Nipmuc peoples spoke an Algonkian language, closely related to Narragansett, Mohegan (Pequot) and Massachusett (Wampanoag). Some linguists consider Nipmuc and Narragansett dialects of one of those two languages, while others consider it a distinct language. Either way, Narragansett was spoken by the Nipmuc and Narragansett tribes, while Mohegan was spoken by the other so-called Mohegan tribes. Unfortunately none of these languages have been natively spoken for more than a century, though some young people are interested in reviving their use. Some have most recently turned to the surviving Abenaki language as it appears it may be the closest remaining dialect to that which was spoken by Nipmuc peoples.
The historical tribe with which the Nipmuc Nation group asserts continuity was the Hassanamisco Nipmuc of southeastern Worcester County, Massachusetts. The Hassanamisco reservation was sold in 1727, except for 500 acres which was divided in 1727 to 1730 among seven Hassanamisco proprietary families who were each given individual ownership. The land was not the common property of a tribal entity and the State did not hold title to the reserved Hassanamisco property. There was no common fund but each property-owning family got a share in the funds received from the sale of the land.
The historical Hassanamisco Indians were affected by the Massachusetts Enfranchisement Act of 1869, an act which “detribalized” the historical Hassanamisco Indians and temporarily ended the State’s relationship with them.
At the time of the petition, the Nipmuc Nation group had 526 members. The Federal government rejected the Nipmuc Nation’s argument that it has had continuous State recognition with a reservation. The Sisco family, one of the families in the petition, retains ownership of 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) of the land originally reserved for the historical Hassanamisco Indians. This is the land in the Town of Grafton that is known as the “Hassanamisco Reservation.”
The family of John Bowman and Samuel Bowman listed above in Natick began among the Nipmuck. Their Father William Bowman was one of ten Indians who signed a deed of sale to the “Nipmug country” to English settlers at Framingham before moving to Natick. Josiah Temple explained in his History of Framingham, ‘Our Indians were known by the general name of Nipnets, or Nipmucks, and the region hereabouts was for a long period called in deeds and official records, ‘the Nipmug Country.” He added that the Indians who formed communities in the area had moved there from Hassanamesit [now near Grafton, MA] and other older Nipmuc settlements. William Bowman was one of ten Indians who signed a deed of sale to English settlers at Framingham under the guidance of Daniel Gookin in 1656. – Old-Time New England Magazine, Fall/Winter 1999 issue, pages 49 through 85, by Holly V. Izard: Page 56
Deed to John Stone
Deed for a 10 acre parcel in the Saxonville section of Framingham near the Sudbury River Falls. The sellers were five Nipmuc Indians then living at the Indian Plantation of Natick. The deed is signed with their marks by William Boman (Bowman), Capt. Josiah, Roger, Keaquisam, and James. The purchase price included a “valluable sume of Peage and other goodes”. The deed was witnessed by Daniel Gookin, Supt. of Indian Affairs for the Colony of Massachusett. – History of Framingham, Massachusetts, early known as Danforth’s Farms, 1640-1880
From the Nipmuck Nation Application for Federal Recognition:
BOWMAN in the 1849 Massachusetts ‘Indian Censuses’ BRIGGS REPORT
This report was prepared by F. W. Bird, Whiting Griswold & Cyrus Weekes and was submitted to George N. Briggs, Governor of Massachusetts in 1849. The background on Briggs and this document is discussed here in a separate writing. What’s reproduced here is an “as is” listing of Indian families and individuals.
JOSEPH E. BOWMAN Joseph Bowman (of Dudley) listed on the 1849 Briggs report may be a ggg, or gggg-grandson of William Bowman.
1849, Briggs Report pg. 46
Belden, Bowman, Daly, Freeman, Hall, Humphrey, Jaha, Kile (Kyle), Newton, Nichols, Pichens (Pegan), Robins, Shelby, Sprague and Willard.