The Saratoga Springs area, including Greenfield where the Ndakinna Center is located, is part of a wide area whose lands and waters were cared for by the Algonkian people known as the Mohican for over ten thousand years. About fifteen hundred years ago, a group of Iroquoian-speaking people, the Kanien-ke-haka (Mohawk) migrated to the area. Both nations regarded the area surrounding Saratoga Springs sacred. Because of the mineral springs with healing waters, it was considered an area of peace to be shared by all.
The Mohican, who became known as the Stockbridge Munsee, were forced to remove first to Massachusetts, then to the area of Oneida, New York and eventually to Wisconsin where the Stockbridge Munsee Reservation still exists. Their name of Mohican relates to the Hudson River, the Muh-he-kun-i-tuk: The river that flows two ways. The Kanien-ke-haka (Mohawk) are the easternmost of the Five original Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations. Haudenosaunee means “People of the Longhouse”) and Kanien-keha-ka means “People of the Flint,” the Mohawks. Although most Mohawks were forced to relocate north to the Akwesasne Reservation straddling the Canadian border and further into Canada to several other reserves, there is a contemporary Mohawk community led by Tom Porter near Fonda, New York called Kanatsiohareke.
Many Native people living in the Saratoga Springs area never left, but simply laid low. Several other groups of Algonkian people, including Abenakis, started moving here in the 1600s as a result of European settlements elsewhere. When 18th century tourism around the springs provided opportunities for Native artisans to sell their goods, they began again to have a visible presence in such places as Congress Park where Mohawk and Abenaki craftspeople regularly set up camps to sell their goods well into the early 20 the century.
For a pdf excerpt of information from our Saratoga Native Festival Booklet, click here.