I wrote about this topic in August- but somehow missed adding the final chapter. At last, here it is. It is one of the most controversial parts, in a way. Every once in a while, someone writes to tell me of Native Americans who continued to live in town, or who returned periodically to conduct ceremonies in one part of town or another. This is difficult to document, though certainly not impossible. But here is what is known.
The Schaghticoke Indians were content, as the 18th century began. The colony of New York had built them a fort for their protection. But the city of Albany purchased two tracts of land at Schaghticoke: in 1699, a six-mile square parcel from Hendrick VanRensselaer and in 1707, from the Indians, a two-mile wide area adjacent to the first. They paid the Schaghticokes “ 2 blankets, 12 duffel coats, 20 shirts, 2 guns, 12 pounds powder, 36 pounds lead, 8 gallons rum, 2 casks beer, 2 rolls tobacco, 10 gallons medera (sic) wine, and some pipes, plus yearly for the next ten years, 1 blanket, 1 shirt, 1 pair stockings, 1 lapp?, 1 keg of rum, 3 pounds powder, 6 pounds lead, 12 pounds tobacco.” The Indians were given twelve acres of lowland to cultivate, which was to be fenced off at the expense of the city. It is ironic that while one of the major problems the Indians had was abuse of alcohol, so much was included in the payment for the land.
The first eight Dutch families arrived in 1710. I wrote about them in other posts. The number of Schaghticokes living in the village at this time is not certain, but what is certain is that their lives were not improved by the arrival of their new neighbors. With the addition of Dutch settlers, the Indians were not as needed as warriors and protectors from the incursions of the French and Indians. Sometimes their loyalty to the English was questioned. The Indian commissioners still did not want the Schaghticokes to communicate with their relatives in Canada, but they continued to do so.
At a conference with the Indian commissioners in 1714, the Schaghticokes complained that the “whites” were not content with the land they had, but were trying to get all of the land away from the Indians. At first the city of Albany complied with the deed and kept the twelve acres fenced, and even plowed it for the Schaghticokes. But that land was supposed to support perhaps several hundred people. The local hunting became increasingly difficult as the area became more settled. The Indians became more and more impoverished. In 1714, the Indians asked for more land, next to what they already had on the north side of the Hoosic River. Not only did they not get more land, but Albany began adding some of the land they already had to new leases to Europeans, “if the Indians have no occasion for the said land.” (Apparently no one consulted the Indians about their need for the land.) Schaghticokes began to leave their village and join their relatives in Canada. In 1723 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs sent for some of the Indians who had left to ask them to explain why they left. They replied that “the Christians who are settled near them have encroached upon their land and confined them to a barren spot which will not maintain them.” In 1728 they complained that what corn they had planted was stolen from them. Other Schaghticokes may have joined relatives on Lake Champlain, or gone to the Schoharie Valley Mohawks, or the Christian Indian settlement in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
The Schaghticokes protested for the last time to the Indian Commissioners in 1754, stating that they felt the white people were living all over their lands, even that which they had never purchased. The Commissioners were not sympathetic. The last of the Schaghticokes departed for the St. Lawrence Valley, merging with the St. Francis and Abenaki groups that August. They were assisted by a French officer at Crown Point, who gave them a boat to cross Lake champlain. There are a couple of reports from 1756 and 1762 that Schaghticoke Indians were in the groups of French Indian allies fighting in the French and Indian War against their former allies. Who can blame them? It’s possible that a few Schaghticokes remained here into the 1760’s.
I must note that there is a Schaghticoke Indian reservation in Kent, Connecticut, not far from here. I have never been able to find any connection between the Indians here and those in Connecticut, except that they were all in the large language group of Algonquian Indians.
Bibliography: This includes the books used for all of the posts on Native Americans.
Church, Benjamin, Diary of King Philip’s War, 1675-1676, reprinted 1975.
Dunn, Shirley, The Mohicans and their Land, and The Mohican World, 1994.
Kloppott, Beth, The History of the Town of Schaghticoke, 1981.
Niles, Grace Greylock, The Hoosac Valley, its Legends and its History,1912.
Richter, Daniel K. and James H. Merrell, Beyond the Covenant Chain, 1987.
Ruttenber, E.M. Indian Tribes of Hudson’s River to 1700 and 1700-1850, reprinted 1992.