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People of the First Light: Wampanoag History


Secondary Sources
Bourne, Russell. Gods of War, Gods of Peace: How the Meeting of Native and Colonial Religions Shaped Early America. New York Harcourt, 2002

Recent exploration of 200 years of Native-American/ Euro-American relations ending in the 1830s that places religion and faith at the center of the discussion—for both sides.

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England.  New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.

A wonderful ecological history of colonial New England. Highlights the differences         between (and consequences of) Native American and European relationship(s) and   interaction(s) with the land.  
Grimes, John, Christian F. Feest and Mary Lou Curran. Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum. University of Washington Press, 2002.
Celebrates the diversity, significance and power of the PEM’s collection of Native American art – one of the U.S.’s most important collections of its type. 119 beautiful color plates of   individual objects are accompanied by extensive notes contextualizing and analyzing each one. Book is arranged by geographic region, although the Northeast is not as well represented as other areas. Book also includes essays on the history of collecting Native Americana and modern Native American art.  
Haefeli, Evan and Kevin Sweeny. Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on        Deerfield.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003.

A reexamination of the events at Deerfield, MA most well-known as the event that led to the captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson. Haefeli and Sweeny dig deeper and tell a  more complex and important story. By giving equal weight to all participants -- including New England family farmers, Canadian colonists, French officials, Abenaki warriors, and Mohawk women -- the authors reveal connections between cultures and histories usually studied as separate entities, and complicate our understanding of the social and political landscape of colonial New England.  Many voices are heard in this book. 

Lepore. Jill. The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity. NewYork: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.
In this provocative work of cultural history Lepore argues that King Philip’s war was central to the creation and shape of an American identity due as much (if not more) to the way the war was written about during and after the fact, as for the events of the war itself. Lepore takes her title from a debate from the 1670s about what to call the fighting going on at that time, and focuses her study on both the many and varied written accounts of the    bloodletting, and on how these accounts sharpened perceived differences between Europeans and Native Americans. By exploring the nature of war, memory and writing, Lepore makes clear the very real power of all three in shaping not only our “knowledge” of an event but our understanding of what it means to be American—and where native Americans fit (or don’t) into such a category. 

Morrison. Dane. A Praying People: Massachusett Acculturation and the Failure of the Puritan Mission, 1600-1690. American Indian Studies, Vol. 2. New York: Peter Lang, 1998.

An account of the efforts and actions of the Massachusett people who, devastated by the epidemics of 1616-1619, sought cultural revitalization through and by becoming “praying Indians.” Offers a sensitive and nuanced look at the relationship between efforts Native American cultural survival and European efforts at acculturation. Explains the ultimate destruction of native cultural autonomy as a result of the changing agendas of subsequent generations of Puritan colonists. 

Nabakov, Peter. Native American Testimony: Chronicle of Indian White Relations from Prophecy to Present 1492 – 1992. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Native American Testimony is a compilation of Native peoples' thoughts and concerns            regarding the major influences on their history and people after the arrival of the settlers. This heartfelt book is a great way to bring this difficult history to life and give voice to a new perspective.

Nies, Judith. Native American History: A Chronology of a Culture’s Vast Accomplishments and their Links to World Events. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

This unique reference book consists of a central timeline that juxtaposes Native peoples' history, accomplishments, culture and heroes with 'mainstream' Western culture and events. The book also includes several in depth introductions to specific Native peoples and vital points in their history.

Russell, Howard S. Indian New England Before the Mayflower. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. 1980.
Russell’s book is an excellent overview of Southern New England life before the arrival of the settlers. Explains intricate details about traditional ways of hunting, fishing and gathering as well as discussions of family relationships, travel and government. Russell does not rely on any oral sources.
Salisbury, Neal. Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1643. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
This is a well-written account of the early contact and interactions between the Europeans and the Indians of New England. It also offers the often-omitted Indian perspective on this troubled time in history. 
Weinstein, Laurie, ed. Enduring Traditions: The Native Peoples of New England. Bergin and Garvey, 1994.
Laurie Weinstein edits this collection of histories written by a variety of scholars both native and non-native. The essays include the Pequot, Mohegan, Narragansett, Schaghticoke, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy peoples and focus on trade, foods, interactions with the settlers, and the varied ways Native people have survived and maintained artistic and cultural traditions from prehistoric times to the present.

Primary Sources
Note: All primary documents reflect the perspective and cultural lens of the writer. The following, when used with care and caution, are filled with information about both the English mindset in the 17th and 18th centuries and the daily life of Wampanoag people during this devastating period in their history.
Published Primary Sources
Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation 1620 -1647. Introduction by Francis Murphy. New York: Random House, 1981.
Written by Gov. William Bradford, this text offers a timeline of the settlers' earliest actions in the new world. It includes early relations with the Wampanoag, Squanto, the settlers first explorations of Cape Cod, and the relationship between the settlers and their sponsors back in Europe.
Church, Benjamin. Diary Of King Philip's War 1675 – 76. Introduction by Alan and Mary Simpson. Chester, CT: Pequot Press, 1975. 

This text documents Col. Benjamin Church's role and observations regarding the King Philip's War. Introduction to the 1975 edition (by Alan and Mary Simpson) offers an overview of the lead-up to the “war,” with particular attention paid to the grievances of the Wampanoag people thanks to the inclusion of a primary document written by James Easton, a Rhode Island Quaker. 

Mourt’s Relation: A Journey of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Edited and with an introduction by Dwight B. Heath. Originally Published 1622. Bedford, MA: Applewood Press, 1963.  

Originally published in 1622 under the title A Relation or Journal of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth, this is the first published account of the coming of the Pilgrims to the New World to settle Plymouth Plantation. Written much like a day-to-day journal, this account was intended to draw support and validation for the settlement at     Plymouth. Includes accounts of Native Americans, early relations between the two groups, ethnographic information about the land, a rendering of the first “Thanksgiving,” and views of the natural environment among many other topics.


Children’s Books
Peters, Russell. Clambake. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1992.
A great story about a grandfather sharing a community tradition with his grandson. The   book is focused entirely on contemporary native life and the maintenance of cultural identity and tradition. Clambake is filled with beautiful photographs of Wampanoag people today and the Mashpee homeland.
Swamp, Chief Jake. Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. New York: Lee &Low Books, 1995.

Giving Thanks is a simple book that offers an important message about Native values and the importance of giving thanks to all things everyday. Great for young students.

Waters, Kate. Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

This book was also shot during the Plimoth Plantation photo shoot. Although it contains beautiful photographs that could be used in the classroom, and accurate pictures of Wampanoag clothing, homes and everyday objects at the time of the settlers' arrival, the relationship between the Wampanoag and Pilgrim boy is not believable and is historically inaccurate.


Waters, Kate. Tapenum's Day. New York: Scholastic, 1996.

Unlike Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast, this book is both visually beautiful and historically accurate. The story shares the struggle of a Wampanoag boy in the 1600's yearning to be seen by his elders as a man. The book imparts important cultural values and, like Giving Thanks, illustrates Wampanoag daily life in the 1600's with beauty and accuracy.

Curriculum Resources

Caduto, Michael and Bruchac, Joseph. Keepers Series: Keepers of the Earth, Keepers of the            Animals, and Keepers of the Light. Golden, Co: Fulcrum Publishing.

A comprehensive series of curriculum guides written by storyteller Joe Bruchac. Each    book focuses on a different topic, ie. Animals, Earth, Astronomy, through a collection of Oral history from all over Native America and engaging and hands on activities for all ages.
Harvey, Karen and Lisa Harjo. Indian Country: Teacher's Guide. Golden, Co: North American Press, 1994.
An excellent curriculum for older students. (Grade 7 - High School) The focus of the unit is modern Indian issues all over the country as well as thorough examinations of major trends in Native American history, such as boarding schools and the Indian wars.

Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me. New York: Touchstone, 1995.

Lies My Teacher Told Me is a real eye opener. James Loewen researches key moments in       American history and compares the truth to the text in our children’s textbooks. Most       importantly, it encourages students to think about not only the facts, but the perspective    of the person doing the reporting and the lens that colors their presentation.

Many Thanksgiving: Teaching Thanksgiving - including the Wampanoag Perspective. The Children's Museum Boston, 2002. (Available from Museum's Kit department online,, or by phone (617) 426 6500 ext. 231.)
A curriculum co-written by Wampanoag people about the many seasonal thanksgivings throughout the year. The curriculum includes, background material shared by       Wampanoag people and activity ideas geared to grades K-5. The curriculum concludes     with a discussion of the many perspectives on the 'First' Thanksgiving.
The Wandering Bull
Craft Supplies

Crazy Crow 
Craft Supplies

Websites and Web Resources

The Children's Museum, The Wampanoag: The People of the First Light - (Go to Educators page and Click on Wampanoag on the left)
A complete website which tells Wampanoag history from its earliest beginnings to today through the voices and images of Wampanoag people. Site includes photos of museum collections and tribal homelands as well as audio clips and resource lists.
A searchable catalog of the tribe’s huge library and archives with early documents, maps and items from popular culture

The museum is the newest addition to the Smithsonian Institution –2004. This is a beautiful site with teacher resources and curriculum that can be downloaded. Also includes links to other Native American websites.
The website includes ARTSCAPE (see at top of homepage) which makes available a vast, searchable, on-line collection of Native American objects from various tribes and periods.
The Plimoth Plantation website offers background materials for teachers and an interactive curriculum and online activity for students. Also offers reading and resource lists.Of particular interest is the portion of the website called: Investigating the First    Thanksgiving: You are the Historian -- This section of the website investigates and reinterprets the first Thanksgiving.
This site offers a wealth of primary source materials and commentary on the social history of Plymouth Colony from 1620-1691. Sources include (but are not limited to) wills, probate records, maps, criminal records, documents about master-servant relationships and Native American disputes. Biographical sketches of early inhabitants of Plymouth colony can be found here as well. Site also includes work of, and in tribute to James Deetz, a leading scholar in historic archeology. Texts on this site are fully searchable.
This website combines stories, artifacts, documents, maps and a timeline to help tell ALL sides of the 1704 raid on Deerfield, MA, the Pacomtuck homeland. In that raid, approximately 300 French and Native allies captured 112 men, women and children from Deerfield and forced them on a march to Canada. Some were redeemed while others chose to remain with the French and Native captors. The event has been interpreted in many ways over the intervening years and this website is designed to engage visitors with the fundamental question of how to interpret the events of the winter of 1704. Hear from all of the groups involved—Wobanaki, Kanienkehaka, Wendat, French and English—as you try to decide whether the assault was a brutal attack on a peaceful settlement, or a justified military action against a settlement on Native homeland. Site also offers valuable bibliographies and links to other sites and resources.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah’s website which includes, information about the tribal government, history, curriculum, and bibliographies.

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