(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Summer 2022
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People have lived in Connecticut for more than 10,000 years. About a dozen tribes of Native people lived here. Their descendants still do. They include the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Schaghticoke, Eastern Pequot, and Golden Hill Paugussett.
Many names of places in our state come from our early history. Just look at the name of our state! Our state is named for our largest river. In the Mohegan-Pequot language, Connecticut means “long, tidal river.”
About 400 years ago, people from Europe sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Their arrival would change Connecticut forever.
The first to arrive were Dutch traders. Adriaen Block and his crew sailed their ship up the Connecticut River in 1614. The Dutch built a trading post. They traded with the Native Americans for goods each wanted from the other. They came and went.
These first Europeans brought diseases. The Native people could not survive these diseases. Many died.
In the 1630s English people came. They wanted to trade, too. But they also wanted to stay. They built settlements. Windsor, Wethersfield, Hartford, and Saybrook were the first ones. The English disrupted the Native peoples’ way of life. There was cooperation. But there was also conflict.
The British declared war on the Pequot in 1637. The war was fought for control of land and trading rights. The war was devastating to the Pequot. By its end, the English and their Native allies had gained control of the region. More English came. More towns were settled. The struggle for control of land continued.
Connecticut’s Native peoples were resilient. They survived on their land. Today they thrive in two worlds: the traditional Native life and modern American life.
Where I Live: Connecticut, whereilivect.org/firstpeoples/
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum, pequotmuseum.org
The Tantaquidgeon Museum, Facebook.com/tantaquidgeonmuseum/
The Institute for American Indian Studies Museum, iaismuseum.org
This story is adapted from Where I Live: Connecticut. Read more about Connecticut’s Native American peoples and English settlement at WhereILiveCT.org.
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