top of page

LAND REMATRIATION AND WAMPANOAG CONSERVATION

Land Rematriation

The entire Island of Noepe (Martha's Vineyard) are Wôpanâak Lands. We encourage private land owners, Town officials and conservation nonprofits to work with the Wampanoag community members living on the Island to return lands to the Chappaquiddick and Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe.

 

What does this look like: 

  • Urge your Town selectman to transfer town lands in holding back into Chappaquiddick and Aquinnah Tribal ownership, this would be decided by a Town vote. 

  • Private land owners can gift lands back no acreage is too small and/or will homes to Chappaquiddick and Aquinnah Wampanoag Island Tribes or individual Wampanoag families that lived on that land.

  • Private land owners  and conservation organizations can create cultural respect easement agreements for Wampanoags to have access for traditional ceremonies and practices. 

  • Island conservation nonprofit orgs can return lands to the Chappaquiddick and Aquinnah Wampanoag  Tribes.

  • Island conservation nonprofit groups should consult with Wampanoags on Traditional  Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and ensure that all conservation restrictions use state recommended language including access for Wampanoag cultural  practices and land use including ceremonies and planting and harvesting;

 

Indigenous Cultural Practices . [With prior written notice or approval of the Grantee], allowing indigenous peoples to:

Conduct cultural land ceremonial uses. Cultural practices are defined, for the purposes of this Conservation Restriction, as including traditional spiritual ceremonies, seasonal celebrations, offerings, and cultural, educational, and interpretive programming; and

 

Harvest plant-life for traditional cultural practices, using methods which, in the sole judgment of the Grantee, ensure sustainable populations of the harvested species within the Premises, including regrowth and replanting; [in some areas there are published lists, so this could be added: Plants and plant materials that may be removed include those referenced in _____.]

​​For over 12,000 years we continue to steward and live on our homelands of Noepe, today as community members in all 6 Island towns, Edgartown (Chappaquiddick), Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah. However we continue to face the impacts of colonization and removal of our people from our homelands and our natural resources.

 

Today The Wampanoag Tribe of Chappaquiddick owns no common lands.  After occupation the Chappaquiddick Wampanoags were forced to live on two reservation areas on Chappaquiddick: The Cleared Lands Reservation part of North Neck and south of Chappaquiddick road, the Woodlands Reservation which included Sampson Hill in the 1800s. In 1869 the The Massachusetts Indian Enfranchisement Act removed our sovereign land rights, and continued land divisions and theft of lands left very few individuals with small lots  often illegally stolen by settlers without proper title transfers.

In the 1600s, Wampanoag Nation was made up of more than 45,000 Wampanoags, living in over 69 Tribal communities across present day southeastern MA to Narragansett Bay. Today in Massachusetts remains Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Tribe, Herring Pond, Nipmuc, Assonet and two federally recognized Tribes of Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag. On Martha's Vineyard  the Wampanoag Tribe of Chappaquiddick and Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah are the only two Tribes which remain with a total  of about 1,600 enrolled members, of which less than 500 are able to remain living year round on the Island.

 

To support Wampanoags, ensure that we are included in policy and decision making in local government across all aspects of Island life: Conservation, Agriculture/Fisheries, Education, Housing, Healthcare, Economic Development. 

 

Alexis Moreis

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer 

(1869 Chap. 0463. An Act To Enfranchise The Indians Of The Commonwealth. Acts and Resolves passed by the General Court.)  Chappaquiddick Wampanoags became citizens of the Commonwealth.

bottom of page