Pequots

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Pequots
Mashantucket Pequot Museum Exhibit.jpg
Pequot Museum Exhibit showing Mashantucket Pequot warrior
Total population
1620: 16,000 (est.)[1]

1637: 3,000 (est.)
1910: 66
1972: 21

2000: 1,000–2,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, Lantern Hill, North Stonington, Connecticut: 1,130
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe or Western Pequot, Ledyard, Connecticut: 350
Languages
Historically Pequot, a dialect of the Mohegan-Pequot language (an Algonquian language), now English
Religion
Native American religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Mohegan/Mohigan

The Pequot (/ˈpkwɒt/)[2] are a Native American people of Connecticut. The modern Pequot are members of the federally recognized Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, four other state-recognized groups in Connecticut including the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, or the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin.[3] They historically spoke Pequot, a dialect of the Mohegan-Pequot language, which became extinct by the early 20th century. Some tribal members are undertaking revival efforts.

The Pequot and the Mohegan were formerly a single group, but the Mohegan split off in the 17th century as the Pequot came to control much of Connecticut. Simmering tensions with the New England Colonies led to the Pequot War of 1634–1638, which dramatically reduced the population and influence of the Pequot; many members were killed, enslaved, or dispersed. Small numbers of Pequots remained in Connecticut, receiving reservations at Mashantucket in 1666 and at the Pawcatuck River in 1683; others lived in different areas and with other tribes. In the 18th century, some Christian Pequot joined members of several other groups to form the Brothertown Indians in western New Hampshire. They relocated to western New York in the 19th century, where they were allowed land by the Oneida people of the Iroquois League, and later to Wisconsin, where they were granted a reservation.[4]

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe was formed in 1975 and received federal recognition in 1983 as a settlement of a land claim. In 1986, they founded the Foxwoods Resort Casino on their land. Located in proximity to the New York City metropolitan area, it has become one of the country's most successful Native American casinos.[5]

The Pawcatuck River Pequot formed the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, which is recognized by Connecticut but is not federally recognized. Additionally, Pequot descendants are enrolled in the federally recognized Mohegan Tribe, as well as the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation and Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation of Connecticut, and the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin, which also have degrees of state recognition.[3] The Poospatuck Reservation on Long Island is home to a few hundred self-identified Pequot descendants.

History[edit]

Plan of a Pequot fort, taken by Massachusetts Bay colonists in 1637
Pequot basket, c. 1840–60

Etymology[edit]

Pequot is an Algonquian word whose meaning is disputed among language specialists. Considerable scholarship on the Pequot claims that the name came from Pequttôog, meaning "the destroyers" or "the men of the swamp". Frank Speck was a leading specialist of the Mohegan-Pequot language in the early twentieth century, and he believed that another term was more plausible, meaning "the shallowness of a body of water", given that the Pequot territory was along the coast of Long Island Sound.[6][7]

Historians have debated whether the Pequot migrated about 1500 from the upper Hudson River Valley toward central and eastern Connecticut. The theory of Pequot migration to the Connecticut River Valley can be traced to Rev. William Hubbard, who claimed in 1677 that the Pequot had invaded the region sometime before the establishment of Plymouth Colony, rather than originating in the region. In the aftermath of King Philip's War, Hubbard detailed in his Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England the ferocity with which some of New England's tribes responded to the English. Hubbard described the Pequot as "foreigners" to the region; not invaders from another shore, but "from the interior of the continent" who "by force seized upon one of the goodliest places near the sea, and became a Terror to all their Neighbors."[8]

Much of the archaeological, linguistic, and documentary evidence now available demonstrates that the Pequot were not invaders to the Connecticut River Valley but were indigenous in that area for thousands of years.[9] By the time of the founding of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, the Pequot had already attained a position of political, military, and economic dominance in central and eastern Connecticut. They occupied the coastal area between the Niantic tribe of the Niantic River of Connecticut and the Narragansett in western Rhode Island. The Pequot numbered some 16,000 persons in the most densely inhabited portion of southern New England.[1]

The smallpox epidemic of 1616–1619 killed many of the Native Americans of the eastern coast of New England, but it did not reach the Pequot, Niantic, and Narragansett tribes. In 1633, the Dutch established a trading post called the House of Good Hope at Hartford. They executed the principal Pequot sachem Tatobem because of a violation of an agreement. After the Pequot paid the Dutch a large ransom, they returned Tatobem's body to his people. His successor was Sassacus.

In 1633, an epidemic devastated all of the region's tribes, and historians estimate that the Pequot suffered the loss of 80 percent of their population. At the outbreak of the Pequot War, Pequot survivors may have numbered only about 3,000.[10]

Pequot War[edit]

Members of the Pequot tribe killed a resident of Connecticut Colony in 1636, and war erupted as a result. The Mohegan and the Narragansett tribes sided with the colonists. Around 1,500 Pequot warriors were killed in battles or hunted down, and others were captured and distributed as slaves or household servants. A few escaped to join the Mohawk and the Niantic tribes on Long Island. Eventually, some returned to their traditional lands, where family groups of friendly Pequots had stayed. Of those enslaved, most were awarded to the allied tribes, but many were also sold as slaves in Bermuda.[11][12] The Mohegans treated their Pequot captives so severely that officials of Connecticut Colony eventually removed them. Connecticut established two reservations for the Pequots in 1683: the Eastern Pequot Reservation in North Stonington, Connecticut and the Western Pequots (or Mashantucket Pequot Reservation) in Ledyard.

Modern history[edit]

The 1910 census numbered the Pequot population at 66,[13] and they reached their lowest number several decades later. Pequot numbers grew significantly during the 1970s and 1980s, especially the Mashantucket Pequot tribe which opened a casino in the same timeframe, and tribal chairman Richard A. Hayward encouraged them to return to their tribal homeland. He worked for Federal recognition and economic development.[14]

In 1976, the Pequots filed suit with the assistance of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the Indian Rights Association against landowners and residents of North Stonington to get their land, which the Pequots claimed had been illegally sold in 1856 by the State of Connecticut, and they settled after seven years. The Connecticut Legislature passed legislation to petition the federal government to grant tribal recognition to the Mashantucket Pequots, and the "Mashantucket Pequot Indian Land Claims Settlement Act" was enacted by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 18, 1983.[15] This settlement granted federal recognition to the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, enabling them to buy the land covered in the Settlement Act and place it in trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for reservation use.[16] In 1986, they opened a bingo operation, followed by the first phase of Foxwoods Resort Casino in 1992. Revenue from the casino has enabled the development and construction of a cultural museum which opened on August 11, 1998, on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation where many members of the tribe continue to live.

The Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation was recognized in 2002. Since the 1930s, both Pequot tribes had serious tension over racial issues, with some people claiming that darker-skinned descendants should not be considered fully Pequot. Two groups of Eastern Pequots filed petitions for recognition with the BIA, and they agreed to unite to achieve recognition. The state immediately challenged the decision, and the Department of the Interior revoked their recognition in 2005. That same year, it revoked recognition for the Schaghticoke tribe who had gained recognition in 2004. The Connecticut state government and Congressional delegation opposed the BIA's recognition because residents were worried that the newly recognized tribes would establish gaming casinos.

Geography[edit]

The 1130-member Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation has a reservation called "Lantern Hill." The Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation is recognized by the state of Connecticut.

The 800+ Mashantucket Pequot or Western Pequot gained federal recognition in 1983 and have a reservation in Ledyard.

The Poospatuck Reservation on Long Island is also home to a few hundred self-identified Pequot descendants.

Nearly all individuals who are identified as Pequot live in the two above-named communities. They are multi-racial but identify as Pequot. No members of the tribe have solely full-blooded Pequot ancestry.

Language[edit]

Cover of 1663 Bible translated into the Wampanoag language

Historically, the Pequots spoke a dialect of the Mohegan-Pequot language, an Eastern Algonquian language. The Treaty of Hartford concluded the Pequot War in 1637, when the colonists made speaking the language a capital offense. Within a generation or so, it became largely extinct. Pequot from both the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mashantucket Pequot now speak English as their first language.

In the 21st century, the Mashantucket Pequot are undertaking aggressive efforts to revive the language. They are conducting careful analysis of historical documents containing Pequot words and comparing them to extant closely related languages. So far, they have reclaimed more than 1,000 words, though that is a small fraction of what would be necessary for a functional language. The Mashantucket Pequots have begun offering language classes with the help of the Mashpee Wampanoag. The Wampanoag recently initiated the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. The southern New England Indian communities participating in the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project are Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Herring Pond Wampanoag, and Mashantucket Pequot.

Notable Pequot[edit]

  • William Apess (1798–1839) was an ordained Methodist minister, writer, and temperance activist of Pequot and European descent; he was a political and religious leader in Massachusetts.
  • Willy DeVille (1950–2009), rock and roll guitarist, songwriter and singer, was Pequot through his mother and maternal grandmother's lineage. He explored his Pequot roots in his post-2000 works.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dean R. Snow and Kim M. Lamphear, "European Contact and Indian Depopulation in the Northeast: The Timing of the First Epidemics," Ethnohistory 35 (1988): 16-38.
  2. ^ Salwen, Bert (1978). "Indians of Southern New England and Long Island: Early Period." In Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger. Vol. 15 of Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William C. Sturtevant. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, pg. 175
  3. ^ a b Pritzker, Barry (2000) A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples, pp. 656–657. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513897-X.
  4. ^ Pritzker, Barry (2000) A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples, pp. 654–655, 656. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513897-X.
  5. ^ Jeff Benedict, Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods the World's Largest Casino], New York: Harper, 2000, ISBN 978-0060193676
  6. ^ Frank Speck, "Native Tribes and Dialects of Connecticut: A Mohegan-Pequot Diary", Annual Reports of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology 43 (1928): 218.
  7. ^ "The Pequot Relationships, as Indicated by the Events Leading to the Pequot Massacre of 1637 and Subsequent Claims in the Mohegan Land Controversy", Archaeological Society of Connecticut Bulletin 21 (1947): 26-33.
  8. ^ William Hubbard, The History of the Indian Wars in New England 2 vols. (Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1845), vol. 2, pp. 6-7.
  9. ^ For archaeological investigations disproving Hubbard's theory of origins, see Irving Rouse, "Ceramic Traditions and Sequences in Connecticut," Archaeological Society of Connecticut Bulletin 21 (1947): 25; Kevin McBride, "Prehistory of the Lower Connecticut Valley" (Ph.D. diss., University of Connecticut, 1984), pp. 126-28, 199-269; and the overall evidence on the question of Pequot origins in Means, "Mohegan-Pequot Relationships," 26-33. For historical research, refer to Alfred A. Cave, "The Pequot Invasion of Southern New England: A Reassessment of the Evidence," New England Quarterly 62 (1989): 27-44; and for linguistic research, see Truman D. Michelson, "Notes on Algonquian Language," International Journal of American Linguistics 1 (1917): 56-57.
  10. ^ Refer to Sherburne F. Cook, "The Significance of Disease in the Extinction of the New England Indians," Human Biology 45 (1973): 485-508; and Arthur E. Spiro and Bruce D. Spiess, "New England Pandemic of 1616-1622: Cause and Archaeological Implication," Man in the Northeast 35 (1987): 71-83.
  11. ^ Lion Gardiner, "Relation of the Pequot Warres," History of the Pequot War: The Contemporary Accounts of Mason, Underhill, Vincent, and Gardiner (Cleveland, 1897), p. 138; Ethel Boissevain, "Whatever Became of the New England Indians Shipped to Bermuda to be Sold as Slaves," Man in the Northwest 11 (Spring 1981), pp. 103-114; and Karen O. Kupperman, Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 172.
  12. ^ "Rootsweb: Pequot-Bermudian Reconnection Festival 2002". Archived from the original on 2008-12-17.
  13. ^ "Thirteenth Census of the United States taken in the year 1910" United States Bureau of the Census, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (1912-1914).
  14. ^ See Laurence M. Hauptman and James Wherry, eds. The Pequots in Southern New England: The Fall and Rise of an Indian Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990); Wayne J. Stein, "Gaming: The Apex of a Long Struggle," Wíčazo Ša Review, vol. 13, No. 1. (Spring, 1998), pp. 73-91; Jeff Benedict, Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino, Harper Books, 2001; Brett Duval Fromson, Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History, Grove Press, 2004.
  15. ^ See Reagan's initial response in "Message to the Senate Returning Without Approval the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Claims Settlement Bill", April 5, 1983, University of Texas.
  16. ^ Mashantucket Pequot Indian Claims Settlement Act (1983), S. 366.
  17. ^ Heller, Louis G. (1961). "Two Pequot Names in American Literature," American Speech 36(1): 54-57

Bibliography[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

  • Gardiner, Lion. Leift Lion Gardener his Relation of the Pequot Warres (Boston: [First Printing] Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 1833).
  • Hubbard, William. The History of the Indian Wars in New England 2 vols. (Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1845).
  • Johnson, Edward. wonder-working Providence of Sion's Saviour in New England by Captain Edward Johnson of Woburn, Massachusetts Bay. With a historical introduction and an index by William Frederick Poole (Andover, MA: W. F. Draper, [London: 1654] 1867.
  • Mason, John. A Brief History of the Pequot War: Especially of the Memorable taking of their Fort at Mistick in Connecticut in 1637/Written by Major John Mason, a principal actor therein, as then chief captain and commander of Connecticut forces; With an introduction and some explanatory notes by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Prince (Boston: Printed & sold by. S. Kneeland & T. Green in Queen Street, 1736).
  • Mather, Increase. A Relation of the Troubles which have Hapned in New-England, because of the Indians There, from the Year 1614 to the Year 1675 (New York: Arno Press, [1676] 1972).
  • Orr, Charles ed., History of the Pequot War: The Contemporary Accounts of Mason, Underhill, Vincent, and Gardiner (Cleveland, 1897).
  • Underhill, John. Nevves from America; or, A New and Experimental Discovery of New England: Containing, a True Relation of their War-like Proceedings these two years last past, with a figure of the Indian fort, or Palizado. Also, a discovery of these places, that as yet have very few or no inhabitants which would yield special accommodation to such as will plant there . . . By Captaine Iohn Underhill, a commander in the warres there (London: Printed by I. D[awson] for Peter Cole, and are to be sold at the sign of the Glove in Corne-hill near the Royall Exchange, 1638).
  • Vincent, Philip. A True Relation of the late Battell fought in New England, between the English, and the Salvages: VVith the present state of things there (London: Printed by M[armaduke] P[arsons] for Nathanael Butter, and Iohn Bellamie, 1637).

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Boissevain, Ethel. "Whatever Became of the New England Indians Shipped to Bermuda to be Sold as Slaves," Man in the Northwest 11 (Spring 1981), pp. 103–114.
  • Benedict, Jeff. Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino. New York: Harper Books, 2001.
  • Bradstreet, Howard. The Story of the War with the Pequots, Retold. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1933.
  • Cave, Alfred A. "The Pequot Invasion of Southern New England: A Reassessment of the Evidence," New England Quarterly 62 (1989): 27–44.
  • ______. The Pequot War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996).
  • Cook, Sherburne F. "The Significance of Disease in the Extinction of the New England Indians," Human Biology 45 (1973): 485–508.
  • Fromson, Brett Duval. Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History. Grove Press, 2004.
  • Hauptman, Laurence M. and James D. Wherry, eds. The Pequots in Southern New England: The Fall and Rise of an American Indian Nation. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
  • Kupperman, Karen O. Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).
  • McBride, Kevin. "The Historical Archaeology of the Mashantucket Pequots, 1637-1900," in Laurence M. Hauptman and James Wherry, eds. Pequots in Southern New England: The Fall and Rise of an American Indian Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), pp. 96–116.
  • ______. Prehistory of the Lower Connecticut Valley. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut, 1984.
  • Means, Carrol Alton. "Mohegan-Pequot Relationships, as Indicated by the Events Leading to the Pequot Massacre of 1637 and Subsequent Claims in the Mohegan Land Controversy," Archaeological Society of Connecticut Bulletin 21 (1947): 26–33.
  • Michelson, Truman D. "Notes on Algonquian Language," International Journal of American Linguistics 1 (1917): 56–57.
  • Newell, Margaret Ellen. Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.
  • Richter, Daniel K. Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Rouse, Irving. "Ceramic Traditions and Sequences in Connecticut," Archaeological Society of Connecticut Bulletin 21 (1947).
  • Oberg, Michael. Uncas: First of the Mohegans (Ithaca, NY:Cornell University Press, 2003).
  • Simmons, William S. Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Dartmouth, NH: University Press of New England, 1986.
  • Snow, Dean R., and Kim M. Lamphear. "European Contact and Indian Depopulation in the Northeast: The Timing of the First Epidemics," Ethnohistory 35 (1988): 16–38.
  • Spiero, Arthur E., and Bruce E. Speiss. "New England Pandemic of 1616-1622: Cause and Archaeological Implication," Man in the Northeast 35 (1987): 71–83.
  • Vaughan, Alden T. "Pequots and Puritans: The Causes of the War of 1637," William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Ser., Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr. 1964), pp. 256–269; also republished in Roots of American Racism: Essays on the Colonial Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • _______. New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1980.

External links[edit]