Mashpee is a town in Cape Cod, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States.
Cape Cod was occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, including the historic Algonquian-speaking Wampanoag, who encountered the English colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After English colonists arrived, they began to settle Mashpee in 1658 with the assistance of the missionary Richard Bourne, from the neighboring town of Sandwich.
Mashpee on Cape Cod was designated as the largest Indian reservation in Massachusetts. The town's name is an Anglicization of a native name, mass-nippe: mass is "great", or "greater" (see Massachusetts), and nippe is "water." The name has been translated as "the greater cove" or "great pond," or "land near great cove", where the water being referenced is Wakeby Lake, which is greater at one end.
Mashpee is considered to be on the "upper," or western, portion of Cape Cod. It is bounded by Sandwich to the north and northwest, Barnstable to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Falmouth to the west. It is approximately sixty-five miles south-southeast of Boston and seventy miles east-southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.
Like all towns on the Cape, Mashpee's topography is that of sandy soil, small ponds and inlets, surrounded by the pines and oaks indigenous to the area. The town's shoreline is framed by Waquoit Bay to the west and Popponesset Bay to the east, both spawning several rivers, brooks and small ponds. The town is also the site of South Cape Beach State Park, along Dead Neck and Waquoit Bay, and the Lowell Holly Reservation, comprising the land between Wakeby and Mashpee Ponds, and the Mashpee Super Swim held annually in June.