Native Americans
in the Warwick Valley

Early Residents--The Paleo-Indians

The Warwick Valley has long been known as a rich source for Native American artifacts such as arrowheads and the stone tools used by these peoples. Walking the ploughed fields of the area or even strolling local hiking paths will often yield one of these treasures from the past. The area known as the "Drowned Lands", the large wetlands now providing rich soil to farmers in the Pine Island area, would have been attractive to a succession of visitors and residents for its abundant game.

Identifying these first people is problematic, however, as the only evidence most of them left was their stone tools. For more information about our earliest residents, we must turn to the archaeological record.

The earliest trace of human activity in the Warwick Valley is that of the nomadic peoples arriving in the area following the retreat of the glaciers. These Paleo-Indians are known by the distinctive shape of their projectile points, the Clovis Point. Some locally found points found near the border of Goshen and Warwick at the Dutchess Quarry Cave site have been dated to around 10,600 B.C. They were found in association with (extinct) caribou and giant beaver bones that could be radio-carbon dated. (see book sources listed below).
Clovis Point

(Photo courtesy of Lithics-net)

Eastern Woodland Indian Eastern Woodland Indian

The Munsees

The tribe living in the area at the time of its colonization by Europeans was the "Minsis". The name is subject to many different spellings in historical documents; the most commonly used at this time is "Munsee". They were part of the "Wolf Clan" of the Leni Lenape or Delaware people, members of the Algonquian language and culture group. The word minsi means "wolf", and this was the most warlike of the Lenape clans, living nearest the Iroquois and acting as a sort of shield for the other clans from the incursions of the Iroquois. Their territory extended from the Catskill mountains to the head waters of the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, bounded on the east by the Hudson.
A major known Munsee village in the Warwick Valley was Mistucky, which was located near the Welling farmhouse on Rt. 94, at the southern end of the Village of Warwick. The chief at the time of settlement by Europeans was Chuckhass.
Reconstruction of a Delaware longhouse

The use of plants for food and medicine by Native Americans is an area of continuing study. For a partial listing of plants likely used by the Minsis, use the Native American Ethnobotany Database and search for "Delaware" or a particular plant name.

Book Sources:
See also:

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