Friday, December 02, 2005

Why “Squamscott” ?

In searching for a community-based name that encompassed not just Exeter, but the region—we chose Squamscott. It doesn’t easily roll of the tongue, but it is a wonderful echo of our region’s rich and ancient past, where people have lived in this very place for at least 10,000 years. The Native American tribes of New Hampshire were most likely from the Abenaki nation, but independent of the Maine-based tribes. The name “Abenaki” and its derivatives originated from a Montagnais (Algonquin) word meaning "people of the dawn" or "easterners." In the eastern part of New Hampshire were the Pequaquaukes (or Pequakets), the Ossipees, the Minnecometts, the Piscataquas and the Squamscotts (Msquamskek). The Squamscott River begins at the Great Falls in the heart of downtown Exeter, where the fresh stream-fed waters of the Exeter River meet the tidal saltwater coming in from the Piscataqua River basin and Great Bay. 'Squamscott' (properly pronounced 'swamscott'-but not many do...) gets its name from the Squamscott Indians who called it Msquam-s-kook (or Msquamskek) translated as 'at the salmon place' or 'big water place.' Plentiful game, the marshes and lush river-fed vegetation, and an abundance of fish supported the northeast Native American Indians who were present in the region for thousands of years until English settlers displaced them in the early 1600s.