The Unkechaug Indians of Eastern Long Island: A History

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University of Oklahoma Press, Feb 14, 2013 - History - 352 pages
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Few people may realize that Long Island is still home to American Indians, the region’s original inhabitants. One of the oldest reservations in the United States—the Poospatuck Reservation—is located in Suffolk County, the densely populated eastern extreme of the greater New York area. The Unkechaug Indians, known also by the name of their reservation, are recognized by the State of New York but not by the federal government. This narrative account—written by a noted authority on the Algonquin peoples of Long Island—is the first comprehensive history of the Unkechaug Indians. Drawing on archaeological and documentary sources, John A. Strong traces the story of the Unkechaugs from their ancestral past, predating the arrival of Europeans, to the present day. He describes their first encounters with British settlers, who introduced to New England’s indigenous peoples guns, blankets, cloth, metal tools, kettles, as well as disease and alcohol. Although granted a large reservation in perpetuity, the Unkechaugs were, like many Indian tribes, the victims of broken promises, and their landholdings diminished from several thousand acres to fifty-five. Despite their losses, the Unkechaugs have persisted in maintaining their cultural traditions and autonomy by taking measures to boost their economy, preserve their language, strengthen their  communal bonds, and defend themselves against legal challenges. In early histories of Long Island, the Unkechaugs figured only as a colorful backdrop to celebratory stories of British settlement. Strong’s account, which includes extensive testimony from tribal members themselves, brings the Unkechaugs out of the shadows of history and establishes a permanent record of their struggle to survive as a distinct community.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1 The Ancestors
3
Chapter 2 The Early Contact Period 15501665
36
Chapter 3 Dispossession and Survival 16671700
64
Chapter 4 The Unkechaugs New World 16701755
103
Chapter 5 Survival and Transformation in the Unkechaug Community 17501800
132
Chapter 6 From Wigwams to Log Cabins 18001874
162
Chapter 7 Reinforcing and Defending Cultural identity 18801936
194
Chapter 8 Modern Times at Unkechaug 1940 to the Present
236
Jeffersons Vocabulary ot the Unquachog Indians
281
Notes
285
References
295
Index
319
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About the author (2013)

John A. Strong is Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies at Long Island University. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Montaukett Indians of Eastern Long Island, Algonquian Peoples of Long Island from Earliest Times to 1700, and “We Are Still Here!”: The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Today. He recently served as an expert witness in the federal court case Gristedes Foods v. Poospatuck (Unkechaug) Nation.

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