Native Americans in New England

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Native Americans in New England

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feb 26, 2008, 11:25am

My ancestors came to what is now New England in the 1630's. My Mom grew up in Boston, and when I was growing up I spent all my summers at my grandparents' home in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. Now I live in NY State near the MA border and the Berkshires.

I am interested in finding books about Native Americans in New England from the early 1600's onward. Any suggestions?

feb 26, 2008, 12:55pm

Some of my ancestors on my mother's side came over in the 17th century. My stepfather was French Canadian and his parents migrated from Quebec at the beginning of the 20th century.

An interesting book, mostly natural history in the Littleon, Mass area has some references to native Americans: Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years by John Hanson Mitchell. this includes some Native Americans who still live there.

There was a Mashpee Indian who used to help out my great aunt who lived on Cape Cod. I put in Touchstones to see what would come up. My great aunt lived int he Town of Barnstable. She used the Cotuit post office, but after her death, her son switched to the Marstons Mills post office. This is between Falmouth and Hyannis.

feb 26, 2008, 5:11pm

Thanks very much for the recommendations. It gives me a place to start.

Redigerat: feb 26, 2008, 5:17pm

Try here to start:

Also, both the Deerfield and Plymouth historical sites have a lot of information on Native Americans, and will sell you more books than you can ever read. The Unredeemed Captive by John Putnam Demos isn't a bad place to start for white/native American relationships.

feb 26, 2008, 5:23pm

KatsBooks, it might be worth a trip to Plymouth, as they do have quite a few resources and a live exhibit also (last time I was there). Also, Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick would be a very readable history also. I'm hoping to get down there again in sometime in April.

feb 26, 2008, 11:47pm

I have a book called Behind the frontier : Indians in eighteenth-century eastern Massachusetts by Daniel R. Mandell that, if I remember correctly, I bought at Apostle Islands National Park in Wisconsin. I haven't read it yet, though.

feb 27, 2008, 8:19am

I have a book called 'The Maine Book' by Henry Dunnuck (then, the state librarian) c. 1920, that has a chapter on the native peoples of Maine. It has a short bibliography that lists about a dozen sources, although i suspect these are very old books. (sorry, no touchstone there). I can transcribe the list if you think it would be helpful.

I have The New England Indians: an illustrated source book of authentic details about everyday Indian life by C. Keith Wilbur; also his The Woodland Indians: an illustrated account of the lifestyles of America's first inhabitants.

What kind of information are you looking for? and are you looking for information about native Americans in a certain part of New England?

feb 27, 2008, 9:12am

Wow, thank you for all your messages and leads. A visit to Plymouth is a great idea - it's been at least fifteen years since I was there.
As for the regions I'm interested in - Eastern Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire coastal area as well as the Berkshires. Plus general Native American lifeways info for the Northeast Woodlands peoples. Historical fiction can be enlightening, too.

feb 27, 2008, 10:06am

Redigerat: feb 27, 2008, 11:52am

I'm not sure where in Eastern New York you are, but up above there is a link to the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT - that is probably pretty close to you (right near the tri-state marker where CT, MA and NY meet), and if you're going to visit Plymouth, I'd suggest stopping by there on the way.

Another interesting spot that you may not think of is the Montreal Botanical Gardens. They have a First Nations Garden that has a small shop in the middle with an extensive book selection and a fair number of native crafts. Of course, Native American culture crossed colonial borders, and all the Eastern Woodland tribes had some considerable overlap and interaction.

feb 27, 2008, 12:25pm

>9 LydiaHD: yes, I'd forgotten I have that one also!

>8 KatsBooks: I'll list the references "The Maine Book" lists when I get a minute (my downstairs is being torn up at the moment to put in oak flooring so I'm rather distracted at the moment..."

I have Philbrick's The Mayflower on audio CDs, if you would like it. It's abridged but it's well done and gives one a good place to start. Much of his information comes from William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation which I recently read again. If you want to leave your name and address on my profile page, I'd be happy to send it to you (I have the book also, so I'm not reluctant to part with the CDs:-).

feb 27, 2008, 1:20pm

In Massachusetts, Gay Head, on Martha's Vineyard, has a town charter that gives protection to Native Americans, and I believe Mashpee on Cape Cod does also.

In Rhode Island, there should be books on the King Philip's War (Touchstone found one). Maybe the Narragansett Indians have a book (Touchstone comes up with a Narragansett marathoner).

feb 27, 2008, 1:24pm

Wikipedia has an interesting article about the Wamponaug Indians, which include most Native Americans from southern New England:

feb 28, 2008, 9:06am

re. message 11: thank you for your kind offer.
re. message 13: I visited the wikipedia site - you folks have been extremely helpful and inspirational. I'm a new LTer, and totally knocked out by the kindness of strangers. What a fabulous community!

mar 6, 2008, 6:29pm

Here is the bibliography I promised, as listed in The Maine Book by Henry E. Dunnack (then state librarian), c. 1920 (no publisher listed)

(and for a librarian, it's not a very detailed bibliography; I've included his notes)

Williamson's History of Maine ("much authentic information about history, dress, habits and political customs")
Sylvester's Indian Wars of New England. Three volumes.
Varney's Brief History of Maine; ("good account of customs, dress, etc., of aborigines.")
John Josselyn's Two Voyages of New England amd New England Rarities Discovered ("contemporary writer, gives considerable information about Indians of southwestern Maine.")
Leland's Algonquin Legends of New England ("gives much Passamaquoddy, Micmac and a little Penobscot Indian folk-lore.")
Miss Abby Alger's "In Indian Tents" ("continues Leland's work, principally Penobscot.")
Necolar's The Red Man ("printed not published, Bangor, 1893. an Indian's own account of his traditions and beliefs.")
Hubbard's Woods and Lakes of Maine "appendix, gives many place names with meanings."
William F. Ganong, "the greatest authority on Indian place names, has published many pamphlets in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada; Maine place names are included among others."
Reports of Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Journal of American Folk Lore
Publications of the Maine Historical Society
Chamberlain's Maliseet Vocabulary and Joseph Laurent's New Familiar Abenakis and English Dialogues, with Rale's Indian Dictionary.

(such as it is. I'm giving up on touchstones.)

mar 13, 2008, 9:30pm


I just started reading A Son of the Forest by William Apess, a Pequot who published most of his writings in the 1830s. (Astonishingly, the touchstone points to the right edition.) Apess was a Methodist missionary and a rather combative Indian-rights agitator -- quite an interesting guy. I'm not far enough along to give an unqualified recommendation, but it looks like the type of thing you're looking for.

mar 15, 2008, 9:43pm

Thanks, Pawcatuck. I'll check it out. And avaland, I appreciate the great bibliography. This should keep me well occupied...