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Territories of Nauset and neighboring tribes
Total population
Extinct as a tribe
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Massachusetts)
an Eastern Algonquian language
Indigenous religion
Related ethnic groups
Other Algonquian peoples

The Nauset people, sometimes referred to as the Cape Cod Indians, were a Native American tribe who lived in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They lived east of Bass River and lands occupied by their closely related neighbors, the Wampanoag.

Although the Nauset were a distinct tribe, they were often subject to Wampanoag rule and shared with them many similar aspects of culture, agricultural practices, and a common tongue, the Massachusett language. Living along the Atlantic Ocean, the Nauset relied heavily on seafood.

The tribe was one of the first to be visited by European explorers and colonists, who abducted some tribal members to sell into slavery in Spain and introduced diseases which reduced the Nauset population even before colonization of New England began on a large scale.

The Pilgrims' first contact with the Nauset was during the Mayflower's landing near present-day Provincetown, when they discovered a deserted village, 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, led by Aspinet,[1] 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 nearby colonists.[2]

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 further reduced. They intermarried with neighboring tribes and settlers after King Philip's War.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Caleb. "The Wampanoag". Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  2. ^ a b Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America.

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