Native American Tribes
The Native American culture is comprised of many different tribes that can be found throughout the United States. Each tribe is different, with their own spiritual beliefs, regalia, and art. The Passamaquoddy and the Wampanoag tribes are located Northeastern part of the United States, and are two truly unique Native American tribes.
The Passamaquoddy tribe is one of the Native American tribes that can be found in New Brunswick, Canada, as well as Maine. Like many Native American tribes, before the Europeans came to the New World the Passamaquoddy lacked any formal written language. However, they have an oral tradition that has truly withstood the tests of time, thus preserving their culture.
The Passamaquoddy’s main cultural lifestyle derives from fishing. Their tribal name derives from the phrase “pollock-spearer,” since the pollock fish was an important part of their diet. It should be noted that traditional fishing methods are implemented today, but many still practice the ancient art of spearfishing. Today, the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine has a population of about 2,500 people, many of whom speak the traditional language.
The Wampanoag are a significant tribe in the history of the United States, because they were the tribe that helped the first settlers, or “pilgrims” from the Mayflower survive their first winter after their crossing from England. At that time, the Wampangoag tribe was as many as 12,000 people. Thanks to the efforts of such notable tribe members as Massasoit and Squanto, the tradition of Thanksgiving was born,
The Wampanoag tribe itself has many branches. One of the most prevalent branches today is the Mashpee branch. The Wampanoag people mostly live on the South Shore of Massachusetts as well as Rhode Island. Many of these people are descended from the Nauset tribe, which is now extinct. Also extinct is the Wampanoag language, which went out of existence in the 1800s. However, new efforts are being made to learn the language once again. The total population of Wampanoags is now about 3,000 people.
The Passamaquoddy and the Wampanoag tribes are indeed interesting. One has a strong sense of tradtion and keeps to their ancient language, while the other is try to reclaim many traditions as well as their original language. However, both tribes have much pride in their ancestry, and in the Native American community, that is truly important.
Joseph Paige © 2006