Connecticut extract from
John Reed Swanton's

The Indian Tribes of North America

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(Connecticut) Extract from

The Indian Tribes of North America

by John R. Swanton

Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953

[726 pages—Smithsonian Institution]

(pp. 29-33)


Mahican. The northwestern corner of Litchfield County was occupied by the Wawyachtonoc, a tribe of the Mahican Confederacy of the upper Hudson, though their main seats were in Columbia and Dutchess Counties, N. Y. (See New York.)

Mohegan. The name means "wolf." They are not to be confused with the Mahican. Also called:

River Indians.
Seaside People.
Unkus [Uncas] Indians, from the name of their chief.
Upland Indians.

Connections.The Mohegan belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock and spoke a y-dialect closely related to Pequot.

Location.The Mohegan originally occupied most of the upper valley of the Thames and its branches. Later they claimed authority over some of the Nipmuc and the Connecticut River tribes, and in the old Pequot territory. (See also New York.)


Ashowat, between Amston and Federal.
Catantaquck, near the head of Pachaug River.
Checapscaddock, southeast of the mouth of Shetucket River in the town of Preston.
Kitemaug, on the west wide of Thames River between Uncasville and Massapeag.
Mamaquaog, on Natchaug River northeast of Willimantic.
Mashantackack, near Palmertown, town of Montville.
Massapeag, at the place now so-called on the west side of Thames River.
Mohegan, at the present town of Mohegan on the west side of Thames River.
Moosup, at the present Moosup in the town of Plainfield.
Nawhesetuck, on Fenton River north of Willimantic.
Pachaug, at the present Pachaug in the town of Griswold.
Paugwonk, near Gardiner Lake in the town of Salem.
Pautexet, near the present Jewett City in the town of Griswold.
Pigscomsuck, on the right bank of Quinebaug River near the present line between New London and Windham Counties.
Poquechanneeg, near Lebanon.
Poquetanock, near Trading Cove, town of Preston.
Shantuck, on the west side of Thames River just north of Mohegan.
Showtucket or Shetucket, near Lisbon in the fork of the Shetucket and Quinebaug Rivers.
Wauregan, on the east side of Quinebaug River in the town of Plainfield.
Willimantic, on the site of the present city of Willimantic.
Yantic, at the present Yantic on Yantic River.

History.The Mohegan were probably a branch of the Mahican. Originally under Sassacus, chief of the Pequot, they afterward became independent and upon the destruction of the Pequot in 1637, Uncas, the Mohegan chief, became ruler also of the remaining Pequot and set up pretensions to territory north and west beyond his original borders. At the end of King Philip's War, the Mohegan were the only important tribe remaining in southern New England, but as the White settlements advanced they were reduced progressively both in territory and in numbers. Many joined the Scaticook, and in 1788 a still larger body united with the Brotherton in New York, where they formed the largest single element in the new settlement. The rest continued in their old town at Mohegan, where a remnant of mixed-bloods still survives.

Population.The number of Mohegan were estimated by Mooney (1928) at 2,200 in 1600; in 1643, including the remnant of the Pequot and perhaps other tribes, at between 2,000 and 2,500. In 1705 they numbered 750; in 1774, 206 were reported; in 1804, 84; in 1809, 69; in 1825, 300; in 1832, about 360; in 1910, 22.

Connection in which they have become noted.The Mohegan became celebrated on account of the services rendered the Whites by Uncas. Today their name is perpetuated in Mohegan, on Thames River, and the name of their chief in Uncasville on the same stream. There is a post village of this name in McDowell County, W. Va., and a Mohegan Lake in Westchester County, N. Y., but this is named after the Mahican.

Niantic, Western. Regarding the name, see Niantic, Eastern, under Rhode Island.

Connections.These were the same as for the Eastern Niantic. (See Rhode Island.)

Location.On the seacoast from Niantic Bay to Connecticut River.


Niantic or Nehantucket, near the present town of Niantic. There was another near Old Lyme.

History.Originally the Western Niantic are thought to have constituted one tribe with the Eastern Niantic and to have been cut apart from them by the Pequot. They were nearly destroyed in the Pequot war and at its close (1637) were placed under the control of the Mohegan. About 1788 many joined the Brotherton Indians. A small village of Niantic was reported as existing near Danbury in 1809, but this perhaps contained remnants of the tribes of western Connecticut, although Speck (1928) found several Indians of mixed Niantic-Mohegan descent living with the Mohegan remnant, descendants of a pure-blood Niantic woman from the mouth of Niantic River.

Population.The Western Niantic population was estimated by Mooney (1928) at 600 in 1600; there were about 100 in 1638; 85 in 1761.

Connection in which they have become noted.The name of the Western Niantic is perpetuated in Niantic village, Niantic River, and Niantic Bay, in New London County. Post villages in Macon County, Ill., and Montgomery County, Pa., bear the name Niantic.

Nipmuc. Some bands of this tribe extended into the northeastern part of the State. (See Massachusetts.)

Pequot. The name means, according to Trumbull (1818), "destroyers." Also called:

Sickenames, in a Dutch deed quoted by Ruttenber (1872).

Connections.The Pequot belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock, and spoke a y-dialect closely related to Mohegan.

Location.The Pequot occupied the coast of New London County from Niantic River nearly to the Rhode Island State line. Until driven out by the Narraganset, they extended into Rhode Island as far as Wecapaug River. (See also Rhode Island.)


Asupsuck, in the interior of the town of Stonington.
Aukumbumsk or Awcumbuck, in the center of the Pequot country near Gales Ferry.
Aushpook, at Stonington.
Cosattuck, probably near Stonington.
Cuppanaugunnit, probably in New London County.
Mangunckakuck, probably on Thames River below Mohegan.
Maushantuxet, at Ledyard.
Mystic, near West Mystic on the west side of Mystic River.
Monhunganuck, near Beach Pond in the town of Voluntown.
Nameaug, near New London.
Noank, at the present place of that name.
Oneco, at the place of that name in the town of Sterling.
Paupattokshick, on the lower course of Thames River.
Pawcatuck, probably on the river of the same name, Washington County, R. I.
Pequotauk, near New London.
Poquonock, inland from Popuonock Bridge.
Sauquonckackock, on the west side of Thames River below Mohegan.
Shenecosset, near Midway in the town of Groton.
Tatuppequauog, on the Thames River below Mohegan.
Weinshauks, near Groton.
Wequetequock, on the east side of the river of the same name.

History.The Pequot and the Mohegan arc supposed to have been invaders from the direction of Hudson River. At the period of first White contact, the Pequot were war-like and greatly dreaded by their neighbors. They and the Mohegan were jointly ruled by Sassacus until the revolt of Uncas, the Mohegan chief. (See Mohegan.) About 1635 the Narraganset drove them from a corner of the present Rhode Island which they had previously held, and 2 years later the murder of a trader who had treated some Indians harshly involved the Pequot in war with the Whites. At that time their chief controlled 26 subordinate chiefs, claimed authority over all Connecticut east of Connecticut River, and on the coast as far west as New Haven or Guilford, as well as all of Long Island except the extreme western end. Through the influence of Roger Williams, the English secured the assistance or neutrality of the surrounding tribes. Next they surprised and destroyed the principal Pequot fort near Mystic River along with 600 Indians of all ages and both sexes, and this disaster crippled the tribe so much that, after a few desperate attempts at further resistance, they determined to separate into small parties and abandon the country (1637). Sassacus and a considerable body of followers were intercepted near Fairfield while trying to escape to the Mohawk and almost all were killed or captured. Those who surrendered were divided among the Mohegan, Narraganset, and Niantic, and their territory passed under the authority of Uncas. Their Indian overlords treated them so harshly, however, that they were taken out of their hands by the colonists in 1655 and settled in two villages near Mystic River, where some of their descendants still live. Numbers removed to other places- Long Island, New Haven, the Nipmuc country, and elsewhere- while many were kept as slaves among the English in New England or sent to the West Indies.

Population.The Pequot population was estimated by Mooney (1928) at 2,200 in 1600; in 1637, immediately after the Pequot war, there were said to be 1,950, but the figure is probably too high. In 1674 the Pequot in their old territory numbered about 1,500; in 1762, 140. In 1832 there were said to be about 40 mixed-bloods, but the census of 1910 gave 66, of whom 49 were in Connecticut and 17 in Massachusetts.

Connection in which they have become noted.The Pequot are remembered principally on account of the bitter and, to them, disastrous war related above. The name is borne by a post village in Crow Wing County, Minn.

Wappinger. The valley of Connecticut River was the home of a number of bands which might be called Mattabesec after the name of the most important of them, and this in turn was a part of the Wappinger. (See New York.)