The Connecticut River is over 400 miles long, and before European settlement it was home to several tribes of Algonquin speakers. Its name comes from the Algonquin words for “long tidal river,” which is appropriate since the tides reach up to 60 miles inland. In the time before European settlement the river and its tributaries served as arteries of communication for Algonquin speakers of different tribes.
The Cowasucks, a Western Abenaki people, lived in what is now the northern part of New Hampshire and Vermont, where the river rises. South of their lands lived other Abenakis, the Pennacooks to the east, with whom the Cowasucks were often in conflict, and the Sosoki in the west. About 3,200 Abenaki still live in the area.
The Pocumtucs lived in western Massachusetts near the confluence of the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers. Wars with the Mohawks and diseases brought from Europe had a horrible impact on the Pocumtucs, and the remnant mostly merged into Abenaki tribes. No living speakers of the Pocumtuck language remain.
Pequots lived, and still live, in the larger part of what is now Connecticut. Today two separate bands of Pequots operate highly profitable resort casinos in the area.