Wampanoag (wämˌpənōˈăg) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). In the early 17th cent. they occupied the region extending E from Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The Wampanoag were sometimes referred to as the Pokanoket, from the name of their principal village. When the Pilgrims settled (1620) at Plymouth, the Wampanoag, although reduced by the pestilence of 1617, were powerful, living in some 30 villages. Their chief, Massasoit, was very friendly to the settlers. His son, Metacom (Philip), however, was the central figure of the deadliest war with the colonists, King Philip's War (1675). The victory of the English brought ruin to the tribe. The Wampanoag were harried almost out of existence, the remnant consolidating with the Saconnet. However, in 1990 there were over 2,000 Wampanoag living in the United States, most of them in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag were of the Eastern Woodlands culture area (see under Natives, North American).
See M. A. Travers, The Wampanoag Indian Federation of the Algonquian Nation (rev. ed. 1961).