Mohican People

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Origin and History

The Mohican (or Mahican) people are an Algonquian-speaking group of Native Americans. They inhabited the northern end of the Hudson Valley, including the confluence of the Mohawk River, in present-day New York, southern Vermont, western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut.

Note: the Mohican should not be confused with the Mohegan, another Algonquian-speaking people which inhabited Connecticut.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Mohican nation had a population of about 12,000, spread into five locational divisions each having three matrilineal clans, the Bear, Wolf and Turtle and linked together by marriage. The largest Mohican village was known as Schodack and was located near present-day Albany/NY. The Iroquois Confederacy, and more precisely the Mohawk People, whose territory was located directly to the west of the Mohican territory, were their traditional enemies.

Mohican Territory - Copyright: Kronoskaf

After contact with the explorer Henry Hudson in September 1609, Amsterdam merchants sent ships to engage in the fur trade starting in 1610. In April 1613 a permanent trading post was established. These traders had the Mohican and Mohawk to make a treaty at Tawasgunshi Hill, near present-day Normans Kill, Albany County. The Mohican began to trade furs with them for European goods. However, the Mohican sought to monopolise the trade by forcing the Mohawk to pay tribute. The skirmishes with the Mohawk continued, resulting in the abandonment of Fort Nassau in 1617.

In 1624, Dutch colonists constructed Fort Orange on the west bank of the Hudson River. Mohicans relocated a village to the bank opposite to control the trade.

In 1624, the Mohawk attacked the Mohican. The Dutch were unable to negotiate a truce. In 1628, the Iroquois vanquished the Mohican and forced them to abandon their villages west of the Hudson River. These displaced Mohicans moved north and established a village on the Hoosick River at Schaghticoke.

In 1634 an epidemic of smallpox devastated the Mohican. By 1642, Mohican warriors often joined Iroquois war parties in their raids against the Montagnais. The same year, Mohican warriors attacked Wappinger villages. During the ensuing Wappinger War (1642-45), the Mohican sided with the Dutch settlers and their Mohawk neighbours against the Algonquian tribes trying to oust the colonists. After the war, the Wappinger, Sintsink, Kichtawank and Wequasgeek peoples of the east bank of lower Hudson River were represented in councils by the Mohican. By 1651 raids extended to western Long Island. In the late 1650’s the Iroquois declared that they were allies of the Mohicans and Dutch to the French.

In 1662, the Mohawk attacked the Mohican, who were trying to arrange trade between the Dutch and the Algonquin, Montagnais, and Sokoki. In 1664, the Mohawk, who had traded large quantities of muskets with the Dutch, drove the Mohican out of Schodack, their capital, pushing them back eastwards. The capital was moved to Westenhuck, in the territory of the Housatonic Band of Mohican in western Massachusetts. In September 1664, the Dutch surrendered to the English. On 24 September of the same year, the English tried to convince the Mohawk and Mohican to make peace. Although peace was established with the Hudson River Indians, the Mohican refused. In 1666 the Mohawk and English found themselves at war with France and a treaty was signed with the Mohican. This was broken almost at once when the Mohican raided the Mohawk. Following peace with France, Mohawk warriors tried to break the Mohican blockade of trade with the Saint-Laurent.

In 1669, a war party of 300 Mohican and other Hudson River Indians invaded Mohawk territory and attacked the principal village of Caughnawaga but were repulsed when a relief force from other Iroquois nations arrived. The Mohican were driven back to near present-day Schenectady and in the ensuing battle, the Mohicans and their allies were defeated. By 1669, the Mohican population had fallen to less than 1,000, despite the incorporation of the Wappinger and Mattabesec.

A peace was finally arranged in 1672 where the Iroquois rescinded their objections to Mohican exploration to the west (they had permission from the Odowa and Miami to trap furs in Miami lands) and the governor of Albany decreed that the Mohican would no longer be hindered in their ‘gardens’ by settlers. In 1674, the Mohican became the first members of the Iroquois "Covenant Chain." In the 1680s, Mohican along with Mohawk warriors took part in raids against native nations in present-day Virginia. The Mohican even raided the Spanish in Florida in 1681.

In 1690, smallpox reduced the Mohican to less than 800 people. Hence, the Mohican were to play no role in the King William's War (1689-96). About 1700, the Catskill Mohican moved higher up into the Catskill Mountains and were to merge with the Munsee Lenape. In 1703, part of the Schaghticoke, including incorporated Mohicans moved to the Mohawk and unknown number of Mohican and Wappinger joined the Odanak Abenaki. The remaining Schaghticoke complained of increasing pressure from colonial squatters around their village.

In 1701, the Mohican were neutral during the first half of Queen Anne's War (1701-13), due to trade links with the French in Montreal. A large-scale invasion of Canada in 1711 saw 54 New York Mohican volunteer along with 21 Wappinger and 38 Schaghticoke. Due to the failure of the British fleet to enter the Saint-Laurent the expedition was abandoned half way there.

During Grey Lock's War (1724-27), the Mohican of Stockbridge garrisoned Fort Dummer (Vermont) to protect settlements in western New England against Abenaki raids.

At the beginning of the 18th century, British colonists gradually intruded into the territory of the Housatonic, who incorporated some displaced Mohican families, in the Housatonic Valley in Massachusetts. There were four small villages In January 1735, a meeting was held at Skatekook where the Housatonic agreed that a Calvinist mission village, Stockbridge, could be established. Housatonic and Mohican families were allotted plots. The Mohican language was used by the missionaries although a substantial part of the population was not Mohican. Mohicans from the Hudson visited frequently and increasing numbers resettled at Stockbridge. About 1740 the ‘fireplace’ of the nation moved to Stockbridge.

In 1740 Moravian missionaries contacted Mohicans in New York (Dutchess County) and neighbouring Connecticut and in 1746 an exodus started to the Moravian headquarters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where the Mohicans merged with the Munsee Lenape, although part returned to merge with the Indians at Scaticook, Connecticut.

During the King George's War (1744-48), the Mohican at first remained neutral, although in April 1745 the Mohawk, afraid of losing their land, requested that the New York Mohican consider joining them in attacking the English. A fort was built at Stockbridge in case the Mohawk attacked. At the end of 1745 the Stockbridge Mohican declared war on the French and acted as scouts for the British. On May 19, 1747 a single Mohican was killed when scouting for a convoy of wagons travelling from Albany to Stockbridge. This was a blow for the Mohican whose warrior strength at the time was 50 men.

Tensions between the Stockbridge Mohican and colonial settlers grew in the early 1750s. The Stockbridge Mohican chose to not retaliate for the unprovoked murder of a Mohican in 1753 by two whites.

At the start of the French and Indian War there were perhaps 100 Mohicans in impoverished conditions in various places in the Hudson Valley

Role during the War

1754

In late 1754, a Massachusetts government committee recommend that Stockbridge men be ‘received as soldiers in province service.’ Jacob Cheeksaunkun was commissioned as a lieutenant by Joseph Dwight, a brigadier colonel of militia, and with two others sent to reconnoitre some rumoured enemy movement at the Carrying Place between Lake Champlain and Lake George.

1755

In 1755, Massachusetts decided to keep a company of Stockbridges in pay and supplies from late January to early July. They were ordered to meet William Johnson at Albany for his planned assault on Fort Saint-Frédéric. Massachusetts Governor William Shirley also arrived in Albany to enlist Native Americans for his expedition against Fort Niagara. Johnson disliked the way the Mohicans had been recruited and forbade the use of Native Americans in the Niagara expedition. Nonetheless, several war captains and 30 warriors decided to go with Shirley being paid $15 a month, ‘plus a gun, a shirt, and other supplies.’ However, Shirley enlisted a hindered Oneida along the way and the Stockbridge men returned home to recruit more Hudson River and Housatonic Mohicans arriving back at the army’s encampment between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek on August 12. The campaign was abandoned in late September.

In August, at the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in North America, an Abenaki war party from Bécancour made a raid into British occupied territory and on the way back escorted about 50 inhabitants from the Mohican village of Schaghticoke, which had taken in refugees from King Philip’s War of 1674, bringing its inhabitants back to Canada with them. The defection from this village made the British suspect the loyalty of all of their native allies.

On November 24, 1755 the Moravian mission at Gnadenhutten in present-day Pennsylvania was attacked by Lenape warriors and the 35 Mohicans relocated to Bethlehem and Philadelphia while the rest joined the comrades in the Wyoming Valley. Here they were threatened by pro-French Indians and so were resettled by William Johnson with the Nanticoke and friendly Shawnee at Otsiningo (present-day Binghampton, New York). 75 Mohican scattered along the Hudson from Fishkill to Albany agreed and settled at Otsiningo in early spring 1756.

1756-1757

In 1756, the Wappingers moved to Stockbridge for protection. The Tunxis, Farmington Indians, and Nipmucs also moved to Stockbridge on invitation of the Mohicans.

In late May 1756, Jacob Cheeksaunkun was commissioned captain, Jacob Naunauphtaunk, lieutenant and Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut ensign for a company of 50 Mohicans. Their instructions were to ‘proceed wherever convenient for annoying the enemy, taking prisoners and scalps, intercepting enemy convoys, destroying their cattle, burning their barns and magazines, £5 sterling to be given for any Indian or French prisoner or scalp.’

They met Shirley at Albany on June 10 and were immediately sent to track an enemy war party who had abducted a farmer and his son. Failing this they were sent to Saratoga from which to reconnoitre Lake George and Lake Champlain. Shirley was recalled to England, and the Mohicans came under Johnson. General Abercromby did not know what to do with them and on Johnson’s advice advised that they be split into smaller units under colonial militia officers, specifically those of Rogers’ Rangers.

Rogers assigned 30 Mohicans under Naunauphtaunk to one of his lieutenants, whilst he added his own men to that of Cheeksaunkun and sent them to Fort William Henry. The rest accompanied Rogers to Fort Edward. Five other Mohicans joined Colonel Thomas Fitch’s New York Regiment.

In the second week of August 1756, 16 of Naunauphtaunk’s men and 5 provincials were sent out to scout Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga). They ambushed three French men taking their scalps, Naunauphtaunk leaving his tomahawk in the head of one of them. The French would know that the Mohicans had carried the war into their territory. They reported back that the numbers at Carillon were greater than the combined British led forces at Forts William Henry and Edward.

Three days after their return, Naunauphtaunk and his men accompanied Rogers’ Rangers on a raid into Canada to destroy the enemy’s harvests and livestock. At the same time Cheeksaunkun and 22 Mohicans had also scouted Carillon and reported to the new army commander, Lord Loudoun that there were only half the number of the earlier report.

After Rogers’ Rangers returned from Canada, Cheeksaunkun and Naunauphtaunk and about 30 Mohicans remained at Fort Edward for scouting duties in October encamped in huts on an island in the Hudson River. On November 1, Loudoun left Fort Edward for Albany accompanied by Mohicans and Iroquois. Over winter Cheeksaunkun became embroiled with sorting out pay arrears.

In 1756-1757 a large body of Mohican and Wappinger removed from the Hudson Valley to the Susquehanna but maintained a continuous contact with the Mohican nation’s political centre at Stockbridge.

In 1757 the Stockbridge Mohicans saw little action.

1758

In January 1758, the Stockbridges agreed to raise fifty ‘privates’, a sergeant, an ensign, a lieutenant and a captain although they had to provide their own arms, blankets and incidentals but were advanced $500. From February Naunauphtaunk and his men alone or accompanying Rogers’ Rangers on scouts around Lake Champlain. On February 4, Naunauphtaunk with 18 men and one ranger took an enemy wood cutting party, who had landed by boat, prisoner opposite Fort Carillon. Another Mohican, Mohegan and Ranger unit of 20 or so were ambushed by a war party of 40 or so Canadian Indians. Two Indians and two rangers were killed and two rangers and seven Indians taken prisoner.

On April 12, Naunauphtaunk's men met with William Johnson and by late spring there were enough Mohicans and Mohegans (a separate nation whose territory was in Connecticut) to form three companies for Rogers’ Rangers at Fort Edward for General Abercromby’s offensive against Canada. Jacob Naunauphtaunk was promoted captain of Jacob Cheeksaunkun’s old company, whilst he headed a new company.

In June Rogers’ Rangers were sent out on a final scouting expedition. Rogers with one of the Jacobs, 50 men mostly Mohegans but also a few Stockbridge Mohicans rowed down Lake George and landed on the east side of the Ticonderoga River. He then took about 12 Indians and rangers to scout Fort Carillon whilst the rest of the rangers, Mohegans and Mohicans waited in the woods not far from the boats. These were surprised by more than 30 Canadian Indians. Jacob ordered his Mohicans and Mohegans to make for the boats believing it to be a bigger force than what it was and called for the rangers to do so, who, however, retreated slowly firing back. This allowed Rogers and his party to get back. The slow retreat enabled the Canadian Indians to encircle this group and they had to break through to reach the boats before rowing off. Five rangers were killed and 3 captured. If Jacob’s order had been followed these men might not have been lost.

In October, a great convention of British and Native Americans was held at Easton, Pennsylvania. The neighbouring provinces had been asked to send their delegates. The Iroquois Confederacy, the Susquehanna Lenape, the Mohican, and several kindred bands, all had their representatives at the meeting. The conference lasted 19 days. A treaty was signed stipulating the the Lenape were selling their territory in New Jersey, that the eastern Lenape were retiring to a reservation at Brotherton and that Pennsylvania relinquished its claims on the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Ohio Lenape agreed to withdraw from French influence.

In August, 30 Stockbridge Mohicans – one of the Jacobs and a son, Ben King and two others – had visited the new British commander Jeffrey Amherst near Sheffield. He abhorred Native Americans. Thomas Gage had the same views and in late 1758 or early 1759, he purposely delayed letters from Rogers to Cheeksaunkun and Naunauphtaunk asking them to meet at Fort Edward.

1759

In February Naunauphtaunk had to travel to New York to call on Amherst to ask if he wanted the Stockbridge Mohicans to reenlist. Amherst did not give a direct answer but wrote a letter for Naunauphtaunk to deliver to Rogers asking his opinion. This Naunauphtaunk refused to do. The letter was forwarded by other means. Rogers wrote to Cheeksaunkun (and Uncas of the Mohegans) asking them to raise companies.

Naunauphtaunk arrived at Albany and the beginning of May with 25 Mohicans, including two of his sons and 6 Scaticooks (to the chagrin of Moravian missionaries). 5 of the Mohicans were boys and one was discharged by Amherst as being too old. 9 of them did not have guns and 2 others did not work. Four non-Indians were added to the company and they set off for Fort Edward on May 9.

In late May Cheeksaunkun arrived in Albany with 30 Mohicans, 4 of whom were boys. They were short of 5 guns and 3 did not work. 10 of these decided to go with the Iroquois on William Johnson’s expedition to Fort Niagara. Amherst wanted them to leave for Fort Edward on May 26 but a drunken brawl delayed their departure.

On the night of July 4, Naunauphtaunk set out with 30 men and a few rangers in whale boats to scout Fort Carillon and to avenge some New Jersey Provincials who had been killed by Native Americans. On July 7, the party was discovered in broad daylight and pursed by several canoes of Canadian Indians. Naunauphtaunk directed his men towards shore and the two sides opened fire. On the shore Naunauphtaunk was one of those who provide covering fire whilst the rest scrambled up a steep mountainside. He and one of his sons became separated. Two days later, 10 half-starved men made it back to the British encampment followed by a further five on the following day. Amherst ordered that these be instructed in British discipline. A further survivor was picked up by Rogers’ Rangers, several Mohicans and Light Infantry on a scout down Lake George. It was not until July 17 under a flag of truce that the French entered to British camp and informed them that Naunauphtaunk and four others had been captured.

Mohicans were part of the scouting force in front of the British army as they advanced upon Forts Carillon and Saint-Frédéric. These damaged forts were captured by July 31.

At Crown Point (Saint-Frédéric), Amherst sent 2 British officers accompanied by Cheeksaunkun, his sergeant and four other Stockbridges, one of whom was probably the 18-year-old son of Naunauphtaunk, to take messages to General Wolfe at Québec and wampum belts of peace for Canadian Indians. However, they were captured by Abenaki from Odanak (Saint-François) and taken to Montcalm.

On August 23 there was an encounter between Mohicans and Rangers some 60 miles below Crown Point when they ambushed a party of Canadian Indians.

On September 13, Rogers’ Rangers set out to destroy the Abenaki town of Odanak. By time they reached Mississquoi Bay, out of the two Indian companies, only 15 Mohican and Mohegans remained, the rest having been taken sick. Two were left to guard the whale boats and two days later they caught up with the Rangers reporting that the boats and cache had been discovered. On October 4, Roger’s Ranger attacked Odanak. However, a Mohican Samadagwis was able to warn the inhabitants, consisting of women, children and old men, allowing most to escape before the Rangers entered the town. Nonetheless, around 40 people including 22 women and children were killed and the town burnt. Samadagwis was also killed. It is not known how the remaining Mohicans and Mohegans fared during the disastrous retreat.

Whilst Rogers was away on the raid the bulk of Stockbridge Mohicans remained at Crown Point. On October 11, when Amherst finally advanced, 12 Stockbridges remained behind sick. These went home refusing Amherst’s order for them to work on the fort. Nine days after these went home, more Stockbridges reported sick and Amherst reluctantly gave in to their request for leave to go home. Not admitting to giving in to the request, he ordered 43 to go to Albany and to return home. The remaining Stockbridges left on a cold and snowy day in late November, including Cheeksaunkun’s sergeant and Naunauphtaunk’s son who had been released as part of prisoner exchange with the French.

1760

In early May 1760, Amherst offered Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut command of the Mohican companies at Albany. They were sent to join Rogers at Crown Point. By May 30, on their way, the officers realised they had not been given their written commissions by Amherst and refused to go further without them. Amherst was furious and, if it were not for Rogers high regard for the Mohicans, would have sent them packing. The written commissions were sent.

Uhhaunauwaunmut and his men arrived at Crown Point late on June 3. Rogers had already left. There were only 30 Indians, 12 were have likely to have gone to join William Johnson on Lake Ontario. On reaching the fort the Mohicans learnt that there had been smallpox plaguing the British posts over winter, which the commander had tried to keep secret. They also learnt that Cheeksaunkun was in irons on a French ship and that Naunauphtaunk had tried to escape the previous fall but having lost three toes to frost bite returned to Montréal.

Uhhaunauwaunmut and his party caught up with Rogers a couple of days after a encounter in which several rangers had been killed. They were then part of a force of 220 sent in boats towards Fort Saint-Jean, which was too stoutly defended, which then led to them attacking Fort Sainte-Thérèse, 15 km further north which they captured. By June 23 the Rangers were back at Crown Point. Here the Stockbridges had cause to celebrate. Naunauphtaunk was amongst 120 released captives. However, he was in poor condition and died six months later.

On August 16 the Amherst’s army advanced down Lake Champlain with 70 Native Americans and 600 Rangers in whaleboats fanned out before it. On August 26, Fort Ile-aux-Noix fell to the British and the Stockbridges along with the rangers pursued the fleeing French to find Fort Saint-Jean in flames. Two hundred Rogers’ Rangers, including the Mohican, again caught up with the 200 strong rear guard, which fled to the main body.

On August 29 a few Abenaki came seeking peace, and their intentions written by the Jesuit Jean Robaud sent with their prized captive Cheeksaunkun, free to join his Stockbridge people. He, with Uhhaunauwaunmut, John Naunauphtaunk and Daniel Nimham (a Wappinger), and their wives were to visit England in 1766.

On September 8, Nouvelle France surrendered to the British and two weeks after this Amherst sent the Mohicans home.

1761

A few Stockbridge Mohicans with Mohawks were sent to South Carolina, sailing from New York in March, to provide scouts, along with Catawbas and Chickasaws, for the army in its campaign against the Cherokee. There were a few skirmishes but the Cherokee were defeated by the burning of their towns. The Cherokee sued for peace by midsummer.

Dress

A note written from General Abercromby to Lord Loudon on January 2, 1758 stated that Mohican men were to be encouraged to be ‘dressed and Painted like all other Indians.’ In the early 1740s at the mission village of Stockbridge, Mohican women had begun making shirts and other items of European clothing. It is possible that Mohican men in the first years of the French and Indian War wore a mixture of European colonial working and indigenous dress depending on the individual’s retention of traditional ways. It is likely that moccasins and linen, cotton or woollen shirts - white, various colours or checked - had continued to be worn by the vast majority but others are likely to have additionally worn waistcoats [vests], a pullover hunting shirt of coarse cotton or linen, and coat or jacket. Even knee breeches and stockings may have been worn by some, although many may have continued to wear breechclout and leggings. Men’s hair is either likely to have shaved to leave a scalp lock or been long, possibly tied back in a queue in European fashion along with hats. Many Mohican men therefore probably looked more like un-uniformed colonial rangers on arrival in Albany. Mohican officers may have been given gorgets.

From 1758 more Mohican men are likely to have followed typical north-east woodland men’s fashion, which in general, it I said, was led by and copied from the Mohawk. Robert Rogers described it thus: ‘Their military dress has something in it very romantic and terrible, especially the cut of their hair, and the paintings and decorations they make use of. They cut off, or pull out all their hair, excepting a spot about the size of two English crowns near the crown of their heads, their beards and eye-brows they totally destroy. The lock left upon their head is divided into several parcels, each of which is stiffened and adorned with wampum, beads, and feathers of various shapes and hues, and the whole twisted, turned, and connected together, till it takes a form much resembling the modern Pompadour upon the top of their heads. Their heads are painted red down to the eye brows, and sprinkled over with white down. The gristles of their ears are split almost quite round, and then distended with wire or splinters, so as to meet and tie together in the knap of their necks. These also are hung with ornaments, and have generally the figure of some bird or beast drawn upon them. Their noses are likewise bored, and hung with trinkets of beads, and their faces painted with diverse colours, which are so disposed as to make an awful appearance. Their breasts are adorned with a gorget, or medal of brass, copper, or some other metal; and that horrid weapon the scalping-knife hangs by a string which goes round their necks.’ He also stated that: ‘... they have the shapes of these animals curiously pricked and painted on several parts of their bodies...’

A detail from Thomas Davies’ “View of the Lines at Lake George” (Fort Ticonderoga Museum) possibly shows a Mohican man in 1759. He appears to be wearing a white shirt under blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He wears skin half leggings with a flap decorated with white edging beadwork and some sort of red, and secured below the knees with red woven wool garters, and moccasins. His face is painted and ears have their helix detached and wrapped. On his head he probably wears a roach, - although this is coloured black, it would have been red - with a single red dyed feather.

Breechclout and Apron

Pierre Pouchot, writing between 1755 and 1760, generically, recorded men wearing, ‘... a breech-cloth, which is a quarter of an ell [about 45”] of cloth, which they pass under their thighs, crossing before and behind upon a belt around the waist. Sometime the cloth is embroidered. When they travel, to avoid being chafed by the cloth, they put it simply as an apron before them.’ Typically, at this period the Mohican embroidery on breechclouts was likely to have been linear designs carried out with white seed beads.

Leggings

The Mohican wore tight fitting leggings with the seam up on the outside of the leg. Half leggings came into fashion around the turn of the 18th century. These were tied to the waist belt supporting the breechclout and held below the knee with garters, and were made of blue or red duffel cloth. Skin leggings continued to be worn when hunting or at war, although in wet weather these would take longer to dry and hence uncomfortable. Sometimes skin leggings were worn over cloth ones. Full leggings were likely to have been worn in cold weather.

Garters

Pierre Pouchot observed that, generically, ‘... they wear garters of beads [probably loomed wampum in geometric patterns of white and dark blue black], or porcupine quills [in red, black and white amongst the Mohican], bordered four fingers wide, which are tied on the legs.’ Garters were also made of woven woollen fibres typically dyed red with white bead patterns incorporated into the weave.

Moccasins

Characteristically Iroquois moccasins were made of skin smoked with basswood to produce a dark brown colour. The moccasin was made of single skin with a puckered seam up the instep. The cuff of the men’s moccasin was separated at the heel so that the two sides spread apart, whereas the cuff on women’s moccasins was a continuous band. The cuffs of moccasins for best wear could have been decorated with embroidery of linear white beadwork or porcupine quill work.

Blankets

Trade blankets, usually of blue or red woollen cloth, and skin robes were worn for warmth. At the time French blankets were considered of better quality than those supplied by the British.

Broaches

Broaches of silver, replacing those of copper or brass, became increasingly abundant through the 18th century in adorning clothing and also came to be used as money. There several designs of broach. The simplest and most numerous was a ring across which a tongue extended like a buckle. This is affixed to cloth by pinching the material up so that the tongue penetrates it twice and when drawn back holds it firmly in place. Smaller ones can often line the edges of breechclouts, etc. whilst those of larger diameter decorated the upper body of shirts. Another very common broach fixed in the same manner is a circular ornate disc perforated with punched out or embossed regular patterns which can have embossed or crenulated edges sometimes known as a round buckle.

Armament

In 1694 a New York State document relates a: ‘List of goods proper to be presented to the... the River Indian [Mohicans] at Albany’: ’50 guns as the Traders have from Liege, the barrel of 4½ foot long which used to cost at Amsterdam about eight stivers the foot, and the lock with all that belongs to its use the cost there twelve stivers. The stocks are better made at New York or Albany at 4s a peece.’

The Mohican were likely to have principally obtained their firearms from Euro-American traders based in Albany by the mid-18th century. These trade guns were short, light flintlock muskets of .66 or smaller calibre, called fusils, fuzee or fuke and were approximately similar to the later ‘Northwest gun’.

The Mohican also traded with the French at Montréal. The Mohican were, therefore, probably partly armed with some fusils manufactured in France at the Tulle arsenal. The .62 calibre ‘fusil de chasse’ or hunting musket has a 44-inch octagon-to-round barrel and the lock plate is marked with the name of the arsenal spelt as TVLLE. After 1745 the ‘V’ changed to a ‘U’. Characteristically the stock had a drooped ‘cow’s foot’ butt.

Bows and arrows were also likely to have been carried where the individual did not own a firearm. Both Naunauphtaunk’s and Cheeksaunkun’s parties arrived at Albany short of guns in May 1759. Bows were about 48 inches long. However, an Algonquin type from Massachusetts, was carved from wood 34 inches [86cm] long. Arrows were probably quite long and had three or two fletchings. Quivers made of otter skin have been recorded for the Mohican but could also been made of reeds or wood and slung over the shoulder.

A powder horn and a shot pouch would have been worn over the shoulder and high up under the arm to minimise them flapping about whilst moving. Shot pouches were often made of woven fibre with white bead patterns woven into the threads; bags of deerskin with sewn wampum panels with small white geometric patterns on a dark blue-black field or of black dyed skin with quillwork and white bead edging with a fringe of metal cones filled with red dyed deer hair (thunderbird and underwater panther designs are absent from Mohican quillwork). Straps were of woven fibre or loomed wampum. A knife was carried in a sheaf, often decorated with red, black and white quillwork, hung around the neck and a tomahawk or warclub was carried stuffed through a belt at the back.

Belts were either of skin wrapped twice around the body and tied at the front or of finger woven wool, being enriched by the addition of white beads, which were carried on a special thread in zig-zag or diamond and hexagonal designs V and W designs predominated in narrow sashes. Beads were also worked into the deep yarn fringes (20 inches to a yard long). Sashes were usually red but shades of blue, sage green, old gold and white were also made.

References

Brasser, Ted J., Riding on the Frontier’s Crest: Mahican Indian Culture and Culture Change, Ottowa: National Museums of Canada, 1974.

Brasser, Ted J., Mahican: in Trigger, Bruce G. and Sturtevant, W. C. (eds), Handbook of the North American Indians, Volume 15, Northeast, Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 1978, pp. 198-212.

Dunn, Shirley W., The Mohicans and Their Land, 1609-1730, New York: Purple Mountain Press, 1994.

Dunn, Shirley W., The Mohican World 1680 –1750. New York: Purple Mountain Press, 2000.

Flannery, R. \: Analysis of Coastal Algonquin Culture. Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 1939.

Frazier, Patrick, The Mohicans of Stockbridge, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975, pp105-159.

Pouchot, Pierre, Memoir Upon The Late War In North America, Between The French And English, 1755-60. Volume II, Alpha Editions, 2021, pp. 189-191.

Rogers, Robert. A Concise Account of North America, 1765. pp. 226-228.

Todish, Timothy, The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers, Purple Mountain Press Ltd, New York, 2002, pp. 50-52.

Wilbur, C. K., The New England Indians. Chester: The Globe Pequot Press. 1979, pp 55.

Acknowledgement

Larry Burrows for the major update to this article