WAMPANOAGS - SOURCE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY...

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SOURCE: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY V.4 BY BRUCE E. JOHANSEN AND BARRY M. PRITZKER, EDITORS WAMPANOAG "WAMPANOAG" MEANS "EASTERN PEOPLE". THEY WERE FORMERLY KNOWN AS POKANOKETS, WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS THE NAME OF MASSASOIT'S VILLAGE BUT CAME TO BE THE DESIGNATION OF ALL THE TERRITORY AND PEOPLE UNDER THE GREAT SACHEM. THE WAMPANOAGS OR POKANOKETS ALSO INCLUDED THE NAUSETS OF CAPE COD, THE SAKONNETS OF RHODE ISLAND, AND VARIOUS TRIBES OF THE OFFSHORE ISLANDS. TRADITIONALLY, WAMPANOAGS LIVED IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND FROM JUST NORTH OF CAPE COD, BUT INCLUDING NANTUCKET AND MARTHA'S VINEYARD, TO NARRANGANSETT BAY. THERE WERE APPROX. 6,500 WAMPANOAGS IN 1600, INCLUDING TRIBUTARY ISLAND TRIBES. WAMPANOAGS SPOKE THE MASSACHUSETT DIALECT OF AN ALGONQUIN LANGUAGE. THE PEOPLE RECOGNIZED A SUPREME DEITY AND MANY LESSE DEITIES. PRIESTS, OR MEDICINE MEN, PROVIDED RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP. THEIR DUTIES INCLUDED MEDIATING W/ THE SPIRIT WORLD TO CURE, TO FORECAST THE WEATHER, AND TO CONDUCE CEREMONIES. A CHIEF SACHEM LED THE TRIBE. IN THEORY HIS POWER WAS ABSOLUTE, BUT IN PRACTICE HE WAS ADVISED BY A COUNCIL OF VILLAGE AND CLAN CHIEFS (SAGAMORES). THE VILLAGE WAS THE MAIN POLITICAL UNIT. VILLAGE LEADERSHIP HAD A HEREDITARY ELEMENT, WHICH MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF WOMEN CHIEFS. VILLAGES MAY HAVE MADE THEIR OWN TEMPORARY ALLIANCES. OVERALL POLITICAL STRUCTURE CONSOLIDATED AND BECAME MORE HIERARCHICAL AFTER THE EPIDEMICS OF 1616-1619. WAMPANOAGS WERE ORGANIZED INTO A NUMBER OF CLANS. THEIR ANNUAL ROUND OF ACTIVITIES TOOK THEM FROM WINTER VILLAGES TO GATHERING SITES AT SUMMER FIELDS. WOMEN HAD CLEARLY DEFINED AND SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL RIGHTS. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION WAS REFLECTED IN LEADERSHIP AND MARRIAGE ARRANGEMENTS. LEADING MEN MIGHT HAVE MORE THAN ONE WIFE. THE DEAD WERE WRAPPED IN MATS AND BURIED WITH VARIOUS POSSESSIONS, MOURNERS BLACKENED THEIR FACES, AND THE SOULS OF THE DEAD WERE SAID TO TRAVEL WEST. THERE WERE AT LEAST 30 VILLAGES IN THE EARLY 17TH CENTURY,MOST OF WHICH
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WAMPANOAGS - SOURCE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY...

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