Summer Guide Cape Cod

Summer Guide Cape Cod 2019

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Page 99 of 147 98 The Countdown to 400 Years Looking Ahead to the 2020 Celebration of Cape Cod's History By Jessica Bettencourt While the Cape is a popular vacation destina- tion for tourists, the area is also filled with rich history, which nearly 400 years later still has the area buzzing with excitement. If you ask Debbie Beal, a resident of Cape Cod and a descendant of one of the early settlers from the Mayflower, the respect and appreciation for history is what makes the Cape so special. "From Plymouth to Provincetown, those visiting and living on the Cape continue to cele- brate the deep history. It's wonderful to see that people still have a real respect for it," said Beal. With 2020 marking the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Provincetown before settling in Plymouth, it's important to look back and understand just how it all began. Cape Cod, from the Wampanoags to the Pilgrims Due to its location on the water, Cape Cod was frequented by many early explorers. In fact, despite any documentation or evidence, the Vikings may have sighted this land more than 1,000 years ago. But the first true settlers were the Wampanoags, a confederacy of 69 tribes, skilled farmers, hunters and fishermen. The tribes occupied the coastal areas today known as Provincetown all the way down to Narragan- sett Bay in Rhode Island, living off of the land's crops, fresh fish and other wildlife. In 1616, traders from Europe brought with them yellow fever, which would eventually wipe out two thirds of the entire Wampanoag Nation with an estimated 45,000 deaths reported from the illness. The disease weakened the tribes; and, therefore when the next settlers landed on the Cape, the Wampanoags were not well equipped to defend their territory. Of all 69 tribes, the Mashpee Wampanoag and Wampa- noag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) persisted and, today their ancestry and culture are deeply rooted in the Cape. Then in 1620, four years after the start of the spread of yellow fever, 102 English men and women aboard the Mayflower ship landed at the present day site of Provincetown, the tip of Cape Cod. This group, known as the Pilgrims, had originally intended to settle in New York but, due to dangerous weather conditions, the English travelers sought shelter at Cape Cod. Upon arrival, the Pilgrims found plentiful water Photo by David A. Cox Pilgrim Monument soars above Provincetown Harbor

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