Symposium: First Contact – Indigenous Peoples and the First English Settlers

Join Darius Coombs, Wampanoag educator from Plimoth Plantation along with Mary Lynne Rainey, Principal Senior Archaeologist at Richard Grubb & Associates Inc, as they discuss the relationships of the early Nantucket settlers and the Native population. Richard Pickering, Deputy Executive Director of Plimoth Plantation, discusses Puritan religious persecution of Quakers in New England in the 17th century.

A Chronological Overview of Native American Culture and Technology on Nantucket Island from the PaleoIndian Period through the Contact Period with Mary Lynne Rainey, Principal Senior Archaeologist at RGA.

This discussion will focus on the island environmental context for human adaptation during the Holocene Epoch, and the key attributes of Native American culture and technology through time that are recognized in the archaeological record since the last glacial recession.

Wampanoag Life Ways, with Darius Coombs, Director of Wampanoag and Eastern Woodlands at Plimoth Plantation.

The word Wampanoag means “People of the First Light.” This Native nation dates back over 12,000 years and is located in southern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, and eastern Rhode Island. The nation once numbered more than seventy communities and 100,000 people. The daily life of these communities was similar and they shared a common language. Each community governs itself. The Wampanoag are still living throughout their ancestral homeland and keeping numerous ceremonies alive. Darius Coombs is Mashpee Wampanoag and has deep family ties to both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. He will talk about Wampanoag life ways, the maritime skills that connected the islands with the mainland, and historical events throughout the 17th century.

Judged by the Spirit of the Lord, with Richard Pickering, Deputy Executive Director of Plimoth Plantation

In 1917, social critic H. L. Mencken said that Puritanism was “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Mencken could also have said that Puritanism was the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is committing an act of kindness. Again and again Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonists fled from the surveillance and oppression of Puritan communities, because they had performed an act of compassion and their neighbors’ scorn became unbearable. Thomas Macy (1608-1682) of Nantucket, James Cudworth (circa 1605 – 1681) of Scituate, and Tobias Feake (circa 1624 – 1672) of Flushing on Long Island are three examples of colonial men unwilling to persecute, punish, or mutilate Quaker missionaries and their converts. The loss of homes, reputations, and personal freedom were dramatic compensation for simple acts of humanity. Richard Pickering will tell each man’s story and follow the very different paths their lives took after the Quaker crisis.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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