Northeast Woodlands Culture Area
Northeast Woodlands Culture Area

Wampanoag Native Americans

Representative Tribe for Northeast Region of America

What is the correct pronunciation of “Wampanoag?” What does it mean?
Wampanoag means “easterners.” Originally it was pronounced similar to WAWM-pah-NAW-ahg. But today, most Wampanoag people pronounce the name either wamp-a-NO-ag or WAMP-ah-nog (“wamp” rhymes with “stomp.”)

Where do the Wampanoag Indians live?
The Wampanoag Indians were original natives of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was Wampanoag people who befriended the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and brought them corn and turkey for the famous first Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the relationship went downhill from there, and disease and British attacks killed most of the Wampanoag people. The surviving Wampanoags are still living in New England today.

How do Wampanoag Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things any children do–play with each other, go to school and help around the house. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like early colonial children. But Wampanoag children did have cornhusk dolls and toys such as miniature bows and arrows and hand-held ball games. Like many Native Americans, Wampanoag mothers traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs–a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women’s roles in the Wampanoag tribe?
Wampanoag men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Wampanoag women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. In the past, Wampanoag chiefs were always men, but today a Wampanoag woman can participate in government too.

What were Wampanoag homes like in the past?
The Wampanoags didn’t live in tepees. They lived in villages of small round houses called wetus, or wigwams. Each Wampanoag village was built around a central square used for councils and ceremonies. Some villages were palisaded (surrounded with log walls for protection.)

Dome-Shaped Wigwams

Dome-Shaped Wigwam

What was Wampanoag clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Wampanoag women wore knee-length skirts. Wampanoag men wore breechcloths with leggings. Neither women nor men had to wear shirts in the Wampanoag culture, but they would dress in deerskin mantles during cool weather. The Wampanoags also wore moccasins on their feet.

The Wampanoags didn’t wear long headdresses like the Sioux. Usually they wore a beaded headband with a feather or two in it. A Wampanoag chief might wear a headdress made of feathers pointing straight up from a headband. Wampanoag women had long hair, but a man would often wore his hair in the Mohawk style or shave his head completely except for a scalplock (one long lock of hair on top of his head.) Wampanoag warriors also painted their faces, and sometimes decorated their bodies with tribal tattoos.

Breechcloth

Breechcloth

Leggings

Leggings

Native American Tribes of Northeastern America

Abenaki

Algonquin

Cayuga

Chippewa

Huron/Wyandot

Illinois

Iroquois

Kickapoo

Lenape

Lumbee

Maliseet

Menominee

Miami

Micmac

Mohawk

Mohegan

Mohican

Montauk

Munsee

Nanticoke

Narragansett

Niantic

Nipmuc

Nottoway

Oneida

Onondaga

Ottawa

Passamaquoddy

Penobscot

Pocomtuc

Potawatomi

Powhatan

Quiripi/Quinnipiac

Sac and Fox

Seneca

Shawnee

Susquehannock

Wampanoag

Wappinger

Winnebago/Hochunk

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