Wappinger – “Easterner”
- Wappinger – “Easterner”
- They are a part of the Eastern Algonquin dialect of Munsee Lenape
- At the time of contact, the Wappinger were considered to be independent from, but possibly related to the Lenape.
- Today, the Wappinger no longer exist. We can speculate that as they continued to lose their land, individual members of the Wappinger may have sought refuge with nearby nations.
- Prior to colonization, the Wappinger occupied lands from the Mahikannituck (Hudson River), across what is today Dutchess County, Putnam, and Westchester Counties in New York, and their lands extended east into central Connecticut.
- Post-colonization, no such tribe remains. The Wappinger were drawn into conflicts with the Dutch in 1640 and 1645 and suffered severe losses; surivors may have joined the Stockbridge-Munsee and the Nanticoke of Chenango.
- 1609 when Henry Hudson explored the river.
- Forced resettlement off ancestral lands
Wappinger Online Sources
The Wappinger People and Mount Gulian
General Information about the Wappinger from Britannica
General Information about the Wappinger from Wikipedia
Daniel Nimham, Wappinger, Patriot, and casualty of the Battle of Kingsbridge
King, David C., The Indians of the Berkshires and the Hudson River Valley. Troy: The Troy Book Makers. 2014
Trelease, William A. Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1997
The purpose of this entry is to provide general information about the Wappinger tribe of the Hudson River Valley. This is an ongoing effort; HRVI will add and update these pages as often as possible based on additional research, access to new materials, and new scholarship. Readers are encouraged to learn more from the online resources, books and articles listed here.
Wappinger translates to “easterner;” they spoke an eastern Algonquin dialect. The Algonquin language group spans most of the eastern seaboard of the United States and a large swath of Canada from about Prince Edward Island to Alberta.The Wappinger originally were settled in the area from the Mahikannituck, or Hudson River, in modern Dutchess County east into central Connecticut and south into Westchester County.1 About eighteen bands made up the Wappinger tribe, with seven of them living between Manhattan and Dutchess County. Their territory was a prime area for European trade, which resulted in them being forced off their land by the colonists who settled there. They were also drawn into larger conflicts between the Dutch and other Native American nations. As a result, many Wappinger died in battle and from disease, those who survived sought refuge in other Native American communities.
Their first contact with Europeans was in 1609 when Henry Hudson explored what was known as the North River by the Dutch and later renamed the Hudson River by the English who took over New Netherland in 1664. According to historical records, many Wappinger migrated to other Native communities further north and west. European settlement was devastating for the Wappinger due to foreign diseases and wars, which sometimes resulted in Native Americans being sold into slavery across the New World.2
The Wappinger were drawn into Govenor Kieft's War (1640), and the Peach War (1655) against the Dutch, suffering severe losses; the remaining people joined Nanticoke of Chenango, New York and Stockbridge-Munsee.3 Daniel Nimham, a prominent Wappinger Sachem, had previously attempted to regain lands that the Wappinger felt they had unjustly lost to the Rombout and Philipse Patents, going so far as to petition the King of England. In spite of the fact that the English Secretary of State and Lords of Trade supported their case, the Wappinger were once again denied any settlement in New York. Finally, with the outbreak of the American Revolution, Nimham fought on the side of the Patriots in further hopes of regaining traditional Wappinger lands. Daniel Nimham, his son Abraham, and many Stockbridge and Wappinger serving in the same unit were killed in the Battle of Kingsbridge on August 31, 1778.4
Today, there is no recognized Wappinger tribe because of war, resettlement, merging of tribes, and disease. The rich Wappinger culture is something that deserves recognition as this tribe has an interesting history that contributes to the formation of the region we know today. It is crucial to learn about those who came before us, especially when their voices are being erased from history.
-Jessica Mild, Marist '23
1. William A. Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 4.
2. Mount Gulian Historical Site, “The Wappinger People,” https://mountgulian.org/history/the-wappinger-people/#:~:text=The%20Wappingers%20(Wappinnee%2C%20Wapinck%2C,and%20south%20into%20Westchester%20County.