|Table of Contents||Introduction|
Manhansack-aqua-quash-awamock, the traditional Algonquian name for Shelter Island by the Manhanset group who lived there from pre-historic time until the seventeenth century; is approximately 7907 acres in area. This island is unique for having the largest glacial erratic boulders on Long Island, resulting from the Wisconsonian glacier.1
- Englebright, 1982 ↩
Despite the potential for academic study, cultural understanding, and archaeological-based land preservation, Shelter Island has only gotten attention as recently as 1983 by professional archaeologists.1
James Farrett had mistakenly thought that he had purchased the island for himself from its inhabitants, the Manhansett Indians. They later denied it claiming that they had merely let him live there.2
Samuel Taylor reports on a healing ceremony on Shelter Island in a wigwam, during which the patient drank water from a gourd container, spit into his hands, then threw the water over his naked body, while a group of men sang songs and beat the ground with two-foot sticks. They say they are waiting for a spiritual sign as to the nature, diagnosis, or healing of the illness. Taylor says nothing will show up because he is there. He thought the Devil was going to show up.3
Ahaquatuwamuck was occasionally used to signify Shelter Island in early records.
First, in the Dutch archives as Cotsjewaminck, afterwards in the English, in 1652, viz:
“And hee the said Yokee delivered unto the aforesaid Captaine Nathaniel Silvester and Ensigne John Booth one turfe with a twige in their hands according to the usual custome of the English, after which delivery and full possession given, the said Yokee, with all his Indians that were formerly belonging to said Island of Ahaquatuwamuck did freely and willingly depart.”4
“All that their Islands of Ahaquatuwamuck otherwise called Menhansack in 1656″5.
Today, historians largely recognize the indigenous name Manhansack Ahaquatuwamock.
Hundreds of artifacts from the Yonáhqôsunuk site, along with manuscripts and field notes were donated by Roy Latham to the Southold Indian Museum, maintained by the Incorporated Long Island Chapter, New York State Archaeological Association.
Other Shelter Island artifacts may be found at the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. Others, including those excavated by Lightfoot (SUNY Stony Brook) at Mashomack, are stored at Queens College.
- John Charles Witek, Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, Nm 53, 1990, pp. 42 ↩
- Duvall, 1952, pp. 9, John Charles Witek, Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, Nm 53, 1990, pp. 39 ↩