Five Colleges in the Kwinitekw Valley

The northeast region’s Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley sits at a crossroads of Indigenous nations and continues to be a central gathering place for Native American and Indigenous Studies scholars as well as for Native American and Indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists.

[Native American and Indigenous Studies]

Statement on the Indigenous Heritage of the Land on which Amherst College and the Five Colleges Reside

Compiled by Bixie Eutsler AC'20 and Ian Miller AC'19
For Manuela Picq's class "Indigenous Women in World Politics"

Suggested Language

"I'd like to begin this event by acknowledging that we stand on Nonotuck land. I'd also like to acknowledge our neighboring Indigenous nations: the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Mohegan and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West, and the Abenaki to the North."

People of Nonotuck

The Nonotuck are one of the many Indigenous groups from Kwinitekw, the Connecticut River Valley. Their territory historically encompassed what is now Hadley and Northampton, MA and much of the land eastward toward what we now call the Pelham Hills.1 In the early 17th Century, English and Dutch forces pitted various Algonkian groups from throughout Kwinitekw against other regional tribes. These wars decimated a population that was already ridden with European diseases to which the indigenous population had no immunity. Due to these "beaver wars," as well as the colonial wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Nonotuck people folded in with Abenaki people throughout Northern New England and Southern Quebec, and have continued journeys through the area. Many have family connections with current Kwinitekw residents.2 Nearby territories belong to the Nipmuc to the East, and the Abenaki and Pocumtuck to the North.3

Lord Jeffery Amherst, the namesake of Amherst, MA, and former mascot of Amherst College

From 1763 to 1766, Lord Jeffery Amherst, the General who led the British in its conquest of Canada from the French, directed the British colonial forces' action during Pontiac's War, an indigenous rebellion ranging throughout the colonies. During this time, letters he wrote show that he advocated for the dissemination of smallpox-laden blankets to the native population.4 While it is unclear whether the plot was ever completed,5 Amherst did, in an exchange with a subordinate, write, "You will Do well to try to lnnoculate the Indians, by means of Blankets, as well as to Try Every other Method, that can Serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. - I should be very glad [if] your Scheme for Hunting them down by Dogs could take Effect; but England is at too great a Distance to think that at present."6

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1 Brooks, Lisa. "Map 3: Kwinitekw." The Common Pot , Amherst College, 2008, lbrooks.people.amherst.edu/thecommonpot/map3.html

2 Bruchac, Marge. "Abenaki Connections to 1704: The Sadoques Family and Deerfield, 2004." In Captive Histories: English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid, edited by Haefeli Evan and Sweeney Kevin, 262-78. University of Massachusetts Press, 2006. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vk658.29.

3 Brooks, Lisa. "Our Beloved Kin: Northern-Front-Native-Place-Names-Full-View-MAP-PPip89.Jpg." Our Beloved Kin, ourbelovedkin.com/awikhigan/northern-front-native-place-names-full-view-map-ppip89.jpg

4 "Amherst and Smallpox," accessed April 10, 2018, https://people.umass.edu/derrico/amherst/lord_jeff.html

5 Miranda, Christine. "Tracing Lord Jeff." Beyond Lord Jeff, Wordpress, 14 May 2015, beyondlordjeff.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/tracing-the-mascot/.

6 "Amherst and Smallpox," accessed April 10, 2018, https://people.umass.edu/derrico/amherst/lord_jeff.html.