The story of Native Americans in Lowell is not an immigration story, of course, but a story of this land. In the 1600s, two Native settlements existed within the limits of what is today Lowell: Pawtucket and Wamesit. Native Americans in the area were Pennacook, who’d settled today’s New Hampshire, Eastern Massachusetts, and Southern Maine. Living along the Merrimack and Concord Rivers in what by the early 19th century became Lowell, they were forced off their land by English colonists. By the conclusion of King Philip's War (1675-76), they were no longer in the lower Merrimack River Valley. Due to continued English pressure, most Pennacook moved north to join with the Abenaki in Maine or the Western Abenaki in Quebec. Before their forced removal, agriculture played a central role in Pennacook life. Fishing and hunting further sustained their diet and economy. At the time, the Merrimack and Concord Rivers were abundant in fish. Industrialization changed that. Overall, European colonization negatively impacted the Native peoples of New England. And, despite missionary rhetoric, conversion to Christianity offered no English protection for Native peoples.
Pawtucket and Wamesit: Reconstructing the History of Two New England Native Communities