Join FRESH in celebrating Indigenous People’s Day by learning more about the Indigenous communities in Connecticut. The state-recognized sovereign nations in Connecticut are the Eastern Pequot, Golden Hill Paugussett, and Schaghticoke tribes with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan having federal recognition as well. However, despite recognition of sovereignty, these nations lost most of their land due to English settler colonies in the seventeenth century.
A brief history of the relationship between English colonists in what is now called Connecticut and the indigenous nations details the violent displacement of Indigenous communities. On May 1, 1637, the Connecticut Colony declared war against the Pequot. This was the first war declared between the English colonists and the Indigenous people. The Narragansett, Niantic, Mohegan, Mohawk, Sasqua, and other nations also became involved in the conflict. During the war, which stemmed from growing tensions between the English, Pequot, Dutch settlers and other Indigenous nations, battles occurred in the present day towns of Mystic, Old Saybrook, Groton, Wethersfield, and Fairfield as well as on Block Island. The Pequot War had long-term effects on the Indigenous communities of Connecticut. After the war, Indigenous people who had been captured faced enslavement and servitude. The war also influenced the colonial policy toward Indigenous Nations as well as future policies of the United States. It is important to note that the Pequot War was only the first official war between the Connecticut Colony and the Pequot nation.
On Indigenous People’s Day, those of us who are not Indigenous should learn not just about the marginalization of Indigenous nations of the present-day United States but to also learn more about Indigenous communities today. Despite forced displacement, violence and oppression, Indigenous nations have continued to play an active role in history. The ongoing land justice movement, an important part of the food justice movements, recognizes that wealth is ultimately tied concretely to land. Land, in this sense, refers to not only territory and property but also the resources that come with it. Today, the majority of land in the United States is privately owned by individuals and corporations which is a direct result of European colonization, especially when tracking who is in control of the land. This has led to the extreme concentration of wealth by a small minority population that is predominantly white. Therefore, this movement works towards the equitable distribution of wealth and resources by advocating for land redistribution and reparations. The equitable distribution of wealth, tied to the land, would be an important step in decolonization– to work at the root of the many injustices that we see and experience today.
How can you contribute to this movement? First, you can learn what land you are occupying by texting any city name to 1-907-312-5085 and learn more about territory acknowledgement here. Please use this resourceguide compiled by Ari Sahagún and Jay Saper to read more about how you can contribute to justice for Indigenous communities. The guide lists primer readings, more in-depth information, readings on decolonization as it relates to social justice as well as economic justice and compiles active decolonization efforts.
FRESH recognizes the Mashantucket Pequots, Eastern Pequots, Mohegans, and other nations who are indigenous to Nameag, now called New London. We appreciate our gardeners who belong to these communities and strive to continue this conversation in New London whenever possible.
Please find below a recipe for Modern Day Narragansett Strawberry Bread from a FRESH event in 2019 led by Rachel, a member of the Mohegan Tribe and food sovereignty activist and valued community gardener!