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The Podunk were an
indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
who spoke an
Algonquian Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of eastern North America from Canada to Virginia **Algonquin languag ...
Quiripi language Quiripi (pronounced , also known as Mattabesic, Quiripi-Unquachog, Quiripi-Naugatuck, and Wampano) was an Algonquian language formerly spoken by the indigenous people of southwestern Connecticut File:StamfordHarbor.jpg, Stamford, Connecticut, St ...
and lived primarily in what is now known as
Hartford County, Connecticut Hartford County is a county (United States), county located in the north central part of the U.S. state of Connecticut. According to the 2020 United States Census, 2020 census, the population was 899,498, making it the second-most populous co ...
, United States. English colonists adopted use of a
Nipmuc The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are an Indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of ...
dialect word for the territory of this people.


History

''Podunk'' is of
Algonquian Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of eastern North America from Canada to Virginia **Algonquin languag ...
origin, meaning "where you sink in mire", or a
bog A bog or bogland is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are lin ...

bog
gy place, in the
Nipmuc The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are an Indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of ...
dialect. The Podunk people called their homeplace ''Nowashe,'' "between rivers." This people lived in territory near the mouth of the
Park RiverPark River may refer to: Towns *Park River, North Dakota Rivers

*Park River (North Dakota) *Park River (Connecticut) *Big Muddy Creek (Missouri River), also known as Park River {{Disambig ...
at its confluence with the
Connecticut River The Connecticut River is the longest river in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and ...

Connecticut River
. The Dutch called these waterways the Little River and Great River, respectively. The Dutch indicated their territory on an early 17th-century map with the term ''Nowass,'' likely a transliteration of the Algonquian word. Like other Woodland peoples, the Podunk built their summer lodges near the river. They fished for
shad The Alosinae, or the shads,Alosinae
and
salmon Salmon is the common name for several species of ray-finned fish Actinopterygii ( New Latin ('having rays') + Greek ( 'wing, fins')), members of which are known as ray-finned fishes, is a clade A clade (; from grc, , ''klados'', ...

salmon
, and
lampreys Lampreys (sometimes inaccurately called lamprey eels) are an ancient extant lineage of jawless fish Agnatha (, Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity ...

lampreys
in their season. The men hunted
deer Deer or true deer are hoof A hoof ( or ), plural hooves ( or ) or hoofs , is the tip of a toe Toes are the digits (fingers) of the foot of a tetrapod. Animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organis ...

deer
and
bear Bears are carnivora Carnivora is an order of placental Placentalia is one of the three extant subdivisions of the class of animals Mammalia Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ita ...

bear
, as well as small game. The women cultivated and processed varieties of
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be ...

maize
and beans, as well as drying the meats and preparing skins. They used the furs of
otter Otters are carnivorous mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mam ...

otter
,
mink Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interac ...

mink
, and
beaver Beavers are large, semiaquatic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interaction ...

beaver
for clothing, and used other hides to cover their
wigwam A wigwam, wickiup, wetu (Wampanoag The Wampanoag , also rendered Wôpanâak, are a Native American people. They were a loose confederation of several tribes in the 17th century, but today Wampanoag people encompass five officially recognize ...

wigwam
s. In winter they moved to inland camp sites. As part of their winter diet, they ate dried
venison Venison originally meant the meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume ...

venison
and bear meat. Numerous of their tools and artifacts, and other archeological evidence, has been found along the rivers and in the highlands. The Podunk tribe had three bands: the ''Namferoke'' (in Podunk, "fishing place"), who lived near the present-day village of Warehouse Point; the Hockanum (Podunk, "a hook", or "hook shaped"), led by Tantonimo, who lived near what developed as the village known as Hockanum; and the Scanticook (Nipmuc, "at the
river fork A river fork is where a river is connected to two or more clearly and equally distinct branches, and be used to describe both tributaries and distributaries. A typical river fork is usually two tributaries merging (a confluence), such as the Nile ...
"), who lived on the north bank of the
Scantic River The Scantic River (pronounced SKAN-tik) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the ...
near the section called Weymouth. Their leader was called Foxen (or Poxen). Foxen/Poxen witnessed land deeds in 1640. He became the great councilor of the
Mohegan The Mohegan are an Algonquian peoples, Algonquian Native American tribe historically based in present-day Connecticut. Today the majority of the people are associated with the Mohegan Indian Tribe, a federally recognized tribe living on a reser ...
("wolf people"), and his name appears repeatedly in early records.


Post-encounter history

English colonists entered the
Connecticut River The Connecticut River is the longest river in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and ...

Connecticut River
valley around 1631; it was inhabited by peoples they called the River Tribes. After the English began to settle in this area, the General Court reserved much of the land to the Podunk as their traditional territory. In the Winter of 1635, the Podunk kept alive the ill-prepared settlers at Hartford with their gifts of "malt, and acorns, and grains." During this time, the Podunk were governed by two
sachem Sachems and sagamores are paramount chiefs A paramount chief is the English-language designation for the highest-level political leader in a regional or local polity or country administered politically with a Chiefdom, chief-based system. Th ...
s, Waginacut and Arramamet. Prior to the English- Narragansett war, the Podunk seemed to have had a peaceful relationship with colonists. Until about 1675 they lived in close proximity. However, the English restricted the Podunk in many ways. Smiths were not to work for the Podunk, and none but licensed traders were to buy their corn, beaver, venison, or timber. The English forbade any trade in arms, horses, dogs, or boats, or in "dangerous" supplies, such as cider or alcohol. The Podunk were forbidden to enter English houses or handle the weapons of the settlers, nor were they to bring their own guns into the towns. If found in the English colony at night, they were at risk of arrest by a guard, or of being shot if they had a conflict. The Podunk were not allowed to harbor outsiders in their villages. In 1653 the English ordered them to give up their arms to prove their loyalty. In 1657, a dispute between the Podunks and both the
Mohegans The Mohegan are an Algonquian peoples, Algonquian Native American tribe historically based in present-day Connecticut. Today the majority of the people are associated with the Mohegan Indian Tribe, a federally recognized tribe living on a reser ...
and
Tunxis The Tunxis were a group of Quiripi Quiripi (pronounced , also known as Quiripi-Unquachog, Quiripi-Naugatuck, and Wampano) was an Algonquian languages, Algonquian language formerly spoken by the indigenous people of Gold Coast (Connecticut), sou ...
surrounding the murder of a "Connecticut sagamore," seems to have led to the outbreak of a war against
Uncas Uncas () was a ''sachem Sachems and sagamores are paramount chiefs A paramount chief is the English-language designation for the highest-level political leader in a regional or local polity or country administered politically with a Chi ...
, sachem of the Mohegans, where the Podunks were aided by the Pocumtucks.
/ref> In 1659,
Thomas Burnham Thomas Burnham (1617 – June 24, 1688) was a lawyer and colonist, who was born in England and migrated to the Thirteen Colonies, American Colonies sometime prior to 1645. He lived most of his adult live in Connecticut where he was a lawyer and a ...
(1617–1688) purchased the tract of land now covered by the towns of South Windsor and East Hartford from Tantinomo. "Fort Hill" is probably the fort to which "one-eyed" Tantinomo withdrew at the time of his quarrel with chiefs
Oncas The jaguar (''Panthera onca'') is a large cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic Domestic may refer to: In the home * Anything relating to the human home A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi ...
and Sequassen in 1665, when the English unsuccessfully attempted arbitration between them. In 1675, the Podunks fought the United Colonies during
King Philip's War King Philip's War (sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, Pometacomet's Rebellion, or Metacom's Rebellion) was an armed conflict in 1675–1678 between indigenous inhabitants of New England and New England coloni ...
. The Podunk suffered high rates of mortality from infectious endemic diseases carried by the colonists. Together with disruption caused by colonial pressures, their numbers dropped dramatically. By 1736, the remnants of the Podunk had amalgamated with others to form the Schaghticoke tribe. They disappeared from the historic record and are considered extinct as a tribe. In the early 21st century, the former Podunk land is included in the towns of
East Hartford East Hartford is a New England town, town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 51,252 at the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census. The town is located on the east bank of the Connecticut River, directly across from Ha ...
, East Windsor, South Windsor,
Manchester Manchester () is the most-populous city and metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguis ...
, part of Ellington, Vernon,
Bolton Bolton (, locally ) is a large town in Greater Manchester Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county and combined authority, combined authority area in North West England, with a population of 2.8 million; comprising ten metropolitan boro ...
, Marlborough and
Glastonbury Glastonbury (, ) is a town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the ...
. According to a late 19th-century history, the region north of the
Hockanum River The Hockanum River is a river in Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest lev ...
was generally known as Podunk in colonial times; that south of the river, as Hockanum.


Etymology

A neck of land, a projection or bulge in the land, was called a ''Podunk'' or ''Pautunk''. "Pautage" means a neck, where the land juts out and seems to connect with Podunk, which probably means where the land juts out and people dwell. The prefix "paut" means poddy, pouting, or bulging, while the suffix "age" means land. "Pautapaug" and "Potapaug" mean a bulging in the bay, cove, or pond where there is standing water. "Paug" means bay or bog. "Pautipaug" was said to mean where you sink in mire, but here it is the suffix "paug", which means mire or bog not "pod" or "paut". The name Podunk does not have a bog element in it and ends with a suffix that means dwelling place or "danak". Another example is Poodhumsk, which means projecting rock.


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Podunk (People) Wappinger Algonquian peoples Eastern Algonquian languages
Indigenous languages of the North American eastern woodlands* of the and {{C, Indigenous culture of the Southeastern Woodlands, Southeastern Woodlands cultures of North America. :::::::::::::*Spoken at the time of the indigenous peoples first contact with Europeans,
in areas of the present day Eastern Un ...
Native American tribes in Connecticut Algonquian ethnonyms King Philip's War