanoag and the Pilgrims had a complex and changing relationship that began in 1620, when the Mayflower landed in Patuxet, the Wampanoag village that had been wiped out by the epidemic. The Pilgrims, who were seeking religious freedom and a new home, were not prepared for the harsh winter and the unfamiliar land. They suffered from hunger, disease, and exposure, and many of them died. The Wampanoag, who had lost many of their own people to the epidemic and the slave trade, were curious and cautious about the newcomers. They observed them from a distance, but did not make contact until March 1621, when an English-speaking Wampanoag named Samoset approached them and greeted them with "Welcome, Englishmen."


Samoset introduced the Pilgrims to another Wampanoag named Tisquantum, or Squanto, who had been kidnapped by Thomas Hunt in 1614 and sold into slavery in Spain. He had escaped and returned to his homeland with the help of some Englishmen, only to find his village and family gone. Squanto became a vital mediator and interpreter between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, teaching them how to plant corn, beans, and squash, how to fish and hunt, and how to trade with other tribes. He also helped them establish a peace treaty with Massasoit, the sachem of the Wampanoag confederation. The treaty stated that the two parties would not harm each other, would aid each other in times of need, and would respect each other's territories and resources.


The treaty was honored by both sides for more than 50 years. The Wampanoag and the Pilgrims became allies and friends, sharing their knowledge, skills, and goods. They also celebrated together the first successful harvest at Plymouth in November 1621, which is now remembered as the first Thanksgiving. The feast lasted for three days and included about 90 Wampanoag men and 50 Pilgrim men, women, and children. They ate deer, turkey, cornbread, pumpkin, berries, nuts, and other foods that they had grown or gathered. They also played games, sang songs, danced, and gave thanks to God for their blessings.


However, as more English settlers arrived in New England in the following years, the balance of power shifted. The colonists began to encroach on Wampanoag lands, resources, and culture. They brought more diseases that killed many Native Americans. They also imposed their laws, religion, and customs on the Wampanoag, who were expected to obey them or face punishment. Some colonists also cheated or mistreated the Wampanoag in trade or other dealings. The alliance between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims gradually eroded as tensions and mistrust grew. King Philip's War and Its Aftermath




King Philip's War, also known as Metacom's War or the First Indian War, was an armed conflict between the Wampanoag and their allies and the English colonists and their allies in 1675-1676. It was one of the bloodiest wars (per capita) in U.S. history, resulting in the death of about 40 percent of the Wampanoag and 5 percent of the colonists.


The war was triggered by the expansion of English settlement on Wampanoag lands and the resistance of the Wampanoag led by Metacom, also known as King Philip, who was the son of Massasoit and the brother of Wamsutta. Metacom had inherited the leadership of the Wampanoag confederation after his father's death in 1661 and his brother's death in 1662, both under suspicious circumstances involving the colonists. Metacom was frustrated by the colonists' encroachment, oppression, and betrayal, and he decided to unite the Wampanoag and other tribes to drive them out of New England.


The war began in June 1675, when a group of Wampanoag warriors killed nine colonists in Swansea, Massachusetts, in retaliation for the execution of three Wampanoag men who had been accused of murdering John Sassamon, a Christian convert who had informed the colonists of Metacom's plans. The colonists responded by sending militia to attack Wampanoag villages, and soon the war spread to other tribes and colonies. The Wampanoag and their allies, such as the Nipmuc, Podunk, Narragansett, Nashaway, and Wabanaki, used g


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