This led to the conflict known as the Pequot War (1634-1638) and the near annihilation of the tribe.
What language did the Pequot tribe speak?
The Pequot tribe spoke in a related dialect of the Algonquian language family. The meaning of the name 'Pequot' is derived from the Algonquin word "pekawatawog or pequttoog" meaning "Destroyers", reflecting their ferocious reputation. The Pequot tribe were originally part of the Mohican (Mohegan) people from the upper Hudson River Valley in New York near Lake Champlain. During the early 1500's the people moved to the Thames River Valley in southeastern Connecticut and later split into two tribes, the Mohican and the Pequot. The Pequot tribe established their territory closer to the Connecticut coast.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Pequot tribe?
The Pequot raised crops of beans, corn and squash and were great fishermen. The Pequot were a powerful, highly organized tribe who lived in heavily fortified villages of longhouses or in temporary shelters of wigwams during the summer hunting season. The tribe had a strong political structure led by a grand sachem and the tribal council. The elders of the tribe were held in honor and took part in decision-making. The warlike Pequot were bitterly hostile to the early settlers and also to their other great enemies, the Narragansett tribe. The hostility erupted into the violent conflict known as the Pequot War (1634-1638) that included the Mystic Massacre when nearly 700 Pequot men, women and children died terrible deaths. The Pequot War ended in defeat for the Pequot and the Treaty of Hartford on September 21, 1638 saw the Mohican and Narragansett tribes given their lands. The surviving Pequot were only able to find limited refuge with any other tribes and many were executed or sold as slaves to the West Indies. In the present day there are two small independent Pequot tribal nations in Connecticut, the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mashantucket Pequot.
Where did the Pequot tribe live?
The Pequot are people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Pequot tribe.
- The Northeast Woodland region extended mainly across the New England States, lower Canada, west to Minnesota, and north of the Ohio River
- Land: Lush woodlands, rivers, ocean
- Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe
- Land Animals: The animals included squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, bears, beavers, moose, and caribou
- Fish and Sea Mammals: Whales, Seal, Fish and shell fish
- Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn (maize), pumpkin, squash, beans and tobacco
- Trees: Poplar, birch, elm, maple, oak, pine, fir trees and spruce
What did the Pequot tribe live in?
The Pequot tribe lived in fortified villages of multi-family residences of longhouses in the winter, that were surrounded by strong palisades (fencing). In the summer when they went on hunting expeditions they built a temporary domed or pyramid shaped shelter called a wigwam or wetu. The wigwam or wetu was built with wooden frames that were covered with woven mats, sheets of birchbark and animal skins. Ropes were wrapped around the wigwam or wetu to hold the birch bark in place.
What food did the Pequot tribe eat?
The food that the Pequot tribe ate included the 'three sisters' crops of corn, beans and squash. All crops were planted, cultivated and harvested by women with the help of their children. The only exception was tobacco, which was tended by men. Fish such as sturgeon, pike and a variety of shellfish such as oysters, clams, lobsters and scallops were caught by these expert fishers. Hunters provided meat from deer (venison), moose, black bear and smaller game like squirrels and rabbits. Duck, wild turkey and grouse also added to their food supply. The Pequot food also included vegetables, nuts, mushrooms and fruits (blueberries, plums, strawberries and raspberries).
What weapons did the Pequot use?
The weapons used by the Pequot warriors included war clubs, tomahawks, battle hammers, axes, knives, bows and arrows. Their enemies were the Narragansett tribe.
What clothes did the Pequot wear?
Before the Europeans traded cloth with the Native American Indians the vast majority of the simple clothing worn by the Pequot people were made from animal skins or birchbark. The animal skins used to make their clothes included deer (buckskin) raccoon, beaver, otter and moose. The clothes of the men included long breechclouts, leggings, long cloaks and shorter shoulder to waist length mantles. Pequot women wore wraparound skirts, tunics and cloaks in the winter. Their moccasins were made of one piece of hide with a high collar that could be left up or folded down. They decorated their bodies with paint and piercings and wore various ornaments and jewellery. Specially valued was “wampum”, finely crafted shell beads, used as a form of currency. The men wore Roach headdresses made of porcupine hair, the tail hair of the white-tail deer or moose hair, that was often dyed a bright red color. The headdress was attached to a scalp-lock and stood straight up from the head like a tuft or crest. Sometimes feathers were added as decorations.
Pequot History: What happened to the Pequot tribe?
The following Pequot history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Pequot timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.
Pequot History Timeline
1500's: The Pequot tribe were originally part of the Mohican (Mohegan) people from Lake Champlain
1500's: European explorers and traders make contact with the Pequot and trading for beaver furs begins
1600's: The people split into two tribes, the Mohican and the Pequot
1620: The Mayflower ship and the Pilgrims landed in the New World and the Massachusetts Bay Colony founded by John Mason
1620: The Great Migration of English colonists and the encroachment of Native Indian lands begin
1633: The Dutch and English establish trading posts in Connecticut and start claiming Pequot lands
1633: The Massachusetts Bay Colony began to manufacture wampum, the shell beads that Eastern Woodlands tribes used for currency. Wampum had previously been controlled by the Pequot tribe
1634: Warfare between the Pequot and their enemies the Narragansett
1634: Epidemics of smallpox and measles are spread by the Europeans
1634: The Pequot War (1634-1638). Deteriorating relations between the colonists and Native Indians results in the Pequot War. English colonists commanded by John Mason and their allies, the Mohican and the Narragansett tribes waged war against the Pequot who were led by Sassacus, a Pequot sachem
1636: Connecticut was settled by colonists, led by Thomas Hooker
1636: Rhode Island was settled by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson
1636: John Endicott attempts to get tribute payments from the Pequot and when these were not given he burns their village
1636/7: Pequot Siege of Fort Saybrook and Connecticut River
1637: The Mystic Massacre occurs on May 26, 1637. Captain John Mason and John Underhill launch a night attack on the large Pequot village of Misistuck, on the Mystic River in present-day Connecticut. Pequot men, women and children were burned in their homes and all survivors were killed. The total fatalities in the Mystic Massacre were 600–700
1637: The Great Swamp Fight (June 1637)when Pequot were cornered by the English
1637: Survivors of the Great Swamp Fight, led by Sassacus, seek help from the Mohawk tribe in New York
1637: The Mohawks kill Sassacus and his warriors and send the scalp of Sassacus to the English as a symbolic offering of Mohawk friendship
1638: The Treaty of Hartford on September 21, 1638 ended the Pequot War. The Mohican and Narragansett tribes are given Pequot land. The majority of surviving Pequot were only able to find limited refuge with other tribes and were sold as slaves to the West Indies
Pequot History Timeline