We are members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Wampanoag means “People of the First Light.” Aquinnah means “Land under the Hill.” We have survived on Noepe, “land amid the waters,” members of the Algonquin Nation and Eastern Woodland Indians.
We are known as a praying tribe, along with the Chappaquiddick, Christiantown, Nunnepog, Nobnocket, Nashowakommuck and Sengekontacket Villages. Because so many of us were converted to Christianity, we did not join Metacomet — known to the English as King Philip —  in his three-year war against the European settlers on the mainland late in the 17th century.
Although many tribes were decimated by disease, the Aquinnah have survived for centuries. There remain descendants of the Chappaquiddick, Christiantown and Herring Pond tribes, but their tribes have essentially become extinct.
During the turn of the century the land once owned solely by tribal members was being sold to non-tribal people who used their properties only during the summer months. Properties that once sold for $1 to $50 per acre are now selling for more than $100,000 an acre. We have managed our lands quite well. Tribal members, who respect our Mother Earth, do not build too many houses on our land, or build too large.
Members of the tribe have always held land in common and to this day consider our Common Lands the cranberry bogs, Lobsterville and the Cliffs, shared by all tribal members and their families. We have always gathered berries, raised livestock, hunted for sustenance, and fished from the shore of the land of each other without it being an issue. Stone walls were solely meant to contain livestock and keep it close by. Today, fences are predominantly used for decorative purposes.
We have always shared our harvested bounty with extended family, and what we can sell to others is sold. During the turn of the century there were cranberry bogs owned by families. The berries were harvested and then taken to New Bedford to be sold or traded for groceries. It was easier to travel to New Bedford by boat rather than by ox carts or horse and buggy down-Island. Our principal means of travel was by boat for we were always involved in shore or deep sea fishing or whaling. Our lives revolved around the water that surrounds us.
Blueberries were a summer staple for muffins, cornbread and pancakes. Cod was salted for the winter months and shared with others, as were herring and other fish. Venison was shared and used in stews, mincemeat pies and in other great recipes. Vegetables from the garden were kept throughout the winter in root cellars. Canning of fruits and vegetables was another way to store food throughout the winter months.
In the early 1900s there were several hotels in town that were open during the summer months: the Not-O-Way and the Stoney Squaw owned by tribal members. Tourists arrived by steamboat, which docked at Pilot’s Landing on the north shore of town. They were carried to the Cliffs or the hotels and restaurants by ox carts.
There were about six tea rooms scattered around town, including Nestlenook, owned by the Ryan family and the Totem Pole Inn, owned by the Vanderhoops. Across the street was the Mill Wheel Restaurant at the Charles W. Vanderhoop Sr. home.
In 1902 Amos P. Smalley harpooned a white sperm whale while whaling off the coast of the Azores aboard the bark Platina. Whaling trips could take two to three years and after all your expenses were paid to the captain, you would often take home only $15 for the entire trip. The turn of the century saw the end of the whaling era.
In later years, Uncle Amos (as he was known to all) was on the television program I’ve Got A Secret, as well as on the Gary Moore Show. He was also written about in Reader’s Digest by East Pasture summer resident Max Eastman. Uncle Amos could never quite grasp what all the fuss was about over his harpooning the white whale.
In the early 1900s Edwin D. Vanderhoop became the first and only tribal member to serve as a representative in the Massachusetts General Court.
During World War I, Gay Head sent the highest proportion of its men per capita to war. Twenty-two tribal members enlisted in the service. On their return Gov. Samuel McCall honored them with a parade and two plaques that remain in front of the town hall today. George Belain was the only casualty, dying on a battlefield in France. His mother Naomi became a Gold Star mother and visited his grave there.
During the 1920s and 1930s tribal members survived the Great Depression. They continued to share what they harvested and sold what they did not need. Students began going off to college and were always assured a place to return, as most homes were always open and welcomed exten-ded family members. The families worked on beadwork and pottery throughout the winter months and sold their creations at the Cliffs during the summer. The money was saved for college educations.
Cranberry Day is a tradition still in existence today. At one point it was a week-long encampment at the dunes of Lobsterville. Later it became a three-day festival and today it lasts only one day, celebrated on the second Tuesday in October.
The cranberry agent, David E. Vanderhoop, declares the bogs open at around 6 a.m. At about 9 a.m. everyone gathers to harvest their cranberries. As tradition has it, a noontime luncheon is prepared and placed in picnic baskets by the families. Again, the sharing of food is abundant. In the afternoon there is time for games and storytelling. Children listen intensely to the legends told by their elders.
For winter entertainment, the Gay Headers held dances in their homes, played card games, sewed and had quilting bees. Family life usually centered around the kitchen table. Quilting bees were important for the survival of the Community Baptist Church which has been a part of our lives for more than three centuries.
Our church is the oldest Native American Baptist church in continuous ministry in the United States. Our families have attended the meeting house since 1693, where services were once preached in our language, led by tribal members serving as ministers. Today they still serve as deacons.
The town hall was planned in the 1920s. It would become a home for community events. Square dances were regularly held for enjoyment by the entire family. Penny sales were held frequently to raise funds for community projects. Tribal members helped each other with baking especially for these community events.
The tribe once held powwows at the Attaquin homestead on Sunset Way. The last powwow was held in the 1930s.
In the 1930s the tribal members established the Howwosswee Council in order to organize and maintain cultural traditions. The chief of the council was Harrison L. Vanderhoop and the Medicine Man was Napoleon B. Madison. There were officers of the council: Mrs. Grace (Smalley) Manning was wampum keeper or treasurer in modern terms.
In the mid 1940s the Legends of Moshup was written and produced. This was a pageant that was held at the Cliffs. Nearly everyone in town participated. Regalia was fashioned from deerskins, cowrie shells were sewn on and moccasins and beaded headbands were created. The pag-eant was held at night with light produced from automobile batteries as we did not yet have electricity. Thousands of people attended the pageant, which would be performed by walking down a path to Devil’s Den and staged around a stone that resembled a toad. The Legends told of our mythical Moshup, his wife Squant and their 12 sons and 12 daughters. The pageant was revived in the 1970s and is performed twice a summer.
Wampanoag families have always worked together plowing, planting, and harvesting crops. They once cut the peat from bogs for fuel for their homes. They assisted each other fishing and shared their catch. They have supported each other in times of need and continue that tradition today.
World War II saw many of our Tribal Members enlisting in the Armed Services. James W. Manning served in the U. S. Army in France and Germany, receiving a Bronze Star Medal for his courageous and unremitting efforts contributed during the victory in Heilbronn, Germany. He also received an American Theater Campaign Ribbon, a Distinguished Unit Badge, a Purple Heart, as well as Good Conduct and Victory Medals. Donald F. Malonson served in the South Pacific.
Marshall C. Marden served in the U.S. Army. His brother Richard Marden died while serving in the South Pacific and Richard Francis died while serving in Africa; our only two casualties during WWII. 
Malcolm D. Diamond served as did Ralph R. Devine, Sr.in the Navy and his brother Herbert L. Devine, Sr. in the Army. Edwin J. Vanderhoop served in the U.S. Air Force, his brother Leonard F. Vanderhoop, Jr. served in the U. S. Army and was a Prisoner of War; their brother William D. Vanderhoop, Sr. served in the U. S. Air Force. Alfred A. Vanderhoop served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, later turning to commercial fishing.
Miss Christine Vanderhoop served in the Waves during WWII. 
Robert C. Marden served in the U.S. Army in both WWII and the Korean War and received the Army of Occupation Medal. 
Charles W. Vanderhoop, Jr. served in the Merchant Marine during WWII and remained a career man, later teaching navigation at University of Rhode Island.
Our Tribal Men also served our country well during peace time. 
Not only did our men serve our Country well but the women provided support at home by writing letters to the servicemen, baking goods to be sent, and as a community making bandages for the war effort. Other Tribal Men that did not serve overseas provided for those at home waiting with their efforts at fishing and farming to provide for the waiting families.
During the Korean War Arnold C. Vanderhoop served in the U. S. Army and received three Bronze Service Medals, the United Nations Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Leroy L. Smalley served in the U.S. Navy.
During the Vietnam War Tribal Members Donald A. Widdiss served in the U.S. Navy in Italy and Marc E. Widdiss served in the U.S. Army in Korea. Those serving in Vietnam included Eugene Francis, Dennis A. Gonsalves, Raymond W. Smalley, Douglas E. Vanderhoop, and Carl M. Widdiss in the U.S. Marine Corps. .
Our Tribal Members have served our Country well from the Revolution, to the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and on up through the Gulf War.
In the mid 1940’s the Legends of Moshup were written and produced. It was a pageant that was held at the Cliffs. Nearly everyone in town participated. Regalia was fashioned from deerskins, cowrie shells were sewn on and moccasins were created as were beaded headbands. The pageant was held at night with light produced from automobile batteries as we did not yet have electricity in town. 
Thousands of people attended the pageant which would be performed by walking down a path with lighted torches to Devil’s Den and the legends were performed around a stone that resembled a toad. 
The Legends told of our mythical Moshup, his wife Squant and their twelve sons and twelve daughters. The pageant was revived in the 1970’s after nearly a fifteen year hiatus and is now once again performed each summer.
Our Tribal customs, traditions, and culture were part of our everyday life; bonds that guide one’s life. The Howwosswee Council existed until the early 1950’s when it was reorganized as the Pawkunnawakutt Council. Chief Donald F. Malonson then became our Chief and chosen leader of our Tribe in 1951 and remains so today for nearly half a century. He had also served as our Town Fire Chief and Police Chief while helping shape both departments. 
The Pawkunnawakutt Council was formed in 1951 and remained in effect until 1972 when it once again decided to reorganize and was then named the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc. and thus gained State Recognition.
Lorenzo D. Jeffers was instrumental in the formation of the Gay Head Improvement Association in 1955. Their objective was to preserve the natural beauty and historic traditions, to protect the rights of property owners, and to promote the economic, social, educational, moral, and religious interests of the people of Gay Head in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Gay Head, the School Board, and all other agencies serving the Town. It was to foster Native American identity. These same objectives are still in the process of being attained after nearly half a century. 
At that time, the formation of the Council was on a more formal basis. There was a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, seven Board of Directors, and the Traditional positions of Chief and Medicine Man.
The very first Wampanoag Tribal Council consisted of Beatrice Gentry as President, Bertha Giles as Vice-President, Ada Manning as Treasurer, and Helen Attaquin as Secretary. The Board of Directors included Helen Haynes, Lorenzo Jeffers, Helen Manning, Walter Manning, Alfred Vanderhoop, Maysel Vanderhoop, Chief Donald Malonson and Medicine Man Luther Madison served in their traditional capacities. 
The Tribal Council set Membership guidelines by using the 1870 Census. They then sought Federal Recognition, Settlement for the Common Lands, and funding to support Tribal operations. 
In 1974 the Tribe filed an action to regain 238 acres of Common Land from the Town of Gay Head and wanted to then have the land put into Federal Trust. The effort failed. The Tribe then decided to sue the Town for the return of the Common Lands. For the first time, this had created tension between the Town and the Tribe. 
The Tribal Members had remained in control of Town affairs since the inception of the Town in 1870 until the early 1970’s when non-Indian families began to slowly move into Town on a year-round basis and run for offices within the Town. The land claim suit took fifteen years to settle.
In 1987 the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) became Federally Acknowledged as a Tribe. There were 525 Tribal Members approved for membership within the Tribe. To paraphrase our most revered Chief Donald F. Malonson, “it took the Federal Government $2 million to tell us who we were when we already knew.” 
Because of our continued proven existence as a Native American community for more than a century as well as continuity of our culture, we were eligible for Federal Acknowledgment. At first we had been denied Acknowledgment but with persistence and proof of our continuity, we were able to define our ability to carry on our affairs as a Native community based on our Tribal Members and Tribal leadership within the community.
Our Membership is based on being a direct lineal descendant of a specifically identified Gay Head Wampanoag on our 1870 Census which is our base Roll as it was also a time when our ancestors had received specified lots of land during an allotment when Gay Head officially became a Town.
Today, our Membership stands at nearly 1,000 members who reside in nearly every State as well as in Canada. 
The principal families were Cooper, Howwosswee, Jerrod, Mingo, Rodman, Salsbury, Wamsley, and Weeks. Those family names have gone but their descendants remain. The population was that of a limited number of lineages which represented essentially our social organization. 
Since the early 1800’s we have intermarried with practically every ethnic group. Even our young children realize they and their cousins are also descendants of African-American, Cape Verdean, Chinese, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Portuguese, Russian, Scottish, Spanish, and Vietnamese heritage and culture. Many of us embrace our multi-cultural households.
We have also intermarried with other tribes such as the Cherokee, Kiowa, Mashpee Wampanoag, Narragansett, Penobscot, Pima, Ute, 
Attaining Federal Acknowledgment meant a new relationship with the Federal Government. Presently, we are the only Federally Acknowledged Tribe in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; thus achieving State Recognition as well. There are only four other Tribes Recognized by the Commonwealth, the Mashpee, Nipmucs, and Hassanimisco Tribes who are all seeking Federal Acknowledgment at this time. 
We signed a Settlement Agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and with Congress. We thus became eligible to receive funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Administration for Native Americans (ANA), Indian Health Service (IHS), and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a Federal Agency within the United States Department of the Interior whose responsibility is working with Federally-Recognized Indian Tribal governments in a “government to government” relationship. The Tribe now has programs funded by the BIA which include Education, Human Services, and Natural Resources.
We have been under the guidance of four Tribal Council Presidents Mrs. Beatrice (Vanderhoop) Gentry, the late Wenonah (Madison) Silva, Donald A. Widdiss, and Mrs. Gladys A. Widdiss that each worked tirelessly, at their own expense, and served our Tribe for four years each without a salary.
Today the position is known as the Tribal Council Chairman and is an ever so popular position to try to attain with a price tag of $60,000 plus many fringe benefits. The present Tribal Council Chair is Beverly Wright.
We are governed by a Tribal Council which consists of thirteen members, eleven voting members and our Tribal Chief Donald F. Malonson, and our Tribal Medicine Man Luther T. Madison who have chosen to remain apolitical.
In 1990 through the efforts of then Chairman Donald A. Widdiss, we were able to secure the rights to a cellular bid. The Tribal Council at that time allowed Donald to negotiate and it was a chance we took and succeeded in gaining $2.5 million which did not cost us anything to obtain. The $2.5 million has grown to well over $3 million over the past decade.
In January 1994 the Tribal Administrative offices moved into their new $1.4 million administrative building. In 1998 a building expansion was necessary to include a Health Clinic and to increase the space of the Human Services Department.
After the Tribe had signed the Settlement Agreement, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act came into being in 1988 that allowed Federally Acknowledged Native American Tribes to negotiate in good faith with their Governor and State to create gaming facilities on their own tribal lands if there were no other forms of economic development available. That did not mean it was a given. From 1993 through 1998 our Tribe then spent more than $10 million in five years to pursue gaming. The pursuit is at a virtual standstill. Ultimately, the Tribe would have probably never profited from either the “casino caper” nor the high stakes bingo parlor.
In the Spring of 1998 the Tribe acquired the lease of Alley’s General Store West Tisbury, in the Spring of 1999 the Tribe purchased Back Alley’s, in August 1999 the Wampanoag Aquinnah Shellfish Hatchery will have a ground breaking ceremony in Aquinnah, and in the autumn of 1999 a Sear’s store will be built in North Tisbury. It is expect the Tribe will benefit from these four Tribal Enterprises and anticipated revenue of more than $4 million.
The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Housing Authority (AWTHA) is located at Totopinnumayak. Housing and Urban Development provided funding for safe, sanitary, and affordable homes to be constructed on our ancestral Tribal Lands, bringing back mostly families who had not resided on the Vineyard and perhaps would have never had the opportunity to do so.
The AWTHA remains autonomous from the Tribe. They also pay money to the Town of Aquinnah in lieu of taxes for services provided in a government to government agreement.
Presently, there are twenty-eight homes completed for occupancy including four Elderly units and five Mutual Help homes providing housing for forty-five adults and twenty-five school age children. There are twelve children not of school age who reside in housing. Under construction are two additional Elderly units and two Mutual Help homes.
In the Spring of 1998 there were 500 trees planted provided for by a grant from the National Tree Trust. This year the residents planted a community garden which is flourishing. 
The AWTHA Community Room is always in use by residents for their monthly meetings, educational programs, and for family social activities.
AWTHA is now only limited by the lack of contiguous land to build additional homes nearby.
Administrative Offices at 20 Black Brook Road include the following Departments and Programs:
The Natural Resources Department is under the Director of Tribal Member Matthew J. Vanderhoop. The NRD oversees nineteen grants at the present time. They are also very instrumental in development of the Tribal Cultural Education Programs for the youth. 
The NRD oversees the predator program in conjunction with the Wampanoag Aquinnah Shellfish Hatchery program. During the summer of
1998, 40,000 green crabs were removed from Menemsha Pond. This summer there will be a tagging program of the crabs initiated. They are also responsible for an aquaculture site using spat bags for the growth of scallops and quahogs in Menemsha Pond and the revival of oysters in Squibnocket Pond.
There is also a Lyme Disease Study for the collection of ticks especially during the deer season where there is now a deer check in station on Tribal Lands.
The NRD also works very closely with archaeological investigations across the Vineyard and work in conjunction with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and Public Archaeological Laboratory. 
The NRD also has the responsibility to oversee the environment in which we must all survive and is the inherent right of Native Americans to our survival. They manage the environmental program on Tribal Lands and beyond.
Indian Health Service provides for medical and dental care, optometric services and our prescription services. Tribal Members are provided efficient and culturally sensitive services to obtain appropriate and acceptable quality health care that effectively serves to preserve and enhance the positive health and well-being of our Tribal Community.
At present, our Health services are only available for those 350+ Tribal Members residing within our specifically designated service area which is limited to Martha’s Vineyard and therefore only for those residing in Dukes County. Indian Health is payor of last resort as all private and public resources must be utilized prior to payment for services. Our Membership has less than a 5% rate of Medicaid assistance as we are not even first generation welfare recipients. 
Native Americans unfortunately have a higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, cholelithiasis, infant mortality and substance abuse. We have less than 1% of infant mortality which is significantly high on must reservations. Less than 1% of our Tribal Members are in nursing homes as it has been our custom of having multi-generational family members residing together in our homes. 
Miss Laurie E. Perry, a Tribal Member and our first female administrator, was chosen in November 1998 after being Personnel Director and Office Manager for more than five years. 
Laurie oversees the day to day management of the entire Tribal Administrative offices which requires a fast-paced, ever changing ability to keep all Programs and Departments functioning professionally. She oversees the Clerical Pool, the Receptionist, Enrollment Officer and Property and Supply Officer. She also is responsible for the production and distribution of our Toad Rock Times, a monthly newsletter sent to all Tribal Members. 
The Administrative duties within the Tribe are funded by the Administration for Native Americans.
Education has always been very vital to our Tribal Members, as far back as the 1600’s when Caleb Cheseemachuck was the first person from Martha’s Vineyard to attend Harvard University. At present, Education if the number one priority for our Tribe. We have less than a 2% high school drop-out rate, far lower than that of Natives residing on reservations. We have an education average of 14 years of education. Our students have the same learning capacity as the student sitting next to them in any classroom.
Every decade we have a student from our Town who has been a class valedictorian. Gladys A. Widdiss was valedictorian of her Class of 1932 at Tisbury High School. Thelma (Vanderhoop) Weissberg was valedictorian of her Class of 1944 at Tisbury. Arnold C. Vanderhoop was first in his class at Boston University in the early 1950’s. Tribal Member Charity Randolph was valedictorian in 1947 at Oak Bluffs High School. Susan C. Frye was first in her class at Beth Israel Hospital School of Nursing in 1954. Joan C. Gentry was valedictorian of her Class of 1968 at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School where Naushon Vanderhoop was valedictorian of her class of 1994. 
Beatrice (Vanderhoop) Gentry was the first Tribal Member in this century to graduate from a four year college, Framing Normal School and went on to teach on reservations across the country. 
Today, four year colleges are the norm with so many furthering their education with Masters degrees.
Many have been employed in the field of education, Federal Government employment, and just as many in the field of health care. 
Three Tribal Members with a Master Degree in Education have served as Director of Education for the Tribe, Barbara B. Gentry, Helen E. (Vanderhoop) Manning, and Arnold C. Vanderhoop. 
Today we have two Tribal Members as practicing attorneys, Todd J. Araujo and Victoria Wright. We have one student, Yolanda Porrata, attending Medical school in California.
Two Tribal Members received their PhD’s, the late Helen A. Attaquin who graduated from Tisbury at age fifteen; and Helen (Wanzer) Mays who now works in the field of education in Washington, D.C. Numerous Tribal Members have their Masters, Bachelor’s, and Associates Degrees in various fields of study.
Not only do Tribal Members achieve college degrees, they also have achieved certification in numerous fields of study. 
The Education Department has identified the importance of promoting education as a life long process. The department administers a Higher Education Scholarship Program benefiting approximately twenty students per year. Our students are entitled to attend Massachusetts State Colleges and Universities with a tuition waiver following their application for other funding sources. Supplementary scholarships are then funded through the BIA.
Recent students have attended, are currently enrolled in and/or have graduated from Holy Cross, Salem State College, U-Mass in Amherst, Boston, and Dartmouth. They have also attended the New School for Social Research in New York, Georgetown University, Middlebury College, University of New Mexico School of Law, Tufts University, Suffolk University School of Law, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Colby College, Wentworth Institute, Simmons College, Boston University, University of Minnesota, and University of Washington to name a few. 
Tribal Members have studied in Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and Russia.
Students have attended private secondary schools at Tabor Academy, Northfield, Moses Brown School, Dana Hall, St. Mark’s, Proctor Academy, and Mount Hermon.
At the turn of the century about eight students from our Tribe were sent to Carlisle School in Pennsylvania where students were virtually sent against their will in order to assimilate them into society and where they were stripped of their Native American identity and culture. Those who were able to ran away and returned to their homes.
The Education Department also sponsors an Adult Education Program designed for those seeking a high school equivalency. This Spring, four students received their GED Certification. 
There is also an Adult Vocational Training Program available for vocational and educational sill enhancement to obtain licensure or certification in specific programs. Recent students have trained in electrical engineering, aviation programs, real estate licensure, computer science and accounting.
During the summer the Department sponsors a Work/Learn Program for high school and college students to gain experience and to train for future careers.
The Education Department oversees the Tribal Library which houses a vast collected donated by Francis “Fritz” Jennings. 
The Aquinnah Youth Council, with funding provided by Red Road Rising, planned, coordinated, produced and edited a video project over the Winter of 1998/99 by and about Aquinnah Wampanoag Youth. Their next project will include a video of Tribal Elders. 
The Close-Up Foundation, the Mohegan Tribe, as well as our Tribe provides scholarships for five high school students to attend the Close-Up Youth Summit in Washington, D.C.. In 1999, our students attended their second Youth Summit where they represent our Tribe and participate with other Tribes in discussing issues pertaining to governmental and tribal issues.
There is also sponsorship of a Cultural Education Program for children during the summer, allowing the youth to learn traditions of our Tribe. The children learn from our greatest asset and resource - our Tribal Elders. They learn about traditional crafts, dance, fishing, foods, games, and pottery. They also learn legends and family history, and participate in nature walks to learn about the geology of the Cliffs and about native plants.
A Wampanoag Cultural Trail Map will be distributed during the Summer of 1999 funded through the Massachusetts Cultural and Tourism Council. The map has taken many thoughts, voices, and hours to become a reality but includes many historically significant sights of importance to our Tribe.
Through the Human Services Department the Tribe maintains a Family and Community Program with assistance and support during home visits, a Child Care and Development Program provides funding assistance for the provision of Child Care within the Vineyard community. 
We have always had a very strong work ethic and have been able to provide for ourselves and our family members; at times even extended family members. Our Tribal Members only require State assistance mostly in dire emergencies.
The Elders Program, for those fifty-five and over, provides a monthly luncheon for socializing. There are home visits and family support services available. Elders also receive assistance with a chore worker provided on a weekly basis. Recently, Elders have taken several trips off-Island for various field trips; the latest one was to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.
In 1978 the Indian Child Welfare Act was put into place through Congress. Our Tribe has taken that one step further with an Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Tribe so that the Tribe is notified if any Tribal children are to be placed in foster care they must be allowed to be placed first in a Tribal home if available. This Agreement was put into place through the efforts of Mrs. Helen (Vanderhoop) Manning a Tribal Elder who serves as our Aquinnah representative on the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. 
In 1998 the Department published “Aquinnah Wampanoag Community Values and Norms” currently available through the Tribe demonstrating our values as a relatively close-knit Native American community. 
The Economic Development Department facilitates the overall guidance of Economic Development and Trust Services for the Tribe. 
In 1992 the Tribe purchased the Christiantown Chapel and burial grounds from Dukes County. The Christiantown Committee now conducts an annual clean-up of the grounds and the Chapel which may be rented for Baptisms, Christenings, and Weddings.
In April 1998 the Tribe signed a twenty year lease with the Martha’s Vineyard Historic Preservation Trust to operate Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury.
In the Spring of 1999 the Tribe purchased Back Alley’s in West Tisbury.
Other enterprises awaiting fruition are the building of the Wampanoag Aquinnah Shellfish Hatchery to be built at the Herring Creek. The Tribe will be purchasing property in North Tisbury, near Christiantown, for the building of a Sear’s store for garden equipment, tools, appliances, and televisions.
These enterprises are overseen by the Tribal Enterprise Board which expects to see a gross income of more than $4 million from the four new enterprises.
The Planning Department oversees the attainment of numerous grants for the Tribe.
Presently, there is Census 2000 being implemented by the Planning Department and oversees the planning of the proposed Aquinnah Cultural Center.
In 1987 we became Federally Acknowledged as a Tribe which has created an element of disunity, inharmonious at times to say the least. We are trying to achieve unity within the Tribe and at times we just sit back and think of how much more simple life was and how we achieved so much with so little.
Aquinnah remains a community inhabited by descendants of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) where we have survived and remained for centuries. Our religious and civil affairs have remained intertwined in our community.
As a Tribe we perpetuate our culture and our traditions, and embrace our heritage. We look forward to a bright future as our needs are small, our wants are great. We have progressed significantly for the past few centuries. We can envision our children and grandchildren growing to be productive members of our Community and to carry on. 
We look forward to future housing to bring more Tribal Members back to their ancestral lands, especially the Elders who yearn to be back home.
Our children may look forward to the best education they desire to attain. Their futures are idealistic if they plan them to be. 
With careful planning we may utilize the resources we have afforded us as a Tribe to the maximum for the benefit of all Tribal Members.
We are still here, after centuries of living on Martha’s Vineyard. We are still here as Native people and will maintain our identity for generations to come.
The Great Spirit will continue to provide.