From Academic Kids

The Quinnipiacks -- also spelled Quinnipiac -- were a Native American tribe of the Algonquin family who inhabited south-central Connecticut in the area around what is now the present-day city of New Haven and New Haven harbor. The name quinnipiac translates as "long water river" or "long water country" in the tribe's language Quiripi, which is an Eastern Algonquin dialect. The Quinnipiac River and Quinnipiac University are named for the tribe; before changing its name to New Haven, that town was also known as Quinnipiac/Quinnipiack.

The article covers the Quinnipiack as a tribe, or nation.

Total population

1638: 460 (est.)
1774: 71 (est.)

2000: Unknown, theorized as zero
Significant populations:Historically centered in Connecticut, United States.
Related ethnic groups

Native American
 North American natives
  Eastern Woodlands natives



The Quinnipiacks were first contacted by Europeans in 1614. Dutch explorer Adriaen Block is generally held to probably have been the first non-native visitor with the tribe, and there is evidence that the Quinnipiacks engaged in a significant trade of beaver pelts with the Dutch. Tribal history before this period is not well known.

In 1637, English Puritans visited the area in search of new land in which to settle theocratic colonies separate from Massachusetts and the Connecticut Colony. The settlers recorded that the tribe was at that time divided into four groups in that time period: the Momaugins in what is now New Haven, the Montowese of what is now North Haven, the Shaumpishuh/Menunkatuck of modern Guilford, and the Totokets of present-day Branford. It has since been argued that the Montowese were not in fact fully members of the Quinnipiacks, and that they were actually the kinsmen of a tribe located in what is now Middlesex County.

Prior to the encounter with the English settlers, the Quinnipiacks had been engaged in warfare with the Pequots, a tribe located to the east. The tribe had also been weakened by the spread of European diseases. Knowing that their situation was precarious in the face of such challenges, the sachem of the tribe engaged in an alliance with the Puritan settlers. In exchange for ceding the tribe's territory around New Haven harbor, the settlers would provide for defense of the Quinnipiacks and also give the tribe a list of goods, which included coats, hatchets and knives. This agreement was sealed in a treaty in November of 1638.

After the treaty was signed, the Momaugin band moved to a new settlement on the eastern side of the harbor. The native settlement was soon dwarfed by the expanding New Haven colony. Relations between the settlers and Quinnipiacks, however, remained relatively amicable. In 1675, Quinnipiac tribesmen fought alongside Englishmen against the Wampanoags in King Philip's War. Quinnipiacks also served in many expeditions to Canada and the Caribbean.

In the early 18th century, the tribe continued to dwindle, though not by any action by the local colonists. As the Quinnipiack's population declined, much of their remaining land was purchased by settlers and absorbed into new communities. By 1850, it was largely concluded that the Quinnipiacks no longer existed as a distinct or extant tribal culture.


The Quinnipiacks inhabited an area extending over much of modern New Haven, with their territory stretching more or less west to Milford, east to Guilford, and north to Meriden.


Living Arrangements

Like many Eastern Woodlands tribes in New England, the Quinnipiacks lived in wigwams made of local materials such as timber, bark, and sod. They were used year-round and sometimes featured fireplaces made of stone and an aperture in the wigwam's roof that served to release smoke. The skins of animals were sometimes attached to the outside of the wigwam to provide further insulation against cold winter winds.

The tribe subsisted on a variety of local foodstuffs, most notably the traditional maize, beans and squash. Shellfish was harvested from the waters of Long Island Sound, and hunters would track deer in the hilly forests of the region.


The Quinnipiack language is known as Quiripi. No modern-day speakers of it are known to exist.



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