Faith and Boundaries: Colonists, Christianity, and Community among the Wampanoag Indians of Martha's Vineyard, 1600-1871


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

What did it take for New England Indians and colonists to live alongside one another in peace? Was it possible for native communities to maintain distinct cultural and geographic boundaries after the English had seized the balance of power? In this presentation, David J. Silverman answers these questions by using Martha's Vineyard as a case study. He also shows that some island Wampanoag communities, such as Aquinnah (or Gay Head), lasted because their members were willing to adapt in order to preserve their land base and community ties. The story of Martha's Vineyard's Wampanoags raises broad questions about the lost opportunities for Indian-white coexistence in other times and places, and challenges us to rethink what it means to be "Indian" in America.