Celebrating Wampanoag Culture on the Cape

Wampanoag means “Eastern People” or “People of the Dawn” or “People of the First Light.” Did you know that the Wampanoag have lived in what is now southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years? They were the first tribe encountered by the Pilgrims when they landed in Patuxet (what is now Plymouth) in 1620. Show your appreciation for the Cape’s first true settlers and visit these Wampanoag exhibits this fall. 

A map of Wampanoag territories in 1620, from Voices from Colonial America: Massachusetts, 1620-1776, National Geographic Society, 2007.

Heritage Museum & Gardens

The outdoor exhibition at Heritage Museums & Gardens features a reproduction of a wetu—a Wampanoag seasonal house used during the warmer months. Heritage partnered with Smoke Sygnals, the Northeast’s leading Native American creative agency in creating this project. This past spring, the Smoke Sygnals team (including members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe) constructed the wetu in one week by following centuries-old methods. Visitors can explore the wetu, visit the accompanying Wampanoag-style vegetable garden, and read historical and contemporary information about the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe 

Photo credit: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Wampanoag Day Celebration at the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum in Bourne

Plimoth Patuxet Museums

There is also room to discover at Historic Patuxet, at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The organization provides opportunities to learn about the indigenous heritage of the Northeast. You can learn about the Wampanoag seasonal diet and the seasonal work of growing food, walkthrough and discover a wetu, and watch the staff work on making a mishoon (dug-out canoe).

Visit one (or all!) of these exhibits to celebrate Wampanoag Cultural Celebration Day!

Our Own Highfield Hall & Gardens

On September 25, 2021, in partnership with Wampanoag Cultural Education Specialists, and the Rotary Club of Falmouth and sponsored in part by the Cape Cod 5 Foundation, will be hosting a Wampanoag Cultural Celebration.

Highfield Hall & Gardens is thrilled to present a new program in coordination with the Wampanoag Cultural Education Specialists and the Rotary Club of Falmouth to present the Wampanoag Cultural Celebration Day, September 25, 2021 outdoors and under the tent, on the Highfield grounds.

With Massachusetts’ and the Cape’s deep history with indigenous people, Highfield is partnering with members of the Wampanoag Education committee, and Rotary of Falmouth to present a fun and educational day-long festival to celebrate and raise awareness of the culture and history of local tribes whose ancestral lands include Cape Cod, the Islands, and reach to Marshfield and the Blue Hills.

This family friendly day will include hands-on activities such as corn husk dolls, clay beads, and quahog shell rattles; traditional games, dance, and tastes of Native American food. There will also be vendors from the Wampanoag Trading Post as well as other crafts/vendors from the tribe.

The vendor tables will include, Morningstar Herbals, Wampanoag Garden Club, Wampanoag Trading Post, Wampanoag Rabbit Clan, Wampanoag Rabbit Clan Mother, and additional Wampanoag Jewelry.

The food samplings will include traditional fare such as Massasoit Venison Stew, Traditional Wampanoag Fresh Quahog Chowder and Native Garden Potato, Squash and Onion Sauté. A sampling of drinks will be included, but visitors are encouraged to bring water should it become a hot day.

Visit one (or all!) of these exhibits to celebrate the Cape’s Wampanoag culture!