The Pokanok, People of the Bays


Koonepeam(You are Welcome),

Our Tribe, and Tribal Council welcomes you. We are Native American decendants of the First People to inhabit the area of Chappiquiddic(Chippi-ahquedne) on the island Noepe (also spelled Nope) or known today as Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  We spoke, then, as we do today, the Algonquian Language, the "N"-or Natick dialect. English Colonial records called us Pahkepunnass, from the name of the then Sachem or Chief in 1643.  We were also known as the Capowak (the separate people) by the Pokanoket

When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620 the people of Southeastern Massachusetts recognized Weesoemequn (Yellowfeather) as a Massasoit,  Great Sachem or Chief of all Chief's. However no one holds that position today. The Massasoit, Yellowfeather,  appointed trusted advisors called Sagamores who represented different regions. It was Massasoit's people who greeted the Pilgrims and saved them from starvation.  This alliance consisted of a total of twenty five bands, Bands was a word used then to denote a small Tribe, and fourteen larger tribes on the mainland. There were nine tribes or bands on Martha's Vineyard, and two on Nantucket.  Each band or small tribe, was lead by a sachem, (Chief) of the tribes' own choosing.

People from the  original nine Small Tribes (Bands) on the Islands became the modern day Chappiquiddic Tribe. Today our people are known as the Chappiquiddic Tribe of The Massachuset Nation, our real name in our original language of Algonquin, is Chippi-Ayeuonk which means, "Separate and Free."  Chappiquiddic is the correct spelling that has been past down to us from our ancestors, there is no "K" on the end of the word, that spelling came from the Settlers.

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Historical Notes

  The tribes west of the Pokanoket were the Narragansett (People of the point), Pequot (the destroyers) and the Mohegan Tribes. To the northwest were the Nipmuc.  The tribe to the north is the Massachuset (place of the Great Hills) an ally of the Pokanoket. The Nauset (place of the bend) occupied Cape Cod from east of Marshapekan (Mashpee) which means place of swaying grass and fish, to the tip of Cape Cod, which is now called Provincetown, and the Tribe there was called Sakonet, which were Chapowak, but were really the Chappiquiddic Tribal People living off Chappiquiddic Island, as many did.

  Noepe (amid the waters) and the mainland coast have been inhabited by the Pokanok for an estimated by a recent dig in Massachusetts, anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 years.  With the practice of large scale burning we were able to create large open tracts of land of fertile soil to cultivate our crops (Three sisters : corn / beans / Squash),maintain berry patches, and hunting area's . When the many European explorers arrived and sailed up and down the east coast of America they saw unforested land for miles inshore under cultivation. Noepe's Sachemdoms were Chappiquiddic ( also miss- spelled as: Chaubaqueduck, Chabbequiddick, Chappequiddic, Chappaquiddic, and today Chappaquiddick) which included Natuck (also known as Capoag) and Muskeget Islands. Nunnepoag (Edgartown area also spelled Nunepog or Nunpauk) governed by Sachem Tewanticut. Under Sachem Tewanticut's leadership were two lesser Sachemships at Sahnchecontuckquet (known today as East Chop and Oak Bluff) was the Band of Sub-Sachem Autumsquin and then his son  Wampamag. Nobnocket (known today as West Chop and Vineyard Haven) was the Band of Sub-Sachem Cheesehahchamuk ). Nashanekammuck (southern Chilmark) was the Band of Sachem Wassulon) and Seconchqut (north shore of Chilmark -Band of Sachem Toohtoowee).  Ohkonkemme (the central/Eastern area of Tisbury)-Bands of Mankutquet. Okokame (western area of Tisbury/Christiantown)Band of Sachem Sossoanew and then his son-in-law Wannamanhut, and about Aquinnah (Gay Head) the Band of Sachem Nohtooksaet).The bands of Wannamanhut (who came from Boston area) and Nohtooksaet were Massachuset Tribe who settled on the island, Wannamanhut's people joining Sossoanew's people. By moving to Noepe with the permission of Massasoit they now became Pokanoket. 

The Chappiquiddic's main village was located in the area of North Neck. The area of Sampsons, also called Simpson's Hill to Long Point was left wooded. Wannasque(the ending point) or Wasque, and Natuck (Cape Poge), also, called Bend in the Beach, was open grassland,wetland, and marsh. Natuck was a separate island untill 1723 when a severe storm created a sand barrier connecting it to East Beach of Chappiquiddic. It then was renamed Cape Poge from the the word Capoag.

We are direct decendants of the tribal band (small tribe) known today as Chappiquiddic. Our genealogical tie is through those who were listed on the 1849 Briggs Report and 1861 Earl Report as Chappiquiddic Indians. This is the official census of Native Americans living in Massachusetts, at that time. This document is used to determine American Indian Lineage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If your genealogy can be traced to these lists contact us. 

 We hope you enjoy your visit to our site.