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Aquinnah Car Service

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Aquinnah Car Service

Aquinnah is a town located on the western-end of Martha’s Vineyard island, Massachusetts. From 1870 to 1997, the town was incorporated as Gay Head. In the 2010 U.S. census, the population was 311. Aquinnah is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and natural serenity, as well as its historical importance to the native Wampanoag people. In 1965, Gay Head Cliffs were designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.[1]

Aquinnah is celebrated as a center of Wampanoag culture and a center of pride and tradition among members of the federally recognized Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head. They make up about one-third of the town’s voters and are one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. This area is one of the earliest sites of whaling. The Wampanoag harvested whales from small boats and the shore, using harpoons, long before the 19th-century industry of whaling became the major maritime industry of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Before the arrival of English colonists, Martha’s Vineyard and Aquinnah were inhabited by the Wampanoag, a Native American people, related to the larger Algonquin Nation of Southern New England. Historically they spoke an Algonquian language, part of a large language family that extended down the Atlantic Coast. Based on archeological testing, scientists estimate the earliest signs of human occupation in what is now Aquinnah date back 10,000 to 7,500 years.

The Wampanoag have a separate history; their creation myth tells that their ancestors reached the island after traveling on an ice floe from the far North. They sided with the English settlers in King Philip’s War. They performed whaling from small boats. The character Tashtego in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick is a Native American harpooner from Aquinnah.

This area was first settled by English colonists in 1669. Later colonists officially divided the town of Aquinnah from Chilmark and incorporated it in 1870 as Gay Head, Massachusetts. Gay Head was a descriptive name referring to the brilliant colors of the cliffs and was frequently noted on lists of unusual place names.