Indian Life on the Hudson River

Indian Life on the Hudson River

Ever since the last continental glacier receded from North America l 0,000 to 12,000 years ago, people have inhabited the valley.

Beginning perhaps 3,000 years ago, the Lenape and related Algonquin Indians developed a culture intimately intertwined with the area’s ecosystems and often centered on the river itself.

It was to the river that these people looked for much of their food, for transportation and communication.

Indian Life on the Hudson River It also played a part in their ceremonial lives.

The Lenape, which translates as “The Common People,” or-as they were named by the English-the Delaware,

Indian Life on the Hudson River can be divided into two linguistic subgroups, the Unami and Munsee.

The Unami had an influence on the New York Harbor area south to today ‘s states of Delaware and Maryland.

Munsee was spoken on both banks of the lower and mid-Hudson River Valley.

The Mahicans, a closely-related Lenape-type people, lived throughout the lower and middle Hudson Valley north into the Champlain Valley.

On both banks of the Hudson from Manhattan upriver to Kingston and beyond ,

the valley was inhabited by many Lenape peoples, politically autonomous and going under various tribal names.

These people called the lower Hudson River Shattemuc and the mid-Hudson stretch Mahicanituk.

We no longer know what Shattemuc means, but speakers of the language translate Mahicanituk as “Tidal River of the Mahican People.”

The glacial gorge of the Hudson riverbed lies below sea level for 152 miles,

so that the Hudson River is actually an estuary where tides are felt all the way inland to the city of Troy near Albany, New York State ‘s capital.

Brackish water reaches upstream for less than half this length, due to the Hudson’s considerable freshwater flow.

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