At the Plymouth settlement in present-day Massachusetts, the leaders of the Plymouth colonists, acting on behalf of King James I, make a defensive alliance with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags.
The Wampanoag went on to teach them how to hunt, plant crops and how to get the best of their harvest, saving these people, who would go on to be known as the Pilgrims, from starvation.
Two prominent figures in the Plymouth Colony described it as a three-day feast and celebration of the harvest, attended by the colonists and a group of Wampanoag Native Americans and their leader Massasoit.
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.
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. Many people use the word “Indian” to describe us, but we prefer to be called Native People. Our name, Wampanoag, means People of the First Light.
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 Wampanoag tribe was known for their beadwork, wood carvings, and baskets. Here are some pictures of a Wampanoag basket being woven. Wampanoag artists were especially famous for crafting wampum out of white and purple shell beads.
The Wampanoag suggested a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the Pilgrims would exchange European weaponry for Wampanoag for food. The feast of indigenous foods that took place in October 1621, after the harvest, was one of thanks, but it more notably symbolized the rare, peaceful coexistence of the two groups.
Squanto was a Native-American from the Patuxet tribe who taught the pilgrims of Plymouth colony how to survive in New England. Squanto was able to communicate with the pilgrims because he spoke fluent English, unlike most of his fellow Native-Americans at the time.
Forty-five of the 102 Mayflower passengers died in the winter of 1620–21, and the Mayflower colonists suffered greatly during their first winter in the New World from lack of shelter, scurvy, and general conditions on board ship.
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.
[ plim-uhth ] SHOW IPA. / ˈplɪm əθ / PHONETIC RESPELLING. noun. a seaport in SW Devonshire, in SW England, on the English Channel: naval base; the departing point of the Mayflower 1620. a city in SE Massachusetts: the oldest town in New England, founded by the Pilgrims 1620.