Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians

A Brief Introduction

Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargePortrait of Austin E. Quinney with dog.

Austin E. Quinney, 1849

Portrait of Austin E. Quinney, a leader in the Stockbridge tribe's move from New York to Wisconsin in the 1820s. View the original source document: WHI 1923

The Stockbridge-Munsee are a community of Mohican Indians who settled in east-central Wisconsin, 1822-1832. In their own language they called themselves "Moh-he-con-uck" or "people of the waters that are never still" -- referring to the tidal Hudson River in New York, their original homeland. Four communities of Indians in the Hudson Valley (the Algonquian-speaking Mahican, Housatonic and Wappinger on the east bank and the Delaware-speaking Munsee on the west) moved north in 1735 into western Massachusetts, where they founded a village called Stockbridge. European contact originally brought prosperity from trade, but warfare and disease drastically reduced the band's population and Mohican culture suffered. In 1785 they were forced to relocate to Oneida, N.Y., in 1818 to Muncie, Indiana, and in 1822-1832, to Wisconsin. With each government-forced removal the Stockbridge and Munsee had to abandon their newly built homes and farms to start life over again in an uncultivated wilderness. They settled initially near modern Kaukauna but were removed first to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago (1832) and then to their own land adjoining the Menominee reservation in the vicinity of modern Bowler (1856).

Facing many hardships after the moving to Wisconsin, the Mohicans lost much land and timber, with only 16,000 acres of their original 40,000 owned by the tribe in 1934. Mohican children were forciibly sent to boarding schools in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania within the federal policy of assimilation. After 1934, 15,000 acres of land were returned to the Mohicans, and in 1938 the tribal government was reorganized with a new constitution. New difficulties in urban centers after World War II (in which many Mohican men enlisted) were followed by activism of the 1960s and 1970s. With the arrival of gaming in the 1980s, the Stockbridge-Munsee community started to feel economic benefits. With Head education, health, cultural, elder and many other tribal services, the community has developed greatly. The tribe also improved natural features of the area including Many Trails Park and a wildlife sanctuary. Today ca. 1,500 Stockbridge and Munsee live on tribal lands in Shawano County, and elsewhere throughout the state and nation. Visit the links below for information about the Stockbridge-Munsee Community including their history, culture and present day community.

Other outdated names used in historical documents: New York Indians, Mahican.

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Source: Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2001).