Indigenous Peoples' Day 2022

Monday, October 10, 2022 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As you’re aware, Nantucket Island and towns across Massachusetts have rich indigenous histories. Last year, Janet Schulte and I wrote a brief article titled Nantucket Celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This year, it is my pleasure to share elementary and regional information on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and its significances. 

It is my hope that you will use the information and resources shared here to raise awareness and appreciation of Indigenous People (past and present). 

In Solidarity,

Kimal McCarthy, Ed.D.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director
Town of Nantucket 

16 Broad Street | Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-7200 ext. 7344
Fax: (508) 325-7556

What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day? 

A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day 

Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to.  That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began… Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society… On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today.  I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country. - President Joseph R. Biden (2021)

Goodbye, Columbus? Here’s what Indigenous Peoples’ Day means to Native Americans by Emma Bowman

“There are no set rules on how one should appreciate the day, said [Mandy] Van Heuvelen, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from South Dakota. It's all about reflection, recognition, celebration and an education.”

Where can I find information on Nantucket’s Indigenous People? 

“The disappearance of the Nantucket’s indigenous population can be attributed to various pernicious practices of the English settlers who had arrived on Nantucket in 1659. Prominent among them are the appropriation of land, the introduction of alcohol, and the institution of a money economy, leading inevitably to failure of the Wampanoags’ traditional way of life and thence to debt-servitude, the whipping post, and the gallows beyond the edge of town” (Karttunen, p. 22).

 “By the beginning of the eighteenth century, English Nantucketers had instituted a system of debt servitude that provided them with a steady supply of Wampanoag labor. Without the island’s native inhabitants, who outnumbered Nantucket’s white population well into the 1720s, the island would never have become a successful whaling port” (Philbrick, p. 5 & 6).

“Just about every New England town had a ‘last Indian’ – an old man or woman whom white residents regarded as the finish of their town’s Native American legacy. But Abram Quary was not a typical last Indian, just as Nantucket was not a typical New England town” (Philbrick, p. 1 & 2).

Where can I find information on Indigenous People native to Cape Cod & the Islands?


 “Striding through wet grass on his 20-acre property, the Aquinnah Wampanoag elder points to remnants of the native plant species that his ancestors relied on for thousands of years.” 

“Housed in a fine example of an old half Cape Cod house, the Museum contains displays of ancient artifacts and other Native American heirlooms that form a chronological commentary on life among the Wampanoag for thousands of years.”

NOTE: The Other Islanders, In the Heart of the Sea, and Abram’s Eyes are available at the Nantucket Atheneum.

VISIT: Nantucket Atheneum, Nantucket Historical Association, or the Museum of African American History for a variety of information on Nantucket’s Indigenous People.