Reclaiming Indigenous Maritime Traditions and Sovereignty

Aquinnah Wampanoag master artist Jonathan James-Perry illustrates the cultural renaissance of Northeastern Indigenous maritime traditions and his participation in the movement. Jonathan immerses you in the complex trade networks, subsistence practices, and diplomatic assertion of sovereignty of Indigenous nations’ ocean territories. Click here for this June 8, 2022 one-hour YouTube presentation.

(Above, left) James Manning Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University Robert Preucel introduces (Above, right) Jonathan James-Perry, an Aquinnah Wampanoag culture bearer, leader, historian, artist and professional speaker for the on-line presentation.

(Above) The use of mishoons, a type of canoe made by hollowing out a large pine log, is well documented in early depictions of Native people in the 17th century who often traveled hundreds of miles along the Atlantic coast for trade with other tribes. Travel by water was the principal method of transportation as travel by land was only available on paths and carrying items in a boat was much easier. Mishoons also made fishing more productive.

Jonathan has crafted over 40 traditional vessels ranging from small river boats to the largest ocean-going vessel in recent history in the North Atlantic. (Above) He is working on a very large vessel made from a tulip poplar tree at the Mashantucket-Pequot Museum and Research Center near Ledyard, CT.

Paddling several different mishoons, some of which can carry as many as 40 men, has been done many times off the Atlantic coast, including a trip in Mystic, CT, a trip to Martha’s Vineyard from Falmouth in 2009, and a 2010 trip from the Charles River in Boston to Deer Island.