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This 1685 reprint of a 1656 map indicates "Wickquaskeck" in Westchester County above Manhattan island and "Manhattans" on it.

The Wecquaesgeek (also Manhattoe and Manhattan) were a Munsee-speaking band of Wappinger people who once lived along the east bank of the Hudson River in the southwest of today's Westchester County, New York,[1] and down into the Bronx.[2]


Native peoples including the Wecquaesgeek resided along the southeastern banks of the Hudson River for over six thousand years - from 4500 BCE through the 17th century.[3] Known by many generally similar spellings, they fished the region's streams and lakes with rods and nets.[4]

The Wecquaesgeek faced numerous conflicts with Dutch and English colonists. In 1609 two dug-out birch canoes were sent from the Nipinichsen settlement to threaten Hendrik Hudson's ship in on his return trip down the river. [5][6] Like other Wappinger people, the Wecquaesgeek suffered losses in Kieft's War between Dutch colonists and indigenous tribes.[7]

Around half of the military aged men remaining to the tribe died fighting on behalf of the American Revolutionary Army, though none were granted citizenship after victory.[7]

Wicker's Creek in what is now called Dobbs Ferry was the last known residence of the tribe, which they occupied through the 1600's.[3]


The following settlements have been documented in historical accounts:[7]

The Weckquaesgeek territories were bordered by the Sintsink to the north, below today's Ossining, and inland toward Long Island Sound to that of the Siwanoy, both related Wappinger bands.[1]

To the south their range included the western part of today's Bronx along the Hudson and Harlem Rivers,[2] and included the upper three-quarters of Manhattan island,[18][19] which they did not permanently occupy but used as a hunting ground.[20] Effectively it was their land that the Canarsee people of today's Brooklyn, who only occupied the very southern end of Manhattan island, an area known as the Manhattoes, sold to the Dutch.[20]

The Dutch ended up with the island, and the Wecquaesgeek being called the "Manhattoe" or "Manhattan" Indians.

Today's Broadway follows one of their original trails, named "Wickquasgeck", after the "birch bark country" that lined it.[21][22][23]

Naming confusion[edit]

As was common practice early in the days of European settlement of North America, a people came to be associated with a place, with its name displacing theirs among the settlers and those associated with them, such as explorers, mapmakers, trading company superiors who sponsored many of the early settlements, and officials in the settlers' mother country in Europe.

Numerous variants of are found on historical maps and in period documents. These include: Wiechquaeskeck, Wechquaesqueck, Weckquaesqueek, Weekquaesguk, Wickquasgeck, Wickquasgek, Wiequaeskeek, Wiequashook, and Wiquaeskec. The meaning of the name has variously been given as "the end of the marsh, swamp or wet meadow", "place of the bark kettle", and "birch bark country".[24][25][21][22]

Just as a name of one of their trails - the Wickquasgeck - was given to the people so another conflation by white settlers further confounded their identity, when they were mistakenly referred to as the Manhattoes after a place of that name on the southern tip of Manhattan Island.[26][27] Compounding this was that the Manhattoes was the only part of Manhattan not occupied by the Wecquasgeek;[18][28] it was a seasonal ground of the Canarsee,[20] a Metoac people who lived across the East River in today's Brooklyn.

See also[edit]

  • Canarsee, the Native American band that sold Manhattan to the Dutch


  1. ^ a b Their presence on the east bank of the Hudson River in today's Westchester County is clearly labeled on the 1685 revision by Petrus Schenk Junior, Novi Belgii Novæque Angliæ, of a 1656 map by Nicolaes Visscher.
  2. ^ a b Sultzman, Lee (1997). "Wappinger History". Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Focus On—Dobbs Ferry". Bee Local—The Neighborhood Buzz. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  4. ^ French, Alvah P. (1925). History of Westchester County, New York. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. LCCN 25018271. OCLC 3554289. OL 22135974M.
  5. ^ a b c "Wappinger Indian Divisions | Access Genealogy". Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  6. ^ a b "How Manhattan Island of New York City was Named". Revolutionary War Journal. 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  7. ^ a b c "Wappinger". www.dickshovel.com. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  8. ^ a b "A- New York Indian Villages, Towns and Settlements | Access Genealogy". Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  9. ^ "Explore-The Bridge Path-Tides of Tarrytown | Mario Cuomo Bridge". mariomcuomobridge.ny.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  10. ^ T., Pritchard, Evan (2019). Native New Yorkers : the Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-64160-389-8. OCLC 1126217912.
  11. ^ Graves, Arthur Harmount (1930). "Inwood Park, Manhattan". Torreya. 30 (5): 117–129. ISSN 0096-3844. JSTOR 40596696.
  12. ^ "BUCKHOUT FAMILY BACKGROUND". 2019-09-25. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  13. ^ "Hudson River Historian Lectures in Wysquaqua, er, Dobbs Ferry". Rivertowns, NY Patch. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  14. ^ "the weckquaesgeek - Ardsley Historical Society" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Hastings' Hidden Waterway". Hastings Historical Society. 2020-06-22. Retrieved 2021-12-15.
  16. ^ Heltzel, Bill (2017-11-22). "Conservationists, condo group battle over access to Dobbs Ferry Indian site". Westfair Communications. Retrieved 2021-12-15.
  17. ^ "Dobbs Ferry Village Historian, Notable Quotations". www.villagehistorian.org. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  18. ^ a b Moby Dick, Herman Melville, Chapter 1, reprinted in "Melville Depicted City of ‘Manhattoes’ Lured by the Sea,", New York Times, July 5, 1976, p. 13
  19. ^ "Brooks, ponds, swamps, and marshes characterized other portions of the island of the 'Manhattoes'", The Memorial History of the City of New York, James Grant Wilson, New York, 1892
  20. ^ a b c "The $24 Swindle", Nathaniel Benchley, American Heritage, 1959, Vol. 11, Issue 1
  21. ^ a b Dunlap, David (June 15, 1983). "Oldest Streets Are Protected as Landmark". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Shorto, Russell (February 9, 2004). "The Streets Where History Lives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 10, 2020. And what about a marker for the Wickquasgeck Trail, the Indian path that ran the length of the island, which the Dutch made into their main highway and the English renamed Broadway?
  23. ^ Hodge, Frederick Webb (July 2003). Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico Volume 4/4 T-Z. Digital Scanning Inc. ISBN 978-1-58218-751-8.
  24. ^ Cohen, Doris Darlington. "The Weckquaesgeek" (PDF). Ardsley Historical Society.
  25. ^ Trumbull, James Hammond (1881). Indian Names of Places, Etc., in and on the Borders of Connecticut: With Interpretations of Some of Them. Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company. p. 81.
  26. ^ Letter from Stephen Goodyear to Peter Stuyvesant, 19 July 1652, addressed to him at "The Manhattoes", Correspondence 1647-1653, Charles Gehring, The New Netherlands Institute, p. 189
  27. ^ The Standards of the Manhattoes, Pavonia, and Hell-Gate, David B. Martucci, 2011, p. 786
  28. ^ "Brooks, ponds, swamps, and marshes characterized other portions of the island of the 'Manhattoes'," The Memorial History of the City of New York, James Grant Wilson, New York, 1892

External links[edit]