Friday, November 28, 2008

The Mohican Ten Commandments

"The Mohican Ten Commandments" is not the title of an actual document, but it refers to something much like the Ten Commandments in the oral history of the Mohican Indians that was put in writing by Captain Hendrick Aupaumut. Three different fragments of Aupaumut's complete history have been put together and published as part of American Indian Nonfiction: An Anthology of Writings, 1760s-1930s, edited by Bernd Peyer (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007).

Maybe it isn't right for me to refer to Aupaumut's statements as "Commandments," because he introduced them in this way: "The Head of each family - man or woman - would...waken...their children and teach them, as follows"(page 66).

Each admonishment, or "Commandment" if you will, consists of a paragraph, but I'll shorten them so they fit into my post:
"My Children - you must remember that it is by the goodness of [God] we are preserved through the night...."
"My little Children, if you see an aged man or woman on your way doing something, you must pity on them, and help them instantly"(page 66).
"My little Children- you must be very kind to strangers...."
"My Children- again listen. You must be honest in all your ways."
"My Children- you must never steal anything from your fellow men...."
"My Children - you must always avoid bad Company."...
"My Children- you must be very industrious."...
"And further, my Children- when you grow up, you must not take wife or husband without the consent of your parents and all relations."...
"My Children- at all times you must obey your Sachem and Chiefs"(page 67).

Obviously, these points are overlapping, but not the same as the Commandments that were given to Moses in the 20th chapter of Exodus. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Captain Hendrick Aupaumut believed that the traditional Mohican ideology was compatible with Christianity.

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