59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

EOD2015

1738–1739

Possibly Peter Talman and Abiah Togkoosen

Martha's Vineyard

Laid paper, ink

Purchase


At least two people had a hand in writing this deed in the Wampanoag language, which recorded the transfer of property at Ogkoshkuppeh (East Chop) from Kizia Pohpumminnit and Abiah Togkoosen. Scholars suggest that Peter Talman, one of the witnesses to the deed, wrote the body of the document and Abiah Togkoosen wrote her own name and added words and letters to the page. All three were members of the Wampanoag tribe and lived at Sengekontacket, the land that extends on the north of the Island between current-day Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.

Written traces of Wampanoag lives are scant compared to those of the English colonists on Martha's Vineyard in the 1700s, and it can be difficult to know details about them with certainty. It appears that Pohpumminnit and Togkoosen were brother and sister. She kept a school. Talman was a laborer and farmer.

There were no living speakers of the Wampanoag language for about 150 years. Today, tribal members are reviving the spoken language through intensive scholarship based on sources written in the 1600s and 1700s. Deeds like this one offer myriad clues to language, land use, and the relationships among the Wampanoag and the English colonists and missionaries on Martha's Vineyard.