The Nehantic: Who were they, where did they go, and where are they today?
A Talk by John Pfeiffer, Ph.D.
As Europeans moved into the lower Connecticut Valley in the 1630s, a group of Native Americans, the Niantics, resided in the region. By the 1870s, the State of Connecticut declared them “extinct” and their reservation was sold. Yet their history was never over.
Dr. John Pfeiffer will deliver a talk on the Niantic this Thursday night at the Yale Native American Center. Dr. Pfeiffer received his PhD in anthropology from the SUNY Albany and has worked in southeastern New England as an anthropologist, historian, and archaeologist for more than 45 years. He has aided local Native American groups (Mohegan, Schaghticoke, and Niantic) in better understanding their cultural identity and unique histories. While he has helped groups with the federal recognition process, he believes that, “if you need the government to recognize you, you are starting off on the wrong foot.”
The Yale Indian Papers Project collection contains numerous documents on the Niantic community. The image presented here shows tribal signatures on a 1749 petition to the Connecticut General Assembly. An image of the complete document and a transcription can be seen here. The original is located in the Connecticut State Library’s Connecticut Archives, Indian Series.