March 12 - 1947: Tribe looking for a new chief

Mashpee chief quits, charges there were "not 20 real Indians" in this town ~ Another former chief said, "Sooner or later, (the tribe) will fold up like a tepee and pass into history."
"At least 100 people around here are just make-believe (Wampanoag Indians), and some are downright phonies." - Chief Wild Horse.

1947: Wampanoag Indians of Cape Cod were looking for a new chief

Charges there were 'not 20 real Indians' in this town

On this day in 1947, as reported by the Associated Press under the headline:
"Indian Chief Quits His Job" -

MASHPEE, Mass. - The Wampanoag Indians of Cape Cod were looking for a new chief today.

Claiming his work wasn't appreciated, Chief Wild Horse (on left and below greeting the crew of the Mayflower II in Plymouth) quit after leading the tribe for 17 years.

He charged there were 'not 20 real Indians' in this town, asserting: 'At least 100 people around here are just make-believe and some are downright phonies.'

The chief maintained only himself and the tribal medicine man, Chief High Eagle, could speak their mother tongue and perform the ancient rituals.

The chief's son, Clinton, a veteran of World War II, would be his logical successor but he says he wasn't interested.

Tribe faces extinction

A 76-year-old former chief, Lorenzo Hammond, ruefully told newsmen that the tribe - one of a group that met the pilgrims - faced extinction.

"Nobody seems to care any more what becomes of the tribe," he said. "Sooner or later, it will fold up like a tepee and pass into history."

What a difference the years can make. Today the tribe has a couple thousand members, is recognized by the government as a nation, and is in the process of securing the approval to build a casino resort in Taunton.


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