Who are the Nipmuck Native Americans that lived along the Assabet River? 

The name Nipmuck originated from the Algonquin word "nipnet" which literally means "small pond place" and is sometimes translated as "fresh water people."

The Nipmuck generally lived along rivers or on the shores of small lakes. Like other New England Algonquin, the Nipmuck were agricultural. They changed locations according to the seasons, but always remained within the bounds of their own territory. Part of their diet came from hunting, fishing, and gathering of wild food.

Each group was ruled by its own sachem, but there was very little political organization beyond the village or band level. This lack of a sophisticated system of government may seem to imply the Nipmuck were not as sophisticated as neighboring tribes, but this was not really the case. Few villages were fortified, so what little warfare there was had to have been low-level. The Nipmuck obviously lived in peace with each other and just did not have problems that required a lot of complicated government.

Only two identifiable groups of Nipmuck have survived to the present day. Both are recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have nearly 1,400 members, 250 of whom live in Connecticut (which has not recognized the Nipmuck). The Hassanamisco have the small 2-acre Hassanamesit Reservation at Grafton, Massachusetts. The Chaubunnagungamag (Webster, Massachusetts) have a privately owned ten acre reservation in northeast Connecticut. Although both groups have applied, neither is federally recognized.

The sketches included in this section were drawn by Kitt Little Turtle who was the medicine man for the Impmuck Indian Council of Chaubunnagungamag. Little Turtle, who recently passed away, was born in 1940 and raised in Nipmuck community and culture. Early in his youth, he apprenticed with tribal medicine people. Throughout his life he was active in tribal spiritual, educational, and political realms. He worked with educators in Massachusetts to develop porgrams that showed how Native American spirituality was in harmony with nature, and explained how wild plants were used for medicinal purposes. He was named for the turtle, revered by Native Americans for its "strong spiritual significance." This is a picture of Little Turtle.