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Pequot Indian Fact Sheet (Pequod)

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Pequots for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to look through our main Pequot page for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Pequot pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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  Pequot Nation

How do you pronounce "Pequot?" What does it mean?
Pequot is pronounced "PEE-kwott." It is sometimes also spelled Pequod, Pequat, or Pequott. Most historians think it comes from the Narragansett word pequttoog, which means "destroyers." The Narragansetts often fought with the Pequots, so they might have called them this name because they were fierce warriors. On the other hand, many Pequot people believe that the real origin of the name is a different word from their own language which has been lost to time. If so, perhaps the original name may have been similar to the Abnaki-Penobscot word bôgwad, which means "shallow" (like shallow water.)

Are the Pequots and the Mohegans the same tribe, or two different ones?
The Pequots and Mohegans are two different tribes. They were once the same tribe, but the Mohegans broke away from the Pequots and formed their own tribe. The two tribes still speak the same language and share many cultural traits, but they have different leadership, similar to American and British people today.

Where do the Pequots live today?
There are two Pequot Indian bands in Connecticut, which is the original homeland of the Pequot tribe. Here is a map showing the location of Pequot and other tribal territory in southern New England.

What happened to the Pequots after colonization?
The Pequots fought against English colonists in a conflict called the Pequot War. The Pequot War didn't end well for the Pequots. In 1637, the English Puritans led an attack on the Pequot capital at Mystic River and massacred everyone living there. Many Pequot people in other villages fled from the Puritans and hid in the wilderness or took refuge with other tribes. Other Pequots surrendered to the Puritans and were sold into slavery.

Why were the Puritans and the Pequots fighting?
Like all wars, there were complicated reasons. Tensions were high among Native American tribes in the 17th century, when many indigenous people were harmed by diseases and social changes caused by colonization. Also, there were significant cultural miscommunications on both sides. The Pequots blamed the English for a murder that was committed by the Dutch, while the English blamed the Pequots for murders that were committed by Niantic and Narragansett people. Overall, though, the cause of the Pequot War was simply that the Europeans wanted to take the Pequots' land and resources for themselves. Unlike some of their neighboring tribes, the Pequots fought back instead of trying to compromise, but they were defeated. You can read a more detailed account of the Pequot War at this history site.

How is the Pequot Indian nation organized today?
There are two Pequot bands in Connecticut: the Mashantucket Pequots and the Eastern Pequots. Though both bands belong to the same cultural group, they live in different locations and each one has its own government. Like other Native Americans in the United States, Pequot Indian tribes have their own reservations. A reservation is land that belongs to an Indian tribe and is under their control. But all the Pequots are also US citizens and must obey American law.

What language do the Pequots speak?
Pequot Indians all speak English today. In the past, the Pequots, Mohegans, Montauks, Niantics, and other tribes of Southern New England all spoke the Mohegan-Pequot language. This language died out more than 100 years ago, but some young Pequot and Mohegan people are working to revive it. If you'd like to learn an easy word in Mohegan-Pequot, aquy (pronunciation similar to ah-quoy) is a friendly greeting. You can also read a Mohegan-Pequot picture glossary here.

What was Pequot culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is a link to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, which has information about the heritage and traditions of the Pequot people.

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How do Pequot Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like early colonial children. But they did have corn-husk dolls, ball games, and toys such as kid-size bows and arrows. Pequot mothers, like many Native Americans, traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women's roles in the Pequot tribe?
Pequot men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Pequot women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. In the past, Pequot chiefs were always men, but today a Pequot Indian woman could be chief too.

What were Pequot homes like in the past?
The Pequots didn't live in tepees. They lived in small round houses called wigwams. Here is some more information about the wigwam. Pequot villages were usually palisaded, which means it was surrounded by a wall of upright logs to protect against attack. Besides wigwams, each village included a larger council hall, a central square for tribal gatherings, a granary pit to store corn, and several small farms.

Today, Native Americans only build a wigwam for fun or to connect with their heritage, not for shelter. Most Pequots live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Pequot clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Pequot women wore knee-length skirts and the men wore breechcloths with leggings. Here is a website with pictures of Native American breechcloths. Shirts were not necessary in the Pequot culture, but Pequot people did wear deerskin mantles in cool weather. Pequot men and women both wore earrings and moccasins on their feet. Here is a picture of Pequot clothing and some photographs and links about Native apparel in general.

The Pequots didn't wear long headdresses like the Sioux. Usually they wore an Indian headband with a feather or two in it. Sometimes a Pequot chief wore a headdress of turkey feathers pointing straight up from a headband, like this. Pequot men, especially warriors, often wore a Mohawk hairstyle or shaved their heads completely except for a scalplock (one long lock of hair on top of their heads.) Pequot women usually had long hair. Here is a website with pictures of Native Americans' hair.

Today, some Pequot people still have a traditional headband or moccasins, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.

What was Pequot transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
Yes, the Pequots made dugout canoes by hollowing out large trees. They used them for transportation and for ocean fishing trips. Here is a website about wooden Indian boats. Over land, the Pequots used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.) Pequot Indians used sleds and snowshoes to help them travel in the winter. (They learned to make those tools from northern neighbors like the Cree Indians.) Today, of course, Pequot people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.

What was Pequot food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Pequots were farming people. Pequot women planted corn, squash and beans and also gathered nuts and fruit to eat. Pequot men did most of the hunting. They shot deer, turkeys, and small game, and went fishing on the coast. Pequot Indian recipes included soup, cornbread, and stews. Here is a website with more information about Native American food recipes.

What kinds of weapons did the Pequots use?
Pequot hunters and warriors used bows and arrows, spears, and tomahawks. Here are pictures and information about the Native American tomahawk and other traditional weapons. Fishermen used pronged spears, nets, and bone hooks.

What are Pequot art and crafts like?
The Pequot tribe was known for their basket making and beaded necklaces. Like other eastern American Indians, Pequots also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The images on a wampum belt often told a story or represented a person's family.

What other Native Americans did the Pequot tribe interact with?
The Pequots liked to trade with other Algonquian tribes in the New England area, such as the Mohegan and Wampanoag Indians. But they were also powerful warriors. Some of the tribes they fought against most frequently were the Narragansett and Montauk tribes. Some Narragansett and Mohegan warriors ended up forming an alliance with the Puritans against the Pequots during the Pequot War. Others offered refuge to the surviving Pequot people.

I read that the Thanksgiving holiday is really celebrating the massacre of the Pequots. Is that true?
This is hard to say for sure, because early English colonists used the word "Thanksgiving" for many different celebrations. The Puritans really did hold a thanksgiving festival to celebrate the Pequot massacre. However, the event that is usually defined as the "First Thanksgiving" took place in 1621, which was sixteen years before the massacre, and was simply celebrating a good harvest. Hopefully most people who celebrate Thanksgiving today are thinking about the earlier harvest festival, not about innocent families being murdered.

What kinds of stories do the Pequots tell?
There are many traditional Niantic legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Niantic Indian culture. Here's one legend about the Makiaweesug, who were mythical creatures like brownies or fairies. All the Mohegan-Pequot speaking tribes told stories about little people like these..

What about Pequot religion?
Spirituality and religion were important parts of Pequot life, and some people continue to practice traditional beliefs today. It is respectful to avoid imitating religious rituals for school projects since some Pequot people care about them deeply. You can read and learn about them, however. You can visit this site to learn more about New England Algonquian traditions and symbols or this site about Native religions in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy Where The Great Hawk Flies, which is a novel for young adults about a half-Pequot boy living in the 18th century. If you want to know more about Pequot history and culture, The Pequot Tribe is a good book for young readers, or there's a more comprehensive history of the Indian tribes of Connecticut here. You can also browse through our recommendations of Native American history books in general. Disclaimer: we are an Amazon affiliate and our website earns a commission if you buy a book for sale at one of these links. Most of them can also be found in a public library, though!

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first started in 1998 and last updated in 2020.

Thanks for your interest in the Pequot Indian people and their language!

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Learn More About The Pequots

An overview of the Pequot tribe's language and history.

Pequot Language Resources
Pequot Indian language samples, articles, and teaching tools.

Pequot Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Pequot Indian community past and present.

Pequot Words
Pequot Indian vocabulary lists.

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