They were dominated by the Pequot Indians in the region and were split up into two different tribes, Western Niantic and Eastern Niantic. The Western Niantics were subjects of the Pequot, and the Eastern Niantics became close allies to the Narragansetts.
Over time, the division of the tribe resulted in the two tribes speaking a different dialect.
The word Niantic means "of long-necked waters," which refers to the area where the Niantic tribe resided.
They were primarily an agrarian tribe that supplemented their diet with meat. Corn, beans, squash, nuts, roots, fruits, local wildlife, and fish were the staples within their diet.
Conflict with Colonists and Natives
The Niantic tribe was not known for its military prowess, but they did not like the colonial presence on their land. As the colonists settled and continued to spread, they became more resistant.
This conflict resulted in the almost total destruction of the Western Niantics by the colonists and their Indian allies. The roughly 100 surviving members of the Niantics merged into the Mohegans.
The Eastern Niantics had a similar fate. After King Phillip's War devastated much of the Indian population within the region, the Narragansetts fled in large numbers to the Eastern Niantic tribe. The Narragansett tribe was overwhelmed and eventually absorbed the Eastern Niantics.
By 1870, the state of Connecticut declared the Niantic tribe extinct and sold its 300-acre reservations on the Black Point peninsula for commercial development.
Skeletal remains of the once well-known tribe continue to be uncovered during excavations.