The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are descendants of the indigenous Algonquian peoples of Nippenet, 'the freshwater pond place', which corresponds to central Massachusetts and immediately adjacent portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The tribe were first encountered by Europeans in 1630, when John Acquittamaug arrived with maize to sell to the starving colonists of Boston, Massachusetts.[5]

The colonists introduced pathogens, such as smallpox, to which the Native Americans had no prior exposure. They were also exposed to alcohol for the first time, which led to huge numbers of natives succumbing to the effects of alcoholism. With the passage of increasingly harsh laws against Indian culture and religion, the loss of land, legally and illegally, to growing English colonies, many of the Nipmuc joined Metacomet's rebellion in 1675, the results of which were disastrous. Many of the Nipmuc were interned on Deer Island in Boston Harbor and perished, and others were executed or sold into slavery in the West Indies.

The Reverend John Eliot arrived in Boston in 1631 and began an ambitious project to learn the Massachusett language, widely understood throughout New England, convert the Native Americans, and published a Bible and grammar of the language. His efforts, with colonial government backing, established several 'Indian plantations' or 'Praying towns'—predecessors to the Indian Reservation—where the Native Americans were coerced to settle and instructed in English customs, Christianity, but governed and preached to by other Native Americans and in their own dialects. By the 19th century, the Nipmuc were reduced to wards of the state that were administered by state-appointed commissioners. The passage of the Massachusetts Enfranchisement Act of 1869 effectively 'detribalised' the Nipmuc, and the last of the remaining Indian plantation lands were sold. Nipmuc communities continued to survive, and the tribe received state recognition in 1979, but efforts at federal recognition have not yet met with success.

Bandera Nipmuc Nation
Total population
354 Chaubunagungamaug, (2002)[1]
526 Hassanamisco Nipmuc (2004).[2]
Possible total 1,400 (2008)[3]
Regions with significant populations
Central Massachusetts (Massachusetts), north-east Connecticut (Connecticut), and north-west Rhode Island (Rhode Island).
Nipmuc, Massachusett, currently English.
Traditionally Animism (Manito), Christianity.
Related ethnic groups
Narragansett, Pocomtuc, Pennacook, Massachusett, and other Algonquian tribes.[4]


The tribe is first mentioned in a 1631 letter by Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley as the Nipnet, 'people of the freshwater pond' due the inland location. This derives from Nippenet and includes variants such as Neipnett, Neepnet, Nepmet, Nibenet, Nopnat and Nipneet. In 1637, Roger Williams records the tribe as the Neepmuck, which derives from Nipamaug, 'people of the freshwater fishing place,' and also appears as Neetmock, Notmook, Nippimook, Nipmaug, Nipmoog, Neepemut, Nepmet, Nepmock, Neepmuk as well as modern Nipmuc(k). Colonists and the Native Americans themselves used this term extensively after the growth of the Praying towns.[6][7] The French referred to most New England Native Americans as Loup, 'the Wolf People,' but the name ȣmiskanȣakȣiak, the 'beaver tail-hill people,' was recorded as self-appellation of Nipmuc refugees that had fled to French Colonial Canada amongst the Abenaki.[8]


Nipmucs probably spoke Loup A, a Southern New England Algonquian language.

Divisions or bands

Tribal Territories Southern New England
General location of the Nipmuc(k) and other tribes.

Daniel Gookin, Superintendent to the Native Americans and assistant of Eliot, was careful to distinguish the Nipmuc (proper), Wabquasset, Quaboag and Nashaway tribes.[9] The situation was fluid since Native Americans unhappy with their chiefs were free to join other groups, and shifting alliances were made based on kinship, military, and tributary relationships with other tribes.[10][11] The formation of the Praying towns broke tribal divisions as the Native Americans were settled together, but four groups that are associated with the Nipmuc peoples survive today:

Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck or Dudley Indians

Hassanamisco Nipmuc or Grafton Indians

  • Descendants of the Praying town of Hassanamessit which is now located in Grafton, Massachusetts.
  • The Cisco (Scisco, Ciscoe) family maintained their four acres from the final Hassamessit land sales and this is the current reservation.

Natick Massachusett or Natick Nipmuc

  • The descendants of the Praying town of Natick, Massachusetts do not retain any of their original lands.
  • The Natick are primarily descended from the Massachusett as well as Nipmuc ancestry, and qualify for state services as Nipmuc.[12]

Connecticut Nipmuc

  • Descendants of various Nipmuc that survived or re-located to Connecticut.
  • The Nipmuc of Connecticut, unlike in Massachusetts, are not recognized by their state.[13]

Legal status

State recognition

Governor Michael Dukakis issued Executive Order #126 which proclaimed that 'State agencies shall deal directly with ... [the] Nipmuc ... on matters affecting the Nipmuc Tribe' as well as calling for the creation of a state 'Commission on Indian Affairs.'[14] The subsequent establishment of the all-Indian Commission conferred state support for education, health care, cultural continuity, and protection of remaining lands for the descendants of the Wampanoag, Nipmuc and Massachusett tribes.[12][15] The state also calls for the examination of all human remains and to notify the Commission, who after the investigation of the State Archaeologist, decide the appropriate course of action.[16]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also cited the continuity of the Nipmuc(k) with the historic tribe and commended tribal efforts to preserve their culture and traditions. The state also symbolically repealed the General Court Act of 1675 that banned Native Americans from the City of Boston during King Philip's War.[17] The tribe also works closely with the state to undergo various archaeological excavations and preservation campaigns. The tribe, in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians were against the construction of the sewage treatment plant on Deer Island in Boston Harbor where many graves were desecrated by its construction, and annually hold a remembrance service for members of the tribe lost over the winter during their internment during King Philip's War and protest against the destruction of Indian gravesites.[18]

Federal recognition efforts

John Olver and a Nipmuc woman
Congressman John Olver meets with a Nipmuc woman during the tribe's bid for federal recognition.

On 22 April 1980, Zara Cisco Brough, landowner of Hassanamessit, submitted a letter of intention to petition for federal recognition as a Native American tribe which would confer certain rights, including state-to-state relations with the United States Congress and other support and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Nipmuc, represented by just the Hassanamisco, were added to the Federal Register as Petitioner #69.[19] Members of the Chaubunagungamaug joined the efforts. On 20 July 1984, the BIA received the petition letter from the 'Nipmuc Tribal Council Federal Recognition Committee' co-signed by Zara Cisco Brough and her successor, Walter A. Vickers, of the Hassanamisco and Edwin 'Wise Owl' W. Morse, Sr. of the Chaubunagungamaug. On 2 February 1995, the Branch of Acknowledgement and Research (BAR) of the BIA to Edwin W. Morse, Sr. declared Petitioner #69 ready for active consideration, and requested the tribal membership lists in follow-up letter later that May. By 11 July 1995, the Nipmuc were placed on 'active consideration.'[20]

Pre-contact history

Palaeo-Indians entered the region from the south-west during the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier sometime around 9000 BC. Evidence includes various chert tools that have been uncovered at the Bull Run site in Ipswich, Massachusetts as well as various riverside excavation sites in central portions of the state. These early peoples hunted the tundra environment, probably in search of caribou and other game.[21][22]

There was a great shift to more permanent hunting camps and expansion of tool making abilities. Fishing equipment, more advanced stone tools, burial culture, localised hunting, and development of stone bowls developed during the Archaic Period which began around 7000 BC. During this period, warmer weather would see forests develop and the extinction of the ice age megafauna. Settlements became more permanent and population densities increased.[23]

The Woodland Period began with the local development of agriculture sometime around 1000 BC and would last until contact occurred in the 17th century[24] Peoples during this period had adopted agriculture as well as slash-and-burn practices. This period would also see the adoption of ceramic pottery, introduction of the atlatl, and a culture that would have been recognisable to the later colonists. Populations increased and settlements became more permanent with the advent of agriculture. During the later stages of the period, pottery styles became influenced by Iroquois pottery styles and the bow and arrow were also adopted.[25]

Colonial-era history

17th century

Baskets - Danforth Museum - Framingham, MA - DSC00266
Examples of Indian baskets at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Dutch and English sailors and adventurers began visiting New England, although the first permanent settlements in the region began after the settling of Plymouth Colony in 1620. These early seafarers introduced several diseases to which the Native Americans had no prior contact, resulting in epidemics with mortality rates as high as 90%. Smallpox wiped out many of the Native Americans from 1617–1619, 1633, 1648–1649 and 1666. Influenza, typhus, and measles also afflicted the Native Americans throughout the period. The colonists, such as the writings of Increase Mather, attributed the decimation of the Native Americans to God's providence in clearing the new lands for settlement.[26] The Nipmuc at the time of contact were a fairly large grouping, subject to their more powerful neighbours who provided protection, especially against the Pequot, Mohawk and Abenaki tribes that raided the area.[3] The colonists depended initially on the Native Americans for survival in the New World, and the Native Americans rapidly began to trade their foodstuffs, furs and wampum for the copper kettles, arms and metal tools of the colonists. Puritan settlers arrived in large numbers from 1620–1640, the 'Great Migration' which increased pressure to procure more land. Since the colonists had conflicting colonial and royal grants, the settlers quickly depended on Indian names on land deeds to mark legitimacy. This backfired, as John Wampas deeded off many lands to the colonists to curry favour, many of which were not even his.[27]

Indian plantations

John Eliot monument - South Natick, MA - DSC09577
Monument to John Eliot in South Natick, site of the first Praying town in Massachusetts.

The royal Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of 1692 called for the conversion of the Native Americans.[28] The English did not begin this in earnest until after the Pequot War proved their military superiority, with official backing in 1644.[29] Although many answered the call, the Rev. John Eliot who had learned the language from Massachusett tribe interpreters compiled an Indian Bible and a grammar of the language that was well understood from Cape Ann to Connecticut. The experiment also began for the settlement of the Native Americans on the 'Indian plantations' or 'Praying towns'. The Native Americans were instructed in English farming methods, culture, language but administered by Indian preachers and councillors often descended from the chiefly families. The Native Americans melded Indian culture and English ways, but were mistrusted by both the colonists and their non-converted brethren. The remnants of the plantations were sold off, and by the end of the 19th century, only the Cisco homestead in Grafton remained in possession of direct descendants of Nipmuc landholders. List of Indian Plantations (Praying towns) associated with the Nipmuc:[29][30][31]

Chaubunagungamaug, Chabanakongkomuk, Chaubunakongkomun, or Chaubunakongamaug

Hassanamesit, Hassannamessit, Hassanameset, or Hassanemasset

Makunkokoag, Magunkahquog, Magunkook, Maggukaquog, or Mawonkkomuk

Manchaug, Manchauge, Mauchage, Mauchaug, or Mônuhchogok

  • 'Place of departure,' 'place of marvelling,' 'island of rushes,' or 'island where reeds grow.'(?)
  • Sutton, Massachusetts.

Manexit, Maanexit, Mayanexit

  • 'Where the road lies,' 'where we gather,' 'near the path,' or 'place of meekness.'
  • Thompson, Connecticut.



Okommakamesitt, Agoganquameset, Ockoocangansett, Ogkoonhquonkames, Ognonikongquamesit, or Okkomkonimset

Packachoag, Packachoog, Packachaug, Pakachog, or Packachooge

Quabaug, Quaboag, Squaboag

Quinnetusset, Quanatusset, Quantiske, Quantisset, or Quatiske, Quattissick

Wabaquasset, Wabaquassit, Wabaquassuck, Wabasquassuck, Wabquisset or Wahbuquoshish

Wacuntuc, Wacantuck, Wacumtaug, Wacumtung, Waentg, or Wayunkeke

Washacum or Washakim

King Philip's War

Depiction of the siege of Brookfield, Massachusetts during King Philip's War.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony passed numerous legislation against Indian culture and religion. New laws were passed to limit the influence of the powwows, or 'shamans', and restricted the ability of non-converted Native Americans to enter English towns on Sabbath.[32] The Nipmuc were also informed that any unimproved lands were fair game for incorporation into the growing colony. These draconian measures and the increasing amount of land lost to the settlers led many Nipmuc to join the Wampanoag chief Metacomet in a rebellion against the English which would ravage New England from 1675-1676. The Native Americans that had already settled the Praying towns were interned on Deer Island in Boston Harbor over the winter where a great many perished from starvation and exposure to the elements. Although many of the Native Americans fled to join the uprising, other Native Americans joined the English. The Praying Indians were particularly at risk, as the war made all Native Americans suspect, but the Praying towns were also attacked by the 'wild' Native Americans that joined the rebellion.[33] The Nipmuc were major participants in the siege of Lancaster, Brookfield, Sudbury and Bloody Brook, all in Massachusetts.[34] The siege of Lancaster also lead to the capture of Mary Rowlandson, who was placed in captivity until ransomed for £20 and would later write a memoir of her captivity.[35] The Native Americans lost the war, and survivors were hunted down, murdered, sold into slavery in the West Indies or forced to leave the area.[36]

18th century

The Nipmuc regrouped around their former Praying towns and were able to maintain a certain amount of autonomy using the remaining lands to farm or sell timber. The population of the tribe was reduced as several outbreaks of smallpox returned in 1702, 1721, 1730, 1752, 1764, 1776 and 1792.[37] Land sales continued unabated, much of it used to pay for legal fees, personal expenses, and improvements to the reserve lands. By 1727, Hassanamisset was reduced to 500 acres from the original 7,500 acres with that land incorporated into the town of Grafton, Massachusetts, and in 1797, Chaubunagungamaug Reserve was reduced to 26 of their 200 acres.[38] The switch to the cattle industry also disrupted the native economy, as the colonists' cattle ate the unfenced lands of the Nipmuc and the courts did not always side with the Native Americans, but the Native Americans rapidly adopted the husbandry of swine since the changes in economy and loss of remaining pristine lands reduced ability to hunt and fish.[39] Since the Native Americans had few assets besides land, much of the land was sold to pay for medical, legal and personal expenses, increasing the number of landless Native Americans. With smaller numbers and landholdings, Indian autonomy was worn away by the time of the Revolutionary War, the remaining reserve lands were overseen by colony- and later state-appointed guardians that were to act on the Native Americans' behalf. However, the Hassanamisco guardian Stephen Maynard, appointed in 1776, embezzled the funds and was never prosecuted.[40]


New England rapidly became swept up in a series of wars between the French and English and their respective Indian allies. Many of the Native Americans of the New England had escaped to join the Abenaki and returned to fight against the English, however the local Native Americans were often conscripted as guides or scouts for the colonists. Wars occupied much of the century, including King William's War, (1689–1699), Queen Anne's War (1704–1713), Dummer's War (1722–1724), King George's War (1744–1748) and the French and Indian War (1754–1760). Many Native Americans also died in service of the Revolutionary War.[41][42]


The upheaval of the Indian Wars and growing mistrust of the Native Americans by the colonists lead to a steady trickle, and sometimes whole villages, that fled to increasingly mixed-tribe bands either northward to the Pennacook and Abenaki who were under the protection of the French or westward to join the Mahican at increasingly mixed settlements of Schagticoke or Stockbridge, the latter of which eventually migrated as far west as Wisconsin.[43] This further dwindled Indian presence in New England, although not all the Native Americans dispersed. Those Nipmuc that fled eventually assimilated into either the predominate host tribe or the conglomerate that developed.[11]

Post-colonial history

19th century

Hepsibeth Hemenway
Late 1830s portrait of Hepsibeth Hemenway, a Nipmuc woman who became very well known as a popular cake baker in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Native Americans were reduced to wards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and continued to be represented by state-appointed guardians. Rapid acculturation and intermarriage led many to believe the Nipmuc had simply just vanished, due to a combination of romantic notions of who the Native Americans were and to justify the colonial expansion.[44] Native Americans continued to exist but fewer and fewer were able to live on the dwindling reserve lands and most left to seek employment as domestics or servants in White households, out to sea as whalers or seafarers, or into the growing cities where they became labourers or barbers.[45] Growing acculturation, intermarriage, and dwindling populations led to the extinction of the Natick Dialect of the Massachusett language, and only one speaker could be found in 1798.[46] One of the traditional things that survived was the peddling of native square-edged splint baskets and medicines.[47] The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, after investigating the condition of the Native Americans, decided to grant citizenship to the Native Americans with the passage of the Massachusetts Enfranchisement Act of 1869, which ultimately led to the sale of any of the remaining lands. Hassanamessit was divided up among a few families. In 1897, the last of the Dudley lands were sold, and the remaining Native Americans were housed in the 'poor house' on Lake Street in Webster, Massachusetts.[48]


Intermarriage between Whites, Blacks or (Chikitis), and Native Americans began in early colonial times. Africans and Native Americans shared a complementary gender imbalance as few female slaves were imported into New England and many of the Indian men were lost to war or the whaling industry. Naturally, many unions between Native American women and African men occurred. Intermarriage with Whites was uncommon, due to colonial anti-miscegenation laws in place.[49] The children of such unions were accepted into the tribe as Native Americans, due to the matrilineal focus of Nipmuc culture, but to the eyes of their sceptical White neighbours, the increasingly Black phenotypes delegitimised their Indian identity.[50] By the 19th century, only a handful of pure-blood Native Americans remained, and Native Americans vanish from state and federal census records but are listed as 'Black', 'mulatto', 'colored' or 'miscellaneous' depending on their appearance.[49]


In 1848, the Massachusetts Senate Joint Committee on Claims called for a report on the condition of several tribes that received aid from the Commonwealth. Three reports were listed: The 1848 'Denney Report' presented to the Senate the same year; the 1849 'Briggs Report', written by Commissioners F. W. Bird, Whiting Griswold and Cyrus Weekes and presented to Governor George N. Briggs; and the 1859 'Earle Report', written by Commissioner John Milton Earle that was submitted in 1861. Each report was more informative and thorough than the previous one. The Nipmuc require having an ancestor listed on these reports and the disbursement lists of funds from Nipmuc land sales. The lists did not count all Native Americans, as many Native Americans may have been well-integrated into other racial communities and due to the constant movement of Native Americans from place to place.

Massachusetts 'Indian Censuses' Dudley Indians Dudley Surnames Grafton Indians Grafton Surnames
1848, Denney Report 51 2
1849, Briggs Report 46 Belden, Bowman, Daly, Freeman, Hall, Humphrey, Jaha, Kile (Kyle), Newton, Nichols, Pichens (Pegan), Robins, Shelby, Sprague and Willard. 26 Arnold, Cisco, Gimba (Gimby), Heeter (Hector) and Walker.
1861, Earle Report 77 Bakeman, Beaumont, Belden, Cady, Corbin, Daley, Dorus, Esau, Fiske, Freeman, Henry, Hull, Humphrey, Jaha, Kyle, Nichols, Oliver, Pegan, Robinson, Shelley, Sprague, White, Willard and Williard. 66 Arnold, Brown, Cisco, Gigger, Hazard, Hector, Hemenway, Howard, Johnson, Murdock, Stebbins, Walker and Wheeler.
  • Some of the tribes' ancestors were recorded as 'colored' including individuals of the Brown, Cisco, Freeman, Gigger, Hemenway, Hull, Humphrey, Walker and Willard families.
  • Some individuals of the Gigger family are labelled as 'miscellaneous Indians.'
  • Some individuals were recorded as 'mixed' including individuals in the Bakeman, Belden, Brown, Kyle and Hector families.
  • Some individuals of the Hall, Hector and Hemenway families have no label.

20th century

Attitudes towards Native American culture and history changed as antiquarians, anthropologists, institutions like the Boy Scouts as well as the 1907 appearance of Buffalo Bill Cody with many Native Americans in feathered headresses paying respects to Uncas, Sachem of the Mohegan. Despite the nearly four centuries of assimilation, acculturation, and the destruction of economic and community support from enfranchisement, certain Indian families were able to maintain a distinct Indian identity and cultural identity.[51] The turn of the century also saw active cultural and genealogical research by James L. Cisco and his daughter Sara Cisco Sullivan from the Grafton homestead, and worked closely with the remnants of other closely related tribes, such as Gladys Tantaquidgeon and the Fielding families of the Mohegan Tribe, Atwood L. Williams of the Pequot, and William L. Wilcox of the Narragansett. Together, various tribal members began sharing cultural memory, with pan-Indianism firmly taking root in the 1920s with Indian gatherings such as the Algonquin Indian Council of New England that met in Providence, Rhode Island and dances or pow-wows such as those at Hassanamessit in 1924. Plains Indian costume was often worn as potent statements of Indian identity and to prove their continued residence in the area and because much of the original culture had been lost.[52] Other Nipmuc individuals appeared at town pageants and fairs, including the 1938 appearance at the Sturbridge, Massachusetts bicentennial fair of many ancestors of today's Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck.[53]

By the 1970s, the Nipmuc had made many strides. Many local members of the tribe were called upon to help with the development of the Native American exhibit at Old Sturbridge Village, a 19th-century living museum built in the heart of former Nipmuc territory.[54] State recognition was also achieved by the end of the same decade, re-establishing the Nipmuc people's relationship with the state and providing limited social services. The Nipmuc sought federal recognition in the 1980s. Tension between the Nipmuc Nation, which included the Hassanamisco and many descendants of the Chaubunagungamaug, based in Sutton, Massachusetts, and the rest of the Chaubunagungamaug, based in Webster, Massachusetts split the tribe in the mid-1990s. Divisions were caused by the frustrations with the slow pace of recognition as well as disagreements about gambling.[55][56]

190 acres of the Hassanamessit Woods in Grafton, believed to contain the remains of the praying village were under agreement for development for more than 100 homes. This property has significant cultural importance to the Nipmuc Tribal Nation because it is thought to contain the meetinghouse and the center of the old praying village.[57] However, The Trust for Public Land, the town of Grafton, the Grafton Land Trust, the Nipmuc Nation and the state of Massachusetts intervened. The Trust for Public Land purchased the property and kept it off the market until 2004, after sufficient funding was procured to permanently protect the property.[58] The property also has ecological significance as it is adjacent to 187 acres of Grafton owned land as well as 63 acres owned by the Grafton Land Trust. These properties will provide numerous recreational benefits to the public as well as play a role in protecting the water quality of local watersheds.[58]

In July 2013, the Hassanamisco band selected a chief, Cheryll Toney Holley to succeed Walter Vickers upon his resignation.

See also


  1. ^ Martin, A. M. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. (2004). Final determination against federal acknowledgment of the nipmuc nation (fr25jn04-110). Retrieved from Federal Register Online via GPO Access website:
  2. ^ The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. (2004). Martin issues final determination to decline federal acknowledgment of the nipmuc nation. Retrieved from website:
  3. ^ a b Sultzman, L. (2008, October 29). Nipmuc history. Retrieved from
  4. ^ Pritzker, B. M. (2000) A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples (p. 442). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Larnad, E. D. (1874). history of windham county, connecticut: 1600-1760. (Vol. I, p. 59). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  6. ^ Connole, D. A. (2007). Indians of the nipmuck country in southern new england 1630-1750, an historical geography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. pp. 7 - 8.
  7. ^ Hodge, R. W. (2006). Handbook of american indians, north of mexico. (Vol. II). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Pub. p. 74.
  8. ^ Day, G. M., Foster, M. K., & Cowan, W. (1998). In search of new england's native past: Selected essays. (p. 181). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
  9. ^ Connole, D. A. (2007). Indians of the nipmuck country in southern new england 1630-1750, an historical geography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. pp. 8 - 10.
  10. ^ Connole, D. A. (2007). pp. 8 - 10.
  11. ^ a b Hodge, F. W. (1910). Nipmuc. Handbook of american indians north of mexico.. (Vol. III, p. 74). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.
  12. ^ a b Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Commission on Indian Affairs. (n.d.). Tuition waiver guidelines. Retrieved from Commonwealth of Massachusetts website:
  13. ^ Blumenthal, R. Connecticut Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Indian Affairs. (2002). Comments of the state of connecticut and the northeastern connecticut council of governments on the proposed findings on the petitions for tribal acknowledgement of the nipmuc nation and the webster/dudley band of the chaubunagungamaug nipmuck indians. Retrieved from
  14. ^ Mass. Executive Order #126. Dukakis 65th Governorship, 1976.
  15. ^ Massachusetts General Laws, pt. I, Title II, Chapter 6A, § 8A.
  16. ^ Massachusetts General Laws, pt. I, Title II, Chapter 7, § 38A.
  17. ^ Massachusetts Session Laws. 181st General Court, 2005, Chapter 25.
  18. ^ Nipmuc Nation. (1994). Remembering deer island: A cause worth of nipmuc support. Nipmucspohke, I(2), 2-3. Retrieved from
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  24. ^ Mulholland, M. T., & Currin, K. (1997).
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  27. ^ Mandell, D. R. Behind the frontier: Indians in eighteenth-century eastern massachusetts. (p. 151). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  28. ^ Charter of Massachusetts Bay (1629). Retrieved from p. 11.
  29. ^ a b Shannon, T. J. (2005). Puritan conversion attempts. Retrieved from Converts/the_puritans3.htm
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  32. ^ Book of the General Lavves and Libertyes. Indians, §9 Retrieved from
  33. ^ Drake, J. D. (1999). King philip's war: Civil war in new england, 1675-1676. (pp. 101-105). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
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  45. ^ Mandell, D. R. 'The Saga of Sarah Muckamugg: indian and African Intermarriage in Colonial New England.' Sex, love, race: crossing boundaries in north american history. ed. Martha Elizabeth Hodes. (pp. 72-83). New York, NY: New York Univ Press.
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  49. ^ a b Mandell, D. R. 'The Saga of Sarah Muckamugg: indian and African Intermarriage in Colonial New England.' Sex, love, race: crossing boundaries in north american history. ed. Martha Elizabeth Hodes. New York, NY: New York Univ Pr. pp. 72-83.
  50. ^ Minardi, M(2010). Making slavery history, abolitionism and the politics of memory in massachusetts. New York, NY: Oxford Univ Pr US. pp 60-63.
  51. ^ Mandell, D. R. (2011). Tribe, race, history: Native Americans in Southern New England, 1780–1880. (pp. 227-230). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  52. ^ Harkin, M. E. (2004). Reassessing revitalization movements: Perspectives from north america and the pacific islands. (p. 265-267). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  53. ^ Artman, C. J. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. (2007). In re federal acknowledgment of Webster/Dudley band of Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuc Indians (IBIA 04-154-A). Retrieved from BIA Press website: "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2014-01-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  54. ^ Murphree, D. S. (2012). Native america: A state-by-state historical encyclopedia. (p. 543). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio.
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  57. ^ "Hassanamesitt Woods Protection Moves Forward (MA)". The Trust for Public Land.
  58. ^ a b "Hassanamesitt Woods". The Trust for Public Land.

External links

Battle of Bloody Brook

The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 18, 1675 OS (September 28, 1675 NS) between English colonial militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by the Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp, during King Philip's War. The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley, and killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia.The Pocumtuc tribe, allied with the Nipmuc, were aggrieved by the Deerfield colonists encroaching on their settlements.

Chaubunagungamaug Reservation

The Chaubunagungamaug Reservation refers to the small parcel of land located in the town of Thompson, Connecticut, close to the border with the town of Webster, Massachusetts and within the bounds of Lake Chaubunagungamaug (Webster Lake) to the east and the French River to the west. The reservation is used by the descendants of the Nipmuck Indians of the previous reservation, c. 1682-1869, that existed in the same area, who now identify as the Webster/Dudley Band of the Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck. Together with the Hassanamisco Nipmuc, both have received state recognition under the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs.The reservation only consists of 2.5 acres (1.0 hectare), and does not support a permanent population. It does serve as a meeting ground, ceremonial center and celebration area for the current tribe. The land is also used as a place for the re-interment of local Native American remains. The tribe, and its reservation, are recognized in Massachusetts, but both lack recognition in Connecticut and at the federal level.

Five Mile River

The Fivemile River is a 23.5-mile-long (37.8 km) river located in Connecticut's Northeast Corner and flows through the towns of Thompson, Putnam, and Killingly.The original Nipmuc name was Assawaga, meaning "place between" or "halfway place". The Assawaga received its English name from the fact that the first land laid out upon it was "supposed to be about five miles from" Woodstock, Connecticut. The Five Mile is a tributary of the Quinebaug River and is part of the Thames River watershed. Its source is Little Pond (also known as Schoolhouse Pond), close to the Massachusetts border. It empties into the Quinebaug River at Danielson, near the intersection of Connecticut Route 12 and U.S. Route 6.

The Fivemile River has several dams, most of which are former mill operations. Its largest impoundment is Quaddick Reservoir, though there are several smaller dams including those that were built for the purpose of harnessing waterpower for industry. The best examples of surviving mill villages can be seen in Killingly in villages such as Pineville, Ballouville, Attawaugan, and Dayville.

Grafton, Massachusetts

Grafton is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population, indicated by the 2014 town records is 14,268, in nearly 5,700 households. Incorporated in 1735, Grafton is the home of a Nipmuc village known as Hassanamisco Reservation, the Willard House and Clock Museum, Community Harvest Project, and the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Grafton consists of the North Grafton, Grafton, and South Grafton geographic areas, each with a separate ZIP Code. Grafton also operates the state's largest On-Call Fire Department, with 74 members.

Hassanamisco Nipmuc

The Hassanamiscos were living in what is today Grafton, Massachusetts, when in 1647 the Reverend John Elliot came to the village and converted the Hassanamiscos to Christianity.

The Hassanamisco Nipmuc, from whom the four and a half acre Hassanamesit Reservation in Grafton, Massachusetts takes its name, are a group of Nipmuc Indians native to Central Massachusetts, Northeastern Connecticut, and parts of Rhode Island. "Native American Indian Fairs" have been held annually at Hassanamisco Reservation location since 1924.

The Hassanamisco Nipmuc, also known in past centuries as the Hassanamesit Nipmuc or more recently as the Grafton Nipmuc, are along with the Webster/Dudley Band of Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck, and the part of the group that identifies itself as the Nipmuc Nation.While the Nipmuc are recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in 2004 the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided that this group does not meet four of the seven mandatory requirements for Federal acknowledgment as a "nation".


The Massachusett are a Native American people and ethnic group in the United States Commonwealth of Massachusetts, mostly inhabiting their traditional homeland which covers much of present-day Greater Boston. The people take their name from the indigenous name for the Blue Hills overlooking Boston Harbor from the south, which was a ceremonial and sacred area for the people of the region.

As some of the first people to make contact with the European explorers and English colonists, the Massachusett and other coastal peoples were almost decimated from an outbreak of leptospirosis circa 1619, which had mortality rates as high as 90% in these areas. This was followed by devastating impacts of virgin soil epidemics such as smallpox, influenza, scarlet fever and others that the indigenous people lacked natural immunity. Their territories, on the more fertile and flat coastlines, with access to coastal resources, was mostly taken over by English colonists, as the Massachusett were too few in number to put up any effective resistance.

Under the missionary John Eliot, the majority of the Massachusett were converted to Christianity and settled in 'Praying towns' established where the converted Indians were expected to submit to the colonial laws, accept some elements of English culture and forced to abandon their traditional religion, but were allowed to use their language. Through intermediaries, Eliot learned the language and even published a translation of the Bible. The language, related to other Eastern Algonquian languages but more specifically, the regional languages of southern New England, would slowly fade, ceasing to serve as the primary language of the Massachusett communities by the 1750s, and the language was likely extinct by the early years of the nineteenth century. The Massachusett language was shared with several other peoples in the region, and the Wampanoag preserved their dialect of the language until the death of its last speaker sometime in the 1890s.

The last of their common lands were sold in the early nineteenth century, loosening the community and social bonds that held the Massachusett families together, and most of the Massachusett were forced to settle amongst their English neighbors, but mainly settled the poorer sections of towns where they were segregated with Blacks, recent immigrants and other Indians. The Massachusett mainly assimilated and integrated into the surrounding communities.

Two groups of Massachusett have received state recognition after the creation of the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. The Ponkapoag Massachusett, descendants of the Praying Indians of Ponkapoag, centered around what is now Canton, Massachusetts, and the Natick Massachusett-Nipmuc. As the Natick were formed from a substantial input of Nipmuc families, and maintained close connection with the Nipmuc communities, the Natick Massachusett-Nipmuc are recognized as a tribe of Nipmuc, via their involvement with the Nipmuc Nation.

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) is an organization that sponsors activities in thirty-three sports, comprising 374 public and private high schools in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The MIAA is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which writes the rules for most U.S. high school sports and activities. The MIAA was founded in 1978, and was preceded by both the Massachusetts Secondary School Principals Association (MSSPA) (1942–1978) and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council (MIAC) (1950–1978).

Notably, the MIAA does not use the NFHS ruleset for football, choosing instead to use NCAA college rules with minor modifications. It is the only state in which high school football is played in 11-minute quarters. The only other state association that plays high school football under NCAA rules, University Interscholastic League, uses the NFHS standard of 12-minute quarters.


Matoonas (? - died 1676 in Boston) was a sachem of the Nipmuc Indians in the middle of 17th century. He played a significant role in the Native American uprising known as King Philip's War.

Matoonas had originally converted to Christianity and became a Praying Indian. He was even made a constable by the colonists of the Praying Indian village of Pakachoog. However, in 1671 his son was accused of murdering an Englishman named Zachary Smith, and hanged, despite the fact that it was widely known that somebody else was responsible for the crime. After the execution the head of Matoonas' son was placed on display as a warning. Consequently Matoonas was very bitter towards the English although he kept his true feelings hidden until a suitable opportunity would present itself. When Metacom (King Philip) began organizing an armed movement against the English settlers in New England in 1675, Matoonas willingly joined and convinced other Nipmuc sachems to follow him. In July of that year he led a raid on the town of Mendon, which decided Nipmuc participation in the war on the side of Philip. Mendon was the first colonial settlement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be attacked during King Philip's War.Shortly after the raid on Mendon, together with another Nipmuc sachem, Muttawmp, Matoonas successfully ambushed a party of colonial soldiers in what became known as Wheeler's Surprise at Brookfield.Matoonas was betrayed and turned over to the English in autumn 1676 by another Nipmuc sachem. Most colonial sources list the name of the one who gave betrayed him as "Sagamore John", or "Chief John". Some sources give the original Native American name of this person as Horowaninit, Schultz and Tougias state in their work on the King Philip's War however, that "...Muttawmp and Shoshonin, who had delivered Matoonas to the English, likewise fell victim to Waldron's treachery and were executed at Boston." Matoonas' betrayer either volunteered to execute him personally, or was forced to do so by the colonists, in order to demonstrate his loyalty to the English. Sagamore John was sold into slavery. Matoonas' head, like his son's before him, was presented on a pole outside of Boston as a way to terrorize other Indians who supported King Philip.Mattoonas was surrendered by his chief, at Boston, where he was summarily tried and sentenced to death. At the request of the chief, he was shot by one of his own tribe and his body was hung in chains on Boston Common.

Mendon, Massachusetts

Mendon is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 5,839 at the 2010 census.

Mendon is part of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, an early center of the industrial revolution in the United States. Mendon celebrated its 350th Anniversary on May 15, 2017.

Millers River

The Millers River is a 52.1-mile-long (83.8 km) river in northern Massachusetts, originating in Ashburnham and joining the Connecticut River just downstream from Millers Falls, Massachusetts. The river was formerly known as Paquag or Baquag, a Nipmuc word meaning "clear water". Sections of the river are used for whitewater kayaking, and a section upriver is popular with flatwater racers (canoe racing).


Muttawmp (died September, 1676) was a sachem of the Nipmuc Indians in the mid-17th century, originally based in Quaboag. He participated in King Philip's War, taking part in most of the major engagements as one of the most important chiefs who fought for Metacomet (King Philip).

Muttawmp had converted to Christianity and become a Praying Indian. However, Metacomet began organizing the local tribes so that they could attack the colonists, and Muttawmp foreswore Christianity and joined him, together with Nipmuc sachem Matoonas. He led the successful attack on Brookfield in which Edward Hutchinson was mortally wounded, son of the controversial Anne Hutchinson.Muttawmp was also the Nipmuc leader in the Battle of Bloody Brook on September 12, 1675 near South Deerfield, Massachusetts, in which 51 colonial soldiers and 17 colonial teamsters were killed, including Captain Thomas Lathrop. The name of the place was changed from "Moody Brook" to "Bloody Brook" because the stream near the battlefield turned red with blood. In October, 1675, Muttawmp surrounded Hatfield, Massachusetts with 800 men and tried to draw the colonists out by setting fires outside of town. However, the militia within the town resisted the temptation to come out in force and only sent out a 10-man party to investigate, nine of whom were killed or captured by the Nipmucs. On April 21, 1676, he and 500 warriors routed civilians in an Attack on Sudbury, Massachusetts. Muttawmp finally tried to make peace with the colonists, but he was executed in September 1676.


The Nashaway (or Nashua or Weshacum) were a tribe of Algonquian Indians inhabiting the upstream portions of the Nashua River valley in what is now the northern half of Worcester County, Massachusetts, mainly in the vicinity of Sterling, Lancaster and other towns near Mount Wachusett. They are often associated with the Nipmuc, which along with variants such as Nipmug or Nipnet was the general term for all bands inhabiting central Massachusetts away from the coastlines and ending before the Connecticut River valley. The meaning of Nashaway is "river with a pebbled bottom".

The Nashaway's principal settlement was Waushacum (possibly meaning "surface of the sea"), a parcel of land in what is now Sterling that was located between two ponds of the same name. The territory of the Nashaway was bounded downstream (to the north) on the Nashua River by the Pennacook, a powerful tribe with which numerous alliances were formed, to the east by tribes related to the Massachusett, to the south of the headwaters by other Nipmuc bands and to the west by the Connecticut River where the Pocomtuc settled.The first reports of the peoples of Massachusetts' interior were scant, and most of the tribes were classified as the Nipmuc, the largest tribe in the area. But the sub-divisions had their own sachems and functioned independently of each other. Although they shared the similar L-dialect and other common customs, very little evidence is shown of any confederation except for the various skirmishes with English colonists that ultimately led to King Philip's War. While they have been classified as Nipmuc, the bands made alliances and were possibly confederated with the Pennacook.

The tribes of the interior posed a problem for John Eliot, as the tribes were too far to visit and the area was still very much a frontier region. At the time of the first visits by John Prescott, the minister appointed to the tribe by the colonoy, power had been passed from Sachem Nashawhonan (Sholan) to Nanomocomuck (Monoco), a Pennacook chieftain descended from Passaconaway. Court records indicate that this sachem was charged for debts incurred for goods bought on credit and the high prices charged to them for the colonists' goods. This ultimately led to the loss of land and tensions that resulted in King Philip's War. The fate of the Nashaway is not known. The remnants of the tribe fled the area and merged with other tribes, such as the Pennacook or the Nipmuc proper, intermarrying. The Nashaway tribe is now extinct, although their descendants live among the Native Americans. Many of the Nashaway died while exiled on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. Their descendants can be found among the Abenaki of New England and Canada or the Schaghticoke.

Nipmuc Nation

Nipmuc Nation is a self-identifier used by Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuc of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Most of group's over 500 members live in and around Chaubunagungamaug Reservation, Hassanamisco Reservation and the city of Worcester.

The Nipmuc are recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, although in 2004 the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided that this group did not meet four of the seven mandatory requirements for federal government recognition as a "nation." Like many state recognized tribes in the United States, they continue to govern their own affairs. Their current chief is Cheryll Toney Holley, who was elected in July 2013.

Nipmuc Regional High School

Nipmuc Regional High School is a public high school in Upton, Massachusetts, part of the Mendon-Upton Regional School District.

Nipmuc Regional High School is located on a fifty-acre wooded lot in Upton, Massachusetts, in the Blackstone Valley region of the state. It serves the towns of Mendon and Upton through a cooperative arrangement established in 1961. In addition to Nipmuc Regional, there are three other schools in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District: Miscoe Hill Middle School, Clough Elementary School (Mendon,) and Memorial Elementary School (Upton.) The year-round population of the two towns is respectively 5,876 and 7,640.

Nipmuc River

The Nipmuc River is a river in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It flows 2.7 miles (4.3 km). There are no dams along the river's length. The river is named for the indigenous Nipmuc peoples.


Tantiusques ("Tant-E-oos-kwiss") is a 57-acre (230,000 m2) open space reservation and historic site registered with the National Register of Historic Places. The reservation is located in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and is owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations; it is notable for its historic, defunct graphite mines. This is a rural area with much of the adjacent and surrounding area undeveloped and forested. The reservation is entirely forested with oak-hickory forest and red maple in the wet areas and mountain laurel abundant throughout the understory. The name Tantiusques comes from a Nipmuc word meaning “the place between two low hills." The Nipmuc used the graphite to make ceremonial paints. The property also contains the ruins of a 19th-century period house that belonged to a mine worker of mixed African American and Native American ancestry.

USS Nipmuc (ATF-157)

USS Nipmuc (ATF-157) was an Abnaki-class of fleet ocean tug that served in World War II. The tug was sold to Venezuela in 1978. From February 1963 to June 1964 her commanding officer was Lt. Billy J. White.

Wheeler's Surprise

Wheeler's Surprise, and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield, was a battle between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp, and the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the command of Thomas Wheeler and Captain Edward Hutchinson, in August 1675 during King Philip's War. The battle consisted of an initial ambush by the Nipmucs on Wheeler's unsuspecting party, followed by an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. While the place where the siege part of the battle took place has always been known (at Ayers' Garrison in West Brookfield), the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.

Zara Cisco Brough

Zara Cisco Brough (1919–1988), often spelled as Zara Ciscoe Brough, commonly referred to as Princess White Flower, served as the Chief of the Nipmuc Native Indian Tribe for 25 years from 1962 until 1987. She is best known for her work to preserve Nipmuc heritage, especially her letter of intention to petition for federal recognition of the Nipmuc as a legally distinct Native American people, which resulted in the Nipmuc being placed on "active consideration" for the status of Federally recognized tribe by 11 July 1995.

During her lifetime she worked as an electronics engineer, fashion designer, drafter, technical writer, and supervisor of government projects. She held the post of "State commissioner for Indian Affairs" from 1974 to 1984. On January 7, 1988, Brough died at a Westbro, Massachusetts nursing home from Parkinson's disease at the age of 68.In January 2009 a Department of Youth Services facility located at 288 Lyman Street in the town of Westborough was formally named as the Zara Cisco Brough "Princess White Flower" Facility through the House Bill 3231. It had previously been named thus in 2007 but the official act was passed in 2009.

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