WPI recognizes the people of the Chaubunagungamaug and Hassanamisco Nipmuc Tribe as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. If you are providing a land acknowledgement as a member of the WPI community, it is important to research and learn whose land you are on, their histories, and pertinent treaties or historical events that have impacted Indigenous Peoples in the region. This page provides resources to help you learn more about the the Chaubunagungamaug and Hassanamisco Nipmuc Tribe and their history.
The people the English referred to as Nipmuc, or “fresh water people” occupied the interior portion of what is now Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The present-day boundaries of the original homelands included all of central Massachusetts from the New Hampshire/Vermont borders and south of the Merrimac Valley southerly to include Tolland and Windham counties in Connecticut and the NW portion of Rhode Island. To the east, the homelands included the Natick/Sudbury area going west to include the Connecticut River Valley. The people lived in scattered villages throughout the area including Wabaquasset, Quinnebaug, Quaboag, Pocumtuc, Agawam, Squawkeag, and Wachusett. Their economic and subsistence cycles consisted of hunting, gathering, planting, and harvesting in their seasons. These villages were linked together by kinship ties, trade alliances, and common enemies. They lived in wetus, which could be moved to other encampments. Often thought of as wanderers, they were instead careful planners and good stewards of the land upon which they lived.
The Nipmuc Tribal Acknowledgment Project, begun 1989, continued the important research for federal recognition and compiled a census of the tribe. In 1995, the Hassanamisco and the Chaubunagungamaug bands came together to work towards recognition thus uniting tribal members under one banner, the Nipmuc Nation. Unfortunately, the unification did not last long. In 1995, the Chaubunagungamaug band split off from the Nipmuc Nation to attempt federal recognition on its own. The split was due to diverse factors including the division of power and tribal roll guidelines.
-From the Tribal Government and Citizens of Nipmuc Nation website
The territory of Chaubunagungamaug was first inhabited about 12,000 years ago by what are now called "Paleo Indians". These people travelled and lived in family groups, hunting the animals that inhabited the subarctic environment. Descendants of these first settlers became what is now known as the Algonquian family, in which the Nipmuck tribe is included, among many others.
Nipmuck country, or "Nipnet" meaning "fresh pond place" of "fresh water place", extended from Central Massachusetts northward past the Wachusett Hills, to about the southern line of New Hampshire; northeastward to the Pawtuckets on the lower Merrimack; eastward to the Massachusetts Bay, and to the Wampanoags east of the Blackstone; southward to the northern Rhode Island bands of the Narragansett, and to the Mohegans of east central Connecticut; and westward to the Pocumtucks and Norwottucks of Western Massachusetts.
In spite of the tragic events of the last 300 years, the Nipmuck people have survived extinction. The few families that remained assimilated into the new society in order to survive, while still keeping their culture alive within the privacy of their own homes. To the detriment of all human beings, much of our once rich culture has been lost or forgotten, but the foundations that made us who we are; that of Respect, Honor, and Integrity, can never be taken away, and still survive to this day within the hearts of our children, and for Seven Generations to come.
-From the Nipmuck Tribal Council of Chaubunagungamaug website
*The use of Nipmuc and Nipmuck depends on tribal members and how they want to be known
Photo of a plaque for the Nipmuc Peoples at Worcester City Hall. The plaque was erected in 2022. The plaque reads:
We acknowledge that the City of Worcester stands on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Nipmuc People, past and present.
We acknowledge the painful history of dispossession and marginalization that stripped Nipmuc Peoples of their right to self-determination and of relationship to land and territory.
We honor with gratitude the land itself and its Nipmuc stewards, a living and breathing community who continue to maintain their sovereignty and culture.
See the "Local News" tab below to read about local community reactions to the plaque.
Photo by Paige Neumann, 2022.
Documentary: Pakachoag: Where the River Bends (2020)