Historical Introduction

Indigenous Voices in the Connecticut River Valley

A Video Curriculum Package For Educators
Produced by the Nolumbeka Project
in collaboration with Turning Tide Films

Introduction for Teachers and Students

Native people have been living in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts for more than 10,000 years.

This is the homeland of many First People, all related to one another. They are called the Sokoki, Pocumtuck, Nonotuck, Woronoco, and Agawam. This homeland includes the towns of modern-day Northfield, south to Longmeadow, from Holland in the east, and to Rowe in the west.

There are many other tribes who visited and still visit this Native homeland. Among them are the Abenaki, Nipmuck, Wampanoag, Narragansett, Mohican and Mohawk.

Historically, tribes gathered in this valley to trade, to fish, to plant, to participate in sacred ceremonies, to reunite with family, and perhaps to find a spouse.

Many of these tribes are recognized today as sovereign nations by states or the federal government.

Where are the Pocumtuck, Nonotuck, Woronoco and Agawam peoples today?

During the wars waged in the colonial period, they were driven from this valley. They blended into the Abenaki, Nipmuck, and Mohican tribes across the Northeast. When danger passed, some came back to their homeland in the Connecticut River Valley. Often, they integrated into the settler communities. Some were herbal doctors, basket makers, and carvers. They often dressed like their settler neighbors, but they kept their culture alive.

Much has been written about the last of the Native people in the Northeast…. that they are gone and extinct.

This is not true.

They had children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Their spirits, their memory, and their descendants are still here living among us.

We invite you to listen to some of their stories.

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