nipmuc drinking cup.gif

Nipmuc Drinking Cup

Nipmuc Nation

The Nipmuc Tribe inhabited before 1620 certainly the greater part, if not the whole, of Worcester County, and probably their country was of much larger extent. The exact boundaries of their dominions have never been determined, and historians differ widely on this point.

On a map compiled chiefly from a survey of 1774 their boundaries extended as far east as Boston and Andover, on the south to the boundary lines of Rhode Island and Connecticut, on the west to Stockbridge and Bennington, and on the north to a portion of the southern part of New Hampshire. The principal seat of the Nipmucs was in the neighborhood of Worcester.


From examination of much early colonial history and from old deeds, I am led to believe that the Nipmucs were once a numerous and important people, governed by one sachem (the last possibly having been Nanepashemet), and probably subdivided into many smaller tribes. Through civil war or by combination of several of the neighboring tribes, their power was destroyed, and their country divided among the Massachusetts, the Wampanoags, the Pawtuckets, the Narragansetts, and others.

Lake Quinsigamond

More than nine variations of the name have been seen in the records (Quinsigamond, Quansigemog, Quansigamaug, Quansigamug, Qunnosuog-amaug). Quinsigamond is translated as "the pickerel (or long nose) fishing place."

Nipmuc Indians carved canoes, called mishoons, out of hollowed out logs for transportation on the lake.

mishoon canoe.jpg

In the interpretation of Indian place names so many difficulties have to be overcome that it is not surprising that the best acknowledged authorities sometimes reach very different conclusions in regard to the same word.  Their place names were spelled differently as they sounded to the individual recorder. English spelling, even of English words, in deeds of the seventeenth century was very capricious. We sometimes find a common word spelled several different ways in the same deed. To represent the foreign sound of a word spoken in a strange language is always very difficult to a writer. 

Lincoln N. Kinnicutt, Indian Names of Places in Worcester County Massachusetts (The Commonwealth Press, 1905)

Nipmuc Drinking Cup (Nipmuc Indian Association of Connecticut)

Mishoon #1 (Archaeological Diving Association of Massachusetts)