The Wampanoag, Wôpanâak in their language, are a Native American people. In 1600 they lived in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in an area also encompassing Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Elizabeth Island. Their population numbered about 12,000. ------------------------------------------- Wampanoag leaders included Squanto, Samoset, Metacomet (King Philip), and Massasoit. Modern Thanksgiving traditions are based on the Wampanoag’s interaction with the Pilgrims.------------John Smith named the Wampanoag Pakanoket in 1616, after their chief’s village, which was located near present-day Bristol. This name was used frequently in early records and reports. The name currently used by ethnologists means ‘’Eastern People’’. The word Wapanoos was first seen on Adrian Block's 1614 map and was probably a description of all tribes living in the Wampanoag's general area. Other synonyms include ‘’Wapenock, Massasoit’’ and ‘’Philips Indians’’.--------The Wampanoag were semi-sedentary, with seasonal movements between fixed sites. Corn (maize), beans and squash were the staples of their diet, supplemented by fish and game. More specifically, each community had authority over a well-defined territory from which the people derived their livelihood through a seasonal round of fishing, planting, harvesting and hunting. Because southern New England was thickly populated at the time, hunting grounds had strictly defined boundaries, and were passed on from father to son. ----------------------------------------- The Wampanoag way of life fostered a harmonious relationship between the people and their natural environment, both physical and spiritual. Also, they respected the traditions and the elders of their nation. The work of making a living was organized on a family level. Families gathered together in the spring to fish, in early winter to hunt and in the summer they separated to cultivate individual planting fields. Boys were schooled in the way of the woods, where a man’s skill at hunting and ability to survive under all conditions were vital to his family’s well being. The women were trained from youth to work diligently in the fields and around the family wetu. ----------------------------------- A ‘’wetu’’ was the round or oval Wampanoag wigwam. To build them, several posts were placed in the ground, then bent in over a fire and bound together at the top. They were covered on the outside by grass or bark and had an exit hole for smoke at the highest point. A summer house like this was designed so that it could be easily dismantled and moved in just a few hours.------------The Wampanoag were organized into a confederation, where a head sachem presided over a number of other sachem. The English often referred to the sachem as king, a misleading concept, because the position of a sachem was in no way like that of a king and allowed only restricted authority and few privileges. It was traditional, that if there was a lack of appropriate male candidates, a woman could become a sachem.-------------Between 1640 and 1675 new waves of settlers arrived and they continued to force the native peoples westward. While the Pilgrims had normally paid for the land, or had at least asked for permission, the Puritans simply took the land for themselves. In 1665 the Indians of southern New England were simply in the way of the English. They did not desire the ability to survive in the wilderness. Catching fish and the trading of commodities had replaced the trading of furs and wampum from previous years. The population of the native peoples continued to decline, due to recurring epidemics in 1633, 1635, 1654, 1661 and 1667.------------After 1640 there was a “humane” solution to the Indian problem by John Eliot and other puritanical missionaries, in which the native peoples were converted to Christianity. How humane these efforts really were is a matter of opinion. The converted Indians were resettled in so-called ‘’praying towns,’’ in Natick, Nonatum, Punkapog and other places. Indians who were critical of the Puritan version of Christianity were not welcome. Attendance at church was required, and their clothes and hairstyle had to be just like that of the white Christians. Even the hint of a traditional ceremony resulted in expulsion.-----Even Massasoit took on English customs and before his death in 1661, asking the legislators in Plymouth to give both of his sons English names. Wamsutta, the older Son, was given the name Alexander, and his younger borther, Metacomet, was named Philip. After his father’s death, Alexander became the sachem of the Wampanoag. The English were not happy about this, because they felt he was too self-confident, and so they invited him to Plymouth to talk. After eating a meal, he became seriously ill and died. The Wampanoag were told he died of fever, but mostly likely it was poison that killed him. The following year Metacomet became the next sachem of the Wampanoag, following the path of his murdered brother. He was later named ‘’King Philip’’ by the English.--------------To all appearances, Philip was not a radical sachem, but under his rule there were dramatic changes in the relationship between the Wampanoag and the colonists. It had become clear to him that the English would eventually take over everything, not only their land, but also their culture, their way of life and their religion. Philip decided to impede the further expansion of English settlements. For the Wampanoag alone, this was not at all possible, because at that time their tribe had less than 1,000 members. From his home on Mount Hope outwards he began to visit other tribes, to talk them in to his plan. This too was a nearly hopeless undertaking, because at that time the number of colonists in southern New England was more than double that of the Indians – 35,000 colonists in the face of 15,000 natives. Philip’s efforts did not stay a secret, because a network of spies, the “praying Indians,” betrayed Philip’s plans to the English. In 1671 Philip was called to Tauton, where he listened to the accusations of the English and signed an agreement that required the Wampanoag to give up their firearms. To be on the safe side however, he did not take part in the subsequent dinner and the weapons were not delivered later either.-------------King Philip's War On July 20, 1675 some young Wampanoag trekked to Swansea, killed some cattle, and scared and horrified the white settlers. The next day King Philip's War broke out and a number of white settlements were attacked by the Indians and burned to the ground. The unexpected attacks caused great panic among the English. The Christian Indians in the praying towns, who the Puritans had located in various parts of New England, were considered suspicious and thus taken to an island on the Boston harbour. The united tribes in southern New England were furthermore successful, and of 90 English settlements, 52 were attacked and partially burned down.--------------------From Massachusetts outwards, the war spread to more parts of New England. Some tribes from Maine, the Kennebec, Pigwacket and Arosaguntacook joined in the war against the English. Even the former enemies of the Wampanoag, the Narraganset of Rhode Island, relinquished their neutrality after the colonists attacked a fortified village. In that battle, which became known as the “Great Swamp Massacre,” the Narraganset lost more than 600 people and 20 sachems. Their leader Canonchet, however, was able to flee and led a large group of Narraganset warriors west to join King Philip’s warriors.----------the spring of 1676, after a winter full of hunger and deprivation, the tides turned against Philip. The English troops set out on a relentless chase after him, and his best ally, Sachem Canonchet of the Narraganset, was taken captive and executed by a firing squad. His corpse was quartered, and his head was sent to Hartford and put on public display.----------------During the summer months, Philip escaped from his pursuers and took up a hideout on Mount Hope. But in August it was discovered by Indian scouts working for the English, and 173 Wampanoag were killed or taken prisoner. Philip only barely escaped capture, but among the prisoners taken were his wife and their 9 year old son. They were taken onto a ship in Plymouth and sold as slaves in the West Indies. On August 12, 1676 British troops surrounded Philip’s camp and shortly after that he was shot dead by an Indian scout. His head was cut off and for 20 years it was displayed on a pike in Plymouth.-----------With the death of Philip and most of their leaders, the Wampanoag were nearly exterminated; only about 400 of them survived the war. The Narraganset and Nipmuck suffered similar losses and many small tribes in southern New England were, for all intents and purposes, gone. As a result of a large relocation, many of the survivors were forced to leave their homelands, although some did not have to go far away. They accepted the asylum offer from Edmund Andros, the governor of New York, and settled in Schaghitcoke on the Hudson River under the Mahicans. Others found refuge with the Lenni Lenape in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, plus large numbers fled to the Western Abenaki and to Canada. Although small groups lived on the Connecticut River until the 19th century, the Pocumtuc as an organized group disappeared. The war took a toll on the English as well: 600 colonists were killed, in all 90 settlements were attacked and of those, 13 were completely destroyed. Before the war there were approximately 15,000 Indians in southern New England; in 1680 only 4,000 survivors remained, and the severe English peace terms meant outright repression.