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About Mashpee

Mashpee is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 12,946 at the 2000 census.


Following King Phillip's War, the Wampanoag of the mainland were resettled with the Saconnet, or brought, together with the Nauset, into the praying towns in Barnstable County. In Massachusetts, Mashpee, on Cape Cod, was the biggest reservation. Mashpee was settled by English colonists in 1658 with the assistance of the missionary Richard Bourne from the neighboring town of Sandwich. In 1660 the Wampanoag were allotted about 50 square miles there, and beginning in 1665 they governed themselves with a court of law and trials.

In the year 1763 Mashpee was constituted a plantation by the king of England, against the will of the native Wampanoags. The natives were given the right to elect their own officials to maintain order. However, the population of the plantation declined steadily due to the conditions placed upon them. The area governed by the Mashpee tribe was integrated into the district of Mashpee in 1763, but in 1788 the state revoked their ability to self-govern, which it considered a failure. It then appointed a committee to supervise, consisting of five white-only members.

A certain degree of self-government was returned to the Indians in 1834, and although the Wampanoag were far from completely autonomous. Wampanoag land was divided up in 1842, with 2,000 acres (8 km²) of their 13,000 acres (53 km²) distributed in 60 acre parcels to each family. Many laws attest to constant problems of encroachments by whites, who stole wood from the reservation. It was a large region, once rich in wood, fish and game, and therefore desirable for the whites. Some had trouble ignoring the constantly growing community of non-whites, and so the Mashpee Indians had more conflicts with their white neighbors than the other Indian settlements in the state. Despite these attempts at self-rule, the Wampanoags lost their land, and Mashpee was incorporated as a town in 1870 the second-to-last town on the Cape to do so (other than Bourne).

Today, the town of Mashpee is known both as a tourist destination and for their Native American culture. Every year, a pow-wow is held, which offers examples of Wampanoag activities and crafts.

The town's name is an Anglicization of a native name that can be segmented as "mass-nippe," where 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 Lake, which is greater at one end.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.2 square miles (70.6 km²), of which, 23.5 square miles (60.8 km²) of it is land and 3.8 square miles (9.7 km²) of it (13.80%) is water.

Mashpee is considered to be on the "upper," or western, portion of Cape Cod. It is bound by Sandwich to the north and northwest, Barnstable to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Falmouth to the west. It is approximately sixty-five miles south-southeast of Boston and seventy miles east-southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.

Mashpee is an average-sized town compared to the rest of Barnstable County. 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 Waquit Bay to the west and Popponesset Bay to the east, both spawning several rivers, brooks and small ponds. The town is also the site of South Cape Beach State Park, along Dead Neck and Waquit Bay, and the Lowell Holly Reservation, comprising the land between Wakeby and Mashpee Ponds.


There are no freeways in the town of Mashpee. Major routes include Route 28, Route 130 and Route 151. 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 Barnstable, and Route 151's eastern terminus is within the town, both ending at Route 28, two and a half miles apart.

There is no rail service in the town. The nearest airports (Cape Cod Airport, an airstrip for small planes, and Barnstable Municipal Airport, the largest airport on the Cape) can be found in neighboring Barnstable. The nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The Breeze bus lines also services Mashpee Commons. For a small price, one may travel along the Breeze bus lines which travel from Mashpee and into the towns of Barnstable, Sandwich, Falmouth, Bourne and Yarmouth. Bus lines and routes may be obtained at town hall or the Mashpee Commons


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,946 people, 5,256 households, and 3,652 families residing in the town. The population density was 551.4 people per square mile (212.9/km²). There were 8,325 housing units at an average density of 354.6/sq mi (136.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.24% White, 2.82% African American, 2.91% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.10% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.64% 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 a part of both the Third and Fifth Barnstable districts, with the area around Otis being in the third and the southern portion of town being in the fifth. 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, Sandwich and portions of Barnstable. The town is patrolled by the Seventh (Bourne) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.

On the national level, Mashpee is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2006, is Ted Kennedy. The junior (Class II) Senator, up for re-election in 2008, is John Kerry.

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 (CLAMS) Network, the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System (SEMLS), and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


Mashpee operates its own school system for the approximately 2,000 students in town. The Kenneth C. Coombs School serves students from pre-kindergarten to grade 2. The Quashnet School serves students from grades 3 to 6, and Mashpee High School opended its doors in 1996 and serves grades 7 through 12. Mashpee's athletics teams are nicknamed the Falcons, and their colors are royal blue and white. They compete in the South Shore League in all sports except winter track, which competes in the Atlantic Coast League. Mashpee High School has an enrollment of 1,013 students. Mashpee High offers many MIAA interscholastic sports such as soccer, field hockey, football, golf, cross country, basketball, winter track, ice hockey, baseball, softball, spring track, and lacrosse. Club sports are also available at Mashpee including rugby and an up and coming girls ice hockey team. In the near future, Mashpee High hopes to expand its athletic opportunities with the addition of wrestling and volleyball.

Additionally, high school students may attend Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich free of charge. There are also two private schools in neighboring Falmouth and Barnstable which students may attend.

Notable Residents

Jamaal Branch - NFL Football Player, graduated from Falmouth High School in 1999, attended Colgate University and won the Division 1AA player of the year in 2005, is a backup running back for the New Orleans Saints and resides in Mashpee.

Robert Kraft - Owner of the New England Patriots, owns a residence in the New Seabury area of Mashpee

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