Indigenous Peoples

Lenapehoking map annotated

Lenapehoking (Lenape homelands) with select annotations added (original map from Wikimedia Commons

The Indigenous people local to what is today the area of Ulster County, New York, are known as the Esopus, a term meaning "small river" or "creek." They are considered a subgroup of the Lenni-Lenape and their language a dialect influenced by the Munsee and Unami-speaking Lenape neighbors to the south and their Mohican neighbors to the north. The Esopus shared similar lifeways with these other groups and regularly interacted with them through trading and kinship ties.  

Several documents relating to the Esopus people and other regional Indigenous groups are part of the New Paltz Historic Documents Project. Scholars like J. Michael Smith and Lisa Brooks provide insight into these significant archival materials. 

J. Michael Smith


J. Michael Smith is an independent ethnohistorian who has documented the cultural histories of the Native peoples in the mid-Hudson River Valley. Smith has generously offered to share some of his extensive research.

Smith was co-editor with Kees-Jan Waterman of Munsee Indian Trade in Ulster County, New York, 1712-1732 (Syracuse University Press, 2013). He is a contributing author to the New York State Museum bulletins of the Native American Institute Seminar Papers and has published various articles in the Hudson River Valley Review. Smith is a native of Beacon in Dutchess County, New York, and a retired media specialist with Vermont PBS. To watch some of Smith's virtual talks on his research, click here

Aupaumut header

Letter by Hendrick Aupaumut

In 2016, Historic Huguenot Street received a remarkable letter written by Hendrick Aupaumut, Mohican sachem and diplomat, to the New York State Legislature in the 1790s. The letter was exhibited in 2019 with text written by Lisa Brooks, Professor of English and American Studies and Chair of American Studies, Amherst College. Background on the letter and Brooks' text are available in the online exhibit, "We wish to live with you in peace," Hendrick Aupaumut's Letter to the New York State Legislature (view here). 

Research Projects
Indigenous Peoples