Groton Pequots

Variant name:

Groton Indians

Address:

Groton, CT

Description:

The Groton Pequots, also called the Mushantuxet Pequots or Western Pequots, are an Algonquian tribe in Groton, CT. In the 1660s, after the Pequot War of the 1630s in which the English attempted to eradicate the Pequot tribe, two separate groups of survivors were allotted reservations, producing the Eastern (Stonington) and Western Pequot tribes. The Groton Pequots received sporadic evangelical attention from the New England Company before the Great Awakening, but it was not until James Davenport, the famous evangelical, visited in 1741 that they expressed much interest in Christianity. Although the New England Company paid Jacob Johnson, the local Anglo-American reverend, to preach to the Pequots, the Pequots expressed a continual preference for indigenous religious leaders and teachers. The local indigenous congregation played host to the likes of Samuel Niles, Samson Occom, and Philip Occuish, although it did not have its own minister. The Groton Pequots did allow the New England Company to sponsor a school at Groton from 1753 until 1775, which was staffed almost exclusively by Indian teachers, including Samuel Ashpo, Jacob Fowler, and Abraham Simon. Neither the Groton Pequots nor the Stonington Pequots were enthusiastic participants in the Brothertown movement (the Algonquian coalition led by Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson that immigrated to Oneida territory in 1775, and again in 1783). No Pequots participated in the initial 1775 migration attempt, but some members of each Pequot group participated in the 1783 migration. The Groton Pequots have been unusually successful in recent history at regaining tribal territory. In a scenario common to many Indian tribes, in the 19th century the Connecticut government assumed that the Groton Pequots had disappeared and illegally sold off protected land. In the 1970s, surviving descendants of the Groton Pequots reached a legal settlement with the land’s current owners, who agreed that the initial 19th century sale had been illegal. In the face of this combined pressure, the Connecticut state government and the federal government agreed to recognize the Groton Pequots and gave them legal avenues for regaining control of their reservation. Today, the Groton Pequots’ bingo operation has made them one of the wealthiest tribes in America.

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Sources:

Fisher, Linford. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. New York: Oxford University Press 2012. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation. “Tribal History.” http://www.mashantucket.com/tribalhistory.aspx Accessed 5/14. Murray, Laura J. To Do Good To My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press 1998. Silverman, David J. Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2010.