Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians
Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians
We are Mohican and Munsee people. Our official name is Stockbridge-Munsee Community. We often call ourselves by variations of this, such as Mohican Nation, or Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. The original name of our people is Muhheaconneok or Muhheconeew, meaning "People of the Waters that are Never Still." Over time and Dutch and English contact, the traditional name became distorted and turned in variations such as Mahican or Mohican. Mohican is what we refer to ourselves as today. This should not be confused with Mohegan, a separate Tribal Nation. In addition to Mohican, we are also Munsee (Lenape). Munsee (Lenape) homelands are further south on the Hudson River and Delaware River Valleys. Munsee people are closely related kin of Mohican people historically, and, due to the negative impacts of colonization, including genocide and land dispossession, many Munsee people joined together with Mohicans in Stockbridge. Munsee bands joining the Mohicans in Stockbridge include, the Esopus, Wappinger, Tunxis, and others.
It is curious, the history of my tribe, in its decline, in the last two centuries and a half. Nothing that deserved the name of a purchase was made. From various causes, they were induced to abandon their territory at intervals and retire farther inland. Deeds were given indifferently to the government by individuals, for which little or no compensation was paid. -- Sachem John Quinney, 1854
[Portrait of John W. Quinney by Amos Hamlin (1849), Wisconsin Historical Society]
Our Many Trails
Archaeological evidence of our ancestors stretches back 12,000 years in today's Hudson Valley region. Mohican sachem John Waunaucon Quinney recounted that in 1604, the Muhheconeew Nation numbered 25,000. After the arrival of Dutch and English, pandemic and violent conflict brought on by this colonization quickly began to take a devastating toll, which land theft also became widespread. Even when Europeans did attempt to "purchase" Mohican and Munsee lands in the Muhheacannituck/Hudson River Valley, their worldview of the sale was at odds with that of our ancestors, who adhered to a model of shared land stewardship and gift exchange.
By 1734, the nation decided to accept an offer to move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, called "Indiantown" and co-govern the town with four English families. This township welcomed many neighboring Nations that wish to hear the missionaries' teachings. Some of these were the Wappingers, the Niantics, Brothertowns, Tunxis, Pequot, Mohawk, Narragansetts and Oneidas. As some of these tribes merged with the Mohicans, the tribal group came to be known as the Stockbridge Indians.
Even after serving in the Revolutionary War and earlier colonial wars, Stockbridge Mohicans were no longer welcome in our own homeland. By the 1780s, we started to remove from Stockbridge and accepted an invitation to live among the Oneida Nation in western New York. There, our ancestors rebuilt, started new enterprises, and continued to engage in land claims. However, the pressures to remove Native people from New York State were strong, and our sachems looked for other destinations, with one band going to the White River of Indiana at the invitation of the Miami and the Delaware people. By the time the party arrived there, the land had already been lost under the Treaty of St. Mary's. From there, several parties splintered, with some going to Kansas, and some returning to New Stockbridge, New York where they negotiated with the Menominee and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) for a large tract of land on which to relocate the New York Indians. By the 1820s, most of the Tribe moved to Kaukauna, Wisconsin and eventually through the 1840s to an area on Lake Winnebago we named Stockbridge. Later on, the Lenape/Munsee would join their relatives and be accepted into the Stockbridge community, eventually adopting the combined name of "Stockbridge-Munsee”. Finally, the Tribe signed a treaty with the Menominee Nation in 1856 for the area where we still reside today, in Shawano County, Wisconsin. We continue to return to and protect our ancestral cultural places in our northeastern homelands.
[Designed by Edwin Martin, the "Many Trails" symbol represents our histories of removals and resilience.]
The Stockbridge-Munsee Community by the Numbers
- 7 elected Tribal Council Members
- 5 tribal business enterprises
- 866 employees -- largest employer in Shawano County
- 2 official languages -- Mohican and Munsee
- 58 traditional medicines in use
- $500,000 annually in scholarships to Tribal Members to pursue degreed
- 24,000 acres of lands are now in trust, still reacquiring lands originally promised in past treaties
- 16,000 acres of Tribe's lands are forested
- $3.5 million contributed annually to universal health care for Tribal Members and surrounding communities