The Nauset people, sometimes referred to as the Cape Cod Indians, lived in what is present-day Cape Cod, Massachusetts, living east of Bass River and lands occupied by their closely related neighbors, the Wampanoag. Although a distinct tribe, they were often subject to Wampanoag overlordship and shared many similar aspects of culture, agricultural practices, and a common tongue, the Massachusett language. Due to their ocean proximity, they had a greater reliance on seafood than other tribes. The tribe was one of the first to be visited by European seafarers, whose abduction of tribal members for slavery and introduction of diseases reduced the Nauset even before large-scale colonization of New England. The pilgrims' first contact with the Nauset was during their landing near present-day Provincetown, when they discovered a village deserted, the Nauset being away at their winter hunting grounds. Desperately low on supplies, the pilgrims helped themselves to a cache of maize, though they left a note (in English) promising to pay for what they had stolen. The promise was eventually kept when the Nauset returned months later. The Nauset also returned a small boy who had wandered away from the colony and become lost, an act which greatly improved relations with the colonists.
In subsequent years, the Nauset became the colonists' closest allies. Most became Christianized and aided the colonists as scouts and warriors against the Wampanoag during King Philip's War. Their numbers, always small, were reduced, but the addition of other American Indian tribes after King Philip's War and intermarriage with other settlers preserved Indian lineage. Although no longer distinct as a tribe, most of the Mashpee Wampanoag band are descended from Nauset people, who currently number 1,100 people and are federally recognized (as Wampanoag).
- Nauset Regional High School is located in North Eastham, within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and serves students from Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and surrounding towns.
- Nauset Regional Middle School is located in Orleans, and serves students from the same towns as the high school.
- Nauset Light Beach is located in North Eastham.
- Nauset Beach is located in Orleans.
- Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America.