Footprints of Our Ancestors: Mohican History Walking Tour of Main Street Stockbridge

The Stockbridge Indians are primarily Mohican people, who existed in the region since time immemorial. Mohican territory once encompassed the Hudson River / Muhheacannituck valley in New York and Housatonic River valley in Massachusetts, extending through to Westfield River. Stockbridge, then, was already within the traditional territory of the Mohican people before it became formed as a colonial town.

Mohican History Virtual Tour of Main Street Stockbridge:

 

The Stockbridge Indians are primarily Mohican people, who existed in the region since time immemorial. Mohican territory once encompassed the Hudson River IMuhheacannituck valley in New York and Housatonic River valley in Massachusetts, extending through to Westfield River. Stockbridge, then, was already within the traditional territory of the Mohican people before it became formed as a colonial town.

Stockbridge was first called “Indian Town:’ The stated purpose of Indian Town was to be a Christianized settlement, an experiment in assimilation to “help” the tribe, similar to the 14 other Puritan praying towns that had been established in New England (1651-1678) for other Algonquin-speaking tribes and which had mostly ended following King Philip’s War.

Indian Town was formed through a gathering of Mohican sachems (chiefs) in 1734 who grappled with deciding to approve accepting a missionary, John Sergeant. They took four days by council fire, debating if this was best mode of survival. Eventually, they exchanged a wampum belt and agreed that the Mohican Nation would now be centered in Indian Town rather than the principal homelands of the Hudson Valley.

On March 17th, 1735 the Massachusetts legislature granted a township, six miles square, to be laid out on the Housatonic River, immediately north of Monument Mountain. In 1737 a royal charter creating Indiantown gave 1/60th of the territory each to Reverend Sergeant, a Schoolmaster, and four English families for a total of2,304 of 23,040 acres. Mohican people were expected to “model” themselves after the English families. The initial Mohican population in Indian Town was about 125 people.

Today, the tribe continues as a federally-recognized Indian Nation called the Stockbridge- Munsee Community, now based on a reservation in northern Wisconsin. The reservation is about the same size as the original 23,000 acres of Indian Town/Stockbridge. There are roughly 1,500 enrolled members.

We have always returned.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community places great significance in visiting, teaching and preserving our heritage in Stockbridge. We hope you enjoy this walking tour of Stockbridge Main Street and learn about our history as you walk in the footprints of our ancestors.

Prefer to visit Stockbridge, MA and take the Walking Tour?

Download the Mohican History Walking Tour of Main Street Stockbridge brochure (PDF)