History Of Native American Indians On Long Island
of Three Articles By Howard
the Early settlement of the Colonies, the Dutch and the English
were the prominent settlers of Long Island. Unlike the Pilgrims
which first settled our country, these two nationalities were
not simply content to live with the Native American tribes of
the region. While some did, greed soon over took the White man
and he began to see that the Native Americans were not capable
of governing so rich and fertile a land. Whether it be due to
the religious practices; the intelligence, or the lack of a civilized
nature, these settlers decided that only THEY should be the masters
of this new land.
achieve this stature, the settlers would employ other warring
tribes to eradicate the people inhabiting the lands they wanted.
Mind you this was only after they realized that some would not
be moved or bought out. By the winter of 1643, things really got
bad for both sides when reports that an elderly wheelwright was
killed on Manhattan Island in what is now Westchester county.
Naturally these reports said that the elderly chap was killed
by and Indian. A gentleman by the name of William Keift, the Dutch
official in charge at New Amsterdam at the time, ordered the Indians
living near where the murder took place to hand over the killer.
They refused. Keift was told the Indian who killed the old man
"had only avenged the death of his Uncle, who had been slain
over one and twenty years by the Dutch."
did not settle well with Keift who met with an official council
called the Twelve. They concluded that if this murderer was NOT
brought to justice, war would be inevitable. This lit the proverbial
fuse of distrust and a Dutch ensign was sent out with a detail
of 80 men to find the village. But the ensign got lost in the
dark, could not find the village and turned back.
weeks later, large groups of Indians from the north began to move
south towards New Amsterdam, most likely to attack traditional
Indian enemies in the south to collect wampum. The Dutch saw this
as a move to foment war against both the Dutch and the English
along the southern New England coastline and the east end of Long
Island. (Sounds a bit like what the government did 1973 with the
Native Americans at Wounded Knee with the Lakota Sioux) With the
move of said Native Americans, other tribes near Manhattan Island
sought the protection of Keift and the settlers. Keift by this
time was paranoid and not in a charitable mood concerning Native
Americans. Hence on 25 Feb 1643, he and Dutch soldiers attacked
the refugee encampment killing 80 Indians and taking 30 prisoners.
A book titled "A History of the City of Brooklyn" published
in 1867 describes atrocities to men, women, and children that
would rival even some of the worst hack and slash movies on the
market today. It said the Indians were remorselessly butchered.
slaughter by the Dutch seems to have inspired other attacks. The
Dutch living at the western end of Long Island asked Keift for
permission to attack their Indian neighbors, but he refused fearing
they might be hard to conquer. But attacks on Long Island did
occur and panicked Dutch farmers fled west seeking the protective
shelter of New Amsterdam. To help quell this unrest, the Dutch
invited a group of Long Island Indians to New Amsterdam to conduct
a peace treaty. But that treaty would not last for long.
a few months after the Dutch summoned the Native American leaders
to New Amsterdam, there was a peace across the region. But by
the fall of 1643, the killing began anew. Panicky settlers fled
to the safety of New Amsterdam and sought help from Keift. He
and his advisors reached out for help from English communities
in Connecticut. While the English could offer no troops, they
did allow for the raising of mercenaries to head up the task.
Enter one John Underhill, a man with a reputation.
was basically an "Indian Killer" by his own account,
He and his men killed 1000 Pequots- men, women and children and
torched their villages. He was heralded as the savior of the Europeans
from extinction. While the Native Americans feared and hated him,
the settlers hailed him as a hero. This would change Long Island
history forever. Underhill's claim to a bloody piece of Long Island
history began in April of 1644, when it was recorded that seven
savages were accused of killing pigs in a settlement called Hempstead
were arrested. (Later it was discovered that English themselves
had done it) Keift sent in Underhill along with 15 or 16 men to
the settlement. Upon arriving, three of the savages were killed
outright. Then they took the other four with them on a sailing
boat, two of whom were towed along by a rope around their necks
till they were drowned. The remaining two were detained at the
fort in New Amsterdam. They were kept for a time until Keift tired
of feeding them and looking after them, at which time he turned
them over to the soldiers to do with as they pleased. Suffice
it to say…the atrocities that ensued…were simply that,
atrocities. While Keift, stood laughing heartily at the "fun".
It seems this was great sport to the soldiers. I will not go into
detail about what was done, for it makes my heart sad as a human
being to even think on how cruel people can be, then and now.
continue on, the bloodbath on Long Island continued to escalate
when Underhill and his troops attacked a PEACEFUL community of
Native Americans on what is believed as modern day Massapequa.
After the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, they had killed
120 Indians. The exact location of this massacre is disputed.
Although a famed archaeologist Ralph Solecki states that the evidence
strongly suggests it occurred at a site in Massapequa called Fort
Neck. Confirmation would have come in 1935 when the bones of some
24 people were dug up during an excavation of the site.
the battle of Fort Neck, with the weather being cold and the wind
coming from the northwest, Captain Underhill and his men collected
the bodies of the slain Indians and tossed them in a heap on the
brow of the hill, then sat down and had their breakfast. I gather
from records, they were never buried. Underhill's rampage went
on to a place in Westchester, where he killed the Indians of that
area and torched the fort they lived in. The body count was in
excess of 180. Underhill was honored with statues, obelisks and
markers as a great pioneer for European settlers, while the dead
he left behind…had nothing. While there was a marker…to
indicate the site of the massacre at one point in time…it
was stolen for some reason and never replaced. The grounds of
the site are said to have a reddish tinge, indicative of the slain
natives of that time.
Now, in 1907 a HUGE obelisk was erected by the Underhill Society
of America, a genealogical group, on Factory Pond Road, in Mill
Neck. The monument features four plaques on its base showing Underhill
reading to natives who are kneeling worshipfully at his feet.
On the cover of the book Underhill is reading can be seen the
words "Love one Another."
subject is discussed in these three threads on our forum:
Read [article on Native Americans]
History Pt 1: Mauntak Indians and Devil Worship