Challenge to Hoosic Valley history

Saturday March 9, 2013

I agree with Lauren Stevens that a new history of the Hoosic River Valley should be written (Eagle op-ed, March 4) but his outline of early historical events contains certain statements that are not quite accurate.

The Indian tribe usually associated with the Valley, and now living in Wisconsin, has called itself officially "Mohican" since the middle of the 19th century -- not "Mahican." Earlier documents are about evenly divided between the two spellings, but "Mohican" is the accepted version today.

The entire Hoosic Valley was not "inhabited" by Mohicans when Europeans arrived. No evidence has been found of any year-round Indian habitation there. All of Berkshire County was hunting territory for the Mohicans living along the Hudson River and they came this way only on a seasonal basis in the fall and winter.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer did purchase about 1,770 square miles (1,132,000 acres) from the Mohicans in 1630 and later years. However, this tract, known as the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, did not extend eastward far enough to include the Hoosic Valley.

The battle of Bennington was not the "first win for the Americans in the Revolutionary War." George Washington’s famous victory at Trenton, N.J., on December 26, 1776, preceded Bennington by eight months.



Editor’s note: Lauren Stevens writes that he chose Mahican over Mohican to differentiate from the Mohegan, a source of confusion over the years. He asserts that digs in south county and for new roads in Bennington have both turned up evidence of year-round habitation, although it used to be thought that Mahicans only visited.


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