January 30, 1948|
Mashpee, Massachusetts, USA
|Died||March 18, 1997
|Other names||Kennupmussitaccq ("Quick Foot")|
|Occupation||Dancer, cultural educator, and cultural interpreter|
Early life and career
Born and raised in Mashpee, Massachusetts, Coombs' native name was Kennupmussitaccq, meaning "Quick Foot". He graduated from high school in Falmouth. After attending Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable, he began dancing competitively at local pow-wows.
Coombs later began speaking in schools and other community gatherings in an attempt to dispel myths and stereotypes about indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the 1990s, he served as a cultural interpreter at the Plimoth Plantation while working for the Wampanoag Indigenous Program. Together with his fiance, Dawn Dove, he managed the Dovecrest Cultural Center in Exeter, which includes the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum, the Dove Trading Post, and a cultural education program.
On March 18, 1997, Coombs died of severe injuries in Richmond, Rhode Island. He and Lloyd Lance Comer, an acquaintance, were seen together drinking much of the day and night. Comer was initially charged with manslaughter, as Coombs' body was found on his property. He was later acquitted.
- JULIA ST. GEORGE, "Melvin Coombs is not forgotten", Cape Cod Times, 9 September 1997 Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- JOANN W. GODDARD, "A Living History Lesson: Festival An Outdoor Classroom", Hartford Courant, 18 August 1996
- ELIZABETH ABBOTT, "Comer cleared of manslaughter in Coombs slaying", Providence Journal, 5 May 1999[dead link]