Mashpee is a town located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts has been the home of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for approximately 12,000 years. The Mashpee Wampanoag are one of the original sixty-nine tribes that belonged to the Wampanoag Nation. Originally, the Marshpee (later called Mashpee) Tribe was under the oversight of English missionaries for nearly 200 years. The reservation period in Mashpee officially began in 1677 and restricted the freedom of the Mashpee Wampanoag people until 1868. From that time up until around 1975 the tribal people were in control of the Mashpee town government, were active business owners and the predominant town residents. As town and federal politics dramatically changed over the years, the tribe maintained its autonomy as a non-profit organization until 2007 when federal recognition was finally granted after a 30-year legal land suit.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has both traditional and conventional leadership and maintains a government-to-government relationship with all federal agencies to support the health, education, and welfare needs of the tribe. The traditional leadership includes the Chief and his Circle of advisers, Medicine Man, and Clan Mothers. The Chief and Medicine Man have permanent seats at the Tribal Council table to ensure cultural concerns are included in decision-making. Tribal members seek advice, ceremony, and social justice from these leaders.
Economically the tribe has adapted and maintained a number of different survival methods besides hunting, fishing, and planting. During the 17th and 18th centuries tribesmen were involved in the fur, rope, timber, and sassafras trade. Then in the 19th and early 20th centuries they engaged in the whaling industry, sailing the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Indian Oceans.