Community development planning with a Native American tribe in a colonized environment: Mashpee Wampanoag, a modern Native American tribe in southern New England seeking to maintain traditional values and cultural integrity

Ramona Louise Peters
Dept. of Psychology, Alliant International University, Fresno
August, 2006


This thesis recommends community development strategies for a Native American tribe that has survived three-hundred and eighty-three years of colonial influences and impositions upon it's aboriginal culture and government. The recommendations are based on community development models, determinants of community well-being analysis, field research, and a estimation of the tribe's potential capacity for change. The Mashpee Wampanaog tribe has maintained some of its original cultural aspects, worldview, ceremonials, and most importantly its collective consciousness as a tribe. By carrying these cultural aspects through centuries of hardship and changes beyond their control, the tribe has demonstrated a need to adhere to what they call their "original instructions from the Creator as a people." This should not be interpreted as resistance to conforming to the dominant American society but rather a necessary devotion to their cultural heritage. The stresses of a bi-cultural lifestyle are reflected by the very high rate of diagnosed depression among the adult tribal population, particularly the male population. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is a matrilineal culture existing in a patriarchal society, which also contributes to the rate of diagnosed depression. This thesis examines a strategy of enhancing cultural elements to meet the emotional, mental, spiritual, physical needs of the tribe while respecting the volition of the tribe.