Consisting of the Algonquian language community, The Mashantucket Pequot tribe owns and operates the second largest casino resort in the world. This casino, called Foxwoods Resort Casino, has had a powerful impact on the economy of the tribe. Lying embedded in the borders of Ledyard in the state of Connecticut, New London County, the Pequot population reached a threatening low of 30 in the early twentieth century. However, a census conducted in 1990 revealed the Mashantucket Pequot population was three hundred and twenty.
It is believed that the Pequots migrated towards eastern Connecticut around the sixteenth century from the Hudson River Valley. In 1677, Rev. William Hubbard, a colonist, shed light on this in his narrative, Troubles with the Indians in New-England, in which he described the sheer tenacity of the natives from New England displayed when fighting against the British settlers. Archaeological evidence suggests the presence of this tribe's ancestors way back before the arrival of the Europeans.
At the time when the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies were being established, the tribe had earned a significant position in the economic, political, and military dominance among the Natives. Although the epidemic of smallpox between 1616-1619 killed about 90% of the native population, it did not reach the Pequot, Narragansett, and Niantic tribes. Although this episode led to the dominance of the Pequot tribe, an epidemic in 1633 led to the demise of about 80% of the tribe's population.
In the Pequot War in 1637, the forces of two colonies led by John Mason and John Underhill attacked the Pequot tribe at Mystic. Although the tribe was outnumbered, they put up a stiff resistance, but were eventually massacred. Those who survived the bloody battle were forced to become servants of the Puritan English, while others were sent to the Mohegan and Narragansett tribes, who had joined forces with the English colonies to overcome the Pequots. Although some from the Pequot tribe managed to escape and return to their traditional livelihood, this war dwindled the tribe's population.
Present-Day Mashantucket Pequot
This tribe, which had virtually gone extinct in the early 1980s, opened one of the world's largest resort casinos, called Foxwoods, in 1992. This enterprising venture generated huge amounts of income for this tribe. The revenue generated by the casino has not only been instrumental in providing jobs for many members, but also helped in the development of their community.
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, adjoining the Foxwoods Casino, provides a detailed educative tour of the history and cultural heritage of this ethnic tribe. This museum receives visitors and historians from all over the world and plays host to a number of festivals which feature indigenous local and international musicians and artists.
The grit and determination of the ancestors of this powerful tribe ensured that this tribe has survived to this day. Today, it has become one of the richest communities in the USA.