American Indian

It was the custom of the Mattabassett tribe to hold powwows in the meadows of Portland along the Connecticut River.

During these events, the Indians boasted of war path bravery and sometimes, the bragging bordered on disrespect for high-ranking chiefs and medicine men.

At one powwow, a young warrior event insulted the gods. Boasters had been told by the elders that excessive boasting might result in being abducted by the great Evil Spirit (the devil), but the young brave scoffed at the notion.

The Native Americans believed the Evil Spirit lived in a deep hole in the nearby river. When this young brave boasted, the spirit bounded from the hole, like a geyser, seized the brave and sucked him back into the deep hole, leaving behind a footprint on a rock from which the spirit had jumped.

The brave was never seen again, and the footprint, hooved like a goat’s, is still there today. It is known as Devil’s Rock.

Native Americans believed that Alexander’s Lake in Killingly was created when waters rose from the earth and engulfed members of a rival tribe, except for an old squaw. She sat on a single rocky peak that now forms what is known as Loon Island in the lake.

Visitors to an almost six-mile-long roadway in Killingworth called Roast Meat Hill Road sometimes wonder about its unusual name.

One explanation involves old Deacon Daniel Avery leading his oxen up a steep hill in the late 1800s, when a sudden lightning bolt, seemingly out of nowhere, struck his loaded hay wagon. The deacon was not able to free his animals from the fire, and they roasted where they stood, giving the road its name.

Another explanation says there was a site on the road where an annual Native American barbecue took place long before the white settlers arrived. Those settlers found the remains of a camp once owned by Hammonassets filled with discarded animal bones.

A well-known legend among the Mohegan-Pequot tribes concerns Chahnameed the Glutton. He and another man had a dispute over which one could consume the most food, resulting in a challenge.

Before the contest, the crafty Chahnameed secretly fastened a bag under his coat near his throat so he easily could pour food into it.

The contest began with a barrel of soup. Only Chahnameed knew that just one man was eating in the contest. Finally, Chahnameed’s rival gave up the fight.

To further his ruse, Chahnameed pulled out a knife and stabbed the bag where his stomach was. The other man did the same thing and died.

Many such tales of the area exist and are still told.