Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Susquehannock
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Member of an American Indian people who lived on Chesapeake Bay and along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York by the 1600s. They spoke an Iroquoian dialect, similar to that of the Erie. They lived in farming villages and used canoes to fish and navigate the Susquehanna, which is named after them. European contact involved them in the fur trade, but brought disease and war with trading rivals, particularly the Iroquois League. Their population diminished and, ultimately, their tribal identity vanished. Surviving Susquehannock are thought to have merged with the Delaware, Tuscarora, Oneida, and the Oklahoma Seneca.

When the Europeans first arrived the Susequehannock lived mainly in eastern Pennsylvania, but sometimes followed the Susequehanna River into New York and Maryland. Traditionally, they fished, farmed maize (corn), hunted, and gathered wild plants for food, and lived in permanent longhouses. They participated in the fur trade with the Dutch, Swedes, and English, and they raided neighbouring peoples, such as the Delaware, to protect their trading position. Their fiercest enemy, however, proved to be the Iroquois League, who fought the Susquehannock in a series of wars from 1650, killing many in battle; the final defeat of the Susquehannock in 1675 led to their dispersion. Some relocated in Maryland and fought in Bacon's Rebellion (1676), a revolt against colonial rule led by Nathaniel Bacon, that included unauthorized attacks on American Indians. The attacks resulted in a severely diminished Susquehannock population and, once again, they dispersed. Other Susquehannock were attacked and killed in Pennsylvania by white settlers during Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article SUSQUEHANNOCK
Cassell's Peoples, Nations and Cultures

A Native North American nation of Pennsylvania, whose name means ‘people of the muddy water". Sedentary farmers, hunters, gatherers and fishers,...

See more from Credo