A few of the unearthed artifacts.
November inevitably brings us memories of the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive their harsh first year on this North American continent. As we celebrate with our Thanksgiving feasts we also need to remember that for thousands of years the Algonquins Tribes lived on this Cow Neck peninsula.
They can no longer speak, only our records and their artifacts bear witness to their lives. The earliest Dutch New Amsterdam records show that between January of 1639 and November of 1643, following the wars with the Algonquin tribes, the Dutch Governor General of New Netherlands, William Kieft, gained title to a tract of land in Hempstead which included the Cow Neck. During the Golden Age in the Netherlands few Dutch citizens were interested in colonizing this area. Seeking to reinforce the Dutch title to the land, William Kieft, in 1643, granted the land to some English settlers from Connecticut. Their names, Robert Fordam, John Strickland, John Ogden, John Carman, John Lawrence and John Wood, remain in the names of streets and places on the Cow Neck.
In 1657, the settlers built a fence across the Cow Neck (present day Port Washington peninsula just north of Northern Boulevard) to control the movement of their cattle. The fence was the final evidence of the settlers' permanence which spurred Tackapausha, the "chiefe Sachem" of western Long Island to protest. From 1657 to 1679, he presented the Dutch and their conquerors, the English, a series of complaints stating that improper fences had been built on the necks of land along the North Shore and that they (the Native-Americans) had not intended to sell the Hempstead land, ... "only the grass upon it." In 1676, Tackapausha agreed to "...part with one-half" of Cow Neck, in return he was granted "a convenient quantity thereof for his settlement on the east side." In 1683, his son, Opasum, described his father as, "...formerly of Massagage (Massapequa) now inhabiting Cow Neck." Eventually, Tackapausha's mark transferred the native lands on the east side of the peninsula to colonial hands in 1684.
Although legal title to the land was transferred, the Algonquin presence continued on this peninsula. Evidence of their activities was found in the artifacts of their rich culture, particularly as the area was developed in the 20th century. For example, our Port Washington News reported on July 13 and 28, 1928 that when the Beach Haven Development Co. leveled the area on Manhasset Bay, at a point 500 yards west of Sands Point Road, they found numerous pits scattered throughout the site. These were used by the natives to dispose of the refuse from their food preparations: such as shells, animal bones, chipped implements, especially notched triangular arrow points of quartz, argillite, yellow jasper and a few black flint. In addition the sites contained net sinkers, hammer stones, stone mortars and pestles.
Archeologists for over a century have explored this peninsula for Native-Americans artifacts. The Roslyn News, in 1900 reported that representatives of the New York Museum of Natural History were digging on the banks of Sheeps (? Sheets) Creek near Sands Point Road. They dug only a few feet from the bank when a "perfect skeleton - a male Indian buried nearly 200 years ago, was disclosed."
The site of the Mott family farm, now part of the Village Club of Sands Point, was explored by archeologists from Columbia University, New York University and Queens College, (CUNY). Over 2,000 artifacts were transferred to the Queens College Archeology Laboratory for analysis and cataloging. The archeologists concluded that some of the aboriginal projectile points, such as scrapers, knives, blades, drills and polishing stones may be dated to the 3,000 BC Archaic period. They also found small ceramic shards with a "...variety of surface treatments or decorations consistent with wares designed in the late Woodland period" (1100-1700 AD). Some deposits contained wampum beads manufactured from whelk shells; they were used by Native Americans and the early Dutch settlers as a means of exchange. As an example of this, in 1677, it was reported that the Sachem Tackapausha and his son gave the English governor a large string of white wampum in connection with the Cow Neck negotiations.
Although only a weed-filled gully and a small woodland plot is all that remains of Tackapausha's village, the Village of Sands Point honors this site. In May of 2006 they placed a plaque on this site saying:
Here on this hillside overlooking Hempstead Harbor, the Algonquin and other early Native American people left imprints of their lives. Honoring the history of the Native Americans who occupied this site we the people of the Village of Sands Point have landmarked this plot of land in their memory.