Martha’s Vineyard Tribe

Martha’s Vineyard Indians. Martha’s Vineyard island, off the south coast of Massachusetts, was called by the Indians Nope, or Capawac. These may have been the names of tribes on the island and the smaller islands adjacent. The Indians thereon were subject to the Wampanoag and were very numerous at the period of the first settlement, but their dialect differed from those on the mainland. They seem not to have suffered by the great pestilence of 1617. In 1642 they were estimated at 1,500.

The Mayhews carried on active missionary work among them and succeeded in bringing nearly all of them under church regulations and secured their friendship in King Philip’s War. In 1698 they were reduced to about 1,000, in 7 villages:

  • Nashanekammuck
  • Ohkonkemme
  • Seconchqut
  • Gay Head,
  • Sanchecantacket or Edgartown
  • Nunnepoag
  • Chaubaqueduck

In 1764 there were only 313 remaining, and about this time they began to intermarry with Negroes, and the mixed race increased so that in 1807 there were about 360, of whom only about 40 were of pure blood. At that time they lived in 5 villages on or near the main isles majority being at Gay Head. Soon thereafter they ceased to have any separate enumeration as Indians.

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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