Many year-round residents of Aquinnah are descendants of the Wampanoag Indians who showed the colonial settlers how to kill whales, plant corn, and find clay for the early brickyards. Much later, these Aquinnah Indians were in great demand as boatsteerers in the whaling fleets. It was the boatsteerer who cast the iron into the whale. The Aquinnah Indians were judged to be the most skillful and courageous boatsteerers of that era. The courage of the early residents of Aquinnah demonstrated itself in the many instances when they took to the seas in deadly weather to aid survivors of wrecks that took place off the Aquinnah Cliffs. As further testament to their valor, a plaque on the schoolhouse commemorates the fact that Aquinnah sent more men, in proportion to its size, to fight in World War I than did any other town in New England

(Text courtesy of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce.

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