Schaghticoke Reservation and Tribes

(Kent, Connecticut)

Main attributes of this Native American place: Contemporary American Indian life; Native name; In
Tribal history; Native persons; Landscape; In historic documents.

The Schaghticoke Reservation (also referred to by the name Scaticook) was created by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1736 in response to a petition by the indigenous community already living on the floodplain and terraces along the Housatonic River, and the mountain now known as Schaghticoke, adjacent to present Schaghticoke Road and the town of Kent. Tribal leaders had complained that English men were illegally encroaching upon their homelands, and so they requested that the Assembly create a reserve of their remaining land. The Assembly reserved 2,000 acres, but continued land sales by the tribe’s government-appointed white overseers – over the objections of tribal leaders – eventually shrank the “Rez” to 400 acres of mainly mountainous, snake-invested land with a narrow floodplain along the west bank of the Housatonic River.

In 1742 the tribe requested a minister and a school from the General Assembly. The Assembly agreed but were not forthcoming, and so tribal leaders invited Moravian ministers, with a mission in nearby Pine Plains, New York, to plant a mission at Schaghticoke. The Moravian Church agreed, and so from 28 years a Moravian mission existed on the reservation. In 1770 the local English succeeded in forcing the missionaries to return to their center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Many Schaghticoke were staunch members of that evangelical Protestant church, which was founded in Bohemia in 1457.

The present reservation consists of three inhabited dwellings and one uninhabitable house, a small camp ground, and the tribe’s third burying ground. The first burying ground was sold off along with the tribe’s village and Moravian mission buildings in 1803 by overseer Abraham Fuller. The locus became the Fuller Farm until the 20th century when it became the property of the Kent School. The second burying ground was flooded over when the Bull’s Bridge Dam was completed ca. 1902. All tribes have socio-political factions, and Schaghticoke is no different. Recently tribal politics split the Schaghticoke into two tribes – The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation and the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe. Virtually all of their members live off-reservation, with the reservation serving as the tribal social and political center.

Contributor: Lucianne Lavin

SOURCES

References/further reading:

Crone-Morange, Paulette and Lucianne Lavin 2004 “The Schaghticoke Tribe and English Law: A Study of Community Survival”, Connecticut History, 43(2): 132-162.

Dally-Starna, Corinna and William A. Starna 2009 Gideon’s People, Being a Chronicle of an American Indian Community in Colonial Connecticut and the Moravian Missionaries who Served There, Volumes 1 & 2. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, Volumes 1 & 2.

Lavin, Lucianne 2001 “The Schaghticoke Nation and the Moravian Movement” in Archaeology of the Appalachian Highlands, edited by L.P. Sullivan and S.C. Prezzano, U. Of Tenn. Press, pp. 252-263.

Rican, Rudolf and Amedeo Molnar 1992 The History of the Unity of Brethren: A Protestant Hussite Church in Bohemia and Moravia. C. Daniel Crews, translator. Bethlehem and Winston-Salem: The Moravian Church in America.

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