ISS4 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 47 of 63

The Gay Head Wampanoags and Keeper Charles Vanderhoop Story by William H. Thiesen, Ph.D., Historian, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Native Americans from a variety of tribes and locations have participated in the Coast Guard's predecessor services since the early nineteenth century, representing the second earliest minority group to serve in the Coast Guard. The first Native Americans to participate in the predecessor services typically came from coastal tribes whose members were expert watermen. These tribes included the Wampanoag in Massachusetts, who were the first Native Americans known to serve in the Coast Guard. In the early 1800s, Ebenezer Skiff, the lighthouse keeper at the Gay Head Light on Martha's Vineyard, hired members of the Wampanoag Tribe to support lighthouse maintenance and operations. In an 1815 letter to his superiors, Skiff reported: "When I hire an Indian to work, I usually give him a dollar per day when the days are long and seventy- five cents a day when the days are short and give him three meals." It was common for Gay Head keepers to hire Wampanoag tribal members as assistants because they proved more reliable than local white residents. Of all events associated with Native American service, the 1884 S.S. C ITY OF C OLUMBUS rescue stands out. The passenger steamer plied East Coast waters from Boston Undated photo of the Gay Head Lighthouse and keeper's quarters with keepers standing on each catwalk. Coast Guard Collection Rese R vist Magazine a l ight on Yeste RY ea R 46 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2017

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