Metoac is a term erroneously used to describe Native Americans on Long Island in New York. The amateur anthropologist Silas Wood published a book in the 19th century falsely claiming that there were several American Indian tribes that were distinct to Long Island, New York. He collectively called them the Metoac. Modern scientific scholarship has shown that two linguistic groups represented two Algonquian cultural identities on the island, not "13 individual tribes" as asserted by Wood. The bands to the west were Lenape. Those to the east were more related culturally to the Algonquian tribes of New England across Long Island Sound, such as the Pequot. Wood (and earlier settlers) often confused Indian place names as the names for different "tribes" living there.
Wood may have derived the term from metau-hok, the local word for the rough periwinkle, which played an important role in the economy of the region before and after the arrival of Europeans. Long Island was first settled by colonialist from New Netherland. Indigenous populations declined significantly within a few decades. Derivatives of the many of the place names given by the indigenous populations are still in use today. Small groups of surviving Native Americans have had success in gaining official state and federal status as tribes, and maintain reservations on or close to the East Fork of the Island.
The Native American population on Long Island has been estimated at 10,000 at the time of first contact. They spoke two languages within the Algonquian language group, reflecting their different connections to mainland peoples. Those from the west in and around what is now New York City spoke one of the R-dialects of what is now known as "Delaware languages", (a Lenape - also known as the Delaware - language spoken in New Jersey, Lower Hudson Valley, New York Harbor and eastern Pennsylvania). Those living on the east end of the island spoke a Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett language, a Y-dialect similar to the Pequot of eastern Connecticut.
European colonalization 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 is now the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens) were under the jurisdiction of New Netherland. This was formalized in the 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.
The Pequot War and Kieft's War were two major conflicts involving the indigenous and immmigrating populations and are considered[by whom?] early genocides of Native Americans. Exposure to new Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, dramatically reduced the numbers of Native Americans on Long Island. In addition, some Native American settlements on Long Island migrated away under pressure from European settlement. By 1659, their population was reduced to less than 500. After the American Revolutionary War their numbers were reduced to 162 people by 1788. By this time, Samson Occom had persuaded many survivors to join the Brothertown Indians off-island.
For generations, the place names were mistakenly used as exonyms for peoples, not places. Among the many locations on Long Island used by the native population the following thirteen were used in early publications to describe individual groups
- Canarsie - in modern day Brooklyn, New York and Maspeth, Queens, and Jamaica, New York. Legend states that the Carnarsee sold Manhattan to the Dutch Governor Peter Minuit for "24 dollars' worth of beads and trinkets.".
- Corchaug (Cochaug)(Cutchogue) - Around Riverhead, New York and Southold, New York. The Fort Corchaug Archaeological Site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Manhasset (also known as Manhansick) - Located on Shelter Island, New York. Its name is applied to Manhasset, New York
- Marsapeague (also known as Massapequa, Marsapequa, Maspeth), - Located on the south shore from the Rockaways into Suffolk County. Massapequa and Maspeth, Queens are derivations of this.
- Matinecock (also known as Matinecoc) - Located on the Long Island North Shore from Flushing, Queens to Huntington.
- Mericoke (also known as Merrick, Meroke, Merikoke, Meracock) - Located on the south shore from the Rockaway into Suffolk County. Merrick is a derivation of this.
- Montaukett (also known as Montauk, Meanticut)- Located in East Hampton, New York. Its sagamore Wyandanch had his name on the title transfer of most of Long Island to the European settlers.
- Nissequaq (also known as Nesaquake, Missaquogue)- Located on the North Shore from Fresh Pond to Stony Brook, New York. The village of Nissequogue and the Nissequogue River are named after this.
- Rockaway (also known as Rechaweygh, Rechquaakie)- Located around Rockaway and portions of Jamaica and Maspeth The Rockaways is a place name derived from this.
- Secatague (also known as Secatoag, Secatogue) - Located at Islip on the south shore.
- Setauket (also known as Setalcott) - Located on the North Shore from Stony Brook to Wading River, New York. The village of Setauket is named after this.
- Shinnecock Indian Nation - Located in Southampton, New York. They occupy the Shinnecock Reservation, New York.
- Unkechaug (also known as Patchogue, Onechechaug, Patchoag, Unchachaug, Unquaches, Unquachog, Unquachock, Unchechauge) - Located on the south shore from Brookhaven, New York to Southampton, New York.
State and federal recognition
|This article is outdated. (September 2010)|
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. 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.
- Strong, John A. Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Heart of the Lakes Publishing (March 1997). ISBN 978-1-55787-148-0
- Bragdon, Kathleen. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast,Columbia University Press (2002). ISBN 978-0-231-11452-3.
- 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
- Nathaniel Scudder, A History of Long Island From Its First Settlement By Europeans to the Year 1845, New York: 1845
- Islands Draw Native American, Dutch, and English Settlement - city-data.com - Retrieved December 1, 2007
- Hakim, Danny (2009-12-15). "U.S. Eases Way to Recognition for Shinnecock". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-17.