Wampanoag Voices Online Exhibit to Launch on Indigenous Peoples Day

Paula Peters.

“In this online exhibit, the Peabody Museum is…lending contemporary Wampanoag voices to objects that were made, held, worn, consumed and otherwise made useful by our ancestors, generations, if not centuries ago…We are still here to acknowledge them, learn from them, talk about them, and give gratitude to the creator for them."

—Paula Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag)

Updated Oct. 8, 2020 CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12, 2020, the Peabody Museum will launch a new online exhibit, Listening to Wampanoag Voices: Beyond 1620, that features contemporary Wampanoag speakers. Listen as they share memories, thoughts, and reflections about museum collection items made by their ancestors and relatives, and learn how Wampanoag life and culture continues to flourish today.

Once imagined as a gallery experience, the exhibit will shift exclusively online because the museum remains temporarily closed during the pandemic.

Available on request:

Four hundred years have passed since the Wampanoag Nation encountered English immigrants who settled on the shores of their land at Patuxet—now called Plymouth. Harvard University has had a relationship with the Wampanoag and other local tribal communities for nearly as long, establishing the Indian College on the Harvard campus in 1655. In 1650, the charter of Harvard College dedicated the institution to the education of Native American and English students to become Puritan ministers; in 1655, the Indian College was built on Harvard’s campus to house students and to achieve those goals. Wampanoag tribal member, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, Class of 1665, was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College.   

In acknowledgment of this history, the Peabody Museum asked Wampanoag tribal members to reflect on collections spanning four centuries stewarded by the museum. The speakers will include artists and educators who will respond to ten objects including the Sudbury bow, baskets, and a small collection of smoked and dried herring.

Wampanoag Participants:

  • Independent scholar and historian Linda Jeffers Coombs, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
  • Artist Elizabeth James-Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
  • Culture bearer, leader, historian, artist and professional speaker Jonathan James-Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
  • SmokeSygnals Communications Owner Paula Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
  • Traditional artist, educator, and historian Phillip Wynne, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod (Otter Clan)
  • Plimoth Patuxet historical educator Alyssa Harris, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod
  • Graduate student Zoë Harris, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod

Media contact: Faith Sutter faith_sutter@harvard.edu 617-495-3397

Paula Peters photo by Matika Wilbur

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The Peabody Museum at Harvard University is located on the tribal homelands of the Massachusett people. The museum acknowledges the continuing presence of the Massachusett, and the neighboring Wampanoag and Nipmuc peoples.