Prior to European arrival, the Hudson River Valley was home to many Native American societies—from the Munsee Indians of the lower valley (also known as Lenape), to the Mohicans and Mohawks of the upper valley. Early Dutch settlers, about one-half of whom were not ethnically Dutch, learned important survival techniques from Native Americans, and adapted many of their diplomatic, cultural, and social practices. Manhattan retains the Munsee Indian name Mannahatta, “the island of many hills.” The Mohawk Indians were the easternmost branch of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Iroquois), whose structure inspired the United States’ federalist government system.
Trade with the Dutch gave Native Americans access to fabrics, glass beads, and steel tools, but exposed them to decimating diseases. As the Dutch colony grew, so did conflicts. Many tribes were forced to migrate west.
Today, New York State is home to eight federally-recognized tribes and over 220,000 people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.
Below you can download a PDF of the new Dutch & Native American Heritage in the Hudson Valley brochure, order a paper copy of the brochure, and download an in-depth paper on the topic.
PDF Dutch & Native American Heritage in the Hudson Valley Brochure