SCHAGHTICOKE FIRST NATIONS HISTORY
WHO ARE THE SCHAGHTICOKE?
The Schaghticoke (/ˈskætɪkoʊk/ SKAT-i-kohk or /ˈskætɪkʊk/ SKAT-i-kuuk or Skateecook or Scauhtecook or Sckaakhoah or Skachkook or Pishgachligoh) are a well-documented, historic Indigenous Peoples whose traditional homeland territories 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 displaced or removed, often illegally, from essentially all our lands and territory in the Hudson and Harlem Valley regions. As a result of settler colonization, tragic massacres, land grabs, and forcible removals, there is currently no central gathering place to call our own. The Schaghticoke of New York 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 inter-related lineages with Schaghticoke descendants and other Tribes in Connecticut, Schaghticoke First Nations is the only indigenous representative institution of Schaghticoke descendants 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. The Schaghticoke First Nations are led by hereditary Sachem (Chief) Hawk Storm, a descendant of Gideon Mahwee (Mahweehu).
A non-profit organization, Schaghticoke First Nations, Inc. was established to further the goals and aspirations of the Schaghticoke Peoples represented by 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.”
THE SCHAGHTICOKE, MAGISTRATES OF ALBANY, AND THE COVENANT CHAIN, 1689
The Skachkooks (Schaghticoke) inform the Magistrates of Albany that they are in "one Covenant Chain with the Brethren the Christians, & the 5 Nations & that Eastern Indians being not in the Covenant, if they do mischief It is not their fault, for they have nothing to do with them. That they have been at Skachkook many years & have lived happily there for which they are thankful, and if any of their Brethren should be in want they pray they may be admitted to come & Live with them." - Unpublished Indian Treaty Minutes, American Antiquarian Society, Daniel K. Richter
FORT HALF MOON, 1691
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.
GOVERNOR JOHN MONTGOMERIE’S FIRST CONFERENCE WITH NEW YORK’S NATIVE ALLIES, 1720
Governor Montgomerie renewed the Covenant Chain in a separate conference with the Schaghticoke and River Indians, for which they thanked him. He urged them to bring back those of their nation who had moved away, but they explained that it was difficult because they had less and less land at Schaghticoke to plant on. They told him that recently their European neighbors had planted on the Scaghticoke’s land, allowed their cattle to destroy Schaghticoke crops, and carried off corn from their fields. The governor asked for the names of the trespassers so he could punish them. - The Albany Indian Commissioners
SCHAGHTICOKE VILLAGES IN THE 1700S
"..there were forty Mahican villages located among the Green and Taconac forests on the headwaters of the Hoosac and Housatonac valleys between 1734 and the close of the French and Indian War. Chief among those lodges may be mentioned King Aepjen's Schaghticoke village, in Sheffield, Mass., on upper Housatonac; Soquon's and Maquon's Old Schaghticoke village, N. Y., on lower Hoosac, and Maw-wehu's New Schaghticoke village, in Kent, Ct., on the lower Housatonac." - Stockbridge Past and Present: Records of An Old Mission Station, Electa F. Jones, 1854
MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR JONATHAN BELCHER AGREES TO MEET "INDIANS" IN 1735
In August of 1735, more than 140 Native delegates—including eight Kahnawake Mohawk, seventeen Hudson River Mohican, nineteen Saint Francis Abenaki, forty-four Housatonic Mohican, and sixty-six Schaghticoke Indians—gathered in Deerfield for five days of meetings with Belcher, the Governor’s Council, and members of the House of Representatives. At the gathering, Schaghticoke sachems Marsequnt, Naunautooghijau, and Weenpauk offered bundles of beaver pelts and requested ample supplies to serve the truck house at Fort Dummer (now Brattleboro, Vermont). - Revisiting Pocumtuck History in Deerfield: George Sheldon’s Vanishing Indian Act, MARGARET M. BRUCHAC, 2011
SCHAGHTICOKE WOMEN DEED LAND IN MASSACHUSETTS, 1735
Months after the gathering with Gov. Belcher, Mauhammetpeet and Megunnisqua, “Women of the Scautecook Tribe,” deeded land in the upper Pocumtuck (now called the Deerfield) River, which stretched across the present-day towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Buckland, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, Petersham, Rowe, and Savoy, up to “the foot of the mountain that separates and Divides the waters that flow from thence East into Connecticut River and West into Hudson’s River.” Mauhammetpeet and Megunnisqua affirmed they were the rightful owners of this land that was descended to them from their Grandmother Ohweemin.” In another deed covering present-day Athol and Templeton, the signers included Scauhtecook women Francois, Ompontinnuwa, Penewanse, Cockiyouwah, and Wallenas. - Revisiting Pocumtuck History in Deerfield, Margaret M. Bruchac, 2011
SHEKOMEKO FOUNDED, 1740
In 1740, the Moravian mission at Shekomeko was founded by Christian Henry Rauch to convert the Indians in eastern New York. Today the location of the village is marked by the monument, above, at Pine Plains in Dutchess Co., NY.
TREATY OF 1744
On June 18, 1744, the covenant chain between the Nations was repolished. This was a Treaty between Six Nations, Schaghticoke, Caughnawaga, and River Indians, and the English of New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The Schaghticoke were recorded as the Wampum holders and the first to speak on this occasion. - Yale Indian Papers Project
OLD STOCKBRIDGE, 1767
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
SCHAGHTICOKE, RENSSELAER, NY
The town of Schaghticoke, in Rensselaer County, New York, is named for the Tribe.
THE VILLAGE OF SCHAGHTICOKE, NY
The village of Schaghticoke, located in the town of Schaghticoke, NY is named for the Tribe.
SCHAGHTICOKE MIDDLE SCHOOL, CT
Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford, Connecticut is named for the Tribe.
SQUANTZ POND, CT
Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, Connecticut, is named for Chief Squantz, a leader of the Schaghticoke people until his death in the winter of 1724-5.
SKATECOOK MEADOW, NY
In Skatecook Meadow, the site of Soquon's village of 'Mingling Waters,' at the confluence of the Tomhannac with
the Hoosac near the Witenagemot Oak, several artifacts were found, including a ceremonial Calumet, or 'pipe of peace'.
According to Grace Greylock Niles in her 1912 book, The Hoosac Valley Its Legends and Its History, the pipe was preserved by the late Col. William Knickerbacker and is now in Prof. D. F. Thompson's collection of Indian relics in Lansingburg, N. Y.
CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY INDIANS
During the 1700s and 1800s, descendants of the Connecticut River
valley Indians were variously identified as “Schaghticokes,” “North Indians,” “Loups,” “River Indians,” and “Saint Francis Indians.”