Though the words tipi and wigwam both refer to Indian dwelling places, the first is Sioux and the second is a corruption of an Algonquin phrase wekuwomut, meaning ‘he is in his house.’ LEARN MORE


“Wampum,” sometimes also called “peak” or “peag” from the Algonquin “wampumpeag,” is the term for strings, or woven belts of white and purple tubular beads three‐eighths of an inch long and one‐eighth of an inch in diameter.



The white and purple shells, threaded to make “wampum strings” among the eastern woodlands Indians, had both ceremonial and commercial uses. LEARN MORE


Early native inhabitants here, historians and anthropologists agree, lived in the Housatonic River valley seasonally. LEARN MORE


For half a million years of human history we have used stone tools. When the last steel knife or bomb casing has rusted away, the stone knives, axes and scrapers of our recent and ancient ancestors will still be lying intact, where they were put down or lost long ago. LEARN MORE


A two‐volume, leather‐bound Bible presented to the Stockbridge Indians in 1745 by Dr. Francis Aysough, clerk of the closet to Frederick, Prince of Wales, to rejoice in their conversion to Christianity and their successful mission town. LEARN MORE


Many real estate documents filed in Pittsfield or Springfield bear signatures of Stockbridge Indians in the form of figures, or totems, representing deer, heron, beaver, bear and other clans. Indiantown had a mix of people of native, English, Dutch and African descent in the mid1700s. All but English at times signed deeds with stick‐figure clan symbols, inspiration for the following art project. LEARN MORE


Mohican or Schaghticoke place names are affixed to locations throughout Berkshire and Litchfield counties. “Among them are Housatonic (meaning “over the mountain”), Pontoosuc (“place of the falls”), Larrywaug (“Larry’s place”), Naumkeag (“fish place”)…LEARN MORE


No traditional Mohican songs have come down to us, but we can assume that their music was like that still performed by Algonquin tribes in Maine and around the great Lakes, and by the Iroquois with whom our local Indians interacted as friends and rivals for several hundred years. LEARN MORE


“The Mohican language was a distinct dialect of the Algonquian language family and was spoken by as many as 12,000 people along the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers in the 17th and 18th centuries,” according to historian Lion G. Miles in Now & Then. LEARN MORE


It is made of soft‐tanned buckskin. Its golden brown color is from smoking, a process the Indians discovered that keeps leather pliable even after repeated soakings. The side flaps are covered with dark green cloth and edged with white beads. Smaller panels of blue cloth, inside the green area, are crisscrossed with meanders of white beads. LEARN MORE


In their traditional life, the Mohican men did the fishing and hunting and the women tended the gardens. In the spring great shoals of herring and shad passed up the rivers to their spawning beds. Large numbers were captured in weirs and from dugouts and bark canoes by spearing and netting. Fresh‐water mussels were gathered in the shallows of rivers and ponds. Most of the fish and mussels were dried and smoked at the hunting camps and saved for winter food. Big game and water fowl were also hunted and the meat preserved. LEARN MORE


Most of us know that the European invaders of America learned about native foods from the Indians and, in fact, depended upon them. But we forget the sheer quantity: 75% of the food plants we eat today were unknown to Europeans 500 years ago! Before the Spanish and English ever came to the new World the Native Americans had domesticated and hybridized more than 150 varieties of corn, 400 varieties of potatoes and almost countless varieties of beans. LEARN MORE


The Mohican Indians of Western Massachusetts shared with the other Algonquin tribes of the Northeast, and their Iroquois neighbors, a centuries‐old knowledge of the food resources of their environment. These included well over 200 recipes of wild fruits and berries, the latter including the familiar shadberries, cranberries, blueberries, ground cherries, checkerberries (wintergreen) and strawberries. These last were so important to Indians of the Northeast that their harvest was celebrated widely in “First Fruits,” ceremonies in which the Creator was thanked with music, dance, prayer and ritual offerings. The festival signaled the return of the bountiful time of year when other berries and fresh food could be expected soon to vary the dried and smoked diet of the long winter. LEARN MORE


In the days of their supremacy along the upper Hudson and Housatonic Rivers the Mohicans lived in palisaded hilltop villages, each averaging about two hundred individuals. Their riverine location had at least two advantages: one was the ease of travel by water compared to traversing the dense northeastern forests, the other was the abundance of food provided by water mammals, fowl and, especially, fish and shellfish. LEARN MORE


... Northeastern Indians were generous with fuel. Early observers noted that they heated themselves with fires rather than arm houses and bed clothing. The winter fires kept going all day and all night. The forests near their villages soon had an open, park‐like aspect, and villagers moved every eight to ten years to be near new sources of firewood. Roger Williams’s Indian friends observed that the English must have come to America because the fuel supply in England had become scarce. LEARN MORE


The Muhekaneok had engaged in active trading with the Dutch since a trading post was established at Albany in 1614. Beaver fur from our streams doubtless found its way to the traders and thence to Europe where it was felted and hats of irresistible luster. The vogue of these hats in London and Paris had a profound effect on American history: as beavers reached near extinction here, great fur companies pursued the western exploration of the continent and France and England courted Indians as guides, trappers and political allies in the competition for wealth and, eventually, empire. LEARN MORE


We are fortunate to have had an eyewitness to the daily lives of our local Indians who recorded his observations 250 years ago. John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Mohicans, kept a journal that reveals much of his humane spirit as well as providing ethnographic notes on the Indians. LEARN MORE


The basic tool is a hammer‐stone, usually a round river pebble of sandstone, the right size to rough out the tool. A fairly heavy one is used to knock off the preliminary flakes from which an arrowhead or knifeblade can be made. A nodule of clear flint becomes a “core” from which is produced a series of flat flakes, “blanks,” each with one blow. In less than a minute the arrow‐ maker has made a head of a dozen or more of such flakes ready to be refined into arrowheads of various shapes and sizes. LEARN MORE


Eastern Woodlands Indians began making pottery 3,000 years ago as they moved from the Archaic into the Woodlands period of their prehistory. They developed a style unlike any other pottery in Native America; indeed, it is unique in the world. LEARN MORE


Mohican Indians shared with Missionary John Sergeant and teacher Timothy Woodbridge the secrets of tapping sugar maple trees and boiling the sap into syrup. A sweet thought. LEARN MORE