Saturday, November 15, 2008

Riding the Frontier's Crest

There's more to the Algonkian Church History Blog than comparing the mission philosophies of various church bodies. This blog is also about more general Algonkian history questions, like "who are the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians?"
"who are the Brothertown Indians?" and
"who were the Brotherton Delawares?"

I think Christianity was an important element in the history of each of these communities.

Anthropologist Ted J. Brasser worked for a place in Ottowa, Canada that in the 1970's was called "The Museum of Man." Brasser wrote a book about the Mohicans which was part of a Museum of Man series (published by the National Museums of Canada in 1974), it is called Riding the Frontier's Crest: Mahican Indian Culture and Culture Change. (Ethnologists usually prefer to spell and pronounce it "Mahican" instead of "Mohican.") In Brasser's Appendix (p. 65-73) he gives us a "Chronological List of Mahican Locations."

Brasser's list is complex, but I can make a few generalizations about it. There were many moves, and there were several bands or villages of Mohicans in the 1600's and 1700's. The travels of most of the bands wind up in non-Mohican communities, often either an Algonkian or Iroquois community but Brasser even makes an attempt to follow "Meztizos," which he notes were locally known as "Bushwackers, Pondshiners, Basketmakers," or "Jukes."

Here's how we might sum up Brasser's list: while most of the Mohican settlements bacame remnants that joined larger Native communities, the Stockbridge Mohicans - despite the diseases, war, and other hardships that American Indians faced - held their own and even adopted non-Mohican individuals, families, and larger non-Mohican remnants (certainly the remanants of the Brotherton Delaware of New Jersey are one example).

The support of Christian mission societies was one of the biggest reasons for non-Mohican Indians to join the Stockbridges as they "rode the frontier's crest."

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