The early 1600s was a critical time of change for Connecticut
tribes. The pressure from rapidly expanding European
settlements created competition for land and resources, while
disease was decimating Indian populations at an alarming rate.
Within the Pequot Tribe at that time, a dispute erupted between
the Pequot Sachem (head chief) Sassacus and Uncas. Uncas left
with his followers, calling themselves Mohegan, or Wolf People,
like their ancestors. Each tribe had its own idea of how to deal with European conflicts.
Uncas (1598-1683) became Sachem of the Mohegan Tribe, which
favored collaboration with the English. The Pequots under
Sassacus chose to fight them, with other local tribes taking sides.
Seeing the loss brought on by continued fighting, Uncas
befriended the European invaders. This controversial decision
left Uncas and the Mohegans in an uneasy alliance with the
English in an ensuing war with the Pequots. But staying true to
their word, the Mohegans helped the English defeat the Pequots.
Uncas settled his people in a village at Shantok, which the
Tribe defended from a Narragansett invasion sparked by
European as well as Indian conflicts. Finally, the Mohegan Tribe's
affiliation with the English kept its people relatively safe during
King Philip's war and beyond.
View a virtual exhibit of paintings
and commentary that bring to life
Uncas as a chief, a statesman, a
warrior and a man.
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Uncas' Wampum Collar
Uncas wore a collar to signify the split between the Pequot and Mohegan tribes.
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