Spirituality, Wampanoaga Indian, religion, Christanity, Martha's Vineyard


Nothing less than death was expected by herself and husband," English colonist Daniel Gookin wrote of a Wampanoag Indian in the mid-seventeenth century. The woman had been in labor for several days without sign of delivery, and, according to the other Indian residents of Martha's Vineyard, there was only one hope for her survival. "Send for a powow," the couple's relations exclaimed, "and use that help for release." The powwows, religious leaders known for their supernatural curing powers, often performed miracles in perilous circumstances and were thus always consulted in such situations. A powwow would be this woman's last chance, for if he could not help her, her death was certain.