Plimoth Plantation seeks to educate, traps Indigenous Peoples Day in the past By Shannon SOllitt

Plimoth Plantation was one of many tourist destinations on Hope and Tim Ashcraft’s itinerary. The couple, visiting from Oklahoma, knew nothing about the museum’s celebration of Indigenous People’s Weekend, an alternative to Columbus Day that recognizes the original inhabitants of the area once known as Patuxet.

At the Wampanoag Homesite, however, they were peripherally interested in how indigenous history in Massachusetts differed from that of Oklahoma.

“It’s a different lifestyle than out there,” Hope said, standing in a replica of a typical Wampanoag winter home. The structure could house as many as 15 family members and get as warm as 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remy Willocks shares the story of an early exchange between Massasowit, the "first native ally to the colonists" according to Willocks, and the Plymouth colony. Photo by Shannon Sollitt/BU News Service

Just outside, Remy Willocks began another round of his act for the day: a “Price is Right”-style game with no prizes, just information.

In front of Willocks were a moose hyde, a hose, a hatchet, and knives. The first trivia challenge was to guess which animal the hyde came from. The second was to guess how much, in U.S. dollars, those goods would be worth today.

The answer he was looking for was $3,000. That’s the present-day value of a 100-square-mile plot of land that colonists bought from Massasoit, a Wampanoag leader who famously lived alongside the colonizers in what is now Plymouth. The deal turned into a land dispute that proved the Wampanoag “had a clever understanding of the English set of rules,” Willocks said.

(left) A replica Wampanoag kitchen, including a hot meal, offers a glimpse into the past. (right) Furs hang on the wall of the recreated home of Hobbamock, a Pokanoket pniese who lived alongside colonizers in the 1620s, in what would become the Plymouth Colony. Photos by Shannon Sollitt/BU News Service

Replicas and live demonstrations offer a peek into the historical lives of the indigenous people who lived at Patuxet, now Plymouth, for thousands of years. But Wampanoag people are not historical figures. There are still three remaining tribes in the Wampanoag Nation, and they are still engaged in a centuries-long land battle with the U.S. Government.

In August, the U.S. Department of Interior appealed a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the department from rescinding a reservation designation on land that belongs to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. In a statement released at the time, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the decision is “consistent with this Administration’s constant failure to acknowledge or address the history of injustice against our Tribe and all Native Americans, and its utter lack of interest in protecting tribal lands.”

The pathway to the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimouth Plantation is lined with signs describing the early history of the Wampanoag tribe, allegedly the only to live alongside early colonizers.

Remy Willocks leads a "Price is Right" inspired guessing game. Whoever can guess what animal the hyde came from (moose) and how much money the goods in front of him would be worth today ($3,000) wins... well, nothing, except a hearty "congratulations."

A recreated winter home, where about 10-15 family members would spend cold East Coast winters. The structures can get as warm as 85 degress farenheight, according to Linda, a Plimouth Plantation staff member who declined to give her last name.

Plimouth Plantation employee Linda explains the matriarchal social structure of Wampanoag families. It was common for men to spend the winter with their wives' families in these structures.

Just outside the Wampanoag Homesite, the 17th-century English Village is a reminder that early colonizers lived "alongside" but still separate from the Wampanoag people.

All photos by Shannon Sollitt/BU News Service.