2011 Native American $1 Coin: Wampanoag Treaty of 1621
Within some Native American cultures, the ability to make peace was as highly prized as leadership in war. Peace talks were often handled by a separate peace chief. For centuries, tribes created alliances with each other that spanned hundreds of miles.
In the spring of 1621, Ousamequin, the Massasoit (a title meaning head chief) of the Wampanoag Indians, made a treaty with the English who settled at Patuxet (in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts).
The main terms of the treaty: the Wampanoag promised to defend the Plymouth settlers against hostile tribes. The settlers promised to step in if the Wampanoag were attacked. The full terms are recorded in William Bradford’s History of Plimoth Plantation.
The 2011 Native American $1 Coin design features two hands exchanging a peace pipe, a symbol of a peace agreement between two groups. In this case, the groups were the Wampanoag Indians and the settlers of Plymouth Colony. Historians doubt that the settlers could have survived without the Plymouth/Wampanoag alliance.
Three Wampanoag men, who represented Ousamequin, spent much time with the settlers. Tisquantum (also known as Squanto), Samoset, and Hobbamack gave the settlers invaluable tips on survival. The Plymouth settlers honored the treaty later that summer by coming to Ousamequin’s rescue when they thought he had been captured by enemies. The Wampanoag treaty lasted more than 50 years.
In mid-October 1621, 90 of the Wampanoag took part in a harvest feast. The feast at Plymouth lasted for three days and, 220 years later, inspired the legend of the first Thanksgiving.