Massachusetts Indigenous Groups Call for Boycott of Living History Museum at PlymouthHistorians in the News
tags: Massachusetts, Native American history, Pilgrims, Plymouth, Wampanoags
Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling for a boycott of a popular living history museum featuring Colonial reenactors portraying life in Plymouth, the famous English settlement founded by the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower.
Members of the state's Wampanoag community and their supporters say Plimoth Patuxet Museums has not lived up to its promise of creating a "bi-cultural museum" that equally tells the story of the European and Indigenous peoples that lived there.
They say the " Historic Patuxet Homesite," the portion of the mostly outdoor museum focused on traditional Indigenous life, is inadequately small, in need of repairs and staffed by workers who aren't from local tribes.
"We're saying don't patronize them, don't work over there," said Camille Madison, a member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on Martha's Vineyard, who was among those recently venting their frustrations on social media. "We don't want to engage with them until they can find a way to respect Indigenous knowledge and experience."
The concerns come just two years after the museum changed its name from Plimoth Plantation to Plimoth Patuxet as part of a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing.
At the time, the museum declared the "new, more balanced" moniker reflected the importance of the Indigenous perspective to the 75-year-old institution's educational mission.
"Patuxet" was an Indigenous community near "Plimoth," as the Pilgrim colony was known before becoming modern day Plymouth. It was badly decimated by European diseases by the time the Mayflower arrived, but one of its survivors, Tisquantum, commonly known as Squanto, famously helped the English colonists survive their first winter.
"They've changed the name but haven't changed the attitude," said Paula Peters, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe who worked for nearly 20 years at the museum, most recently as marketing director. "They've done nothing to ingratiate themselves with tribes. Every step they take is tone deaf."
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