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Pequot(pē`kwŏt), Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ). The Pequot are of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area (see under Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Originally they were united with the MoheganMohegan
, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Also called the Mohican, they were the eastern branch of the Mahican. In the early 17th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , but when UncasUncas
, c.1588–c.1683, chief of the Mohegan. Uncas was a subchief of the Pequot, but because of trouble with the chief, Sassacus, he withdrew with his followers and formed a separate tribe, the Mohegan. These people flourished under Uncas's leadership.
..... Click the link for more information. revolted, the Pequot moved southward to invade and drive off the Niantic. The warlike Pequot, under their chief, Sassacus, had by 1630 extended their territory west to the Connecticut River. Numerous quarrels between settlers in the Connecticut valley and the Pequot led to the Pequot War (1637). The precipitating cause was the Pequot's murder of John OldhamOldham, John
, c.1600–1636, colonist in New England, b. England. A trader, he emigrated to Plymouth in 1623 but was banished (1624) because of his opposition to the strict government.
..... Click the link for more information. , an English trader. The English under John MasonMason, John,
c.1600–1672, American colonial military commander, b. England. He was an army officer before emigrating (c.1630) to Massachusetts and then (1635) to Windsor, Conn.
..... Click the link for more information. and John UnderhillUnderhill, John,
c.1597–1672, military commander in the American colonies, b. England. In 1630 he accompanied John Winthrop (1588–1649) to Massachusetts Bay, and in 1637 he distinguished himself as a commander with John Mason (c.
..... Click the link for more information. attacked their stronghold on the Pequot River and killed some 500 Pequot.
The remaining Pequot fled in small groups. One party went to Long Island, and a second escaped into the interior. A third, led by Sassacus, was intercepted near Fairfield, Conn., where almost the entire party was killed or captured. The captives were forced into slavery, mainly in New England and the West Indies. A few Pequot, including Sassacus, who managed to escape were put to death by the Mohawk. A remnant of the Pequot was scattered among the southern New England tribes; the colonial government later settled them in Connecticut. Today they live on two reservations in SE Connecticut. At Ledyard the Mashantucket Pequot established (1992) a casino, which has proved to be one of the largest and most profitable gambling establishments in the world; they also sponsor an elaborate tribal museum. In 1990 there were 679 Pequot in the United States.
See J. W. De Forest, History of the Indians of Connecticut (1851, repr. 1988); K. I. Eisler, Revenge of the Pequots: How a Small Native American Tribe Created the World's Most Profitable Casino (2001).