Colonial Descriptions of Indians

Introduction

Throughout the research of this project, many of the early descriptions of indigenous people, their customs, and where they lived were preserved by colonial writing. Valuable for their historical witness, often times the descriptions are accompanied by disparaging descriptions, racist remarks, vanishing race myths, disdain against colored people and other unnecessary wording.

Colonial descriptions that exist for project sites have been included in their respective site pages to preserve the early descriptions, and to give context to how Indian people were once viewed; a perspective this project hopes to change.

John Strong prefaces his book We are Still Here (1998) with the goal of challenging this negative early colonial narrative of Indian people in mind;

We-are-Still-here-John-Strong-Book-Cover-1998 Colonial Descriptions of Indians Jeremy Dennis On This Site
“We Are Still Here!” book cover- Published John Strong 1998

Many references to Indians on Long Island leave the impression that the native population gradually died out prior to the end of the nineteenth century. This recurring theme can be traced back to the account written by Daniel Denton, who in 1670 proclaimed that the Indians of Long Island had been “decreased by the Hand of God … a Divine Hand makes way for them [the English ], by removing or cutting off the Indians either by wars with one another, or by some raging mortal disease.

Denton set the tone for what was to become a popular notion in the nineteenth century, that the Indians were the “vanishing Americans.” Denton’s comments were misleading because warfare between Native American groups seldom took many lives, whereas wars waged against them by the English and the Dutch were brutal and devastating.  Moreover, the epidemics of smallpox, cholera, and measles were introduced by the Europeans, not by a “Divine Hand.” In spite of these injuries inflicted by white settlers, the Native Americans did not dwindle as Denton had proclaimed.

The “vanishing American” theme was repeated by nineteenth century historians, newspapers in the early twentieth century, and in contemporary school textbooks . Although some of the aboriginal customs have been lost and most of their land has been taken, the Algonquian people have not vanished. All of the original inhabitants of Long Island shared a common language root called “Algonquian,” which distinguished them from their Iroquois neighbors in what is now upstate New York. Much of their traditional culture has survived and many ancient traditions are being revived by the youth. This publication focuses on the movement among the Long Island Indians to reaffirm their traditions and to strengthen their communal bonds.

The mood today among most of these Algonquian descendants on Long Island is one of enthusiasm for their current endeavors and of optimism for the future. They are alive and well on the Shinnecock and Poospatuck Reservations, in several small Matinecock and Montaukett enclaves, and in scattered households throughout Long Island. They have survived against great odds. Their mood is best expressed by their common response to the “myth of the vanishing Indians“-“We are still here!

Long Island Indians

As Early as 16701 , Daniel Denton describes Indian people as a vanishing race;

To say something of the Indians, there is now but few upon the Island, and those few no ways hurtful but rather serviceable to the English, and it is to be admired, how strangely they have decreast by the Hand of God, since the English first setling of those parts; for since my time, where there were six towns, they were reduced to two small Villages, and it hath been generally observed, that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Indians, either by Wars one with the other, or by some raging Mortal Disease.

They live principally by hunting, Fowling, and Fishing: their Wives being the Husbandmen to till the Land, and plant their corn.

The meat they live most upon is Fish, Fowl, and Venison; they eat likewise Polecats, Skunks, Racoon, Possum, Turtles, and the like.

They build small movable Tents, which they remove two or three times a year, having their principal quarters where they plant their Corn: their Hunting quarters, and their Fishing quarters: Their Recreations are chiefly Foot-ball and Cards, at which they will play away all they have, excepting a Flat to cover their nakedness: They are great lovers of strong drink, yet do not care for drinking, unless they have enough to make themselves drunk; and if there be so many in their Company, that there is not sufficient to make them all drunk, they usually select so many out of their Company, proportionable to the quantity of drink, and the rest must be Spectators. And if any one chance to be drunk before hath finisht his proportion, (which is ordained a quart of Brandy, Rum or Strong-waters) the rest will pour the rest of his part down his throat.

They often kill one another at these drunked Matches, which the friends of the murdered person, do revenge upon the Murderer unless he purchase his life with money, which they sometimes do: Their money is made of Periwinkle shell of which there is black and white, made much like unto beads, and put upon strings.

For their worship which is diabolical, it is performed usually but once or twice a year, unless upon some extraordinary occasion, as upon making of War or the like; their usual time is about Michaelmass, when their corn is first ripe, the day being appointed by their chief Priest or pawaw; most of them go a hunting for venison: When they are all congregated, their priest tells them if he wants money, their God will accept no other offering, which is people beleeving, every one gives money according to their ability. The priest takes the money, putting it into some dishes, sets them upon the top of their low flat-roofed houses, and falls to invocating their God to come and receive it, which with a many loud hallows and outcries, knocking the ground with sticks, and beating themselves, is performed by the priest, and seconded by the people.

After they have thus a while wearied themselves, the priest by his Conjuration brings in a devil amongst them, in the shape sometimes of a fowl, sometimes of a beast, and sometimes of a man, at which the people being amazed, not daring to stir, he improves the opportunity, steps out, and makes sure of the money, and then returns to lay the spirit, who in the mean time is sometimes gone, and takes some of the Company along with him : but if any English at such times do come amongst them, it puts a period to their proceeding, and they will desire their absence, telling them their God will not come whilst they are there.

In their wars they fight no pitcht fields, but when they have notice of an enemies approach, they endeavor to secure their wives and children upon some Island, or in some thick swamp, and then with their guns and hatchets they way-lay their enemies, some lying behind one, some another, and it is a great fight where seven or eight is slain.

When any Indian dies amongst them, they bury him upright, sitting upon a seat, with his Gun, money, and such goods as he hath with him, that he may be furnished in the other world, which they conceive is Westward, where they shall have great store of Game for Hunting and live easie lives. At his Burial his nearest Relations attend the Hearse with their faces painted black, and do visit the grave once or twice a day, where they send forth sad lamentations so long, till time hath wore the blackness off their faces, and afterwards every year once they view the grave, make a new mourning for him, trimming up of the Grave, not suffering of a Grass to grow by it : they fence their graves with a hedge, and cover the tops with Mats, to shelter them from the rain.

Any Indian being dead, his Name dies with him, no person daring ever after to mention his Name, it being not only a breach of their Law, but an abuse to his friends and relations present, as if it were done on purpose to renew their grief : And any other person whatsoever that is named after that name doth incontinently change his name, and takes a new one, their names are not proper set names as amongst Christians, but every one invents a name to himself, which he likes best. Some calling themselves Rattle-snake, Skunk, Bucks-horn, or the like : And if a person die, that his name is some word which is used in speech, they likewise change that word, and invent some new one ; which makes a great change and alteration in their language.

When a person is sick, after some means used by his friends, every one pretending skill in Physick ; that proving ineffeªual, they send for a Pawaw or Priest, who sitting down by the sick person, without the least enquiry after the distemper, waits for a gift, which he proportions his work according to : that being received, he first begins with a low voice to call upon his God, calling sometimes upon one, sometimes on another, raising his voice higher and higher, beating of his naked breasts and sides, till the sweat runneth down, and his breath is almost gone, then that little which is remaining, he evaporates upon the face of the sick person three or four times together, and so takes his leave.

Their Marriages are performed without any Ceremony, the Match being first made by money. The sum being agreed upon and given to the woman, it makes a consummation of their Marriage, if I may so call it : After that, he keeps her during his pleasure, and upon the least dislike turns her away and takes another : It is no offence for their married women to lie with another man, provided she acquaint her husband, or some of her nearest Relations with it, but if not, it is accounted such a fault that they sometimes punish it with death : An Indian may have two wives or more if he please ; but it is not so much in use as it was since the English came amongst them : they being ready in some measure to imitate the English in things both good and bad : any Maid before she is married doth lie with whom she please for money, without any scandal, or the least aspersion to be cast upon her, it being so customary, and their laws tolerating of it. They are extraordinary charitable one to another, one having nothing to spare, but he freely imparts it to his friends, and whatsoever they get by gaming or any other way, they share one to another, leaving themselves commonly the least share.

At their Cantica’s or dancing Matches, where all persons that come are freely entertain’d, it being a Festival time : Their custom is when they dance, every one but the Dancers to have a short stick in their hand, and to knock the ground and sing altogether, whilst they that dance sometimes aª warlike postures, and then they come in painted for War with their faces black and red, or some all black, some all red, with some streaks of white under their eyes, and so jump and leap up and down without any order, uttering many expressions of their intended valour. For other Dances they only shew what Antick tricks their ignorance will lead them to, wringing of their bodies and faces after a strange manner, sometimes jumping into the fire, sometimes catching up a Fire-brand, and biting off a live coal, with many such tricks, that will affright, if not please an English man to look upon them, resembling rather a company of infernal Furies then men. When their King or Sachem sits in Council, he hath a Company of armed men to guard his Person, great respeª being shewen him by the People, which is principally manifested by their silence : After he hath declared the cause of their convention, he demands their opinion, ordering who shall begin : The person ordered to speak, after he hath declared his minde, tells them he hath done : no man ever interrupting any person in his speech, nor offering to speak, though he make never so many or long stops, till he says he hath no more to say : the Council having all declar’d their opinions, the King after some pause gives the definitive sentence, which is commonly seconded with a shout from the people, every one seeming to applaud, and manifest their Assent to what is determined : If any person be condemned to die, which is seldom, unless for Murder or Incest, the King himself goes out in person (for you must understand they have no prisons, and the guilty person flies into the Woods) where they go in quest of him, and having found him, the King shoots first, though at never such a distance, and then happy is the man can shoot him down, and cut off his Long, which they commonly wear, who for his pains is made some Captain, or other military Officer.

Their Cloathing is a yard and an half of broad Cloth, which is made for the Indian Trade, which they hang upon their shoulders ; and a half a yard of the same cloth, which being put betwixt their legs, and brought up before and behinde, and tied with a Girdle about their middle, hangs with a flap on each side : They wear no Hats, but commonly wear about their Heads a Snake’s skin, or a Belt of their money, or a kind of a Ruff made with Deers hair, and died of a scarlet colour, which they esteem very rich.

They grease their bodies and hair very often, and paint their faces with several colours, as black, white, red, yellow, blew, &c. which they take great pride in, every one being painted in a several manner : Thus much for the Customs of the Indians.


.. [I]f you chance to meet with an Indian-Town, they shall give you the best entertainment they have, and upon your desire, direª you on your way : But that which adds happiness to all the rest, is the Healthfulness of the place, where many people in twenty years time never know what sickness is : where they look upon it as a great mortality if two or three die out of a town in a years time ; where besides the sweetness of the Air, the Countrey it self sends forth such a fragrant smell, that it may be perceived at Sea before they can make the Land : where no evil fog or vapour doth no sooner appear, but a North-west or Westerly winde doth immediately dissolve it, and drive it away : What shall I say more ? you shall scarce see a ( 26 ) house, but the South-side is begirt with Hives of Bees, which increase after an incredible manner : That I must needs say, that if there be any terrestrial Canaan, ‘tis surely here, where the Land floweth with milk and honey. The inhabitants are blest with Peace and plenty, blessed in their Countrey, blessed in their Fields, blessed in the Fruit of their bodies, in the fruit of their grounds, in the increase of their Cattel, Horses and Sheep, blessed in their Basket, and in their Store ; In a word, blessed in whatsoever they take in hand, or go about, the Earth yielding plentiful increase to all their painful labours.

Were it not to avoid prolixity I could say a great deal more, and yet say too little, how free are those parts of the world from that pride and oppression, with their miserable effeªs, which many, nay almost all parts of the world are troubled, with being ignorant of that pomp and bravery which aspiring Humours are servants to, and striving after almost everywhere : where a Waggon or Cart gives as good content as a Coach ; and a piece of their home-made Cloth, better then the finest Lawns or richest Silks : and though their low-roofed houses may seem to shut their doors against pride and luxury, yet how do they stand wide open to let charity in and out, either to assist each other, or relieve a stranger, and the distance of place from other Nations, doth secure them from the envious frowns of ill-affeaed Neighbours, and the troubles which usually arise thence.

Sites with Colonial Description

Below are sites that have specific colonial period (15th-19th century) descriptions associated with them.

5I5A5905-300x126 Colonial Descriptions of Indians Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Ashawagh

James Truslow Adams, in his History of The Town of Southampton [1. James Truslow Adams, History of the Town of Southampton (East of Canoe Place), 1918 pp. 29], writes;

The Montauks had an extensive settlement of "half a hundred" wigwams on the west side of Three Mile Harbor.

Canarsie

The Canarsie were among the Indians encountered by Henry Hudson’s crew, in 1609, and described by his mate, Robert Juet.

Jasper Danckaerts and His Journal

Scholars have unearthed a great deal of information concerning Indian life in greater New York. Little, however, was known about the Indians of Brooklyn until Henry C. Murphy, a founder of The Brooklyn Historical Society [1. formerly The Long Island Historical Society], acquired Jasper Danckaerts' Journal of a Voyage to New York and a Tour in Several of the American Colonies in 1679-80 from an Amsterdam book dealer in 1864.

Danckaerts was a member of a communal Protestant sect known as the Labadists. Accompanied by Peter Sluyter, he came to New York in search of land for a religious colony. His journal had lain undiscovered for nearly 200 years when Murphy purchased it. Murphy's translation of the document, the first book published by the Society, appeared in 1867. It has since become an important source for the history of the region.

Murphy's original translation has been used in the many editions of Danckaerts' journal published since 1867. Charles T. Gehring, a linguist specializing in the study of the 17th-century Dutch language, recently re-translated portions of the manuscript as part of the planning phase of the current exhibition. He found that many of Murphy's translations were inaccurate and biased. More significantly, fifteen pages of the journal omitted by Murphy for having "no especial value" were valuable indeed. The previously neglected extracts contain unique information concerning Indian diplomacy, warfare, religion, and other aspects of native life in Brooklyn and the surrounding region.

Danckaerts recorded a remarkably detailed account of Brooklyn Indian life. Recalling his impressions of native people encountered during his travels, he wrote that "they are intense in everything they do; they penetrate matters thoroughly and speak only when appropriate." Reserving his most scathing criticism for other Christians, Danckaerts regarded native people with pity and amused tolerance. He was among the few European observers to express outrage at the mistreatment of Indians by colonists. His recitation of settlers' sins, however, was not entirely inspired by a love for native people. Passionately self-righteous and frequently intolerant, Danckaerts believed that such injustices were evidence of the depravity of Protestants who did not share his Labadist sentiments.

Danckaerts came among the Indians of Brooklyn just before new waves of epidemic disease and rapidly expanding European settlements forced them to sell the last of their ancestral territories in the borough. [1. New World Encounters Jasper Danckaerts' View of Indian Life in 17th Century Brooklyn - Canarsie history pp. 3]

By 1680, Danckaerts recorded that,

"there are not even 1110th of the Indians left (not even 1120th or 1130th) and the Europeans are 20 and 30 times as many."

At the same time, Danckaerts chronicled the survival of a remarkably tenacious people. His descriptions of Indian religion, house life, and diplomacy are unique. They remain the most complete observations of the original inhabitants of Brooklyn while still an independent people residing in their own homeland. As such, Danckaerts' journal provides a tantalizing glimpse into the culture of the Brooklyn Indians.

circassian-site5I5A4697-Edit-WEB-300x200 Colonial Descriptions of Indians Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Circassian Shipwreck

December 1876

The tragic sinking of the Circassian happened December, 1876. The ship ran a ground offshore during a storm. When the call went out for a salvage crew to rescue the cargo, eleven men from Shinnecock agreed to take the job.

One of the men, Alfonso Eleazer, left the ship before the storm engulfed the rescue operation. The ship broke apart while the crew was on board, casting all of them into the freezing water. None of the Shinnecock men were saved. There was no hope of seeing any of the thirty-two men alive.

The velocity of the sea, now running to the east, and the extreme undertow made it nearly impossible for anyone to reach shore. Superintendent Huntting, feeling duty bound to make every effort, organized a lantern patrol of about twenty Life Saving men to search along the beach at forty-foot intervals in the unlikely event any survivors appeared in the surf. As soon as the mast sank, Captain Huntting's men, along with volunteers from the crowd on shore, hurried up the beach eastward to their positions.

The moon, once again, broke through the clouds, and one of the leading patrols spotted a small cluster of figures on the ocean moving rapidly with the current eastward. As the life saving crew hastened to their rescue, the figures were carried almost half a mile before they neared shore.

Luther Burnett and life saver Gordon Ludlow ran into the frigid surf to drag the men out of the undertow to safety. Those in the rear patrols, seeing a concentration of lantern light ahead of them and hearing glad shouts as the rescuers and survivors emerged onto the beach, knew someone, at least, had been saved.

The news spread rapidly down the beach that four men had miraculously made it to shore on a boat's buoy, and the four men were alive. As several life saving men helped the exhausted survivors back to the shelter of Mecox Station, the rest of the lantern patrol, now hopeful, kept searching the surf for signs of more life.

Once inside the station house, the survivors, so overcome with fatigue and numb from wet and cold that they could not stand, were stripped of their frozen garments and given warm, dry clothing. Immediately they were put to bed near the fire, given coffee and brandy, and given other first aid treatment. Three revived, but the fourth remained unconscious for several hours and it was feared he might die. It was the middle of the day before he was considered out of danger.

Those saved were Henry Morle, First Mate of the Circassian, from Taunton, England; John Rowland, Second Mate, from Cardiff, Wales; and Charles Campbell, wrecking company engineer, from Newark, New Jersey. The fourth man was Alexander Wilson, the ship's carpenter, from Birkenhead, England, near Liverpool. There were no other survivors.

As soon as the men recovered, they told their story and gave more details of what had happened on the ship. Henry Morle had been shipwrecked before; and whether because of the nature of the man or the nature of his experience, he remained cool and in command of himself and the situation. Morle has been in the galley with Campbell, Rowland, Wilson, and others, regaining strength and working on a plan of survival. Despite all efforts, no help was coming from shore and the situation was critical. There were only a few life preservers and a couple of cork fenders from the ship's remaining boats.

Morle gave a life preserver to John Walker, a Shinnecock, and cut loose one of the canvas covered fenders for himself. Taking it below, Morle rigged the cylindrical buoy with wooden cleats and ropes, thus making a life buoy about five feet long and one foot thick. John Rowland, who could not swim, asked to share the buoy and Morle consented. When the ship started to break up beneath them, he and Rowland took to the mizzen rigging with the buoy. Studying the flow of the set and the drift of the wreckage, Morle chose the best position possible to gain clearance of the ship if the mast fell.

They, among others were not lashed to the rigging. William Keefe, the boatswain, and Charles Campbell, of the wrecking company, also had a buoy but tried to remain on deck with it. Unfortunately, they were caught by a large wave and thrown across the deck, they and their buoy parting ways. It was at this point that several more men were washed overboard. Campbell survived and climbed into the rigging beneath Morle asking him for a share of his buoy. Morle agreed and they made plans to reach shore.

A few men jumped from the deck taking their chances in the surf. Morle, stayed, his clothes ice covered, the freezing spray numbing his hands and face.

The Shinnecock, all in a group in the rigging, were still singing. Many others were praying. Some, having ceased their calls for help, were silent.

Suddenly, a huge wave lifted the vessel. As the mast fell, Morle, Rowland, and Campbell jumped with the buoy. Rowland and Campbell emerged together from the icy water, in the lee of the ship, clinging to the buoy. Morle, who had let go of the buoy just before hitting the water, swam to the others.

All around was a chaos of debris - sail, planks from the ship's boats, spars, and rigging. All around were men struggling and drowning. Alexander Wilson, who had been in the rigging above Campbell, also came up from the water. In a panic, he seized Campbell's neck, almost strangling him. Campbell, fighting for his life, was about to draw his knife when Morle shouted,

"Carpenter, let go that man, you are drowning him now."

With Campbell's help, Wilson managed to grasp the buoy. The four men were now positioned two on each side of the cork float. With their arms through the ropes and around the cylinder, they clutched the lines and locked legs with each other below. This helped keep them together and steady the small buoy as it was buffeted by the swells. Morle took charge, commanding the others to breathe before each icy wave struck, ordering them to rest whenever momentarily possible. Nevertheless, after only minutes in the water, they were completely weakened by their struggle and were almost drowned.

With one final effort, they plunged through the breakers toward shore. Exhausted, numb with cold, and at the mercy of the undertow, all were hauled from the surf and immediately wrapped in warm clothes stripped off the backs of their rescuers. Wilson, suffering from severe cramps, was nearly lifeless; the others were so overcome they could barely stand. Had not Huntting's men been on the spot to offer immediate assistance, they would all have perished. They were battered and weary, but they were alive.

John Walker hadn't been as fortunate; he had attempted to jump also but had been caught by a huge wave, crushed against the ship's stern, then carried down by a swirling eddy. His life preserver surfaced; he did not.

Meanwhile. Patrols along shore kept continuous watch, looking first for more survivors, later for bodies. The storm, affecting the whole Northeast, was the worst such storm in eighty years. New England was badly hit with much damage to its fleets; many vessels had been driven ashore or were badly damaged. Provincetown, Massachusetts had taken a furious beating. Long Island's bays froze over. A heavy snow had immobilized upstate New York and all of New Hampshire and Vermont. Transportation was struggling, if it was moving at all. Even in Bridgehampton, the sleet and slush of the night before had frozen into one slippery mass. On this Saturday morning, as the patrols continued, the weather was still frigid with gusting westerly winds. A glare of bright sunshine reflected on the ocean; cold stinging sand still numbed the patrollers' faces.

Word of the disaster spread rapidly through the village of Bridgehampton. Some townspeople, accustomed to seeing the masts of the ship on the horizon, thought the Circassion had finally gotten free when they did not spot her that Saturday morning. Many, shocked at the loss, ignored the inclement weather and hastened to the beach to assist in the search. All were stunned. When hope was gone of finding any survivors, their shock turned to grief. Neighbors were dead, and the sad search for the missing bodies continued.

From Bridgehampton the news spread to the surrounding areas. At about 9 o'clock that morning, Henry F. Herrick, postmaster of Southampton and elder in the Presbyterian church, brought word to those on the Reservation. He spoke first to James Bunn, Father of David Bunn of Shinnecock, and then from house to house he carried the same message.

Quietly and sadly he said, "The ship went down - all of the Shinnecock men have been lost perished in the wreck."

Mrs. Edna Walker Eleazer, who died in 1969 at nearly a hundred years of age, remembered Henry Herrick bringing the news to the Walker household. She was only a girl when her mother answered the knock on her door announcing that both her father and her uncle were dead. Although only a few miles distant, the men had not been off the ship and had not visited their homes in two weeks. Now they would return no more.

Lewis, in his bluster and overconfidence, had made a catastrophic error; despite his extensive experience, he had been wrong. Certainly, by today's standards, there is no doubt Lewis had been negligent. However, if the storm had held off only a few hours more, the ship would: have been safely off the bar, and on her way to New York with all hands on board alive and well. Lewis would have succeeded at his task: he would have been praised for a job well done. Lewis had overestimated both his own judgment and the strength of the ship; he had badly underestimated the severity of the storm.

On the Reservation, the Circassian widows survived the winter. The contributions had helped, but still the women faced both the loneliness and struggle of raising and supporting their fatherless families alone. The tribe had been sadly depleted, but the loss of the Circassian men was not, as some have said, the end of the Shinnecock tribe.

There were twenty-five Indian children from these families alone left to carry on. Even the loss of the whaler Amethyst [ship] in 1887 did not mean the end of the tribe. Two of Lames R. Lee'S Brothers were on the Amethyst, as was Moses Walker, a Montauk and close relative of the two Walkers drowned in 1876.

Last seen in the Arctic Sea in June in 1887 the Amethyst met an uncertain fate. When discovered later in the year, she had split in two, with no sign of her thirty-eight man crew.

The Shinnecock men lost on the Circassian had, without doubt, met their death with bravery. The actions of the rescuers, fighting on to save the helpless men despite all odds, were praiseworthy and heroic. If there were heroes, the real heroes were the widows, sisters, children, parents, and other relatives who overcame their personal tragedy, went on with the business of living, and survived. Because the first three bodies found were those of one young seaman and two Indians.

When news of the identification reached the Reservation, almost all the Shinnecock not already there hurried to Montauk on horseback, by wagon, or on foot to continue the search and bring home their dead. After the first bodies had been discovered the previous day, the search intensified.

Captain Huntting was impatient to explore the wreck itself. On Monday morning the ocean, for the first time since the disaster, proved relatively calm, and Huntting and a crew of men rowed out to the ship. They could see down to the shrouds and rigging but no bodies were evident either on or near the wreck. The results of their expedition, plus the finding of the bodies four miles west of Montauk Point, led to conjecture that few men, if any, had lashed themselves to the rigging.

Before nightfall, eleven more bodies were recovered: three more Shinnecock, two of the apprentices, the cook, the sail maker, two more seamen, and Captains Williams and Lewis, Both the British Consul and the Coast Wrecking Company were immediately notified. On the midnight patrol a Georgica crewman found a corpse about a half mile east of the station house. The next day a farmer's wagon brought still one more body to the Reservation. The body was that of David Bunn.

Tuesday, January 9, was the day scheduled for the burial of the Shinnecock. Only six bodies had been found, leaving four more bodies, those of John Walker, William Cuffee, Russell Bunn, and Oliver Kellis yet to be recovered.

The search for bodies continued. Eight more had yet to be found - those of the four Shinnecock, one apprentice and one seaman, and two wreckers; within the next few days all would be recovered. Later, the Shinnecock would be buried on the Reservation near the others.

Loss of the ten Shinnecock men was a demoralizing blow to their people. There were several young men away on whaling voyages, and it would be a minimum of two years before their return. The struggle against poverty had always been hard; in this severe winter, even survival would be difficult. The tribe, now numbering about 175 people on the Reservation would find the loss of so many breadwinners extremely hard to bear. In any independent community, small and already poor, such a loss was a disaster.

In the 1800's the owner of a ship was not liable for loss of life upon his vessel, and wreckers engaged in their profession totally at their own risk. There would be no lawsuits, no settlements, nothing in the way of monetary compensation. Contributions received by Mr. Harsell in New York included several from the Roosevelt family, and one in particular from the household of Theodore Roosevelt. For several years, Mrs, Mary Rebecca Kellis had worked as a servant for the well-known family. "Aunt Becky" died in 1936 at nearly one hundred years of age. Frank Bunn, one of the men lost on the Circassian, was her brother. Though appreciated and helpful, none of the contributions were very large. For the Shinnecock, times ahead would still be difficult. [1. http://www.thehamptons.com/indians/shipwreck/survivors.html , David Martine History Timeline pp. 55]

 

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Fort Shinnecock

Nathaniel S. Prime on June Meeting

"June Meeting," has long been maintained by this interesting people, and is kept up to the present time. Its origin is not exactly known, but its design is entirely of a social and religious nature. It is a holy convocation of all the remnants of the tribes, and the coloured pople connected with them, on the first or second sabbath in June, for the purpose of religious worship. In former days, a delegation from New England was usually present; but of later years, it has been confined to the residents of the Island. The place of meeting is Poosepatuck, as being most central; though this little church is now reduced to a mere remnant. The whole day is spent in the exercises of religious worship, in connexion with which, the Lord's Supper is celebrated; and could the assemblage be confined exclusively to those for whose benefit it was instituted, or even those who take delight in God's worship, it would still be a pleasant and profitable occasion. But it has, of late years, become the resort of hundreds of giddy and thoughtless youth of both sexes, who assemble from all parts of the island, within 20 or 30 miles, for the mere purpose of diversion and dissipation; making it a scene of tumult and confusion; while others of the white population, to their burning disgrace, from the mere lust of filthy lucre, embrace the occasion as an opportunity for merchandize and worldly gain. The whole country, for miles around, exhibits all the confusion of a general training; and the holy sabbath, from morning to night, is polluted with the most bare faced profanations.

These facts are stated, not on the ground of vague rumour, but from the evidence of sense at the last anniversary. And it will be observed, that the disgrace of these unhallowed proceedings, belongs exclusively to the white population. The conduct of the coloured people is marked with singular propriety and circumspection. Those who come from a distance, perform their journey on the preceding day, and return in the succeeding week. Thus they enjoy the privileged of social intercourse with friends and relatives, besides securing the rest and quiet of the holy sabbath. And but for the annoyance of those who take no interest in the religious exercises of the meeting, it would be both a pleasant and profitable season to their souls. [1. Nathaniel S. Prime, A History of Long Island From Its First Settlement, 1845, pp. 118]

Harry D. Sleight - 1928 - Historical Long Island

Editor's Note: The Bulletin staff are indebted to Mr. Harry D. Sleight, of Sag Harbor, Long Island, for the accompanying article, written specifically for the readers of this publication. Mr. Sleight is a noted Long Island historian, among his latest works being "A History of East Hampton Town," in eight volumes, and "A History of Southampton," in two volumes. At the present time he is engaged in compiling the records of Smithtown, from 1835 to date.


As far back as living man can remember, June Meeting has been an annual observance of the Shinnecock Indians. It is a survival of primitive customs. But it is not a circumstance today of the great even of years ago. June Meeting has long been maintained. The occasion is not exactly known, but Prime, in a religious and church history of Long Island, says its design is entirely of a social and religious nature.

It, as observed in times seventy-five years ago, and much earlier, was a holy convocation of all the remnants of the Indian tribes of Long Island, and the negroes and colored people connected with them, on the first or second Sabbath of June, for purposes of religious worship. In former days, a delegation from New England was usually present; but in more recent years it has been confined to residents of the Island. The place of meeting was either Poosepatuck or Shinnecock. The whole day was spent in the exercises of religious worship; in connection with which the Lord's Supper was celebrated. But it could not be confined exclusively for the benefit of those for which it was intended. There were years when June Meeting became the resort of hundreds of giddy and thoughtless youth of both sexes, who assembled from all parts of the Island, within 20 or 30 miles, for the mere purpose of diversion and dissipation.

The June Meeting was made a scene of tumult and confusion; others of the white population, to their disgrace, from lust or lucre, embraced the occasion as an opportunity for merchandising and worldly gain. The whole country, for miles around, exhibited the confusion of a general training or a country fair. The holy Sabbath was, from morning till night, polluted with bare-faced profanation. This disgrace of such unhallowed proceedings belong entirely to the white people.

The conduct of the colored people was marked with singular propriety and circumspection. Those coming from a distance, performed their journey on the preceding day and returned home in the succeeding week. They enjoyed the privilege of social intercourse with friends and relatives, besides securing the rest and quiet of the holy Sabbath. But for the annoyances of those who took no interest in the religious exercises of the meeting, it would have been both a pleasant and profitable season for souls.

How Indians Celebrated June Meeting

A News story in a New York City paper describes June Meeting of 1871 in a somewhat sensational style as follows:

Sunday, the annual June festival of the tribes of Indians quartered in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, was witnessed by a vast concourse of whites. At 10 o'clock everything for the ceremony was in readiness, and King David Pharoah, Chief of the tribe, moved forth from his tent with a large and dirty protocol in his hand. He was followed by five men, who assisted him to a stand decorated with forest flowers. From each of the many cabins came women and children, all humming an Indian song of worship. When they had assembled before the King's throne, they sang in chorus a hymn. This finished, all bent one knee, and an old white man began to pray. This man lives with the tribes, and is recognized as the great medicine man. His prayer was long and loud. After the prayer the assemblage began to shout another hymn and moved around the throne.

When this had been concluded, King David with his protocol arose and made divers motions in the air. He then began to speak, and, becoming excited, the perspiration rolled down his cheeks. He talked about the Great Spirit, the happy hunting grounds, the departed braves, the prosperity of the tribes, gave some advice to whites that he said might save their scalps, and ended with a blessing upon the assembled group.

Fires were then lighted. The aborigines formed in procession and marched around them, each one throwing in a piece of evergreen. This concluded the exercises. In the afternoon the Indian sports were greatly enjoyed by the children. The Indians worship but once a year, on the first Sunday in June, unless some itinerant preacher comes along.

King David is an oddity. He is tall and stoops, though he is stout and powerful. His eyes are peculiar, one being a brown, the other a mixed gray, one bright and the other dull. He was stung by a bee some time ago. The brown eye was completely closed, and he had to be led about by a children. He is about 45 years of age. The protocol which he carried has been handed down for three generations and was at one time in possession of the Montauk Tribe.

More fortunate than the Montauk Indians, the Shinnecock tribe retains land for reservation. But then the courts have declared that there is no "tribe" of Montauks. When the white man bargained for the Montauks land, the Indians reserved the right to occupy certain tracts forever; but cruel Narragansett foes attacked the tribe, and they were decimated by smallpox; there were not enough pure-blood squaws to carry forward Nature's processes of reproduction, and the white man had shrewdly written in the contract a clause forever forbidding strange Indians living at Montauk and to forever debar and exclude "all mustees or mullattors that have Indian squaws to their mother natives of Muntock for to have any right or to live therair, preventing all differences and disputes hereafter in any case any native squaw shall marry a stranger Indian or forrener she or they shell forfeit and quit all theair Right title or Clame on said land, neither shall theair children have any Right or title or clame."

This clause spelled ultimate extinction for the Montauks as a tribe.

The king David, mentioned above, was one of the last of the Montauks. [1. Harry D. Sleight, Shinnecock Indians --June Meeting. from Long Island Railroad Information Bulletin. Jul-Aug 1928 pp. 12-14]

Paul Bailey - 1949

Designed to honor the green corn, this ancient rite was attended by wild demonstrations of dancing which at times caused the white settlers grave anxiety. [1. Paul Bailey, Long Island - A History of Two Great Counties - Nassau and Suffolk, 1949 pp. 130]

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Niamuck

"The Place where the Indian hayle over their canooes out of the North bay to the south side of the Island."

This is mentioned as the west bound, in 1640, of the "Town Purchase," or the first Indian deed for Southampton lands.

Here, the Indians had habitations. Both bays were favorite fishing places. The Shinnecock Indians claim land at, or in vicinity of Niamuck today [known as West Woods]. How this land became retained to them, after the Ogden and Cooper and Topping Purchases, and the arbitration of Governor Nicoll, concerning conflicting Indian grants, in 1666, the records do not clearly indicate. The title of land west of Niamuck, the award appears to vest in Southampton Town, who through its Trustees held the legal title and divided the equitable title among proprietor purchasers of the Patents and the lands.

When Indian trustees at tempted to sell 100 acres of woodland, near Good Ground (not Hampton Bays), on the north side near Peconic Bay, in 1890. the court invalidated the bargain and sale deed. and rejected woodcutters put on the land by the would-be purchaser; in 1925. the court sustained a suit through by the Indians, for damage, against a road foreman of Southampton, who took from this land material, gravel and marl, and the town paid judgment to the Indian Tribe. Both these suits are subsequent to the abrogation, in 1859, of the 1703 thousand-year Indian lease of Southampton lands.

Pelletreau writes of Canoe Place in 1877:

"Of the local affairs of the town none was of greater importance than the purchase of the tract of country lying west of Canoe Place. This had remained unclaimed by any town, and was not purchased from the Indians until 1662; at that time Capt. Topping purchased the tract in question, obtaining a deed from certain Indians claiming the right to make the sale. This transfer was looked upon with a jealous eye by the town at large, and after much controversy, the chiefs of the Shinnecock tribe, including the son and daughter of the great Sachem Mandush, who ruled the tribe at the time of settlement, after asserting that the deed to Capt. Topping was of no avail as given by Indians who had no right to make such transfer, by a deed bearing date Sept. 17, 1666, sell to their 'ancient and loving friends the towns- men of Southampton,' all the tract of land lying between "Niamoug, or Canoe Place, and Sea tuck." [1. H.D. Sleight, The Eighth Volume of Records of the Town of Southampton 1893 - 1927 Part Two, 1930 pp. 233]

Daniel Denton mentions Canoe Place in his Description of New York, 1670;

Canoe Place, on the South side of Long Island, near Southampton, derives its name from the fact, that more than two centuries ago, a canal was made there by the Indians, , passing their canoes from one bay to the other, (that is across the Island, from Mecox bay to Peconic bay.) Although the trench has been in a great measure filled up, yet its remains are still visible, and partly flowed at high water. It was constructed by Mongotucksee, (or long knife,) who then reigned over the nation of Montauk. Although that nation has now dwindled to a few miserable remnants of a pwoerful race, who still linger on the lands which was once the seat of their proud dominion, yet their traditional history is replete with all those tragical incidents which usually accompany the fall of power. It informs us, that their chief was of gigantic form -- proud and despotic in peace and terrible in war. But although a tyrant of his people, yet he protected them from their enemies, and commanded their respect for his savage virtues. The praises of Mongotucksee are still chaunted in aboriginal verse, to the winds that howl around the eastern extremity of the island. The Narragansetts and the Mohocks yielded to his prowess, and the ancestors of the last of the Mohiccans trembled at the expression of his anger. He sustained his power not less by the resources of his mind than by the vigor of his arm. An ever watchful policy guided his councils. Prepared for every exigency, not even aboriginal sagacity could surprise his caution. To facilitate communication around the seat of his dominion, -- for the purpose not only of defence but of annoyance, he constructed this canal, which remains a monument of his genius, while other traces of his skill and prowess are lost in oblivion, and even the nation whose valor he led, may soon furnish for our country a topic in contemplation the fallen greatness of the last of the Montauks. [1. Gaynell Stone, Languages and Lore of the Long Island Indians, Vol IV, 1980 pp. 227]

 

5I5A8016-300x112 Colonial Descriptions of Indians Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Patuckquapaug

Round Pond, described in the History of the Town of Southampton; [1. James Truslow Adams, History of The Town of Southampton, 1918, pp. 29]

Beside many individual lodge sites, a number of villages of considerable size existed and have been located. . .tradition relates that long after the settlement by the whites, their wigwams stood at the end of Round Pond.

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Rev. Paul Cuffee Gravesite

The Rev. Paul Cuffee "was the second of seven sons of Peter Cuffee, a native Indian of the Shinnecock tribe," and grandson, on his mother's side, of the Rev. Peter John. He was born in the town of Brookhaven, March 4th, 1757. His mother was said to be "an eminently pious woman; for many years a member of the native Indian church at Wading River." She being of African descent, Paul was of course not of pure aboriginal blood. At an early age, he was indentured as a servant to Major Frederick Hudson, at Wading River, with whom he laboured, principally on the farm, until the age of 21 years. "During his minority he is said to have been exceedingly thoughtless, and much addicted to the pleasures of the revel and the midnight dance. Possessing a great degree of Indian cunning, with a bright and lively imagination, and being distinguished by his native powers of mimickry, he was selected as the favorite leader of a thoughtless band."

But though thus eagerly bent on his career of folly, the Lord had marked him as "a chosen vessel, to bear his name before the gentiles" - the remnants of his own once pegan tribes. During a season of religious awakening, in the year 1778-9, being the last year of his minority, his attention was called up to the great concern of salvation. His convictions were deep and pungent, and finally became "so intense and overwhelming, that like Saul of Tarsus, he fell to the ground, and for a time his entire physical strength was prostrated. But he soon obtained a delightful relief, in an entire surrender of his heart to the Lord Jesus, and an unreserved consecration to his service."

From the first moment of his deliverance from the load of conscious guilt, he appears to have been inspired with an ardent desire to labour, for the advancement of the divine glory, and the salvation of his fellow men. Though possessed of a very limited education, he early commended preaching; upon what authority - whether by the approbation of the church at Wading River, of which he had been admitted as a member, or by a license of a higher ecclesiastical body, is not known. "Soon after completing his term of service, he removed from Wading River to Morches, where he remained about two years;" and thence, to Poosepatuck, where in 1790, he was "ordained to the work of the ministry by a council of ministers from the Connecticut Convention." He afterwards removed to Canoe place, which continued to be his residence till death.

On the 17th of Oct. 1792, he was admitted a member of the "Strict Congregational Convention of Long Island," which has been organized, about a year before, in fellowship with the "Strict Congregational Convention of Connecticut."

In 1798, he received a commission, from the "New York Missionary Society," to labour with the remnants of the Long Island Indians, in whose employ he continued until his death, and annually received a liberal compensation. The principal field of his labour was Montauk and Canoe Place; though he occasionally visited Poosepatuck and Islip, where there were then a few scatted remnants of the native tribes. [1. Nathaniel S. Prime, A History of Long Island From Its First Settlement, 1845 pp. 115]

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Shinnecock Indian Reservation

1903

After M. R. Harrington of the American Museum of Natural History Museum conducted his excavation of the Sebonac site in 1902, just a few miles north of the Shinnecock reservation, he conducted anthropological work with the contemporary Shinnecock residents. He writes [1. M. R. Harrington, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 60 (Jan. - Mar., 1903) pp. 37-39];

DURING several summers of archaeological work on Long Island for the American Museum of Natural History I heard many conflict- ing reports concerning the Shinnecock Indians; some to the effect that the tribe was extinct, that the people on the Reserve were all negroes, and showed no Indian characteristics whatever. Other reports were more favorable. It was not until the spring of 1902, however, that I had an opportunity to visit the place, and discover the truth of the matter.

Although an Indian reservation in name, little is apparent at first glance to indicate that such is the fact; it seems to be a negro settlement pure and simple. But a closer examination shows that many of the people have Indian blood. Some are black and woolly headed, having at the same time facial characteristics distinctly Indian. Others have the straight hair and light color of the Indian, but the flat nose, large dull eyes, and thick lips of the negro. A few of the men are typically Indian. Of these, Wickam Cuffee is the best example. He is Indian in color and feature, and claims to be full blooded, but the slight curl in his hair seems to point to some admixture. He speaks with a Yankee accent, and gladly tells all he knows of the old times. Andrew Cuffee, the blind ex-whaler, also presents many Indian characteristics, while Charles Bunn (with a slight tinge of negro) and John Thompson (part white) are good types. Very few of the young men show Indian characteristics. A number of the women are pure or nearly pure blooded Indian. Among them are Mary Brewer (who died December 6, 1902), Mary Ann Cuffee, and Mrs. Waters. The preponderance of women over men is accounted for by the drowning of most of the Indian men when the ship Circassian, stranded off Easthampton, was destroyed, on December 31, 1876, by a sudden storm. Then it was that the corpses of the Shinnecock salvers, each encased in a mass of frozen sand, were found scattered along the bleak ocean beach from Amagansett to Montauk. Thus perished the flower of the tribe - the expert whalers who had sailed on many successful voyages out of Sag Harbor or New Bedford - the men whom their white neighbors still speak of as being "noble- looking, strong, and tall."

Many of the survivors, especially the younger ones, have left the reservation, and are now scattered abroad. The only Indian children seen during my entire stay were visitors from Shinnecock families settled elsewhere.

Wigwams are distinctly remembered by all the old people, who describe them as follows:

Poles were bent into intersecting arches until a dome-shaped frame was made from ten to twenty feet in diameter. After all the poles had been tied firmly together, and horizontal strips put in place, the whole was thatched with a species of grass, called " blue vent," put on in overlapping rows, and sewed fast to the strips. When the top was reached, a hole was left open for the escape of smoke, and the edges of the aperture plastered with clay to prevent the thatch from catching fire. The ground plan was circular or oval, sometimes divided into rooms by partitions of wattle- work and thatch. The door frame was an arched pole, the door of wood, or sometimes merely a curtain of skin or mats. An elevated bench or couch of poles generally encircled the interior, beneath which the goods were stored. In at least one case, at a place where poles were difficult to procure, the floor was dug out in the middle so as to leave a shelf around the wall which answered the purpose of bed, seat, and table. The fireplace was in the centre. Even to-day outdoor storehouses are made by digging a hole and covering it with a roof of poles and thatch.

Wooden mortars were in general use. These were of two sizes: large, with a wooden or stone pestle, for preparing corn; and small, with stone pestle, for grinding herbs. I have been unable to procure specimens of the former, but succeeded in locating, and, after much argument with the owner, purchasing a very old herb mortar made of wood, together with its original stone pestle, handed down several generations at least, in the family of John Thompson. These mortars were made of sections of the trunk of the pepperidge tree, sometimes called tupelo or sour-gum, the wood of which is noted for its toughness and freedom from splitting. The hollows in the mortars were made by laying on live coals and scraping out the charred portion, renewing the coals until the required depth was reached. White oak and maple splints were used in the manufacture of baskets, which were either cylindrical or low-sided, the latter being oblong or circular. Fancy baskets, into whose composition sweet grass entered, were formerly made, but this art has become extinct. The only basket manufactured to-day is the cylindrical type identical with those made by the whites. The splints were sometimes dyed yellow, it is said, by a decoction of the inner bark of a species of oak. The "pack basket" was frequently used half a century ago for transporting burdens of all kinds. It was carried on the back by means of a band across the forehead. Eel traps were also made of the oak splints. Serviceable brushes for cleaning pots are made by split- ting the end of a white oak stick into small splints, the process of whittling and splitting taking about half an hour for each "scrub."

Large brooms were also formerly made in this style. Broad flat wooden ladles were common in old times; but few are left today. Many of these resemble closely the butter ladles of the whites. Bows were of hickory, and as long as the men who used them. I doubt if any bows can now be found outside of a private collection. Corn was prepared as hominy and samp, or as " suppawn" (corn meal mush), but the favorite way was to hull the corn with wood ashes, wash it free of lye, pound it in a wooden mortar, separate the hard parts by tossing in a flat basket, and finally cook it in the form of dumplings mixed with huckleberries or beans according to the season.

It is probably fifty or sixty years since the Shinnecock language died out of use - it was spoken in the childhood of such people as Wickam Cuffee, seventy-five years old, and Mary Ann Cuffee, eighty- one years old, by their parents. The few words collected are given below, together with similar words in two other Algonkian languages. [1. The Sauk and Fox words were obtained from Mr. William jones, and the Abenaki from Mr. Elijah Tahamont.]  The first two examples were obtained from Mahe Bradley at Poosepatuck; the others are Shinnecock. [1. Some of the words given as Shinnecock (e. g. skwa and papus) may be borrowed from English, though primarily of Indian origin] Unmarked vowels are short, and c = sh. The Sauk and Fox words have a "'balanced accent," and the final vowels are almost silent:-

Shinnecock-Words-Harrington-1903 Colonial Descriptions of Indians Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Very little was obtained in the way of folk-lore or traditions, but it is evident that such exist. More time devoted to the subject would doubtless rescue more words from oblivion, would accumulate a stock of folk-tales showing the negro influence on Indian stories, or vice versa, and would, in all probability, unearth many ethnological treasures from among the musty contents of the old garrets and lofts of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

 

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Springy Banks Pow Wow Grounds

Everett T Rattray writes about the Powwow that happened around 1871 in his book The South Fork, published 1979, pp 199;

There was a powwow one September back in those days at our old picnic place at Springy Banks on the west side of Three Mile Harbor, north of East Hampton. Mos t of the Indians on hand were from the West, whole carloads of redskins in old Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Cadillacs bearing plates from states like Oklahoma and Wyoming, states where they, would not be able to vote or drink for another few decades. We watched as one lank old buck, visible penis wrapped mummy- style beneath his loose loincloth, danced alone.

 

Yi! Yi! Yi! Yi! he chanted, bare feet pounding against the packed sand, and feathers bouncing. Ooogha! Ooogha! Ooogha! Ooogha! responded a middle-aged black man, whom we then called a Negro, from high up in a nearby tree, pounding his chest in imitation of the gorilla in a Tarzan movie. He swung from a branch by one hand while scratching his armpit with the other, and his family watched in horror.

 

I knew him and knew that he, like a good many other members of "old" black families on the East End of Long Island, was probably as Indian as some of the dancers, as Indian as poor Spenny Quaw, on whom, my grandmother told me approvingly, the Irish servant girl had once turned the garden hose when he "got fresh." The man in the tree, and his family, had chosen Negritude. They could have picked Indianhood, but never, in a nation which at that time and in some parts still considered an eighth part "Negro blood" as grounds for legal segregation, could have joined the white majority.

 

Springy Banks, where the Indians danced, is part of the Hampton Waters subdivision now, and the hollow tree trunks sunk in the springs at the foot of the bluff, supposedly by the Indians, as wells, have long since rotted away. I once tried to tell a woman who lived in a new house, built just where the Indians had danced, about the powwows, and the unmarked graves on the hill behind, and our childhood picnics on what we had naively assumed to be public land. My grandmother had camped there with her female friends in the early 1900s, I said; a group of women in their late twenties with children already entering their teens, smoking cigarettes and digging clams and singing around fires in an attempt to regain the girlhoods abruptly ended when they had married a decade or so earlier at sixteen and seventeen. The woman of the new house grew very angry and said we resented outsiders like her. I hadn't meant it that way.

 

There are no more powwows at Springy Banks, but the tourists still flock each Labor Day weekend to the Shinnecock Indian Pow-Wow in Southampton, a benefit for the Reservation Church. Some of them titter when they realize that a good many of the Shinnecocks are of mixed black-white-red ancestry, in proportions as varied and pleasing, to the unbigoted, as in the population of some West Indian islands.

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Wading River Site

At a time of the first settlement of Long Island, by the Dutch and English, the whole territory was occupied by thirteen distinct tribes of Aborigines.

The Setauket tribe, from Stony Brook to the Wading River; which is not the western boundary of Riverhead. [1. Nathaniel S. Prime, A history of Long Island : from its first settlement by Europeans to the year 1845, with special reference to its ecclesiastical concerns, 1845, pp. 90 ]

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Weeckatuck

William Tooker describes Weckatuck 1911 as a neck of land, and a running spring of water at the foot of "Long Beach," Southampton town, about three miles from Sag Harbor, on te Noyack road. It is frequently mentioned in the early records, first in 1657, as follows:

"Deposition of Mr. Richard Odell... the Sachems did not sett the bounds of East Hampton in the covenant of the purchase by reason of Job Sayer and my Standinge for the bounds of Southampton but was left untill Southampton men should make out their Lawfull bounds, the Manhansett Sachem pointed to my best rememberance about Wecutake spring for the line to runne nere upon the South or upon the South line" (E. H. R., vol. i., p. 136).

Again in 1680:

"the meadow on the west side of Wecatuck neck."

Again in 1706:

"By the appointment of ye proprietors of North sea purchase was appointed John Lupton and George Harris and Thomas Cooper to lay out nine lots betweene ffaranteans [sic] point and Weckatuck spring so-called upon Hog neck beach" (S. H. R., vol. ii., pp. 91, 145).

Tooker confirms, "the site of an Indian Village is located within a short distance of this spring, and it must have been a favorite resort of the red-man, as it is to-day for the thirty pedestrian." [1. Tooker, W. W. (1962). The Indian place-names on Long Island and islands adjacent with their probable significations. Port Washington, NY: I.J. Friedman. pp 277]

  1. Daniel Denton,A Brief Description of New-York Formerly Called, 1670, pp. 12-18, 25-26[]