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Historic marker on Massachusetts Route 138 indicating the northern boundary of the Ponkapoag settlement

Ponkapoag /ˈpɒŋkəpɔːɡ/, also Punkapaug,[1] Punkapoag, or Punkapog, is the name of a Native American "praying town" settled in the western Blue Hills area of eastern Massachusetts during the colonization of the Atlantic seaboard of the United States by settlers from Britain in the 17th century. It is the name given to the winter residence (and subsequently to the tribe) of the group of Massachusett who lived at the mouth of the Neponset River in summer. Ponkapoag is now contained almost entirely by the town of Canton, Massachusetts.[2]

Ponkapoag Plantation was established in 1657 as a 6,000-acre (2,400 ha) town parcel formed from Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony.[2][3] It was the second Christianized native settlement, or "Praying Town" in Massachusetts, after Natick was established in 1651.[2][4] In 1654 members of the Nemasket Tribe located in the village of Cohannet in current day Bristol County were among the first Native Americans relocated as part of King Philip's War to Ponkapoag.[5]

The name is derived from a nearby pond 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Great Blue Hill; Ponkapoag means "shallow pond" or "a spring that bubbles from red soil".[6]

The Massachusett (punkapoags) still live within their territory today.


  1. ^ David McCullough, John Adams, p. 72 (New York: Simon & Schuster 2001) ISBN 0-684-81363-7. Found online at Google books. Accessed May 8, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Huntoon, Daniel T. V. (1893). "Ponkapoag Plantation". History of the Town of Canton. Cambridge, Massachusetts: John Wilson and Son. pp. 10–13. OCLC 3615638. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Neponsett / Ponkapoag Tribe Home Page". Ponkapoag Tribal Council. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Our History". Praying Indians of Natick and Ponkapoag. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Massachusetts Indian Towns, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Frederick Webb Hodge, 1906.
  6. ^ Douglas-Lithgow, Robert Alexander (1909). Dictionary of American-Indian place and proper names in New England. Salem, Massachusetts: Salem Press. p. 148. OCLC 621081. Retrieved 14 November 2010.