In 2001, Friends of Wissatinnewag purchased the Wissatinnewag site, the
last undeveloped quadrant of the the ancient Native American village and
burial grounds that originally surrounded the great falls on the
Connecticut River. This site is listed on both the State and Federal
Registers of Historic Places, and is believed to have been continually
inhabited for as long as 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest
settlements in the region. Sadly, the village of Wissatinnewag, also
known as Peskeompskut, was also the site of the Turner's Falls Massacre,
one of the earliest massacres of non-combantants in the history of
Native/Colonial relations. The sleeping village was attacked by a
colonial militia in the early morning of May 19th, 1676. The majority
of the 300 Native American victims of the attack were women, children,
and elders. Those who survived left the area shortly afterwards, and
historical accounts indicate they were taken in by various other tribes,
including the Abenaki, Mohawk, and Narragansett.
However, the rich history of this ancient Native village should not be
eclipsed by this one, horrible event. The permanent Pocumtuck residents
of the village welcomed Native peoples from throughout the northeast,
as the village was located at the confluence of two major Native American
travel routes, the Mohawk Trail and the Connecticut River. Thus, the
village was a place of diplomacy, intermarriage, trade, and ceremony
for thousands of years. Visitors were particularly numerous during the
river's tremendous spring salmon and shad runs, when Native peoples
from far and wide came to partake in the river's spectacular bounty.
It is in the spirit of Wissatinnewag's history as a village of peace that
Friends of Wissatinnewag, Inc. is working to develop educational programs
about our region's history, and the lifeways and cultures of Northeastern
Native peoples, to be offered on the lower portion of the property.
See our Fund Raising section on how you can help speed up the process!
THIS NATIONAL REGISTER SITE IS FOREVER PROTECTED:
One of the first things the Friends of Wissatinnewag, Inc. did upon
purchasing the land was to have a State-enforced conservation easement
placed on the land, guaranteeing that this National Register site can
never be developed. The Friends are limited to building one small structure
on an area already quarried down to the bedrock by the previous owner,
which will be utilized for the conducting of Native American educational
programs. The Friends also sold 21 acres of sensitive wildlife habit to
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, so we could ensure a place for endangered
species, such as the American Bald Eagle, to continue to live and reproduce.
THANKS TO OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS, WISSATINNEWAG LIVES!
Friends of Wissatinnewag, Inc. expresses its gratitude to all those who
contributed to our cause and helped make the permanent protection of
this important part of our history possible. We especially want to thank
Dr. Camille Cosby for her generous support. Gici Oliwni! (Great thanks!)
Friends of Wissatinnewag, Inc. is an all-volunteer,
non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.