Columbia County is in the eastern part of New York State, southeast of Albany and immediately west of the Massachusetts border. The western border is the Hudson River.
The first exploration of Columbia County was in 1609, when Henry Hudson, an explorer, sailed across the Atlantic and up the Hudson River. An accident to his craft forced him to stop at what is now known as Columbia County, and search around for food and supplies. In 1612, a trade was established to colonize regions of the land.
The Natives who greeted Henry Hudson in the Columbia County area called themselves the Muh-he-con-neok, “the people of the waters that are never still” or the Muhhekunneuw, “the people of the great river”. The name of this Eastern Algonquian Native American tribe, originally settling in the Hudson River Valley (around Albany, NY), has been shortened and now they are known as the Mahicans (also Mohicans). After 1680, many moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. During the early 1820s and 1830s, most of the remaining descendants migrated westward to north eastern Wisconsin.
Mohicans traveled along the Hudson River by canoe. There were two kinds of Mohican canoes: bark canoes, which are smaller and lighter, and dugout canoes, which are heavy and can carry many people. Over land, the Mohicans used dogs as pack animals.
The Mohicans were farming people. Mohican women harvested corn, squash, beans and sunflower seeds. Mohican men did most of the hunting. They shot deer, moose, turkeys, and small game, and went fishing in the river. Mohican recipes included soup, cornbread, and trail mix.
In the past Mohican Indians spoke their own Mohican language. Today they all speak English. The last Stockbridge Indian who could speak this language died in 1933, but the community continues to use Mohican for cultural and religious purposes, the way Italians may use Latin words today.
To read more on the history of Columbia County and the life of Mohicans see here: