The Massachusetts Native American Trails web site, is an informational and educational web site that will inform the public upon the current and former Native Americans communities of Massachusetts.   

From Summer 2013 to Fall 2014, Dr. Jean S. Forward, UMass Amherst Cultural Anthropologist professor, has led this Native American trails website for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her 20+ years of dedication to UMass Amherst as a senior lecturer for anthropology classes, a Bachelor Degree of Individualized Concentration (B.D.I.C.) adviser and former director of the Certificate Program of Native American Indian Studies (CPNAIS) made her an excellent choice to direct, advocate for and work with others on this unique website.

Dr. Forward wrote the grant proposal and was awarded over $23,000 from the University of Massachusetts. She said, "It worked very well with the connections with tribal communities, faculty [of UMass], undergraduate and graduate students.” It was a wonderful process for the younger and older generations of Natives to work together and get their wants, needs, and wishes met for their specific web pages. 

Dr. Forward and Commissioner John Peters, Executive Director of Mass. Commission of Indian Affairs (M.C.I.A.), counseled with Native American UMass Amherst undergraduate and graduate students. Together the group worked with Native American elders’ from the Aquinnah Wampanoag, Mashpee Wampanoag and Nipmuc tribes along with the non-profit Native-run organizations.  

An informational session upon this web site was held in November 2013 by Dr. Forward, the Commissioner, and with Ms. Virginia McLaurin, Ph.D. student of the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst, at the Dr. Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center (JWECC).

JWECC, a longhouse-style room, in the basement of The Paul A. Chadbourne Hall, is located in the central residential area at UMass Amherst.  It's friendly, welcoming atmosphere, for Natives and non-Natives, had 40+ people that evening. They were still in the early stages of the website, though there were many questions from other Native Americans, the tourism council members, students and faculty. 

Mr. Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag, fosters community and knowledge with his elder status. He traveled to JWECC, which spoke volumes towards his beliefs in the people and web site, since he works across from The State House and resides in Mashpee. Mr. Peters said, “It gives the general population information on who we [Native Americans] are,. what we do.”  He furthered his speech with gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this project with funding from the University. 

The “Territory Map” section shows where the mentioned headquarters are located along with web links posted with driving directions available by ZeeMaps.  It will be helpful for tourists and others to discover how-to get to these different communities.

The “About” section shows the six different territories where the Native Americans reside(d).  The map was made by Mashpee Wampanoag elder, Ramona Peters. There weren’t any lines or towns made then as there are now.  


There are six different, active tribal communities within The Commonwealth. They are Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation of Martha's Vineyard, Mashpee Wampanoag Nation of Mashpee and Nipmuc Nation of Grafton. Plus, The Aptucxet Trading Post Museum of Bourne; Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, Inc. (MCNAA) of Danvers; North American Indian Center of Boston (N.A.I.C.O.B.). They each have clickable links and their own pages to learn from. 

Chief Cheryll T. Holley, Nipmuc, one-of-three female Chiefs in the last century, said, “The graduate students are cooperative and some of the smartest people I know,” when asked about the process of their collaboration. She also said, the web site will feature Nipmuc artists, videos, language interactions and a link to the Nipmuc museum.

One can find within the Nipmuc Nation, Artist Hawk Henries, member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of Nipmuck, is debuted for his flute playing. There is also the Name Game page where 11 English-Nipmuc phrases’ such as, “Good morning,” and “Be careful,” are translated with audio files posted. Chief Holley encourages people to come visit, ask questions and learn about Nipmuc Indians. 

Dr. Forward will happily answer any questions or concerns via email from the “Contact” section.

The four “Former Native American Communities” are listed with a shaded map zone of where they lived in Mass.  They either moved or melded into other tribes.  They are mentioned because they, the indigenous people, resided here, were affected, and contributed to today’s Commonwealth. 

On two different occasions, Web Master, Chris Alkiewicz of Computers by Christopher of Leverett, taught the elders' how-to utilize the web site, etc. The overall goal is the three Nations and three non-profit organizations will independently upload their videos, artwork, events etc. and keep their web pages current once Chris's contract is over.  This is one-of-a-kind website for the Commonwealth and for the Native Americans of Massachusetts to share their information in a cohesive, educational, professional manner with clickable maps and easy access to future events etc.     


*Published in September 2014. Written by Ella Alkiewicz, member of Nunatsiavut Government of Labrador, Canada, UMass Amherst alum and can be reached at or on Twitter: @fayealk.*

*Updated in April 2016. Chris Alkiewicz is now owner of and can be reached at 413-330-3626.