Chatham in Barnstable County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Chatham’s Wampanoag History
We Have Always Been Here
For thousands of years Wampanoag have lived in this area inhabiting the shore during the warmer months and moving to less exposed areas in winter. Time has eradicated most of the remains of their earliest settlements. The westward movement of the Atlantic beaches has eroded or flooded many of the coastal sites. Their dwellings have disappeared but the landscapes, streams and coves where they fished, the hollows that sheltered them, and the places of their burials remain. Look around you – for the places where homes and cornfields might have been located, for creeks where fresh water was found, for beaches and inlets where oysters and clams were gathered and weirs set to catch fish.
Prior to 1712 the town of Chatham was called the village of Monomoit. It was one of 67 villages of the Wampanoag Nation. The Monomoyick people were hunters, fishermen, farmers and gatherers. Their government and community were designed to create a balanced society based on their relationship with the natural world and one another. English colonists came here assuming entitlement to this land by permission from the English king. William Nickerson, the first English settler, lived on this location. Mattaquason, the leader of the Monomoyick, lived near him. Both are buried near by.
In the 1600s and 1700s, as more and more English came to Cape Cod, an uneasy peace was attained as Monomoyick moved to one area in the village and colonists lived in another . Nauset people from the Outer Cape moved to Monomoit when their lands were taken. As the English acquired more land, Wampanoag at times intermarried with the English or kept moving to other Wampanoag villages. Today there are Wampanoag descendants living throughout the Cape and Islands, most notably at Aquinnah and Mashpee. There are also dependents of Wampanoag among the many Nickersons and other old Cape Cod families.
During the 20th century, Wampanoag residents of Chatham included a member of the Lifesaving Service, his wife and their eight children. One son fought in the North African Campaign an at Anzio during the Second World War, one died leading his platoon in battle in France, and one of the three children who became teachers was also the first American Indian to graduate from the New England Conservatory of Music. All of them became active in the Native American rights movement. Their children and grandchildren live in Chatham today.
In 1919 France presented the Town of Chatham with a WWI cannon that was placed on the front lawn of the Eldredge Public Library. Standing in front of the man to the right of the French officer are two Wampanoag children, Howard and Thelma James. (Marker Number 11.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 41° 42.535′ N, 69° 59.215′ W. Marker is in Chatham, Massachusetts, in Barnstable County. Marker can be reached from Orleans Road (Massachusetts Route 28) 0.1 miles west of Seapine Road. The marker is located on the grounds of the historic Nickerson House. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1107 Orleans Road, North Chatham MA 02650, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of First Settlers Home (here, next to this marker); Squanto, Indian Guide (here, next to this marker); The Tisquantum (Squanto) Story (a few steps from this marker); The Nickerson Family (within shouting distance of this marker); Operations Building (approx. half a mile away); Chatham Radio/WCC (approx. half a mile away); Antenna Trail Exhibits (approx. half a mile away); The 1914 Marconi Radio Station Complex (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chatham.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 19, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 36 times since then and 4 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on November 19, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide view photo of the marker and the surrounding area together in context. • Can you help?