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sassafras earth education sign wampanoag history and culture

August 25, 2022

Follow A Wampanoag Family's Journey for Truth

Ask Students: When did people first inhabitant Martha’s Vineyard, or the land the Wampanoags call Noepe? What are the goals of Sassafras Earth Education?


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Martha’s Vineyard, with its beautiful shoreline and farm land, has long been a summer destination, but most visitors know little about the history of the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoags were the Native Americans who helped the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving, and not long after suffered attacks and decimation by them.

A group on the island has worked for several years to revive the Wampanoag history by educating children and adults about the Native culture and traditions while also aiming to protect the planet.

For a transcript to read alongside as you watch the video, click here.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • Who is featured in this segment?
  • What are the goals of Sassafras Earth Education?
  • Where is Martha’s Vineyard?
  • When did people first inhabitant Martha’s Vineyard, or the land the Wampanoags call Noepe?
  • Why is it important to the Vanderhoops to raise their children knowing Wampanoag history and culture?
  • How can you learn more about the original inhabitants who lived on the land where your school is located?

Focus Questions

How do educational programs that teach the history of Native People like the Wampanoags make a difference in our understanding the whole of American history?

Media Literacy: There is an active Wampanoag tribal council and community that works on current political, economic and social issues facing the Wampanoag people. Why do you think the producers chose to focus mainly on the Vanderhoops and Sassafras Earth Education?

Additional Resource

Learn more about the Wampanoag people in this article by elder Nancy Eldredge, Nauset Wampanoag and Penobscot. The following lesson about the Wampanoag’s continuous fight to protect their land may be particularly useful at the start of the school year and Thanksgiving time.

More Resources: Indigenous Peoples and Native Americans

Share My Lesson is your go-to resource for indigenous peoples and Native American lesson plans with this free PreK-12 collection of resources.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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