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Cape Cod Farmer Indians

The Indians whom the Pilgrims found at Plymouth when they first arrived were not a scrappy lot. They were, in fact, all that remained of probably several hundred thousands of Indians who earlier lived throughout Massachusetts.

But in 1615 and 1616, they were ravaged by a dreadful scourge—a strange disease to which, apparently, people from the Old World were immune, for none of the Pilgrims seem to have perished from it. However, it was so severe that it exterminated nearly all the Indians (some authorities say as many as ninety percent of them).

The Indians that lived and remained on the Cape were simple folk, dwelling in villages for the wintertime a few miles inland, and in the milder weather, re-settling along the coast in summer villages. Indians are known also to have lived in the summer months on the islands of Boston Harbor, where probably they enjoyed their separation from the mainland, and the beauty of the sea and land about them, just as much as our island dwellers of today.

The Indians while summering were not idle. They farmed, and raised corn and squashes, beans, and pumpkins, rotating their crops to give their lands time to be reinvigorated.

They took good care of their growing crops. (We recall that some of the Pilgrims found life-saving corn buried in a basket near what today is Corn Hill in Truro. It was the Indians’ custom to store their corn in baskets, which they buried in the sand.)

With fish and seaweed, they provided their farms with needed fertilizer. They were expert fishermen in the ponds and streams. They made fishlines of hemp, and carved fish-hooks out of bone. They learned how to catch herring with weirs, and the taste of the succulent lobster was no novelty to them. Clams, quahogs, and mussels went into the Indian pot for food.

Expert with bow and arrow, the Indians found abundance of meat in their pursuit of deer, partridge, quail, rabbits, turkeys, ducks and beavers.

On beaches where Cape Cod vacationists wander by the sea, the Indians searched for stones suitable for tools and weapons - cutting tools, knives, axes, spears—fitting them with handles or rods, and leaving many of them where today they are still dug up by the Indians’ successors.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 07/14/06
Categories: History
Keywords: history, indians


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