Jun 17, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Native Indian Wampanoag Tribe Reclaims Burial Site: Massasoit, Wampanoag Chief, To Be Reburied

Apr 18, 2017 02:31 AM EDT


If Wampanoag doesn't strike a chord, this is because it is the name of an erstwhile North American tribe. Its members were the original settlers of the present-day Massachusetts and Rhode Island, long before the arrival of Europeans.

The Wampanoag people's first contact with the English was in the beginning of the 17th century. While the other Indian tribes had not taken kindly to the arrival of the European settlers, Wampanoag Indians befriended the Pilgrims, who had come to America to seek religious freedom and much else.

It was to the credit of the Wampanoag Indian chief, Massasoit, also known as Ousamequin, that he maintained peaceful relations with the English settled in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, throughout his life. To this end, he took an unprecedented step of going to Plymouth to sign a treaty with the Mayflower pilgrims in 1621 that he religiously upheld until his death.

Cape Cod Times reports that as America developed, a railroad connecting Warren, Rhode Island, to Providence was built in 1851. Unmindful of the sentiments of the Wampanoag people, the railroad traversed their burial ground that was Massasoit's final resting place.

According to Archaeology, the cemetery was not only desecrated but also looted. The artifacts belonging to Massasoit, such as a pipe, beads, arrowheads, knife, found their way to different museums.

This story would have been consigned to history, had it not been the initiative of Mashpee Wampanoag descendant and historic preservation officer, Ramona Peters, who coordinated with the members of Wampanoag Tribe Gay Head and the Assonet Band of Wampanoag for reclaiming the burial site of her ancestors that had been converted into a municipal park.

The efforts of 20 long years bore fruit. The burial site is set to be fully restored with the remains and relics returned to their original resting site during a private ceremony slated for May 2017.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be able to do this for our ancestors," said a beaming Ramona. This will probably be the one right for the native Americans, out of the many wrongs done to them by the European settlers down the ages.


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