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1. THE SITE'S EARLIEST INHABITANTS

 

t' Fort NieuwFor centuries before the arrival of the Dutch, the Wekquaesgeeks, a subgroup of the Lenape, farmed, hunted, and fished here at the confluence of the Hudson and Pocantico Rivers. Contact with Europeans initially revolved around trade: furs were exchanged for manufactured goods. It was not long before Europeans coveted the territory that Native Americans controlled.

 

Novi Belgii detailIn the lower Hudson Valley, during the 1640s, relations between the Wekquaesgeeks, other River Indians, and Europeans grew violent as cultures and economic interests clashed. Thus Frederick Philipse found an opportune moment to begin to acquire land from the Wekquaesgeeks and Sint Sinks. Decimated by disease and war, the Wekquaesgeeks moved to a less populated area near the present day New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, although they occasionally made return visits to their homeland.

 

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