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Aquinnah is a town located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Until 1997 it was called Gay Head. The population was 311 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and quiet natural serenity. Below the clay cliffs is Jungle Beach, named to reflect its reputation as one of the few nude beaches left in the U.S.Aquinnah has become 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.HistoryBefore 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.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.Aquinnah is in Martha's Vineyard. Use our world travel planner: Aquinnah and all its delights await.
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