Susquehannock Indians

Variant name:

Susquehanna Indians

Description:

The Susquehannock Indians, a branch of the Andastes, a subdivision of the larger Algonquian-speaking peoples, lived in the Susquehanna River Valley that extends from the north end of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland across Pennsylvania into southern New York. Their name means “people of the muddy river.” During the 16th century, they were the largest confederacy in the area, numbering over 6,000 and including at least five tribes with more than 20 villages organized into matrilineal longhouses. They were farmers, hunters, and traders. Little else is known about them; they lived inland and had infrequent contact with European colonists before 1675, when they were destroyed by epidemics and wars with the neighboring Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, which absorbed most of them. A small group of survivors fled to a reservation on the Conestoga Creek (present day Lancaster, PA), which became a Christian village through the efforts of Quaker missionaries. This is likely the group Solomon Williams refers to in his letter of 1761, though throughout the 1760s, Wheelock had moderate success sending missionaries to Chenango (spelled Jeningo), an Oneida town on the Susquehanna River that probably contained adopted Susequehannock Indians. In 1763, the 20 Christian Susquehannock Indians remaining in Conestoga were massacred by a mob called the Paxton Boys. The tribe and their language are considered extinct.

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Sources:

Grumet, Robert S. Northeastern Indian Lives, 1632-1819. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996. Sultzman, Lee. “Susquehannock History.” http://www.dickshovel.com/susque.html.