Metoac

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A modern map showing Long Island and most of New York City highlighted in green with locations and tribal exonyms[1][2]
A modern map broadly showing language areas in the Mid-Atlantic region at the time of European contact in the 17th century[3][4]

Metoac is a term erroneously used to describe Native Americans on Long Island in New York, in the belief that bands were distinct tribes of this location. Scholars now understand that these historic peoples were part of two major cultural groups: the Lenape and Pequot peoples, both part of the Algonquian languages family. The amateur anthropologist Silas Wood published a book in the 19th century mistakenly claiming that several American Indian tribes were distinct to Long Island, New York. He collectively called them the Metoac.

Modern scientific scholarship has shown that Native American peoples on the island belonged to two major language and cultural groups among the Algonquian peoples who occupied Atlantic coastal areas from Canada through the American South. The bands in the western part of Long Island were Lenape, related to peoples in what is now western Connecticut, lower New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Those to the east were more related culturally and linguistically to the Algonquian tribes of New England across Long Island Sound, such as the Pequot.[5][6] Wood (and earlier colonial settlers) often confused Indian place names, by which the bands were known, as the names for different "tribes" living there.

Wood may have derived his collective term from metau-hok, the Algonquian word for the rough periwinkle,[7] which played an important role in the economy of the region before and after the arrival of Europeans. Those entering western Long Island were mostly Dutch colonists, some from New Netherland. The eastern part of the island was colonized by English settlers from southern New England. Indigenous populations declined significantly within a few decades of European contact, due to diseases. Many of the place names given by the Lenape and Pequot populations are still in use today. The Shinnecock Indian Nation, based at what is now Southampton, New York in Suffolk County, has gained federal recognition as a tribe and has a reservation there.

Languages[edit]

The Native American population on Long Island has been estimated at 10,000 at the time of first contact.[8][9] They spoke two languages within the Algonquian language group, reflecting their different connections to mainland peoples.[10] Those in the west, in and around what is now New York City, were Lenape. They spoke one of the R-dialects of what is now known as "Delaware or Lenape languages", and were part of the peoples how inhabited Lower Hudson Valley, New York Harbor, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania). Those living on the east end of the island were related to the Pequot of eastern Connecticut, speaking a Y-dialect of the Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett language.[11]

European colonization[edit]

European colonization of the region began in the 1620s. From the north the New England Confederation exerted influence on eastern Long Island and along its north shore. The western portion (including what are now the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens) were under the jurisdiction of New Netherland. This separation between zones of Dutch and English influence was formalized in their Treaty of Hartford in 1650, which set a border running south from Oyster Bay. The Native Americans on Long Island played an important role in the trade economy as shells harvested there fashioned into small beads to create sewant, or wampum ("wampompeag" - shortened later by the English) used to decorate ceremonial wear were the most highly prized.[citation needed]

Displacement[edit]

The Pequot War (1634-1638) in southern New England and Kieft's War (1643-1645) in the New York metropolitan area were two major conflicts between the indigenous peoples and the colonists. Exposure to new Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, dramatically reduced the numbers of Native Americans on Long Island.[citation needed] In addition, some Native American settlements on Long Island migrated away under pressure from European settlement.[citation needed] By 1659, their population was reduced to less than 500.[citation needed]

After the American Revolutionary War, their numbers were reduced to 162 people by 1788.[citation needed] By this time, Samson Occom had persuaded many survivors to join the Brothertown Indians in western upstate New York, where the Oneida people of the Iroquois Confederacy shared their reservation for several years.[citation needed]

Exonyms[edit]

Further information: Toponymy of New Netherland

For generations, colonists mistakenly used the place names as exonyms for peoples, thinking they referred to tribes. Among the many locations on Long Island used by the native peoples, 19th-century American publications identified the following thirteen as "tribes" on Long Island:[12][13]

State and federal recognition[edit]

Modern map showing linguistic groups, including areas where modern reservations are located

At the end of 2009, the administration of President Barack Obama announced the Shinnecock Indian Nation had met the federal criteria for recognition as a tribe.[15] While the final ruling is subject to a comment period, it is likely the announcement will stand.

New York State has recognized the Shinnecock, based at Shinnecock Reservation near Southampton and the Unkechaugi, whose Poospatuck Reservation at Mastic is the smallest Indian reservation in the state. The Montaukett, a group around Montauk, is seeking both state and federal recognition.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strong, John A. Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Heart of the Lakes Publishing (March 1997). ISBN 978-1-55787-148-0
  2. ^ Bragdon, Kathleen. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast,Columbia University Press (2002). ISBN 978-0-231-11452-3.
  3. ^ Strong, John A. Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Heart of the Lakes Publishing (March 1997). ISBN 978-1-55787-148-0
  4. ^ Bragdon, Kathleen. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast,Columbia University Press (2002). ISBN 978-0-231-11452-3.
  5. ^ Strong, John A. Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Heart of the Lakes Publishing (March 1997). ISBN 978-1-55787-148-0
  6. ^ Bragdon, Kathleen. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast,Columbia University Press (2002). ISBN 978-0-231-11452-3.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ longislandsoundstudy.net/about-the-sound/history/
  9. ^ montaukclub.com/the-montauk-club/.../the-montauk-tribe/
  10. ^ Barron, Donna. The Long Island Indians and Their New England Ancestors: Narragansett, Mohegan, Pequot & Wampanoag Tribes. AuthorHouse. June 28, 2006. ISBN 978-1-4259-3405-7
  11. ^ Bragdon, Kathleen. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast,Columbia University Press (2002). ISBN 978-0-231-11452-3.
  12. ^ Nathaniel Scudder, A History of Long Island From Its First Settlement By Europeans to the Year 1845, New York: 1845
  13. ^ http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/brotherton/metoachist.htm
  14. ^ Islands Draw Native American, Dutch, and English Settlement, City-data.com, Retrieved December 1, 2007]
  15. ^ Hakim, Danny (2009-12-15). "U.S. Eases Way to Recognition for Shinnecock". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-17.