Wampanoag tribes rebury remains of ancestral leader Massasoit

A statue of Ousamequin in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Photo: andrewtoddphillips

Three Wampanoag tribes came together for a historic reburial ceremony in Massachusetts over the weekend.

Ousameequin was known as Massasoit -- the great sachem -- of the Wampanoag people. In 1621, he signed a treaty with newly arrived English settlers, establishing an era of peace.

But after Ousameequin was laid to rest in present-day Rhode Island, his remains and property were removed in 1851 to make way for a railroad. It took the Wampanoag Repatriation Confederation more than two decades to find their ancestral leader.

“Ousameequin is a significant figure in our shared history,” Ramona Peters, the coordinator of the effort, said on Saturday. “He stands at the crossroad between the indigenous people of this land and the origins of what would eventually become the United States of America.”

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Assonet Band of Wampanoag participated in the reinterment ceremony in Warren. They were met with protests by citizens of the Pokanoket Tribe who say they were excluded even though Ousamequin was one of their own.

“This is what you call a clear case of identity theft.” said Po Wauipi Neimpaug, the Pokanoket sagamore, The Cape Cod Times reported. The tribe plans to conduct its own ceremony later, the paper said.

According to Peters, who is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Ousamequin's remains were being held by seven different museums. The tribes utilized the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to bring their ancestor back home.

Read More on the Story:
Burial objects returned to sacred site (The Cape Cod Times 5/14)
R.I. tribe protests repatriation ceremony (The Cape Cod Times 5/13)
Controversy at sacred Native American ceremony (Turn to 10 5/13)
Mashpee Wampanoag Massasoit Remains Returning to Grave in Rhode Island (CapeCod.Com 5/12)

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