Letter: 400 years later, Pokanokets stand for recognition

Posted 3/31/21

To the editor:

Thursday, April 1 is the 400th anniversary of the signing of a treaty between the Pokanoket Massasoit Ousamequin and Plymouth Colony Governor John Carver.

Their initial meeting …

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Letter: 400 years later, Pokanokets stand for recognition

Posted

To the editor:

Thursday, April 1 is the 400th anniversary of the signing of a treaty between the Pokanoket Massasoit Ousamequin and Plymouth Colony Governor John Carver.

Their initial meeting on March 22nd, 1621 led to a crucial do-no-harm and mutual protection agreement between the people who had lived here for more than 10,000 years and the English colonial settlers, who wished to carve out a home where they could practice their religion without interference from the Crown.

This first-ever agreement between indigenous and colonial people in New England ensured the peaceful survival of both groups over the next 54 years. Only after the continual expansion of English settlements and the growing disregard of the original treaty did that period end with the conflict known as King Philip's War.

The period that followed the war resulted in the death, enslavement and banishment of nearly all of the Pokanokets who had first welcomed the English settlers. Today, very few even recognize the name "Pokanoket," which was outlawed by the Colonial government after the King Philip War (1675-76) under the threat of death. Pokanokets were made to identify themselves as Wampanoag.

Nor do many people know that some displaced descendants of the Pokanokets have gradually returned to this area and many have not. Other Pokanokets who remain here today have always been here, because they never left this area. There are more than 500 Pokanokets who are blood-related living in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

After living in fear of having our identity known, the people of the Pokanoket Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation stand to be acknowledged as the First People who welcomed the English colonists and ensured their survival during the critical first two generations. We continue to seek a peaceful relationship with the people we share this land with and continue to ally with all those who seek to respect and care for the bountiful lands and waters that have always been our home.

PoWauipi Neimpaug, Winds of Thunder

Sagamore of the Pokanoket Tribe/Pokanoket Nation

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