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Ponkapoag Indians

Page history last edited by John Healey 9 years, 2 months ago


Townsend Mill at Ponkapoag Brook, ca. 1900 (Dan Keleher Collection)


Ponkapoag Indians1


The Ponkapoag Indians, originally known as the Neponset Indians, first came into contact with John Eliot on September 14, 1646 when he preached at Vose’s Grove. The influence of Eliot had a profound effect on the tribe and it became the second praying town, a community of Christian Native-Americans that by 1662 they were farming the land in the area that would become the Town of Canton. The community had several important families, including the Ahantons and Momentangs that served as guides, interpreters, and teachers, in addition to deeding land and marrying the English. In fact, the Ponkapoag Indians enter into relationships with people of various ethnic groups, as is evident by the marriage of Elizabeth Wills and Isaac Williams (on November 8, 1775), the first African-American in Canton.  When King Philip’s War erupted in 1675 the Ponkapoag Indians were removed from the Blue Hills region to Boston Harbor, under the supervision of Thomas Swift, only later returning to the Ponkapoag Area. The number of Ponkapoag Indians in the region fell throughout the centuries, so that by 1857 there were only fifteen to twenty Ponkapoag Indians remaining, many of whom were of various ancestries. In 1861 John Milton Earl recommended that the Native-American Population receive United States Citizenship, a task that was accomplished in 1924 with the passage of Indian Citizenship Act.




History of the Town of Canton by Daniel Huntoon, 10-44.


Oklahoma State University, “Indian Citizenship,” http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/Vol4/html_files/v4p1165.html   

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