Tribes

Meet the Shinnecock

The Shinnecock are a nation of Native Americans made up of 12 Algonquian-speaking tribes. This nation occupied the territory between Long Island and Connecticut, today their descendants live on a 400-acre reservation in Southampton, where they are officially called Shinnecock.

Previously they depended on the cultivation of corn for their livelihood, which women took care of, and supplemented with hunting and fishing. They were of semi-sedentary customs and moved seasonally between places where food reserves were found.

After the colonization by the Europeans, the population of Native Americans decreased drastically, mainly due to the number of infectious diseases for which they did not have strong enough immune systems and were transmitted by the colonists.

Additionally, their communities were disturbed by the invasion of lands by the Dutch and later English settlers, so that they were forced to adapt their customs to a more sedentary life.

The Shinnecock Nation was very comfortable on the water, spending a long time in fishing and marine work in general. In the 19th century, Shinnecock men worked as fishermen and sailors on whaling ships based in Sag Harbor and other ports in the area.

The reserve

This is an autonomous population reservation, which in 1972 was an important part of the so-called Shinnecock Native American cultural coalition, with the intention of starting the founding of a Native American arts and crafts program.

In that place you learn everything related to the oral and manual tradition of the Native American tribes. In addition, a group called the youngblood singers was formed, dedicated to learning songs, chants and traditional Algonquin drumming rituals.

In 2005 a claim was filed against the City of New York for 3,500 acres in Southampton, alleging that traditional tribal cemeteries were located on these valuable lands, which were fraudulently sold by falsifying a tribal authorization. There is still much more to know about this culture, read on.

Whale hunt

Commercial whaling in the United States began in the 1650s with contracts made between the English settlers residing in the area and the Shinnecock Indians. The English colonists had very little experience in the seas, while the Indians had experience in both navigation and whaling.

The skill of the Shinnecocks directly impacted the number of whales caught in a season, as a result the men of this indigenous nation were highly sought after by whaling companies months in advance and for years to hunt for them.

The Indian fishing worker was so valued that in 1708 the governor enacted a law stating that those Indians who were under contract by the companies could not be arrested, harassed, or detained in any way from November 1 to November 15. April.

In the middle of the 18th century the whaling industry suffered a decline, and the whales were not as abundant as in earlier times and they were not seen near the coast. Whaling had spread throughout the world and the Shinnecocks were still highly valued within the industry.

Wampum as a means of payment

This Indian nation is closely linked to the wampum. The relationship between the shinnecock and the making of wampum is mentioned for the first time by the Dutch official Isaack de Rasieres, who in his records described that the indigenous population supported themselves by planting corn and making wampum.

This indigenous population is considered the largest producer of wampum in colonial times and much of it was used to pay tribute to larger or more powerful tribes.

There is no doubt that this culture is one of the most important in the North American region, fortunately its roots are still strong and many of its customs have been maintained despite time.