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For more than 10,000 years, Native American Indians, known today as Wampanoags, lived in the area today known as southeastern Massachusetts. They fished, hunted and canoed on the lands and waters between Boston and Providence, including Cape Cod, the islands of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the Taunton River.

The tangled growth of great forests provided a natural shelter and home to the Wampanoags and their beloved animals.

The Native American Wampanoags lived in peace and harmony with nature. The arrival of the strangers from across the sea though, changed their lives forever.

The Wampanoag's chief sachem, Massasoit (Woosamequin), was among the first to greet the Pilgrims. He was a diplomat and peace-keeper.

Massasoit was succeeded by his two sons. The eldest, Wamsutta (also called Alexander) died under mysterious circumstances and his body was returned to his people over part of the water route which is now called the
Wampanoag Commemorative Canoe Passage.

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Maps, photos and information were reproduced from the Wamponoag Canoe Passage Brochure, published by the Plymouth County Development Council. P.O. Box 1620, Pembroke, Mass 02359.

Much of the material for the passageway description was furnished by Professor Thomas H. Clark of Northeastern University Graduate School of Education.

Wamsutta's younger brother, Metacomet or King Philip, served as the leader until he was killed by colonial troops under Captain Benjamin Church in the Great Swamp Fight near Mouth Hope in Rhode Island in one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the United States,
"King Philip's War." The same water route is believed to have been used by Captain Church to return Philip's body to the Plimoth Colony as a war trophy.

The Native Americans helped the Pilgrims to survive. But the newcomers adapted English lifestyles to their new world. Indian ways were rejected and the Pilgrims tried to force their culture on the Native Americans. A great rift in philosophical conflict of how the Native Americans used the land for survival and how the Pilgrims saw the land as a means of wealth, brought lasting conflict.

Click on Map for full view and detail

(File size 39kb)

With the establishment of the Wampanoag Commemorative Canoe Passage, recognition is given to the Native American Indians for their contributions to the beauty of the environment of southeastern Massachusetts along the Taunton River.


The Wampanoag Commemorative Canoe Passage is a water trail that twists and turns for more than 70 miles along river, marsh, brook and pond from Scituate on Massachusetts Bay to Dighton Rock State Park as the Taunton River flows into Narragansett Bay.

The water course is one formerly used by the Wampanoag Indians long before the Pilgrims came to America. It was re-established by the Plymouth County Development Council and local officials as an educational and recreational opportunity for all ages.

The route includes some 20 portages (where the canoe must be carried across land). There is easy access to the passage at many points.

The passage is divided into three sections of nearly equal length. The first from Scituate to Pembroke ending at Little Sandy Pond. The second from East Bridgewater to Middleborough, ending at Camp Titicut and the third from Raynham to Berkley, ending at Dighton Rock State Park.

To cover the entire route, it would take three to five days, so it can be explored a section at a time in day or half-day trips. Explorations by scouting groups and conservation leaders have led to the charting and reopening of this historic inland passageway. From the beautiful and unpolluted North River, which snakes its way through a broad valley of rushes and reeds, to narrow brooks where the paddler must watch for over-hanging branches and underwater beaver dams, the passage is a beautiful and pristine gift.

Paddling conditions vary. At times there is white water along the Taunton as it starts it run to the sea. In drier seasons, the water levels in some of the streams are so low, the canoe will merely glide along. There is a tidal section of the river at either end of the passage and tide charts must be consulted before attempting journeys in these sections.The high point and drainage dividing point is at Little Sandy Pond in Pembroke. To the North, the drainage and current flow to the North River and out to Massachusetts Bay. South of this point, the flow is to the Taunton River and
Narragansett Bay.

Click on the Map to the right for details
of the three passage sections. (File Size 65kb)