First People

first people vermontArchaeologists have discovered evidence of scattered human settlements from 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists call these original Vermonters, Paleo-Indians. The Winooski Valley warmed and dried, making a natural trail crossing this region.

Native people made use of the river as it provided a remarkable way to cross the state. They called the river, “Winooski-Took,” meaning Onion Land River, named for the wild onions that grew along its banks. Abenaki, Mi'kmaq, Penobscot, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy peoples used the Winooski River and surrounding trails as a major travel route between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain.

These early inhabitants followed the Wells River going westward, to what is now Groton State Park. Then, by making short canoe portages, they were able to paddle on Ricker Lake, Groton Lake, Kettle Pond and Turtlehead Pond, finally joining the Winooski River in Marshfield. Continuing on they passed through what is now Plainfield Village heading west on the Winooski River, going with the flow. From there they traveled northward, following the Winooski River and arriving at Lake Champlain. They also traveled in the opposite direction from Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River and far beyond. These pristine waters provided abundant fish and the woodlands were good hunting grounds.

abenakiclothing18thcenturyThere is evidence showing that original native people were living in what was to become the Plainfield area as late as the 1780s or 1790s. There was an Indian village in East Montpelier, on the Winooski River bank located opposite the mouth of the Kingsbury Branch. It contained as many as twelve large fire pits each six feet in diameter. Small rocks had been pounded into the ground, distinctly marking the pits. About half a mile up the Kingsbury Branch was a cornfield of an acre. Near this site an iron axe was found. (*Footnote)

*Drawn from research of Mr. Charles H. Heath, who devoted considerable time to the study of Indian occupancy of this region.

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