Our Many Trails
“It is curious, the history of my tribe, in its decline, in the last two centuries and a half. Nothing that deserved the name of purchase was made. From various causes, they were induced to abandon their territory at intervals and retire farther inland. Deeds were given indifferently to the government by individuals, for which little or no compensation was paid.”
-Sachem Quinney, 1854
Archaeological evidence of our ancestors stretches back 12,000 years in today’s Hudson Valley region. Mohican sachem John Waunaucon Quinney recounted that in 1604 the Muhheconeew Nation numbered 25,000. After the arrival of Dutch and English, pandemic and violent conflict brought on by this colonization quickly began to take a devastating toll, while land theft also became widespread. Even when Europeans did attempt to “purchase” Mohican and Munsee lands in the Muhheacannituck /Hudson River Valley, their worldview of the permanent sale was at odds with that of our ancestors, who adhered to a model of shared land stewardship and gift exchange. Our ancestors understood these agreements to be an exchange of gifts as a gesture of hospitality among Nations and that we could always return to the lands.
By 1734, the Nation decided to accept an offer to move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, called “Indiantown” and co-govern the town with four English families. Even after serving in the Revolutionary War and earlier colonial wars, Stockbridge Mohican people found themselves no longer welcome in our own homelands. By the 1780s we started to remove from Stockbridge and accept an invitation to live among the Oneida Nation in western New York. There our ancestors rebuilt and started new enterprises and continued to engage in land claims. However, the pressures to remove Native people from New York State were strong and our sachems looked for other destinations, with one band going to the White River of Indiana at the invitation of the Miami people. By the time the party arrived there, the land had already been lost under the Treaty of St. Mary’s. From there, several parties splintered, with some going to Kansas, and some returning to New Stockbridge, New York. By the 1820s most of the Tribe moved to Kaukauna, Wisconsin and eventually through the 1840s to an area on Lake Winnebago we again named Stockbridge. Finally, the Tribe signed a Treaty with the Menominee Nation in 1856 for the area where we still reside today, in Shawano County, Wisconsin. We continue to return to and protect our ancestral cultural places in our northeastern homelands.