Wampanoag

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Wampanoag

(wäm'pənō`ăg), Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). In the early 17th cent. they occupied the region extending E from Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The Wampanoag were sometimes referred to as the Pokanoket, from the name of their principal village. When the Pilgrims settled (1620) at Plymouth, the Wampanoag, although reduced by the pestilence of 1617, were powerful, living in some 30 villages. Their chief, MassasoitMassasoit
, c.1580–1661, chief of the Wampanoag. He was also known as Ousamequin (spelled in various ways). One of the most powerful native rulers of New England, he went to Plymouth in 1621 and signed a treaty with the Pilgrims, which he faithfully observed until his
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, was very friendly to the settlers. His son, Metacom (Philip), however, was the central figure of the deadliest war with the colonists, King Philip's WarKing Philip's War,
1675–76, the most devastating war between the colonists and the Native Americans in New England. The war is named for King Philip, the son of Massasoit and chief of the Wampanoag. His Wampanoag name was Metacom, Metacomet, or Pometacom.
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 (1675). The victory of the English brought ruin to the tribe. The Wampanoag were harried almost out of existence, the remnant consolidating with the Saconnet. However, in 1990 there were over 2,000 Wampanoag living in the United States, most of them in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag were of the Eastern Woodlands culture area (see under Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
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).

Bibliography

See M. A. Travers, The Wampanoag Indian Federation of the Algonquian Nation (rev. ed. 1961).