My Suitcase Subscribe Now for Insider Info

Cape Cod is one of the most important regions of Native American life in the United States. Centered in the town of Mashpee, the Wampanoag Tribe is the only registered Native American tribe on the Cape. Ramona Peters, a member of the Chief’s Circle, says, “Our ancestors are quite literally part of the soil of this land, therefore we are part of the soil of this land.”

With a history stretching back centuries, the Wampanoag are a vital part of the Cape’s cultural landscape. Trish Keliinui, the PR & Communications Manager, adds, “The Wampanoag Nation once included sixty-nine tribes. Presently, there are three remaining of the sixty-nine including the Mashpee, the Aquinnah (Gay Head) and Herring Pond.”

Despite this decline in numbers, Mashpee’s Wampanoag Tribe is thriving, thanks in large part to the Tribal Council’s extensive efforts to preserve their values and way of life. Jessie “Little Doe” Baird, the Vice Chairwoman of the Tribal Council, explains, “Our philosophy includes being mindful that the actions we take and the work we do now will have a direct effect on the seventh generation to come after us.”

Visitors interested in learning more about their enduring culture should check out the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum, the only museum in the country exclusively devoted to Wampanoag history. “Often times we are underestimated, however, we have existed for 12,000 years,” says Keliinui. From the Stone Age to present day, the museum highlights the rich indigenous culture and historical significance of the tribe. Baskets, tools, heirlooms, and weapons are all on display, as well as a large diorama depicting an early Wampanoag settlement, all of which allow visitors an in-depth look at the history of the tribe.

The Wampanoag are also an active member of the larger Cape community, organizing festivals and events throughout the year, including artisan festivals, Columbus Day lectures, and the annual Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow. “We keep our culture and traditions alive by simply continuing to practice them,” Peters says. At these events, visitors can enjoy traditional music and dances, hear stories and history, and purchase pieces from skilled Native American artists.

A particularly special event at the Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow is the naming of the Powwow Princess. One smart, driven, and qualified young lady is chosen to help represent the tribe for the next year. Keliinui explains, “A panel of Tribal members, including Tribal Elders and Clan Mothers, and on occasion past Princesses, conduct an interview including questions regarding Traditional leadership, present-day leadership, the importance of maintaining cultural values and future aspirations of the princess candidate, among other relevant discussion items.”

The town of Mashpee offers a variety of resources for visitors interested in learning more. “We do have a strong relationship with our local chamber of commerce where visitors often ask how to learn more about the Mashpee Wampanoag,” Peters explains. “They are able to provide points of interest and contacts to our offices.”

For Baird and her colleagues, the work of protecting and preserving Wampanoag culture will have a profound impact on the entire Cape community for generations to come. “We understand that Creation has given to us many privileges as well as responsibilities,” she says. “The earth, the sun, the moon, the wind, our waters, and all living beings, our language and understanding of the world are all privileges. We also recognize our responsibility to be stewards of these gifts and to take care of our sisters and brothers.”

-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, ALLISON BENNETT

-Photo Credit: Courtney Wittenstein, Andrew Pollock, and William DeSousa-Mauk 

FUN IDEAS & TRAVEL TIPS

Nauticon is Not Your Average Con Town Spotlight: Bourne Town Spotlight: Nantucket Town Spotlight: Mashpee Town Spotlight: Provincetown
Town Spotlight: Orleans Town Spotlight: Yarmouth Go Shopping at the HyArts Artist Shanties The Viking 200 Cardboard Boat Challenge Cape Cod Restaurant Week Beekeeping Keeps Cape Cod Sweet Celebrate Spring with Nantucket's Daffodil Festival 12,000 Years of Wampanoag History Five Sweet Spots on Route 6A 5 Spots for Shopping Along Route 6A A Cabinet of Wonders: Inside the Edward Gorey House Sharks: Cape Cod's Other Summer Visitors Romantic Spots in Falmouth Gods & Goddesses at the Provincetown Carnival Cape Cod’s Hydrangeas Yappy Hour at Cape Cod Beer Sweet Caroline's Ice Cream Is So Good The Ultimate Guide to Cape Cod Summer Theater A 90-Year Recipe for Saltwater Taffy Cape Cod Donut Shop Gets Creative A Festival for the Dogs on Cape Cod Spend a Day at the Ballgame A Dog’s Day on the Cape in Eastham Let them Eat Cake 4 Breakfast How to Run a Cape Cod Marathon What Makes Great Mini-Golf? Five Family-Friendly Stops along Route 6A Bowling and Games at Ryan's Amusements Hidden Hollow and Family Fun Fridays at Heritage Family Fun at Wackenhammer's Shipwreck! Navy Submarine, S-19 Runs Aground on Nauset Bar in Eastham Shipwreck! Stockholm sinks Andrea Doria off Chatham Shipwreck! The Competitor Cape Cod Houses The Cape Cod Canal Mooncussers of Cape Cod What's Your Cape Cod IQ? Shipwreck! The Argo Merchant Six Fun History Stops on Cape Cod Glimpse the Nineteenth Century at Pairpoint Glass Four Tips for First-Time Birders Six Spots for Spectacular Cape Cod Birding P-Town Dune Shack Applications Available Gardens Aglow Lights up Cape Cod for the Holidays Four places to catch a ferry to the islands Head to Woods Hole for a Day of Ocean Discovery Writers on the Nature of Cape Cod Five Fun Things to do in October on Cape Cod Cranberries & Blueberries: Berry Interesting Cape Cod Shines September Festivals: Come Celebrate Cape Cod Lobster Roll Luncheons A Day at Hyannis Harbor: Summertime at the Artist Shanties Fishing for Flounder with Captain Chip Chatham goes "Back to the Future" in June Veg Out (and More) at One of Cape Cod's Farmers Markets An afternoon in South Yarmouth: Mini golf, ice cream & more Five Reasons to Add a Melody Tent Show to Your Cape Cod Vacation Itinerary Cape Cod Shipwreck: Elsie G. Silva In a Jam in Sandwich: Strawberry, Cranberry Apricot & More Paint the Cape green: Three ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day Walk in the footsteps of the Kennedys on Cape Cod Go green in Yarmouth at the Cape Cod St. Pat's Parade Siobhan Magnus to sing like a Brit in Yarmouth Local & luscious: Three Cod Cod-inspired Valentine's Day treats Brewing up knowledge--an evening out at a local "on tap" event Five fun things to do with the kids during February school vacation Digging for delights--Cape Cod clamming Three unique spots to catch a flick on Cape Cod Nantucket makes Nat Geo's best fall trips list Sunbathe, Swim & Explore: Sixteen Beaches in Dennis Swim, Surf & Sunbathe: Nine Beautiful Beaches in Barnstable Eleven Heavenly Beaches in Harwich The Shores of Falmouth: Nine Beautiful Beaches to Explore Dive into Bourne with a Visit to These Six Beaches If You Hear The Chatham Band Playing, That Means It's Friday Make Jam and Meet Peter Rabbit at the Green Briar Nature Center in East Sandwich 23 Top Fresh Water Swimming Spots on Cape Cod Four Fantastic Beaches to Explore in Sandwich Explore Music, Theater, Film & More at Cotuit Center For the Arts Take a dip at Mashpee's South Cape Beach Dining With Dad: Four Cape Restaurants for Father's Day Guided Kayak Tours: A Great Way to See Cape Cod Seafood Dinner: Three Essential Condiments for Your Cupboard Chatham Railroad Museum is a Treat for Train Lovers of All Ages Four Tips for Skipping Memorial Day Weekend Traffic on Cape Cod Sip the Cape's Newest Small Craft Beer from Devil's Purse Brewing Gray Gables and Bourne's Connection to President Grover Cleveland Love Butterflies? Check Out Butterflies of Cape Cod in Bourne Scargo Tower Offers A Stunning View of Cape Cod Seven Ways to Enjoy Seafood on Cape Cod Five Tips for Hiking Cape Cod Trails Beach Stickers: A Must Have for Summer Vacation Fun Packing for a Day at the Shore: What's In Your Beach Bag? Taste Your Way Through Cape Cod: Eleven Awesome Ice Cream Shops Pets Welcome: Five Places to Stay with Your Furry Friend The Herring Are Running, The Herring Are Running! Daffodil Alert: Spring Has Sprung on Cape Cod Scuba Diving to Stand Up Paddleboarding The Great Fried Clam Roll Debate: Strips or Whole-Belly Cape Cod Vacation Must: Tantalizing Treats from the Raw Bar Three Tips for a Green Cape Cod Vacation A New Way to Explore: Rock Hunting on Cape Cod An Early Morning Walk--Cape Cod All to Yourself Ten Reasons Cape Cod is THE Destination for Your Next Vacation Kids: Catch Some Air at a Cape Cod Skatepark Grab Your Binoculars--It's Time to Go Birdwatching on Cape Cod Cape Cod Beachcombing: A Dozen Sea Shells You Will Surely Find The Delicate Art of Glass Blowing: Six Cape Cod Studios & a Museum to Visit Bowling, Burgers & Brew--the Lanes in Mashpee has it all All Things Aquatic: Five Cool Cape Cod Aquariums The Brazilian Grill in Hyannis: Not Just For Meat-Lovers Seven Sure Ways to Make Your Cape Cod Valentine's Day Romantic Brilliant Beacons: Take a Tour of the Cape's Many Lighthouses Brrr....Warm Up on Cape Cod with a Spicy Burrito Nine Cape Cod Courses Perfect "Fore" a Round of Golf Celebrate Cape Cod: Buy Fresh, Buy Local Say Cheese: Five Places to Take the Perfect Cape Cod Picture Go Back in Time at These Five Historic Cape Cod Homes Thick & Creamy, Loaded with Clams, How Do You Like Your Chowder? Stand-Up Paddleboarding--a Fun Way to Hit the Waves Farmer for a Day: Seven Cape Cod Farms You Won't Want to Miss Seven Fun Ways to Spend a Rainy Cape Cod Day A Touch Tank Teeming with Cool Sea Creatures Mid & Lower Cape Dining: Ten Top Take-Out Places on Cape Cod Eight Cape Cod Eateries Offering a Twist on Traditional Seafood Arts & Artists: A Dozen Galleries to Visit on Cape Cod Eight Types of Tours That Will Make Your Cape Cod Vacation November 2017 Fun in Boston October 2017 Fun in Boston September 2017 Fun in Boston Top Five Kid-Friendly Stops in Boston Escape to Boston's Islands Boston's Very Own Oasis The Ocean's Most Misunderstood Creature The Regulars are Coming Step Back into the Nineteenth Century Top Five Boston Breweries A Football Fan's Dream Mrs. Mallard Returns to Boston Take a Peek at a 14 Foot Tall PEZ Dispenser Real-life Ghost of Christmas Past An Arctic Sojourn at Mt. Washington Vintage Christmas at Strawbery Banke Nineteenth Century New England Christmas Somerville Chocolate Factory Life of a Sailor on Old Ironsides An In-Depth Look at Boston Duck Tours Citi Performing Arts Center Shapes the Boston Art Scene Inside Look at Cape Ann Whale Watch Touring the Dark Side of Boston Meet the Wolfman The Up and Coming Eateries of East Boston Three Top Maine Campsites Behind the Scenes of the Boston Tea Party Springtime Fun in Boston Itinerary for a Single Day in Salem Discover the best hiking trails in Massachusetts In a Jam in Sandwich Trains Trains Trains Zip Into Summer Ski Across New England Massachusetts Movie Moments Visit Historic Salem in Massachusetts Historical Fun in Connecticut Make it Count in Massachusetts History on Cape Cod Inspired Fun in New Hampshire Top Things to Do In Rhode Island See the Beautiful Berkshires Ship Up to Boston for Historical Fun
View More

WHAT'S NEARBY?

Massachusetts: Boston

Other States: Connecticut Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire Rhode Island

Need printed maps & brochures for your trip?

You have now added this profile to your suitcase

You are not logged in. To login or create an account please click here