The Mashpee Indians
The Cape Cod Indians were made up of several tribes. Of these the Mashpee were the most important. Richard Bourne, the first minister in charge of an Indian Church at Mashpee labored faithfully and unceasingly for the conversion of the Indians.
Through his efforts the lands lived on by the Mashpee Indians were set aside for their use. In 1674 Bourne estimated the number of “praying Indians” as one hundred and forty-one. He said, “Others are loose in their course, to my heartbreaking sorrow,”
The term “praying Indians” was used for those Indians who had been converted to Christianity.
Just how much the Indians benefited by the establishment of the reservation is disputed by historians. The white man is not wholly blamed for the steady decline of the race as the Indian population began to decline before the arrival of the first settlers.
In 1800 there were about three hundred and eighty Indians living in Mashpee. They were of all ages. There were eighty houses of families. Wigwams had almost entirely disappeared. At this time, there were only forty or fifty pure-blooded survivors.
Either Isaac Simon or Samuel Richards, about 1804, was the last pure-blooded Indian. He is described, at the age of ninety-one, as tall, straight, well-proportioned, and of dignified bearing. He talked with his squaw in their native language, speaking to her in guttural, mono-syllabic grunts.
Many of the Mashpee Indians fought in the Revolutionary War. Seventy of them lost their lives in battle.
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