The Native American Tribes of Westchester County – The Original Westchesterites

Before Europeans Giovanni da Verrazzano and Henry Hudson arrived in Westchester in 1524 and 1609, Westchester’s Native Americans lived in the towns same towns where we do today.

Westchester’s natives were known as the Wappinger People, whose confederation of tribes stretched from the eastern banks of the Hudson River, northern Dutchess County, down through Westchester, eastward into Connecticut and to the Long Island Sound, according to MountGulian.org.

The Wappinger People spoke an eastern-algonkian language and were related to the Lenape People of Delaware, the Mahican’s in the north and Metoac of Long Island.

MountGuilian.org reports that Native Americans lived in the Hudson Valley for more than 10,000 years. After the ice age local Native Americans lived in seasonal camps and hunted for meat, fur, feathers and bones for food, tools, weapons and decoration, and also gathered fruits and vegetables.

They fished in the Hudson River and smaller water bodies using bone hooks, harpoons and nets. They made canoes from dug out logs, lived in long houses and ate turtle, squirrel and turkeys. Bowls and pots were made of stone and later from clay found in the Hudson River. Westchester Native Americans eventually developed agricultural systems to grow tobacco, and squash, beans and corn, known as “The Three Sisters,” which were reliable crops that had spirtiual significance, according to MountGuilian.org.

Briarcliff-Village-Seal

By the time Henry Hudson made contact with Native Americans in 1609, the natives had lived there for at least 3,000 years.

“He reported that these people were healthy looking, for the most part friendly, independent minded and numerous on both sides of the river,” says MountGulian.org.

Village-of-Ossining-Seal-1024x1024

Once the settlers came, most Wappingers either moved away from the settlers, died from diseases brought by the settlers, dropped their traditions to join frontier culture, died in war or were sold into slavery.

These were the tribes that inhabited Westchester, according to Wikipedia:

Evan Pritchard’s The Major Algonquin Nations Throughout North America and What They Call Themselveson The Center for Algonquin Culture’s website, an organization he founded, breaks Westchester’s tribes down into groups:

  • Kitchewan (now Croton, Wapp. R)
  • Meahagh (now Cortlandt)
  • Alipconck (now So. Tarrytown, Weck)
  • Katonah (after Wapp. Chief)
  • Oscawana (near Cortlandt)
  • Sintsink (Ossining, Spoke Wapp.R)
  • Quarropus (now White Plains, Siwanoy)
  • Muskatow Pequenahunc (now No. Salem)
  • Toquam (Pound Ridge, Kitchewan R)
  • Tuckahoe, (“Jack-in-the-Pulpit” ie “A root that’s good to eat”)
  • Pokerhoe (No. Tarrytown, Sintsink R)
  • Shonanocke (Rye, R speakers)
  • Ammawalk Nanichkestawak (Somers)
  • Armonk (from Warramaug)
  • Petuquepaen (now Somers)
  • Cantitoe (now Bedford)
  • Mamaroneck (“Stripes on His Arms” Mamaroneck)
  • Hoseco (Port Chester)
  • Kisco (now New Castle)
  • Poningoe, (Rye, on Manursing Is.)

For more information on Westchester’s Native American heritage you visit: mountgulian.org/wappinger.html and can check out Pritchard’s books:

One thought on “The Native American Tribes of Westchester County – The Original Westchesterites

Comments are closed.