Mohegan [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Also called the Mohican, they were the eastern branch of the Mahican. In the early 17th cent. the Mohegan occupied most of SE Connecticut, their chief village being on the site of the present village of Mohegan on the Thames River. When European settlers arrived in this region, the Mohegan and the Pequot were one tribe, living under the rule of Sassacus. Later Uncas, a subordinate chief, rebelled against Sassacus and assumed the leadership of a small group on the Thames River near Norwich. This group was known as the Mohegan. After the fall of Sassacus the greater part of the Pequot joined the Mohegan, who in 1643 numbered some 2,300. The Mohegan, supported by the British, became one of the most powerful tribes in S New England. As white settlements were extended, the Mohegan sold most of their land and accepted a reservation on the Thames; others joined with neighboring tribes. By the early 19th cent. the Mohegans were practically extinct, although they became known to the world with the publication in 1826 of James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans. In 1990 there were about 1,000 Mohegan in the United States; they gained federal recognition as a tribe in 1994. In 1996 the tribe opened a casino and resort on its reservation in Montville, Ct.
See A. L. Peale, Uncas and the Mohegan-Pequot (1939).
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