The History of the Pequot Tribe

The southern part of New England was a preferred territory for early Indians. To begin with, corn, beans, and squash do well in this part of North America because of the good soil. The soil along Narragansett Bay and along the lower Connecticut River valley is particularly fertile. A forest’s hardwood and evergreen trees provide a good environment for games of all kinds. Thirdly, unlike northern New England’s east shore, which faces the Atlantic, the south shore is protected from the elements. Much of the coast of New York are protected from the heavy winds and large waves of the open ocean by Long Island, which extends eastward into the Atlantic Ocean.
Several smaller islands break the path of storms, including Block Island, Fishers Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Consequently, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, all three states that touch the south shore, offer many quiet bays and inlets with fish and shellfish. This rich territory was contested by various groups of ALGONQUIANS. In terms of power and warlike behavior, the Pequots were one of the most powerful tribes. Possibly breaking off from the MAHICAN, their ancestors migrated from the Hudson River valley in present-day New York State.
NARRAGANSETT and NIANTIC also fought for land with other Algonquians. The Pequot controlled most of the coastal area along the Connecticut River to Rhode Island when they were in contact with the Puritans and other English colonists in the early 1600s. Some of the MONTAUK bands on Long Island were even attacked and defeated by them. It’s no wonder that they were known as the Pequots, pronounced PEE-kwot, meaning “destroyers.” Sassacus was regarded as the great sachem of the Pequots during their time of dominance.
Thames River ran through his village. A palisaded village of wigwams belonged to each of his 26 subordinate chiefs. When Uncas, one of these lesser chiefs, became dissatisfied with Sassacus’ rule, he formed his own tribe, which came to be known as the MOHEGAN. During the colonial period, the Mohegans became colonists’ allies. A dispute over land and trade goods resulted from Sassacus and his followers’ resentment of the British settlers.

The Pequot War

The first major conflict between whites and Indians in New England broke out in 1636. The outbreak of violence was sparked by the death of a coastal trader, John Oldham, in July of that year. John Gallup, another coastal trader, discovered Oldham’s hijacked boat off Block Island, fought with Pequots on board, and reported the incident to colonial authorities. John Endecott was assigned to lead an expedition for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A force led by him attacked and burned the villages of Indians on Block Island. However, most of those killed were Narragansett, not Pequot. There was no distinction between the different groups of Algonquian people made by the soldiers. Upon reaching the Connecticut mainland, Endecott’s army began searching for the Pequot tribe.
Endecott was discouraged from further attacks by the settlers at Fort Saybrook, who feared Indian reprisals. Endecott, however, was intent on vengeance, burning several Pequot villages and killing a Pequot. It was now time for Sassacus to seek revenge. Fort Saybrook was sieged and isolated towns were raided during the winter of 1636–37 by his warriors. There were nine colonists killed up the Connecticut River at Wethersfield in the spring. A large army was mounted by the colonies under the command of Captains John Mason and John Underhill. Narragansett Bay was the starting point for the force’s journey westward along the Connecticut coast. Although the Narragansetts had been attacked on Block Island, Mohegans, and Niantics joined the colonial forces against the Pequots.
Sassacus’ village was attacked by the invading army at dawn on May 25, 1637. The first attack was repelled by the Pequot from behind their palisades. However, there was no stopping the colonists from setting the wigwams ablaze. The surrounding countryside was ravaged by fires that killed those who fled the flames. Most of the victims were women and children who remained behind. The number of Pequots who died that morning ranged from 600 to 1,000. A number of others escaped with Sassacus. He escaped again in MOHAWK territory after being attacked in a swamp west of New Haven the following July.
The Mohawk beheaded the Pequot grand sachem as proof that they were not involved in the uprising. Mohegan, Narragansett, and Niantic slaves were sold into slavery in the Caribbean as payment for their assistance during the war. Neither Pequot tribal names nor Pequot place names were permitted by the colonists. Pequots escaped to Massachusetts and Long Island, where they settled with other Algonquians. Pequot slaves were freed and resettled on the Mystic River in 1655 by the colonists in New England.

The Pequot Bands

Mashantucket (Mushantuxet), often called Western Pequots, received a 500-acre land grant in 1651 at Noank (New London). The Ledyard family received an additional parcel on the northwest side of Long Pond in 1666. In 1720, they relocated to Long Pond, which was more productive. Paucatucks, or Eastern Pequots, also received land in North Stonington, Connecticut, along the eastern shore of Long Pond.
Mashantuckets were referred to as the Groton band for a while, while Paucatucks were called the Stonington band. Following this, both bands lost a large amount of acreage to non-Indian settlers. Schaghticoke (Scaticook), founded by the Pequot Mahwee in the early 18th century, became known as the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe by some tribal members. As the Golden Hill Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, they settled among a community of Mohegan in Trumbull, Connecticut.
In the late 1800s, both the Mashantucket and Paucatucks held fewer than 250 acres each. A land claim against Connecticut was filed by the Mashantucket in the 1970s to obtain federal recognition. Mashantucket won a cash settlement for land losses in 1983 after becoming federally recognized. As a result of factions within the Paucatuck band’s unwillingness to work together, the band has been unsuccessful in seeking recognition.

Indian Gaming

Native Americans have played games of chance for centuries. Games of guessing such as hidden-ball games, stick games, moccasin games, and hand games often involved betting prized possessions on the location of hidden objects. Furthermore, Indians used many different types of dice. Marking or numbering was done on wood, stone, bone, shell, reed, or fruit seeds. Harvest and renewal ceremonies often included guessing games and dice games. Horse races and foot races are also bet on by Indians. Native American gaming for profit has become a major source of tribal economic development because of laws promoting Indian sovereignty on reservations.
Many reservations started with bingo as their first form of public gaming. As early as 1976, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states have criminal and civil jurisdiction over Indian tribes, but no regulatory authority. State laws against gambling cannot be enforced against tribes because states do not have regulatory authority over Indian lands, as held by the Supreme Court in 1987 regarding the SEMINOLE. The Indian Gambling Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, granting tribes the right to pursue high-stakes gaming compacts with states if they are not prohibited by state or federal law.
Tribes, not individuals, should profit from gambling, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. Consequently, tribes were able to purchase additional land and start businesses on it, which were also exempt from federal taxes. Revenue from these new sources has been pursued by many tribes. Casinos have been opposed by some tribal traditionalists because of the resulting cultural and environmental impact. Native Americans should not be allowed to develop their land for leisure purposes because they are stewards of it.
After having reached a compact with the state of Connecticut—which included a provision that slot machines would be permitted if $1 million a year was donated from gambling profits to a state fund for helping troubled communities—the Mashantucket Pequot, with funds from international investors, built the Foxwoods Resort and Casino with funds from international investors. Since its opening in 1992, it has become the most profitable casino in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The tribe has managed its revenues well, investing in a cultural center, museum, and other projects that further the Pequot identity while providing solid income for individual tribal members.
The history of the Pequot Tribe
The history of the Pequot Tribe. The Mohawk beheaded the Pequot grand sachem as proof that they were not involved in the uprising. Mohegan, Narragansett, and Niantic slaves were sold into slavery in the Caribbean as payment for their assistance during the Pequot war. Source


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