E/MS Unit I

Activity 1: Mapping Native American Tribes and English Settlements

First, have students study the map of the indigenous people who lived in what is now Massachusetts. Using an outline map of the state, have the class create big maps to show where each tribe lived. Students can use a variety of markers to differentiate the regions where each tribe lived and then create a key. Explain to the class that large tribes, such as the Wampanoag and Massachusett, were made up of smaller tribes and sub-tribal groups. Have students map just the major tribes.

(Students can also use this information to create their own desk maps.)

Read together King Charles’s 1629 grant to the Massachusetts Bay Company. Using a plastic overlay sheet, map the area King Charles “granted” to the settlers. Using another color marker on the Big Map, add the Massachusetts towns settled up to 1675 in chronological order. Stop periodically to discuss why settlers founded a town or towns in a particular location. For example, where were the very first towns? Why did settlers establish towns in the Connecticut River Valley before moving inland?


  1. What was the attitude of the English king and the settlers towards land in New England?
  2. Why did the settlers establish towns in specific locations?
  3. On whose land were they “settling”?
  4. Which areas of Massachusetts were still free of English settlers before 1675?
  5. How might the native people have responded to the increasing number of English towns?