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Plimoth Plantation to undergo a name change

An actor at Plimoth Plantation in November.
An actor at Plimoth Plantation in November.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/David L Ryan, Globe Staff

Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum re-creating a 1620s Colonial village, announced that will change its name to be more inclusive of the Indigenous history it also represents.

Officials at the nearly 75-year-old Plymouth museum said it had been mulling a change for more than a year because “although our educational mission is inclusive of Indigenous history as well as European colonial history, the name of the Museum underscores only half of the story,” the museum said in a statement earlier this month.

While the new name is not yet final, according to a spokeswoman, the organization has begun using a new logo ahead of the 400-year anniversary of the settlement, incorporating the Wampanoag name for the area, Patuxet. The museum’s new name is expected to be announced during a commemoration of the anniversary, according to the more than 500-word statement.

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With the pandemic, many aspects of the commemoration are up in the air, including dates, but the announcement of the name is expected in the “next couple of months,” said Plimoth Plantation spokeswoman Kate Sheehan in an e-mail Sunday.

December 1620 was when the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Harbor, according to the museum.

The announcement came amid a wave of calls for renaming buildings and removing monuments across the country as part of a critical look at the United States’ history of race, which the museum called an “inflection point.”

“As our Nation faces a pandemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning with racial injustice and a highly-charged election year, there is no doubt that we have reached an inflection point in our history, one that raises necessary, and at times painful, discussions. But, especially in these times, that is what museums are called to do.”

While the governor of Rhode Island recently announced she would remove “plantations” from the state’s official documents and elsewhere, Sheehan, the museum spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that she could not confirm what would be in the name, since it “isn’t yet final.”

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The timing also coincides with plans to mark the anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in the Wampanoag homeland of Patuxet in 1620, the museum said. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe could not be reached for comment Sunday.

“Previous centuries marked anniversaries with statues, pageants, orators, and urban renewal projects that reflected contemporary views of the world,” according to the museum. “We intend this change to be part of the lasting contribution our Museum makes to this century’s commemoration.”


Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.