Mashantucket Pequot Reservation Site Reconnaissance

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The archaeological site I have chosen to visit and perform reconnaissance on is the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, located in the Northeast corner of Ledyard, Connecticut. The site itself is comprised of more than 1,250 acres granted to the Pequot Indian tribe per the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1983. The historic site is bordered to the North by Route 2 Norwich Westerly Road, bordered to the East by Route 214 Indiantown Road and bordered to the West by Route 117 Colonel Ledyard Highway. The site can located at the coordinates 41.4661° N, 71.9744° W.

The only surface artifact that was found in the entirety of the archaeological site reconnaissance was what looked to be an actually fairly intact arrowhead. While this may have simply been a sharp rock, the edges seemed to have been filed down. This artifact was located near the Eastern border of the reservation, inside Indiantown Park, about a quarter-mile Southeast of Old Pequot Trail.

The site the artifact was found in was a small, clear area in what was a large wooded portion of the reservation. There were trees surrounding the area, with a very small lake or pond immediately to the East. This area may have been a primary campsite sometime in the distant past, as the tree cover and access to freshwater may have been advantageous to the Pequot natives who lived in the region. Both Lantern Hill Pond and Long Pond are located within walking distance of the area, and information obtained at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center indicated that the larger portions of the tribe had been centered near these bodies of water for the past several hundred years.

The artifact in question, potentially an arrowhead, was possibly carved out of stone using other stones from the area. Once finished, it may have been affixed to a wooden stick or rod for use in hunting food or fighting any of the tribe’s enemies. If used for the latter, the artifact may even be old enough to have been used in the early conflicts between the Pequot-Algonquin tribes and the European settlers. If used for the former, the arrowhead could have proved useful as a tool with which to skin game for furs to be used in clothing, bedding or as construction materials, in addition to being affixed to the aforementioned stick or rod to serve as a spear, or possibly even an arrow.

The Pequot Indian Tribe is an indigenous people who have inhabited the Connecticut River valley for thousands of years. Entrenched within the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation and all throughout the state of Connecticut, is the long and profound history of these people. Many archaeological digs have occurred in these areas specifically in order to unearth further information about ancient Native American tribes. Chief among them in the greater New England region, following the Smallpox epidemic that wiped out nearly 90% of indigenous peoples along the Eastern seaboard of the United States, was the Pequot Nation. At their peak, the Pequot people occupied the coastal area between the Niantic River of present-day Connecticut and the Wecapaug River in Rhode Island and, prior to the 15th century, the Pequot population rose to an astonishing 16,000. The Pequot people retain links to American history as well as their own, having fought in the Pequot War of 1637. That year, the Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay colonies fought a Pequot nation diminished by famine and disease, numbering perhaps only 3,000 individuals at the time. Following their loss in the conflict, many of the Pequot were either killed or enslaved. The significance of this site to both Native American history and contemporary American history cannot be overstated. The cultural and historical importance of unearthing artifacts and information regarding a civilization practically lost to time is staggering; not only can today’s surviving Pequot learn more of their own history and cultural identity, but the acquisition of knowledge regarding the native peoples contributes to the greater anthropological goal of plotting man’s course through America’s, and reconciling and adding that information to what we know of previous migration patterns the world over. Additionally, the implications sites of this sort have on American history are vast, as the continued search for information regarding early colonial America and the economic, military and domestic practices that took place can be further examined through archaeological digs in the region, which may unearth further colonial artifacts, military arms or important documents from that particular time period.

For the above reasons and more, the further archaeological examination is sorely needed for the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation. Native American tribal history is one of the least understood aspects of ancient history in the western hemisphere, and the excavation and analysis of sites such as the Pequot reservation are essential in advancing our knowledge and understanding of these proud people.