Did the Indians Gatecrash Thanksgiving?

The war ended with Philip's death in battle; he was shot by an Indian who had been aiding the English. His wife and children, along with many other Indians, were sold into slavery, Conforti said.

The End of an Era

The English settlements suffered a great deal of damage during King Philip's War, but for the Native Americans, King Philip's War was almost a death knell to their culture.

Thousands had perished during the war; others were sold into slavery in the West Indies or forced to be servants to New England colonists. The remaining survivors were driven onto reservations — some on the sites of the old "praying towns." And any hope of a cultural interchange was gone.

"You still have pockets of Native Americans out there [after the war], but you don't have that kind of bicultural trading," said Conforti.

Before the epidemic of 1616-18, said Coombs, there were between 40,000 and 60,000 Wampanoag. Today, about 4,000 Wampanoag remain.

The largest concentration is in the town of Mashpee on Cape Cod. The other major Wampanoag settlement is in Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head) on Martha's Vineyard. Both groups have established a form of tribal government, said Coombs.

Despite the huge losses they suffered, the natives who greeted the Pilgrims and their descendants left an indelible mark on New England.

"Clearly Native Americans were critical to the founding" of the United States, said Conforti. "They'll always have a place in the colonial imagination."

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