Mason's army eventually reached Mystic undiscovered. Trapping 700 Pequot inside the fort while their warriors were absent, Mason and his men set it afire killing all who tried to escape. The massacre broke the Pequot, but the Narragansett were aghast at the amount of unnecessary slaughter. Shortly afterwards, the Pequot abandoned their villages, separated into small groups, and fled for their lives. They were easy prey and few escaped. The English, Narragansett, and Mohegan tracked them down, capturing some and killing the rest. The English were determined to destroy the Pequot completely. They executed all of their male prisoners and sold the women and children as slaves to the West Indies. 1,500 Pequot and western Niantic managed to surrender and were placed under the control of Uncas and the Mohegan. They were not treated well.
Shortly after Columbus' voyage to the New World in 1492, a steady stream of European explorers, fishermen, and adventurers began regular visits to the coast of New England. Located on a landmark as obvious as Cape Cod, the Nauset had contact with Europeans at an early date, but these first meetings were not always friendly.
In 1641 2,000 warriors of the Neutrals attacked a large, fortified Asistagueronon village in central Michigan (presumed by location to have been Mascouten). After a ten-day siege, the village was overrun, and 800 prisoners taken. Women and children were taken back to the Neutrals' villages, but the men were blinded and then left to wander aimlessly in the woods until they starved to death.
It appears that the Niantic occupied the entire coastline of eastern Connecticut as a single tribe before they were physically separated by an invasion of the Pequot-Mohegan from the northwest shortly before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in 1620. The warfare and conquest apparently coincided with the devastating wave of epidemics which swept New England (1614-17).
Probably their most interesting feature was their reputation among other tribes for the spiritual power of their shamans. Unfortunately, some of their neighbors were also prone to accusing them of sorcery as a result.
The Nipmuc generally lived along rivers or on the shores of small lakes and seem to have occupied the area for as far back as can be told. Like other New England Algonquin, the Nipmuc were agricultural. They changed locations according to the seasons, but always remained within the bounds of their own territory. Part of their diet came from hunting, fishing, and gathering of wild food, but as a rule they did not live as well as the coastal tribes who had the luxury of seafood. Each group was ruled by its own sachem, but there was very little political organization beyond the village or band level.
To end any confusion, the Ojibwe and Chippewa are not only the same tribe, but the same word pronounced a little differently due to accent. If an "O" is placed in front of Chippewa (O'Chippewa), the relationship becomes apparent. Ojibwe is used in Canada, although Ojibwe west of Lake Winnipeg are sometime referred to as the Saulteaux. In United States, Chippewa was used in all treaties and is the official name.
They remember a mysterious tin box given them by British traders shortly after the war, which they were told not to open until they got back to their villages. They did as instructed, but there was nothing inside other than a strange brown powder. Immediately afterwards, an especially deadly smallpox epidemic broke out which decimated their villages in northern Michigan.
By 1726 they were a single village near Concord with only five men, and before they "rode off into the sunset," the "Last of the Pennacook" saved some of the colonists from starving that winter. All of which was probably true regarding this one group, but the Pennacook themselves had not disappeared. For that matter, neither had the Pocumtuc, the Nipmuc, the Abenaki, or the other tribes that New England history has found convenient to declare extinct. They continued as the St. Francois Indians, the Bcancour Abenaki, and the Vermont Abenaki. Although often thought of as Canadian Indians and French allies, they were, in fact, the original residents of New England.
Most older histories of Native Americans begin with vague descriptions of where tribes came from before Europeans "discovered" them. This leaves the false impression that Native Americans were always on the move. Actually, migration was rare until settlement displaced the eastern tribes and began a chain reaction of movement to the west. New England Algonquin occupied their homelands for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years before the Europeans arrived in North America. The Pequot-Mohegan, however, were an exception to this. From their own traditions (confirmed by linguistic links and other tribal histories), they originally came from the upper Hudson Valley - probably the shores of Lake Champlain. When they lived there, they may well have been the mysterious Adirondack who dominated the separate tribes of the Iroquois for many years before the formation of the Iroquois League.
Like other New England Algonquin, the Pocumtuc were an agriculture people who lived in one of the most fertile farming areas in New England. Their homeland also abounded with game, and during the spring they were able to take advantage of large fish runs up the Connecticut and its tributaries. Besides the obvious north-south transportation provided by the Connecticut River (Quinnitukqut "long river"), the Pocumtuc homeland sat astride several important east-west trade routes, including the Mohawk Trail, which linked Native Americans in the interior with those on the Atlantic coast.
The Potawatomi name is a translation of the Ojibwe "potawatomink" meaning "people of the place of fire." Similar renderings of this are: Fire Nation, Keepers of the Sacred Fire, and People of the Fireplace - all of which refer to the role of the Potawatomi as the keeper of the council fire in an earlier alliance with the Ojibwe and Ottawa.
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Compact Histories - Native American