All schoolchildren in Waban know that the village was named after Chief Waban of the Nonantums, one of the Wampanoag tribes of native Americans. That area of Newton was reportedly his favorite hunting grounds.
Recent scholarship by the Mass Center for Native American Studies reveals that Chief Waban’s domain actually started on the far side of the Charles River in what’s now Wellesley. It turns out that the land that is now Waban was actually under the dominion of Chief Nantasket of the Pokanokets.
At a meeting two weeks ago of the Waban Area Council, councilor Chris Pitts raised the issue of honoring historical fidelity and moved that the Council recommend changing the name Waban to Nantasket Village. A lengthy discussion ensued about possible alternative names. No vote was ultimately taken, but by meeting’s end the consensus seemed to settle on “North Upper Falls”.
The issue came up at the following week’s Upper Falls Area Council meeting and it was clear that there was going to be some pushback. Said Upper Falls Councilor Marie Jackson “We love Waban. Some of my best friends are from Waban but we’d really rather they went with something like East Lower Falls.”