After leaving the Pequots with his followers to found his own tribal nation, seventeenth century Mohegan Sachem Uncas created a fortified village at Shantok on the west bank of the Massapequotuck (Thames River). These brackish waters produced quahog clams and oysters, the former also being used by the Mohegans to make purple wampum, a sacred item used for reciprocal exchanges like treaties, marriages, criminal penance. It was not money but more of a spiritual cleanser.
State Land Theft
Shantok was encroached upon by the state’s Norwich-New London Road which bisected Shantok on its western border and later their Connecticut Route 32 which impacted more land on both sides. In the 19th century state overseers gave the Central Vermont Railroad a portion of the tribe’s Shantok lands. Then in 1926, the State took the remaining Shantok acreage through an act of condemnation. That land including the Mohegan’s traditional burial grounds and suffered the relocation of burials and desecration of memorials.
The state of Connecticut returned their remaining public lands at Shantok to the Mohegans in 1995. Mohegan Gatherings held there today, include our annual Tribal Homecoming, Cultural Week and Wigwam Festival, as well as funerals.
In 1993, Fort Shantok was designated as a National Historic Landmark (as the Fort Shantok Archaeological District), possessing national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.