Native American Burial Ground found on Cape Cod

What Native American tribe did the Pilgrims meet? The Nobscussett were the first tribe to meet the Mayflower Pilgrims. In the years 1618 through 1619, a plague killed most of the Nobscussett. It is believed the burning of the dead from this plague marks the origin of this Burial Ground. Click here for a 5-minute video of a visit to the burial ground from in August 21, 2022 by Eric Schatzsucher.

The number of burials here is unknown. Even the exact dates of usage are lost from historical record. The Chief Mashantampaine of the Nobscussett Tribe, who is believed buried here, was born in the early 17th century. There are no stones to see, only a plot of land encircled with a granite and iron fence, and a plaque that identifies the spot.

The Indigenous people of the area which we now call Cape Cod, were engaged in beaver skin trade, illustrated above, with both England and France. In the year 1614, English Captain Thomas Hunt captured more than 20 Nobscussett people and brought them to Spain, to sell as slaves. The captures outraged the Nobscussett, and they stopped the trading. A May, 1657 deed signed by Nobscusset chief Mashantampaine handed over to English settlers Anthony Thacher, John Crow, and Thomas Howes most of the land in northern Dennis and Yarmouth. The Nobscussets were then relocated to a reservation in the vicinity of Scargo Lake, known to the Native Americans as Nobscusset Pond, where today an ancient burial ground holds the mortal remains of that now extinct tribe.

(Above, left) When the Pilgrims first arrived on Cape Cod, they found some corn that the Natives had buried to which they helped themselves generously. When it was gone, they returned for more, and on the second trip they dug up two graves. (Above, right) The circle is a sacred symbol of the interdependence of all forms of life; the circle is a key symbol in Native spirituality, family structure, gatherings of people, meetings, songs and dances,