Mashpee, Massachusetts

Town in Massachusetts, United States
Flag of Mashpee
Official seal of Mashpee
Location in Barnstable County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Barnstable County and the state of Massachusetts.
Coordinates: 41°38′54″N 70°28′54″W / 41.64833°N 70.48167°W / 41.64833; -70.48167CountryUnited StatesStateMassachusettsCountyBarnstableSettled1660IncorporatedMay 28, 1870Government
 • TypeOpen town meetingArea
 • Total27.2 sq mi (70.5 km2) • Land23.4 sq mi (60.6 km2) • Water3.8 sq mi (9.9 km2)Elevation
55 ft (17 m)Population
 • Total15,060 • Density644/sq mi (248.5/km2)Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern) • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)ZIP Code
Area code508/774FIPS code25-39100GNIS feature

Mashpee (/ˈmæʃpi/ Wampanoag: Mâseepee[1]) is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, on Cape Cod. The population was 15,060 as of 2020.[2] The town is the site of the headquarters and most members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, one of two federally recognized Wampanoag groups.



Avant House of the Wampanoag people of Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Cape Cod was occupied for more than ten thousand years by indigenous peoples. The historic Algonquian-speaking Wampanoag were the native people encountered by the English colonists here and in the area of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the seventeenth century. The Wampanoag also controlled considerable coastal area. These two cultures would interact, shaping each other for decades.

17th century

After English colonists arrived, they began to settle the area of present-day Mashpee in 1658 with the assistance of the missionary Richard Bourne, from the neighboring town of Sandwich. In 1660 the colonists allowed those Christian Wampanoag who had been converted about 50 square miles (130 km2) in the English settlement. Beginning in 1665, the Wampanoag governed themselves with a court of law and trials according to English custom (they had long governed themselves according to their own customs).

The "Old Indian Meeting House", built in 1684 at Mashpee, is the oldest Native American church in the United States.

Following their defeat in King Philip's War (1675–1676), the Wampanoag of the mainland were resettled with the Sakonnet in present-day Rhode Island. Others of the people were brought, together with the Nauset, into the praying towns, such as Mashpee, in Barnstable County. There were also Wampanoag on Martha's Vineyard and other areas.

The colonists designated Mashpee on Cape Cod as the largest Indian reservation in Massachusetts. The town's name is an Anglicization of a native name, mass-nippe: mass is "great", or "greater" (see Massachusetts), and nippe is "water". The name has been translated as "the greater cove" or "great pond," or "land near great cove", where the water being referenced is Wakeby Pond, which is greater at one end.

18th century

In the year 1763, the British Crown designated Mashpee as a plantation, against the will of the Wampanoag. Designation as a plantation meant that the area governed by the Mashpee Wampanoag was integrated into the colonial district of Mashpee. The colony gave the natives the "right" to elect their own officials to maintain order in their area, but otherwise subjected them to colonial government. The population of the plantation declined steadily due to the conditions placed upon the Wampanoag. They also suffered from encroachment on their lands by the English.

Following the American Revolutionary War, the town in 1788 revoked Mashpee self-government, which European-American officials considered a failure. They appointed a committee, consisting of five European-American members, to supervise the Mashpee. William Apess, a Pequot Methodist preacher, helped the Mashpee Wampanoag lead a peaceful protest of this action, and the governor threatened a military response.

19th century

In 1834, the state returned a certain level of self-government to the Wampanoag, although they were not completely autonomous. With the idea that emulating European-American farming would encourage assimilation, in 1842 the state broke up some of the Wampanoag communal land. It distributed 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of their 13,000-acre (53 km2) property in allotments of 60-acre (240,000 m2) parcels to heads of households, so that each family could have individual ownership for subsistence farming.

The legislature passed laws against the encroachments on Wampanoag land by European Americans, but did not enforce them. The competing settlers also stole wood from the reservation. It was a large region, once rich in wood, fish and game, and desired by white settlers, who envied the growing community of Mashpee. The Mashpee Indians suffered more conflicts with their white neighbors than did other more isolated or less desirable Indian settlements in the state.[3]

In 1870 the state approved the incorporation of Mashpee as a town, the second-to-last jurisdiction on the Cape to undergo the process. Ultimately the Wampanoag lost control of their land and self-government. Many of their descendants remain in the area and identify as Mashpee by their communal culture.

20th century

In the early 1970s, the Mashpee reorganized and filed a land claim against the state for the loss of lands. While they ultimately did not win their case, the Mashpee continued to develop as an organized community and gained federal recognition as a tribe in 2007.

21st century

Today the town of Mashpee is known both for tourist recreation and for its distinctive minority Wampanoag culture. The population is predominately European American in ancestry. As the town attracts numerous summer visitors, there are many seasonal businesses and service jobs to support this tourism.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has its headquarters here. In 2015 the Department of Interior evaluated taking into trust 170 acres (0.69 km2) in Mashpee as a reservation for the Wampanoag, who already controlled the land, however in 2018 the request was ultimately rejected.[4] This decision also applied to the 150 acres (0.61 km2) in Taunton, Massachusetts, which the Wampanoag tribe had acquired.[5][4]

That action was challenged in October 2016 by a United States District Court decision, reached after a suit was filed earlier that year by opponents to Mashpee Wampanoag's plans to build a gaming casino on their Taunton land.[6][5]

The Wampanoag hold an annual pow-wow at which they display both modern and traditional activities and crafts.[7]


According to the United States Census Bureau, Mashpee has a total area of 27.2 square miles (70.5 km2), of which 23.4 square miles (60.6 km2) is land and 3.8 square miles (9.9 km2), or 14.10%, is water.[8]

Mashpee is on the "upper," or western, portion of Cape Cod. It is bounded by Sandwich to the north and northwest, Barnstable to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Falmouth to the west. It is approximately 65 miles (105 km) south-southeast of Boston and 70 miles (110 km) east-southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.

Like all towns on the Cape, Mashpee's topography is that of sandy soil, small ponds and inlets, surrounded by the pines and oaks indigenous to the area. The town's shoreline is framed by Waquoit Bay to the west and Popponesset Bay to the east, with several rivers, brooks and small ponds in the area. The town contains South Cape Beach State Park along Dead Neck and Waquoit Bay, and the Lowell Holly Reservation, comprising the land between Wakeby and Mashpee Ponds.

Mashpee also borders a small area of Otis Air National Guard Base, Joint Base Cape Cod, and Camp Edwards in the northwest portion of the town.


According to the Köppen climate classification system, Mashpee, Massachusetts has a warm-summer, wet year round, humid continental climate (Dfb). Dfb climates are characterized by at least one month having an average mean temperature ≤ 32.0 °F (≤ 0.0 °C), at least four months with an average mean temperature ≥ 50.0 °F (≥ 10.0 °C), all months with an average mean temperature ≤ 71.6 °F (≤ 22.0 °C), and no significant precipitation difference between seasons. The average seasonal (Nov–Apr) snowfall total is approximately 30 inches (76 cm). The average snowiest month is February, which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the plant hardiness zone is 7a, with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of 0.9 °F (−17.3 °C).[9]

Climate data for Mashpee, Barnstable County, Massachusetts (1981–2010 averages)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 37.8
Daily mean °F (°C) 30.1
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 22.4
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.03
Average relative humidity (%) 68.5 68.5 66.9 66.6 70.3 73.5 74.8 75.0 75.0 72.3 69.5 69.8 70.9
Average dew point °F (°C) 21.0
Source: PRISM Climate Group[10]


According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. Potential natural vegetation Types, Mashpee, Massachusetts would primarily contain a Northeastern Oak/Pine (110) vegetation type with a Southern Mixed Forest (26) vegetation form.[11]


Monomoscoy Island in 2012

Parts of Mashpee include:


Major roads include Massachusetts Route 28, Massachusetts Route 130 and Massachusetts Route 151; none of these is a freeway. Route 28, along with U.S. Route 6 to the north, comprise the main east-west routes along the Cape. Route 130's southern terminus lies just outside the town limits in Santuit, a village in the town of Barnstable. Route 151's eastern terminus is within the town of Mashpee; both these roads end at Route 28, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) apart.

The Town of Mashpee is the only one on Cape Cod that never had a railroad constructed to it. According to 2.5. Rail Transportation, Joint Base Cape Cod has a railroad track extending into the town.

The nearest airports (Cape Cod Airfield, an airstrip for small planes, and Barnstable Municipal Airport, the largest airport on the Cape), can be found in the neighboring Town of Barnstable. The nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston, or at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island.

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority serves Mashpee. The Sealine bus route stops at South Cape Village and Mashpee Commons, in addition to other flag stops. As well as being serviced by the ADA on-call services of CCRTA (DART).[12]

Historic and protected sites

  • Old Indian Meeting House, built in 1684
  • Mashpee One Room Schoolhouse, built in 1831 – open for public tours June through October
  • Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1995, consisting of salt marshes, cranberry bogs, white cedar swamps, and expansive forests. Also home to populations of New England Cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, red fox, red-tailed hawks, waterfowl, shorebirds, and bald eagles.
  • Quashnet Conservation Area, large woodlands/wildlife conservation area directly south and adjacent to Otis Air National Guard Base and Camp Edwards. It is the largest tract of undeveloped forest/woodland area on Cape Cod.


Historical population
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

The permanent, year-round population has nearly doubled since 1990, with the number of residents increasing since the late 20th century. As of the census[22] of 2010, there were 14,006 people, 5,256 households, and 3,652 families residing in the town. The population density was 514.9 inhabitants per square mile (198.8/km2). There were 8,325 housing units at an average density of 354.6 per square mile (136.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 84.13% White, 4.28% African American, 6.08% Native American, 1.22% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.27% from other races, and 2.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.24% of the population.

There were 5,256 households, out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 24.7% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $50,871, and the median income for a family was $56,702. Males had a median income of $43,922 versus $31,416 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,215. About 4.5% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.6% of those under age 18 and 2.7% of those age 65 or over.


Mashpee is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as part of the Third Barnstable district. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Cape and Islands district, which includes all of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, with the exception of Bourne, Falmouth, and Sandwich.[23] The town is patrolled by the Seventh (Bourne) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.[24]

On the national level, Mashpee is a part of Massachusetts's 9th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Keating. The state's senior (Class II) member of the United States Senate, elected in 2012, is Elizabeth Warren. The junior (Class II) senator, elected in 2013, is Ed Markey.

Mashpee is governed by the open town meeting form of government, led by an executive secretary and a board of selectmen. The town operates its own police and fire departments, both of which are headquartered together near Pine Tree Corner. The town's post office and public library are also located nearby, and the library is a member of the Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing library network.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008[25]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 2,715 27.20%
Republican 1,636 16.39%
Unaffiliated 5,600 56.11%
Libertarian 30 0.30%
Total 9,981 100%


A schoolhouse in Mashpee

Mashpee has two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school located in the town. The middle school is located in the same building as the high school, operates under the same administration and has its own wing strictly for the 7th and 8th grade students. The building also houses the Technology "Center of Excellence". It has been recognized at several statewide conferences for its industry education and innovative course offerings.

Mashpee operates its own school system for the approximately 1,700 students in town. The Kenneth C. Coombs School (Also known as the K. C. Coombs School) is for pre-school to grade 2, the Quashnet School is for grades 3 to 6, and Mashpee Middle-High School is for grades 7–12. Before Mashpee High opened its doors in 1996, students residing in Mashpee attended nearby Falmouth High School.

Mashpee's athletics teams are named the Falcons, and their colors are royal blue, white, and black. They compete in the South Shore League, which participates in the Division 3 & 4 level of competition. Mashpee High School's main rivals are Monomoy Regional High School, Abington High School, Sandwich High School, and Cohasset High School.

From 1999 to 2003 Mashpee played Sandwich High School in an annual Thanksgiving football game rivalry. From 2003–2009, Mashpee played Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. In 2009, Mashpee dropped the Thanksgiving rivalry with Cape Cod Tech and has since renewed the Thanksgiving rivalry with Sandwich, which is effective in the year 2010.

Mashpee's football team is regarded as one of the premier small-school programs in the state. the Falcons have won 4 state championships (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017) under the leadership of head coach Matt Triveri.

Additionally, high school students may attend Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich free of charge. Students from Mashpee may also attend the two Catholic high schools that serve the area, Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth, or the newly opened Pope John Paul II High School in Hyannis.

Private schools located in nearby communities include Falmouth Academy in Falmouth, Cape Cod Academy in Barnstable, and Tabor Academy, a private-prep boarding school in nearby Marion.

A Wampanoag language Immersion school called Wôpanâôt8ây Pâhshaneekamuq is expected to open in Mashpee in 2016, serving preschool students in its first year and kindergarten students starting in 2017.[26]

Notable people


  1. ^ Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project - "Fun with words"
  2. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Mashpee town, Barnstable County, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Handbook of North American Indians. Chapter: "Indians of Southern New England and Long Island, late period," p. 178ff; Mashpee Wampanoag Nation webpage; Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah webpage Archived October 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Winokoor, Charles. "Latest Mashpee Wampanoag land-in-trust decision elicits joy and dismay". The Herald News, Fall River, MA. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Kevin Horridge, "Surprise Massachusetts Casino Could Result from New Mashpee Wampanoag Land Grant",, September 21, 2015; accessed January 19, 2017
  6. ^ Sean P. Murphy, "Judge promises quick decision on challenge to Taunton casino", Boston Globe, July 11, 2016; accessed January 18, 2017
  7. ^ Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Street Atlas, South Easton, MA: Arrow Maps, Inc., 2004, p. 61.
  8. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Mashpee town, Barnstable County, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  9. ^ "USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Map". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State U". Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "U.S. Potential Natural Vegetation, Original Kuchler Types, v2.0 (Spatially Adjusted to Correct Geometric Distortions)". Data Basin. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  12. ^ "Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority - Sealine". Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  13. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  14. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision – GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  15. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  16. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  17. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21–10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21–5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  19. ^ "1890 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  20. ^ "1870 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  21. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020−2023". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 19, 2024.
  22. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  23. ^ "Index of Legislative Representation by City and Town, from". Retrieved November 7, 2010.
  24. ^ "Station D-7, SP Bourne". Retrieved November 7, 2010.
  25. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 15, 2008" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  26. ^ "Project Overview". Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2015.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mashpee, Massachusetts.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mashpee.
  • Town of Mashpee official website
  • Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, official website
  • v
  • t
  • e
Municipalities and communities of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
County seat: Barnstable
  • Massachusetts portal
  • United States portal
  • v
  • t
  • e
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Boston (capital)
flag Massachusetts portal
Authority control databases Edit this at Wikidata
  • VIAF
  • WorldCat
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • United States
  • MusicBrainz area