Mohegan Artifacts

The Mohegan People believe that every object or writing holds within it the spirit of its maker.

The following items are currently on display at the Tantaquidgeon Museum, the oldest Native owned and operated museum in the country.

Wampum collar made of clam and conch shell beads. This collar belonged to Mohegan Sachem Uncas (1598-1683), a “Friend of the English.” The two white triangles show the 17th c. division between Mohegan and Pequot villages. This is the only known New England wampum to continuously remain in Native American hands since the 1600s.

This belt was worn by 4 Mohegan women: Martha Uncas (1769-1859), Flying Bird (Jees Bodernosh-shorFidelia Fielding (1827-1908), Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005), and Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel. The longevity of these three women allowed the tribe to pass on & preserve ancient Mohegan stories. Flying Bird was the last fluent speaker of Connecticut’s first language, Mohegan-Pequot, which is now undergoing restoration and being taught to Mohegan tribal youth.

This oval shaped box with lid is etched with a thick “trail” design with lines, dots, leaves and branches.

Believed to have been made by the Mohegan educator, Rev. Samson Occom (1723-1792) during his travels and sent back to his sister Lucy. The pipes on top represent the tribes of Occom’s Brothertown Movement that traveled from CT to NY. Curved lines with arrows show their east-west path. Occom also traveled east to England to raise funds to found Dartmouth College as an Indian school. Occom was educated by Rev. Wheelock in Columbia, CT.

Displayed at Tantaquidgeon Museum, America’s Oldest Native-Owned and Operated Museum

This Mohegan mortar and pestle was used to grind eight-row flint corn. The mortar’s base is a classic Mohegan design that reflects the dome of the sky, the back of the turtle, and the shape of Mohegan wigwams.

This reconstructed 17th century Shantokware vessel was made from shards recovered from Shantok Village, in the 1960s. Shantok pottery is made from clay that was tempered with crushed shell. Shells (Quahog and mussel) were heated to a high temperature and then crushed into powder. This powder (temper) was then mixed into the clay. Shell temper helped to disperse heat throughout the vessel and protected it from shrinking and cracking when the pot was being dried and fired. Shantok pottery was made using the “coiling” process. The rims of these vessels were often intricately decorated using various tools and techniques, and its designs honor women.
This ball club was used by Mohegans and other Native American warriors in New England during the 1600’s. Ball clubs are traditionally made from the ball root of a maple tree. Other clubs are also made from the roots of trees that looked like an animal for ceremony or battle. A wolf club made by Chief Matahga is carried by our sitting Mohegan Chief.

Mohegan means wolf people. This wolf-headed spoon was held by Lucy Occum Tantaquidgeon (1733-1830), her daughter, Lucy Teecomwas (1753-1834), and her daughter, Cynthia Hoscott (1778-1855). These women offered their land for the founding of Mohegan Church in 1831. During the 1830’s Federal Indian Removal era, the Connecticut congressional delegation opposed Indian removal including the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

Shallow elongated oval burl bowl with carved effigy handles on each end that resemble wolf heads. Used for serving succotash, this bowl belonged to Chief Uncas. This bowl has cracks on each side that have been previously mended with wire.
Traditional wood splint basket with lid that is decorated with the ‘trail of life’ and floral design that belonged to Noah Uncas and his wife. Small baskets such as this were created to leave offerings of food or goods in the woods for the “Little People” that lived there so they would not cause mischief.
Round burl bowl that belonged to Lucy Occom Tantaquidgeon. In the flat handle white wampum beads in the shape of an “L” are inlaid. In traditional symbolism, white wampum conveys clarity, agreement, healing, and peace. The beads embedded were made from the central columns of whelk shells, likely harvested from the Thames River.

Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

One of the most significant artifacts ever returned to the Mohegan Tribe through NAGPRA is Uncas's bowl. This wooden succotash bowl has two wolfhead handles and is believed to have belonged to Sachem Uncas.