When the college was founded in 1793, local Native Americans had experienced over a century and a half of interactions with colonial Europeans. Economic changes due to trade, the reverberations of war and the transmission of disease resulted in massive demographic changes and migrations as Native refugee communities relocated, rebuilt, and endured. The terminology used over the centuries to refer to Indian people of the Hudson and Housatonic regions is various and sometimes reflects a lack of understanding of the complicated relationships among rapidly-changing villages and tribes. Today’s Williamstown is located on Mohican land, and the Mohican people have been variously referred to as Mahikanak, [Hudson] River Indians, Housatonic Indians, Mahicans, or (incorrectly conflating them with a Connecticut tribe) Mohegans. Today, the Mohicans are a federally-recognized tribe in Wisconsin, having been removed from Stockbridge to Oneida, NY, in 1785, and from there to Wisconsin in the 1820s. The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans operates a Historic Preservation office in Williamstown, MA, protecting Mohican cultural sites in their homeland of the Hudson Valley and Western Massachusetts. More information can be found at https://diversity.williams.edu/the-stockbridge-munsee-community/.
Williams College is the steward of many unique manuscripts held in the Chapin Library and the College Archives. Among those, the following directly relate to Mohican history.
Included here are rare books from the Chapin Library and College Archives that relate directly to Mohican history.