The Stockbridge are a tribe of the Mohican Confederacy that were first known under the name Housatonic. They occupied part of the valley of Housatonic River, in south Berkshire County, Massachusetts. In 1734, missionary work began among them and two years later, the bands were collected on a tract reserved for their use by the Colonial government. After the village of Stockbridge was established they were known as Stockbridge Indians.
The French and Indian War, which broke out in 1754, proved disastrous to the Stockbridge. Many of them joined the English army and their town suffered from marauding parties so that at the close of the war, there were only about 200 remaining. The whites were also closing in around them, and in 1785 the dispirited remnant, accepting an invitation of the Oneida, removed to a tract on Oneida Creek in Madison and Oneida Counties, New York.
Under the protection of the Oneida, the Stockbridge again increased and in 1796 numbered 300. In 1833, with the Oneida and Munsee tribes moved to the head of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a tract which had been purchased from the Menominee tribe. Here, the Stockbridge became incorporated with the Munsee, and the two tribes formed one body. In 1839 the Stockbridge and Munsee, then numbering about 420, sold half of their reservation and agreed to remove to lands that were to be assigned to them west of the Mississippi River. On the remaining land, a town was laid out on the east shore of Winnebago Lake, where they intended to become citizens. About 80 of them moved to the Missouri River and remained for a time near Leavenworth, Kansas. The arrangement proved unsatisfactory, and they were once more brought together and the tribal government restored. In 1856 they removed, with the exception of a number who desired to become citizens, to a reservation west of Shawano, Wisconsin, where, in 1909 the united tribes, including the Munsee, numbered some 582. There were also some who became citizens near their former home on Winnebago Lake.
The General Allotment Act of 1887 resulted in the loss of a great deal of land in Shawano County by the Stockbridge-Munsee. In the Great Depression, the tribe lost yet more land. However, in the early 1930’s the Stockbridge-Munsee began reorganizing and in 1932 began to regain some of their land. The Secretary of the Interior affirmed the reservation in 1937.
Today, many of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians continue to live in Shawano County, Wisconsin on a 22,000-acre reservation. They have a population of about 1600 people. Among their enterprises is the successful North Star Mohican Resort and Casino.
Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, October 2018.
Hodge, Frederick Webb; The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico; Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906