|Ninigret Salt Pond|
Who were the first colonial traders in the area?
The Dutch established a trading post in 1630 at Fort Neck Pond, located at the northern end of what is now called Ninigret Pond. At that point in time, the breachway from the salt pond to the ocean was navigable by sailing ships (see history of breachway). The Dutch sailed into the coastal ponds in pursuit of native-made wampum. Wampum was traded for glass beads, knives, adzes, axes, hoes, copper and iron kettles, and duffel cloth. The Dutch used the wampum they obtained in trade from southern New England natives to trade for furs in northern New England and Canada.
The European traders were determined to obtain as much wampum as they could for use in the fur trade. They went so far as to collect yearly "tributes" from the southern New England tribes and even held natives captive, demanding a ransom paid in wampum. It is this use of wampum by the Europeans that led to wampum's being associated with currency.