Tribal Culture

INDIAN LEAP

In the summer of 1643, the Narragansett Sachem Miantonomo led 900 warriors in a surprise attack on Shetucket, the Mohegan capital near Norwich, Connecticut. It almost worked. However, Uncas was not asleep. His runners observed the enemy crossing a ford, and carried the intelligence to their chief at his fort near the present city of Norwich. When the Narragansett located and confronted the Mohegan chief, they found that they had to deal with the whole strength of his tribe. Uncas had time to call in his warriors.

Uncas had felt himself strong enough to advance a few miles, though he had but half the force of his enemy. He relied with confidence on the courage of his small army. He signaled for a parley as soon as the Narragansett came within hearing, and, meeting the Narragansett chief between the lines, appealed to him to prevent a needless effusion of blood by a single combat of the leaders. Miantonomo rejected the proposal, with some contempt, and Uncas at once gave the signal for which his men had been waiting, by dropping prone upon the ground. His men instantly poured a flight of arrows upon the Narragansett, and followed it by a charge, which Uncas rose and headed. The Narragansett fled, almost without striking a blow. Uncas leaped across Yantic Falls (now known as "Indian Leap") in pursuit of Narragansett Sachem. Many of the Narragansett were driven by Mohegan warriors over the precipice above Yantic Falls and dashed upon the rocks below. Miantonomo, deserted by his people and over-weighted by an English corselet, was caught after a long chase by Uncas and one of his sachems.

Disheartened, the Narragansett broke off the fight and retreated (this engagement has come to be known as "The Battle of the Great Plain"). The battleground is commemorated with a historic marker on the hillside above the falls.

I395 to exit 81E (routes 2/32). Follow Rts 2/32 to Chelsea Parade. Make a right hand turn on Sachem Street. Follow Sachem Street for about 1/4 mile. Make left on Yantic Street. Yantic Falls and the Leap are directly on the right. Site open to the public year round.


ROYAL MOHEGAN BURIAL GROUND

Located on the hillside above Yantic Falls is the Royal Mohegan Burial Ground, which once encompassed the entire 16 acres of Norwich. Today, only a few graves remain. The Uncas Memorial is a very prominent obelisk surrounded by smaller memorials and gravestones, including a memorial stone to Mamohet, who died in England in 1735. The gravestone of Samuel Uncas, a descendent, is in the Slater Memorial Building.

I395 to exit 81E (routes 2/32). Follow Rts 2/32 to Chelsea Parade. Make a right hand turn on Sachem Street. Royal Mohegan Burial Ground is 100 yds down Sachem Street on left. Site open to the public year round.


FORT SHANTOK

Fort Shantok is sacred ground to the Mohegan. It is the place where the Mohegan tribe first settled with Sachem Uncas in the 17th Century. Within the walls of the fort is an ancient burial ground where a few graves remain undisturbed. During the spring of 1645, the Narragansetts invaded the Mohegan country with a large force and besieged Uncas at his fort at Shantok Point on the Pequot (Thames) River. The fort was strong and easily defended. The siege continued, however, until an English relief force from Saybrook, commanded by Thomas Leffingwell, was able to reprovision the fort. The Narragansetts, upon discovering the fact, abandoned the siege and returned home.

At one corner of the fort there is a cairn in the shape of a wigwam known as the Leffingwell Memorial. On the cairn is an inscription stating, "Here stood the fort of Uncas Sachem of the Mohegans and friend of the English; here in 1645 when beseiged by the Narragansetts he was relieved by the bravery of Lt. T. I. Leffingwell."

This National Registered Historic Landmark is opento the public, sunrise to sunset, year round. Take I395 to exit 79A, Rt 2A East (Preston/Ledyard). Take 2A East to exit 1, Rt 32 (Norwich/Uncasville). Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp. Travel .4 mi to Fort Shantok Road. Turn right and travel 1.3 mi. Fort Shantok Park will be on your left.


MOHEGAN CHURCH

Mohegan Church was founded in 1827 by three generation's of Mohegan Women, Lucy Occum Tantaquidgeon, Lucy Tantaquidgeon Teecomwas, and Cynthia Teecomwas Hoscott. It was completed in 1831 and became the site of the first Mohegan school. The site has always been a place where people would gather. There were festivals held under a big Chestnut tree on the site, known as the "Fair Tree".

Open to the public, Congregationalist Protestant Services, Sunday 9:30A.M. Closed summers. Take I395 to exit 79A, Rt 2A East (Preston/Ledyard). Take 2A East to exit 1, Rt 32 (Norwich/Uncasville). Turn right at the bottom of the exit ramp. Travel .4 mi and turn left on Church Lane. The church is at the end of Church Lane.