Northfield, Massachusetts

This map displays the close proximity of Northfield, MA to New Hampshire’s border. Map courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

Northfield, Massachusetts, known as Squackheag to its Native inhabitants, is one of the earliest known Western Abenaki villages that existed until 1669.

The importance of Northfield and its Native inhabitants stems, in part, by the confusion of the Sokoki of the Western Abenaki and the original inhabitants of Northfield, the Squackheag. It’s regarded that the Squackheags close proximity to the Sokoki was reason to assume they were one in the same when in fact they were not, as Day clarifies.

It is also safe to say that Squackheag shared the same formidable enemies that the Sokoki found in the Mohawks. And more aptly, the Iroquois. The relentless and often brutal Mohawk attacks on the Squackheag has led us to two conclusions on their departure and sale of their homeland. The first being that the Squackheag sold their land to the English under the pretense that the English would defend them from future Mohawk attacks. The second being that previous Mohawk attacks rendered the Squackheag population at dangerous lows, also accrediting their low populace as a result of colonist borne plagues, so much so, that the Squackheag no longer saw their presence in the area beneficial to remain.

To clear up whether or not the Squackheag left Northfield as an entirety can be seen in Temple’s writings of the English settlers after their purchase of Northfield in 1673 by him stating that the English and Squackheag coexist in Northfield but with “no mingling of the races.”

After the Squackheag left their home fronts, it is understood that their travels led them to make homestead with the Missisquoi and Schaghitcokes in Vermont and the Abenaki in upper New Hampshire. These three Indian tribes would eventually migrate northward to Saint Francis, known as Odanak, in attempts to avoid ongoing colonial and Native American wars. It is likely that they returned to their homeland after these confrontations due to the vastness of the Connecticut River valley. Our comprehension is that some, not all, of these 4 Indian bands/tribes did join the French ranks in efforts to exact justice on the English colonists and their allies, the Mohawk.

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