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Who Are the Mohegan Indians?

Like many Native American groups, the Mohegan used canoes for trading, fishing, and warfare.
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  • Written By: Andre Zollars
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2014
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The Mohegan Indians are a tribe of Native American people who originally were part of the Delaware Tribe. Also known as the "wolf people," the earliest Mohegan's settled in upstate New York and eventually migrated to Connecticut in the upper Thames River Valley. The Mohegan Indians in Connecticut then split from the Pequot Tribe in the early 1600s after two chiefs quarreled about how to deal with the European settlers who were encroaching on their land, spreading disease, and consuming needed resources. Uncas, a Mohegan chief, decided to leave with his followers and form his own tribe, which became the Mohegan Tribe.

In time, the Pequots went to war with the Mohegan Indians over the split, as the Mohegans sided with the Europeans. With the help of the Europeans, the Mohegans eventually defeated the Pequots. This alliance with the Europeans would keep the Mohegans safe for many years afterward.

Samson Occum was one of the first ordained Christian Indian ministers to come from the Mohegan Indians. Born in 1723, he formed a New England Christian Indian School that eventually moved to New Hampshire and became Dartmouth College. While Samson eventually moved to upstate New York, his Christianization of the Mohegans helped save them from eventual relocation.

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Fidelia Fielding, born in 1827, is another notable of the Mohegan Indians. As the final living speaker of Algonquian — the Mohegan language — she is credited for saving it by having captured the language in four diaries. She also was the first member of the tribe to live in a modern log home. Two medicine women, Emma Baker, born in 1828, and Gladys Tantaquidgeon, born in 1899, are largely credited with preserving much of the tribal culture and history.

Since the 1900s, nine chiefs have presided over the Mohegan Indians. The Tribe governs itself as a sovereign, federally recognized Indian Nation within the United States (US). As such, it has its own government and ruling constitution for its 1,700 members. To be a member of the tribe, a person must be able to trace his or her ancestry to the 1861 tribal roll and must be active within the tribe.

The Mohegan Reservation is in Montville, Connecticut, and gained recognition in 1994. Several casinos are operated by the tribe and it owns the Connecticut Sun — a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team. The Mohegan Tribe is different from the Mahican Tribe, which also speaks the Algonquian language. Both have been mistakenly referred to as Mohicans due to errors in translation.

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horsebite
Post 3

@KLR650 - I know what you mean. Now that I think about it, I didn't learn much in school about the Indians either. You learn about Thanksgiving, and Squanto, and Pocahontas, and Jamestown, and that's really about it, at least through high school.

I could not even tell you what tribes originated in my home area, except for one, and that's only because a college football team is named after them. Ironically, a "politically correct" faction at the college decided to change the name, and the tribe got mad about it. They changed it anyway.

KLR650
Post 2

The history of this tribe and how they evolved from being members of other tribes to eventually finding their own place and identity is really interesting, and I had never heard it before.

Which is odd, because I have a degree in American History. I didn't realize how little time I spent learning about Native Americans and their history, out of all the hours I spent studying in college.

Maybe I'll go for a Master's and try to figure some of it out for myself.

parkthekarma
Post 1

I have been to the Mohegan Sun Casino and liked it very much. What a beautiful place. I am happy to say that I contributed to the well-being of the tribe while I was there, several different times. As did most of the other people in the casino. With that place running, I hope the tribe has everything they need, because they certainly are making some money.

It's funny how we so often think of Indian tribes now in terms of casinos. I'm glad they have them, at least it can bring in some revenue for the people on the reservations and hopefully provide some services. People are going to gamble anyway, might as well have the money go to people who can use it.

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