Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prospectus: Brothertown

David J. Silverman, a history professor at George Washington University, has been working on a book about the Brothertown Indians over the last few years. In 2006 Silverman allowed Rich Church, a Brothertown, to share his book prospectus over the Brothertown listserv. A few days ago, Silverman gave me permission to quote from the prospectus and added that the book will be in stores and libraries by the fall of 2009 if not sooner. The title will be Brothertown: American Indians and the Problem of Race. Here's a few quotes:

"One of the striking features of Brothertown, New Stockbridge, and the Oneidas, is that these Indian communities met almost every demand placed upon them by white authorities: they adopted Christianity,literacy, the English language, male plow agriculture, and eventually, even private property. yet, wherever they moved, state, federal, or territorial governments did everything they could to force the Indians out yet again....there was nothing the Indians could do to persuade authorities that Indians deserved a place in the republic."

"Indians across the Northeast began regarding themselves as America's true Christians, because , after all, it was they who shared everything they had with one another despite their trials. By contrast, the Indians cast whites as indelible hypocrites."

Silverman also says that the first generation of Brothertowns was interested "not the least of all, [in] forming a new town in which they could ban all Indians who had married African Americans or who descended from such marriages."

That may sound politically incorrect, but the Brothertowns were trying to preserve what was left of their Native culture. Furthermore, they knew that if somebody had any African blood, they would be treated as Negroes, which was even worse than being treated like Indians.

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