Hierarchy: Amerind > Algic > Algonquian > Eastern > New England > South New England
Variant Names: Mohegan, Montauk, Niantic, Pequot, Poosepatuck, Secatogue, Shinnecock
Native Region: Atlantic North US
Native Locales: Connecticut, Long Island (USA)
Speakers/Status: 0 / Dormant 1908
Language Codes: ISO 639-3 xpq / Glottolog pequ1242
Last Known Fluent Native Speaker: Fidelia Fielding died 1908
Associated Tribes and Alternate Names: Mohegan, Montauk, Montaukett, Niantic, Pequot, Poosepatuck, Secatogue, Shinnecock
Mohegan is a dormant Algonquian language that is well preserved through documentation and still continues to be taught among tribal members.
Mohegan is often confused with the Mahican language, another language in the Algonquian language family.
At the time of European invasion the speakers of Mohegan lived in modern southeastern Connecticut, centered around the Thames and Mystic Rivers, with territories spanning across the Sound onto Long Island. The Mohegan had a matrilineal kinship system.
Colonial trespassers greatly influenced the Pequot War of 1637. Playing on their preexisting internal schisms, the Mohegan were deceived into all out war against the other local tribes, most notably their kin the Pequot. The war resulted in a bloody self-annihilation that resulted in the death of many natives.
Five dialects of Mohegan have been positively isolated, three on the mainland Connecticut, and two on Long Island:
- The Mohegan dialect, or Mohegan proper, spoken on the mainland.
- The Pequot dialect, spoken on the mainland.
- The Niantic dialect, spoken on the mainland, along the Sound.
- The Montauk dialect, spoken along the eastern extreme of Long Island.
- The Shinnecock dialect, spoken on Long Island.
It is important to consider that some dialectal differences may have not arisen until after European incursion when tribes were separated and dislocated.
Fidelia Ann Hoscott Smith [Fielding] [Dji’ts Bud dnaca (“Flying Bird”)], the last fluently native speaker of Mohegan, passed away 18 Jul 1908.
References and Resources
- Native Languages Pequot/Mohegan Words:
- Glossary of the Mohegan-Pequot Language:
- A Modern Mohegan Dictionary:
A Mohegan-Pequot Dictionary:
(this link automatically downloads)
- Cowan, William. “Pequot from Stiles to Speck.” International Journal of American Linguistics, vol. 39, no. 3, 1973, pp. 164–172. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1264567.
- Speck, Frank G. “A Pequot-Mohegan Witchcraft Tale.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 16, no. 61, 1903, pp. 104–106. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/532760.
Copyright © 2018 by Christopher Lather