What Did Wampanoag Indians Eat?

Before European contact, the Wampanoag relied on corn, beans and squash for their main diet, which the men supplemented with hunting and fishing. Wampanoag cooking was relatively simple, with staples including soup, cornbread and stews.

Wampanoag women tended the fields of corn, beans and squash, all grown together in the same field. Many Eastern Woodland cultures in North America used similar farming methods, and though they did not understand the exact science behind the process, they did know that growing the crops together helped keep the soil fertile while also keeping weeds away. Beans fixed nitrogen in the soil, helping retain nutrients for the corn, while the corn provided supports for the bean stalks. The broad leaves of squash growing close to the ground helped keep sunlight off the ground, reducing weed growth and evaporation from the soil.

In addition to agriculture, the Wampanoag also gathered berries and herbs, and Wampanoag men hunted and fished. Wampanoag men hunted deer, turkey and small game using bows and arrows. The men used dug-out canoes to go fishing in rivers and along the eastern coast.

After European contact, the Wampanoag, like many other native tribes, adopted various European plants and animals, including wheat and cows. Additionally, they adopted horses for use as pack and work animals. Before European contact, the Wampanoag's only domesticated animals were dogs.