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New England Indian History|
New England Indian History
In Arcadia was the Tarrentine family
In Nova Scotia was the MicMac
In New Brunswick was the Etchimin
In Maine and New Hampshire was the Abnaki.
All of these were the descendants of the first migration from Asia into North America.
New England was inhabited by approximately 50,000 Indians when Columbus made his voyage in 1492. Two nations, the Algoquin and Iroquios had divided the land. They spoke different languages and had developed seperate customs and forms of government. A perpetual hostility prevailed between Iroquois and Algoquin.
At least 2000 years ago, the Algoquin nation had spread south from Labrador to occupy the entire coastal country as far as Massachusetts. The nation divided into families or clans.
The Iroquois nation in Massachusetts was called Sokoquis, and in southern New England lived the Mohigan family.
Families separated into tribes; each claimed its own hunting ground where they built villages, usually near a lake or waterfall where fish were easily caught.
In Maine the tribes were called Kennebecks, Penobscots, Namariscogins, and Nowidgewanocks, or Sacos, each living in a river valley that has derived its name from its tribal owners.
There were twelve tribes in New Hampshire: Coos, Pemigewassets, Pequakets, Ossipees, Winnipesaukees, Penacooks, Amoskeags, Squamscotts, Piscataquas, Nashuas,Souhegans, and Contoocooks.
Massachusetts and Pawtuckets, Wampanoags, Patuxets-and further south were the Pequots and Mohigans.
Vermont was a battle ground between the Abnaki of New Hampshire and the Iroquois of New York, with the Mohawks the most warlike tribe, and the Adirondacks, to the north nearer the mountains that bear their name.
In central New York, the Finger Lakes are perpetuating the names of other tribes and this same region is rich in names and rivers of cities that bear Iroquois memorials.
Every tribe was jealous of its neighbors with good reason. Game was a staple food that necessitated wise hunting or conservation. The braves were fighting for their very existence when they defended the boundaries of their hunting grounds from invasion.
English settlers estimated that New England was inhabited by approximately 50,000 Indians, but New Hampshire probably did not have over 5,000 Red-men and its forests provided forage for deer, bear, moose, beaver, otter, foxes, and smaller game. Wild fowl flew around the shores of the scores of lakes and the brooks were flashing with rainbow and speckled trout.
Every spring salmon and shad came from the sea, rushing up the rivers to spawn in fresh water. The silver shad sought Lake Winnipesaukee where a beautiful shrub bloomed in sheets of pink and white petals that the English named "shad bush" because it foretold by its opening blossoms when to expect the run of shad. Then the Indians from many tribes gathered to fish in peace, and the squaws stood on the stone weirs and tossed shad to the shore with their hands. They dried the fish in the warm sunshine for the winter ahead.
The salmon filled the rivers. A story is told that these fish crowded in such numbers at the falls of the Saco River that the Indians walked across the stream on the backs of the fish-hence the name Salmon Falls in Berwick, Maine. Up the streams and into the lakes rushed the salmon, and there and in deep pools of the rivers they spent the summer. The fish swam back to the sea in the fall.
When the mills polluted the rivers in the nineteenth century no more fish came from the ocean. Fortunately, however in the lakes at the headwaters of the Connecticut Rivers, and in a few other lakes of the so-called "land-locked" descendants of this funny tribe are still caught, and shad live the year around in Squam Lakes and Winnipesaukee.
Indians of New Hampshire
Eva A. Speare copyright 1965
Historic Indian Trails of New Hampshire
Chester B. Price copyright 1967
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Published on: 2004-10-04 (1863 reads)[ Go Back ]