Wampanoag People

Wampanoag people /ˌwɑːmpəˈnoʊ.æɡ/, Wôpanâak in the Native American tribe. Wampanoag people today are enrolled in two federally recognized tribes, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) of Massachusetts, or four other tribes, recognized by the commonwealth of Masschusetts.

In the beginning of the 17th century, at the time of first contact with the English, the Wampanoag lived in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as within a territory that encompassed current day Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Their population numbered in the thousands due to the richness of the environment and their cultivation of corn, beans and squash. Three thousand Wampanoag lived on Martha's Vineyard alone.

From 1616 to 1619 the Wampanoag suffered an epidemic, long suspected to be smallpox, but recent research alternatively theorizes that it was leptospirosis, a bacterial infection also known as Weil's syndrome or 7-day fever. It caused a high fatality rate and nearly destroyed the society. Researchers suggest that the losses from the epidemic made it possible for the English colonists to get a foothold in creating the Massachusetts Bay Colony in later years. King Philip's War (1675–1676) against the English colonists resulted in the deaths of 40 percent of the tribe. Most of the male survivors were sold into slavery in the West Indies. Many women and children were enslaved in New England.

While the tribe largely disappeared from historical records from the late 18th century, its people persisted. Survivors remained in their traditional areas and continued many aspects of their culture, while absorbing other people by marriage and adapting to changing economic and cultural needs in the larger society. Although the last native speakers of Wôpanâak died more than 100 years ago, since 1993 the tribe has been working on a language revival project that is producing new native speakers, the first time this has been achieved in the United States. The project is working on curriculum and teacher development.

The chief groups of Wampanoag began to re-organize their governments in the late twentieth century, although only one federally recognized tribe has reservation land. They are seeking to acquire land to be held in trust to enable Indian gaming to generate revenue for the nation. In November 2011, the Massachusetts legislature authorized the Mashpee Wampanoag to acquire land in southeastern Massachusetts for a gaming casino.

Read more about Wampanoag PeopleName, Groups of The Wampanoag, Culture, Language and Revival, Current Status, Other Wampanoag, Demographics, Wampanoag, Representation in Other Media

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