Mashpee, Massachusetts

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Mashpee is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 15,947 as of 2010.

For geographic and demographic information on specific parts of the town of Mashpee, please see the articles on Mashpee Neck, Monomoscoy Island, New Seabury, Popponesset, Popponesset Island, Seabrook and Seconsett Island.



Following King Phillip's War, the Wampanoag of the mainland were resettled with the Saconnet, or brought, together with the Nauset, into the praying towns in Barnstable County. In Massachusetts, Mashpee on Cape Cod was the biggest reservation. Mashpee was settled by English colonists in 1658 with the assistance of the missionary Richard Bourne from the neighboring town of Sandwich. In 1660 the Wampanoag were allotted about 50 square miles (130 km2) there, and beginning in 1665, they governed themselves with a court of law and trials.

In the year 1763 Mashpee was constituted a plantation by the king of England, against the will of the native Wampanoag. The natives were given the right to elect their own officials to maintain order. The population of the plantation declined steadily due to the conditions placed upon them. The area governed by the Mashpee tribe was integrated into the district of Mashpee in 1763, but in 1788 the state revoked their ability to self-govern, which it considered a failure. It appointed a committee to supervise the Native Americans, consisting of five white-only members.

A certain level of self-government was returned to the Indians in 1834, although the Wampanoag were far from completely autonomous. The state divided the Wampanoag land in 1842, with 2,000 acres (8 km²) of their 13,000 acres (53 km²) distributed in 60-acre (240,000 m2) parcels to each family. Many laws attest to constant problems of encroachments by whites, who also stole wood from the reservation. It was a large region, once rich in wood, fish and game, and desired by white settlers. Some had trouble ignoring the constantly growing community of non-whites, and so the Mashpee Indians had more conflicts with their white neighbors than did other Indian settlements in the state.[1] Despite these attempts at self-rule, the Wampanoag lost their land, and Mashpee was incorporated as a town in 1870, the second-to-last town on the Cape to do so (other than Bourne).

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