2011 Native American $1 Coin
On the back of this month's gold-colored coin, we see a peace pipe changing hands. Many Native American tribes had a ceremony that included a peace pipe to seal a treaty with other tribes or with settlers.
But the image on this coin reminds us of a specific treaty rather than treaties in general, as the inscription says: Wampanoag Treaty 1621. In this treaty, the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrim settlers agreed to help each other whenever there was trouble.
You've probably heard about the Pilgrims' landing in the fall of 1620 where today stands the city of Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that the Pilgrims were not the first Europeans who visited that part of the country?
Although permanent settlements were few, there was exploration, conquering, slave trading, and fishing around North America throughout the 1500s. Because of this contact between Europeans and Native Americans, some Native Americans already spoke English when the Pilgrims landed.
One of the reasons the treaty in 1621 between the Plymouth settlers and the Massasoit (head chief) of the Wampanoag Indians happened so smoothly was because two of the Wampanoags (Samoset and Tisquantum) already spoke the same language as the settlers.
Samoset was originally from Maine and had learned English from fishermen who fished Maine's waters. Tisquantum (also called Squanto) had been captured as a slave for Spain but escaped to England, where he learned to speak English well.
Squanto was from the Patuxet tribe. A disease epidemic all but wiped out his tribe while he was away in Europe. Like the other few survivors of the tribe, Squanto joined the Wampanoags.
Read more about the treaty on the Native American $1 Coins page.