Episode 290: The World of the Wampanoag, Part 1: Before 1620

Image credit: Image of Native interpretation of Historic Patuxet courtesy of Plimoth Patuxet.

This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities.

Before New England was New England, it was the Dawnland. A region that remains the homeland of numerous Native American peoples, including the Wampanoag.

Over the next two episodes, we’ll explore the World of the Wampanoag before and after 1620, a year that saw approximately 100 English colonists enter the Wampanoags’ world. Those English colonists have been called the “Pilgrims” and this year, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of their arrival in New England.

The arrival of these English settlers brought change to the Wampanoags’ world. But many aspects of Wampanoag life and culture persisted, as did the Wampanoag who lived, and still live, in Massachusetts and beyond.

In this episode, we’ll investigate the cultures, society, and economy of the Wampanoags’ 16th- and 17th-century world. This focus will help us develop a better understanding for the peoples, places, and circumstances of the World of the Wampanoag.

This two-episode “World of the Wampanoag” series is made possible through support from Mass Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

On December 16, 1620, the ship Mayflower carried approximately 100 English colonists into the Dawnland and into the World of the Wampanoag.

In this episode we speak with Darius Coombs, Director of Wampanoag and Algonquian Interpretive Training at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums and a citizen of the Mashpee-Wampanoag nation; Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum and a citizen of the Niantic-Narragansett nation; Jade Luiz, Curator of Collections at Plimoth Patuxet Museums and a historical archaeologist; and Andrew Lipman, an Associate Professor of History at Barnard College and the author of the forthcoming book The Death and Life of Squanto.

What You’ll Discover

  • Details about the history of the Wampanoag
  • Details about the history of their neighbors, the Narragansett
  • Relations between the Wampanoag & others, including the Narragansett
  • Seasonal patterns of life
  • Life in a summer Narragansett village
  • Life in a late fall and winter Wampanoag village
  • Archaeology for the Wampanoags’ material world
  • How and why the Wampanoag & Narragansett grew corn, beans, & squash
  • How fish was a regularly used as an effective fertilizer
  • Wampanoag watercraft
  • Trade networks
  • Trade as cultural exchange
  • Trade as diplomacy
  • Early Wampanoag interactions with Europeans
  • European capture & enslavement of Native Americans
  • The epidemic of 1616-1619
  • The World of the Wampanoag after the epidemic of 1616-1619
  • The English settlers’ landing at Patuxet

Links to People, Places, and Publications

Series Music

The original music you heard throughout this episode was composed by Joel Roston, in collaboration with Wampanoag musician Durwood Vanderhoop, with additional music by Narragansett musicians Sherenté Harris, Lynsea Montanari, and Nkéke Harris.

The Wampanoag and Narragansett songs included in the score, and arranged throughout the episode, were composed by Durwood Vanderhoop, Sherenté Harris, and Nkéke Harris.

We'd also like to thank Dr. Charles Shadle, Senior Lecturer at MIT for sharing thoughts on the general Native American musical landscape. Dr. David Hildebrand, Specialist in Early American Music, for a consultation on Pilgrim music. Sara Schneider, Author of The Eagle and the Songbird and host of KMFA's “Early Music Now,” for Florentine music consultation. Rob Jaret, Composer, for emergency music notation services. And, Adam Mazo, Director of the Upstander Project, Michelle Mizner, Filmaker, and Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder and President of the Chorus Foundation, for general consultation.

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