SCHAGHTICOKE FIRST NATION HISTORY
WHO ARE THE SCHAGHTICOKE?
The Schaghticoke (/ˈskætɪkoʊk/ SKAT-i-kohk or /ˈskætɪkʊk/ SKAT-i-kuuk) are Indigenous Peoples whose traditional homelands extend through the Hudson and Harlem Valley regions of New York State and Western Connecticut with historic documentation back to at least 1676. The term “Schaghticoke” means “the Mingling of waters,” signifying the joining of rivers, as well as the merging of related Algonquian speaking Tribes. The ancestors of the Schaghticoke were living in this region for hundreds and hundreds of years before colonization by settlers coming from Europe.
Over time the Schaghticoke have lost, often illegally, essentially all our lands and territory in the Hudson and Harlem Valley regions. As a result of tragic massacres, land grabs, and forcible removals, there is currently no central gathering place to call our own. The Schaghticoke are now a largely diasporic peoples, making it challenging to organize around the issues our community prioritizes.
Schaghticoke First Nations (SFN) is one of the three remaining Schaghticoke Tribes of the Eastern Woodlands Algonquin Language group Nations. Though we do have a shared history and related lineages with Schaghticoke descendants and other Tribes in Connecticut, Schaghticoke First Nations is based in the New York Hudson and Harlem Valley Regions. Schaghticoke First Nations is a "Treaty Tribe Under the Protection of the Treaty of 1676 Witenagemot Vale of Peace" ratified by the Governors of New York, New England, and New France. This treaty was later reinforced by President George Washington [Click here]. The Schaghticoke First Nations are led by hereditary Sachem (Chief) Hawk Storm. A non-profit organization, Schaghticoke First Nations, Inc. was established to further the goals and aspirations of the Schaghticoke First Nations.
SCHAGHTICOKE: HISTORIC TIMELINE
Beginning in the 1670s, Governor Andros of New York attempted to maintain peace among "Indian" groups near Schaghticoke and Albany. He tried also to encourage natives not to head north as he was in fear of them allying with the French. His view ignored much of Schaghticoke people’s own sovereignty. Indeed, many who left New York allied themselves neither with the French nor the British, seeking to make livings for themselves within the Wabanaki heartland to the east. Some even headed far west, all the way to the Great Lakes region.
THE WITENAGEMOT COUNCIL AND THE TREE OF PEACE
In 1676, the Witenagemot Council (Assemblage of the Wise) was called. It consisted of the Board of Indian Commissioners, headed by Governor Andros and his counselors, judges and divines, accompanied by the Militia of the King of England. They assembled near the confluence of the Tomhannac and Hoosic Rivers and planted the Witenagemot Oak. The famous Council Tree of Peace was planted, not only with a view of confirming the link of friendship between Kryn's "Praying Mohawks" of the Caughawag Village in Canada and Soquon's Hoosacs at Schaghticoke Village, but to strengthen the alliance of Fort Albany militia with the River Indian scouts, whose fugitive kindred were scattered throughout New England, New York and New France. It is the only "Vale of Peace" on the continent where the Witenagemot Council has ever been assembled for the welfare of the Indians. This council paved the way for the eventual American success at the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolution. The white oak of the Schaghticoke, lived until it was uprooted by the 1949 flood of the Hoosic River.
GOV. ANDROS DECLARATION OF 1679
“Resolved, That all Indyans here, are free & not slaves, nor can bee forct to bee servants, Except such as been formerly brought from the Bay of Campechio & other foreign parts, but if any shall bee brought hereafter within the space of six months, they are to bee dispose as soone as may bee out of the Government, but after the Exparacoon of six months, all that shall bee brought here from those parts shall bee free... All Christian Servants that shall be brought into this government shall bee recorded att ye Secretarys office att importation by the Masters of Vessels or others that shall bring them, & they have liberty to assigne them to another, for the time specifyde in their Indentures, & no such servant be reassigned or transferred over to serve his time with another, without the Consent or Approbacon of the next Court of Sessions or Juresdiction, at the great distance of the time of Fourts, by the Appropacon of two Justices of peace, one being president or first Justice of said Riding or Corporacon to bee recorded in ye respective place & transmitted to the office of Records.”
FORT HALF MOON
In 1691, The New York colony commissioned the construction of Fort Half Moon at the mouth of the Mohawk River, building it specifically for the "Natives of Schaghticoke," in exchange for their promised residence.
In 1740, the Moravian mission at Shekomeko was founded by Christian Henry Rauch to convert the Mahican Indians in eastern New York. Today the location of the Mahican village is marked by the monument, above, at Pine Plains in Dutchess Co., NY.
As late as 1767 the Delaware and Mahican descendants at Old Stockbridge continued to dispute the Mohawks' right to deed their Schaghticoke ancestors' forests on the upper Hudson, "to the prejudice of the Mohawks."
DID YOU KNOW