Saturday, January 31, 2009

Conspiracy of Interests

New York Indian Removal, Part IV: Conspiracy of Interests

This series of posts on the removal of the New York Indians is not close to being over yet. Lots of material is out there on the subject, and the vast majority of it is about the Iroquois Six Nations. Some of this Iroquois-focused material can be helpful for us in understanding Algonkian church history.

Industrial projects like the Erie Canal and powerful organizations like the Ogden Land Company were major forces that pushed the New York Natives westward. But of course, those projects and organizations didn't do it by themselves, they were aided by corrupt federal and state officials. If you want to know just how it happened, I recommend that you read Laurence Hauptman's book, Conspiracy of Interests: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State (1999, Syracuse University Press). As the title suggests, Hauptman has little to say about the Stockbridges and the Brothertowners, but I don't mind that. He gave me just enough to tell you about in this post.

On page 72, Hauptman says John Sergeant [Jr.] was a good advocate not only for the Stockbridge Mohicans, but for their neighbors too. He reports that Sergeant questioned the motives of state officials, warned people about the dangers facing the the New York Indians, and insisted that "state and federal negotiations with the Oneidas violated federal laws." The thing that surprised me, however, was that at one point, Sergeant dared to criticize Samuel Kirkland, one of his counterparts among the Oneidas.

On page 176, Hauptman describes the Treaty of Buffalo Creek of 1838, as a "fraudulent treaty consummated as a result of bribery, forgery, the use of alcohol, and other nefarious methods." Hauptman noted that the 1838 treaty required not only the Iroquois, but also the Stockbridge and Munsee Indians to remove to a roughly 1.8 million-acre reservation in what is now Kansas. I look forward to explaining how the Stockbridge and some of the Munsee Indians (and, of course, the Brothertowners) managed to remain in what is now Wisconsin, despite the Treaty of Buffalo Creek.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New York Indian Removal: "Why did they Leave?"

New York Indian Removal, Part III: "Why did they Leave?"

Some of the Oneidas remain in New York to this day. [They are an Iroquois-speaking nation, not the Algonkian-speaking people that this blog ususally focuses on.]

Recent historians don't put much weight on Eleazar Williams' influence in the removal of the New York Indians. Nor do those same historians view the removal as being about doing Indians a favor by keeping them away from the white frontier. That may sound like a ridiculous rationalization to some people now, but it was based on real reports from well-meaning people like missionary John Sergeant [Jr.], who, in 1821 wrote that the Stockbridge Mohicans were

[S]urrounded by a white population many of whom are greedy after [the Indians'] money and property, and in a secret way contrary to the Laws of the state are constantly supplying them with a liquor called whiskey which is a great grief to the serious people, on which account many of the Indians are willing to remove to some distant country, if they can get away from the white heathen, as the whiskey traders are commonly called (quoted in a 2/1/2006 Mohican News article by Lion Miles).
According to Laurence Hauptman and L. Gordon McLester III, authors of Chief Daniel Bread and the Oneida Nation of Indians in Wisconsin, federal officials used "religious rhetoric," sometimes borrowed from accurate reports, such as the one you just read, to cover up what really pushed many, but not all of the New York Indians westward. As we will see, the real reasons were "land interests" and "national defense concerns"(page 32).

Hauptman and McLester tell us that by February of 1817, at least one federal Indian agent (Charles Jouett) felt that removing the New York Indians to the upper Midwest would "destroy British influence with the Indians north and west of the settlements," and also "free up rich agricultural lands in New York for white settlement."

Hauptman and McLester believe that the thought of being forced to leave their homeland was hurtful to all the New York Indians. Furthermore, they remind us that the Oneidas and the Stockbridges had fought for the colonies in the Revolutionary War (and again for the United States in the War of 1812). It appears that loyalty to the United States made no difference to the Monroe administration. They presented their policy of removal to the chiefs of New York's Native nations as inevitable.

The Stockbridge Mohicans, of course, had already been pushed out of their town in Massachusetts by the 1780's. I am of the impression that their leaders never intended to permanently reside among the Oneidas in New York. In the case of the Stockbridge Mohicans, the hurtful thing seems to have been that they were not allowed to make their long-anticipated move to live among the Delawares and other Algonkians at Indiana's White River.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Eleazar Williams

New York Indian Removal, Part II: Eleazar Williams

New York State was the home of the Iroquois Six Nations. Did they actually want to leave their home? Generally speaking, they didn't, but one man of mixed race was able to persuade a few of the younger chiefs of each tribe that moving west would be a great opportunity. That man was Eleazar Williams.


There is a picture of Rev. Stephen Williams in my post of 1/25/09 ("The Housatonics Accept a Mission"). When Stephen Williams was still a boy, he and his family were taken captive by the Mohawks in the Deerfield [MA] raid of 1704. Some Deerfield residents, including Williams' mother, were tomahawked to death (Frazier, 17), others were released, but Stephen's sister, Eunice, was adopted by the St. Francis Mohawks[Frazier says she was five at the time, another account says she was seven] . Use this link to learn more about the Deerfield raid.

Although she was given a number of opportunities to return to Deerfield (with her family), Eunice Williams began to speak and think in the Iroquois way, and married one of the Indians in her village. Her husband took the Williams name. You can read more about Eunice Williams here and here.

Eleazar Williams, a slick character, if not an all-out charlatan, was the great-grandson of Eunice Williams. Although Eleazer would later claim not to remember the first twelve or thirteen years of his life, most historians believe he was born and raised among the Mohawks (his parents were St. Regis Mohawks with "white blood"). As a teen, he attended Moor's Charity School (the one which began with Eleazar Wheelock teaching Samson Occom). His Canadian connections led to work as a spy for the United States in the War of 1812 (see Ellis, 418-419).

In his later years, Eleazar Williams claimed he was the lost Dauphin of France.

Eleazar Williams made a tour of the Iroquois Six Nations in 1816 and was well received by the Oneidas. Williams then obtained the blessing of Bishop Hobart to become the Oneidas' lay minister. When Williams began his work, an estimated four-fifths of the Oneidas belonged to the Pagan Party. But after only a few weeks of Williams' efforts, that party made a formal renunciation of "Paganism" and declared Episcopal Christianity to be the one true faith (see Ellis, 420).

Great influence over a tribe of fifteen hundred Indians would be enough to satisfy most, but Eleazar Williams had a strong desire for power. He came up with a scheme, a "Utopian dream of an Indian Empire"(Abel, 311).

Although Williams claimed that the plan of an Indian state was his original idea, it was pretty much the same idea that Rev. Jedidiah Morse had also come up with. By 1818 Williams was promoting the idea of moving all Indians in New York State, as well as many in Canada, to the region of Green Bay in what is now Wisconsin. There they would form a grand confederacy. As Albert Ellis describes it, Williams got a few young men from each of the Iroquois Six Nations to subscribe to his plans by "holding out dazzling prizes of future glory and aggrandizement"(page 421). Satisfied that he could exaggerate the support his scheme had from the other New York Indians, Williams went to Washington over the winter of 1818-1819 to take part in the federal government's plans to remove the New York Indians westward.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Stockbridges Attempt a Move to Indiana

Author's note: This is the first of a series about the removal of the New York Indians.

Part I: The Stockbridges Attempt a Move to Indiana

The John C. Adams Papers at the State Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin, includes a hand-copied letter from President Thomas Jefferson to "Whom it may Concern," dated December 21, 1808. Captain Hendrick Aupaumut had asked the President to acknowledge a longstanding oral agreement between tribes. The letter was Jefferson's approval of the Stockbridge Mohicans' plan to move from New Stockbridge, New York, to live amongst the Delawares and other tribes at Indiana's White River. If the Stockbridges had moved when Jefferson was still president, I believe he would have kept his promise.
However, the Stockbridge Mohicans remained at New Stockbridge, New York, until the presidency of James Monroe. Monroe's administration included men like Andrew Jackson, and John C. Calhoun, who were in favor of "vigorous measures" when it came to Indian policy.

About 70 Stockbridges left New York State for Indiana's White River in August, 1818. Along the way, they learned from a Boston newspaper of a treaty being negotiated for the lands that were referred to in Jefferson's letter. The traveling Indians immediately wrote the Delawares for confirmation or denial of the report. The Delawares replied that the Stockbridges should continue on their way. But, tragically, the treaty of St. Mary's was signed on October 6th. John Sergeant [Jr], the Stockbridge missionary, wrote to Rev. Jedidiah Morse (on 12/15/1818) of the sad news:

We have had direct information of the Treaty with the Indians, and it is reported that 'the Delawares were forced to sell, and to sign the Treaty;' and that 'the poor Delawares had not a friend to support their cause!!'

Captain Hendrick Aupaumut sent his son, Solomon U. Hendricks, to Washington over the winter to make their grievance to Congress. Rev. Morse had worked with the older Captain Hendrick and now he supported the son. However, as you may have guessed, Congress made no efforts to alter the Treaty of St. Mary's - no matter that it broke the promise of a former President.

It was clear that the Stockbridge Indians, some remaining in New York State, and others temporarily in the Midwest, would have to find a homeland somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Rev. Morse managed to pass in and out of the fuzzy line that didn't really divide church and state when it came to U.S. Indian policy. He made a personal appeal to President Monroe, "urging that a tract in the Northwest Territory [now Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and part of Minnesota] be given to the Stockbridges, in compensation for the one they had lost"(Abel, pages 310-311).

The story of the removal of the New York Indians has been called a conspiracy of interests. One thread of interest began with Morse's collaboration with Captain Hendrick, Solomon U. Hendricks, and John Sergeant [Jr.]. In upcoming posts, I'll be writing about them, but also about other major players, including Eleazar Williams, John Schermerhorn, and others.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sergeant Meets the Indians

(Western Massachusetts) The Berkshires in autumn

The Commissioners of Indian Affairs, a group that included Rev. Samuel Hopkins, Rev.Stephen Williams, and Massachusetts Governor Jonathan Belcher, picked John Sergeant, a twenty-four year-old Yale tutor, to be the first Missionary on the Housatonic. In October, 1734, Rev. Nehemiah Bull, another one of the commissioners, traveled to the Housatonic River with Sergeant and introduced him to the Indians.

I'm a big fan of the first few chapters of The Mohicans of Stockbridge by Patrick Frazier. His description of John Sergeant's first trip to the Housatonic is on page 20:

They met the Indians midway between [their] two villages at what is now Great Barrington. There must have been quiet apprehension as the Indians encountered Sergeant. The man who had been sent to save them was small and frail and had a dead hand. His pale, solemn visage and somber clothes contrasted sharply with those of his hosts and with the brilliant hues of a New England autumn. The young man gazed on a group of natives, some tattooed darkly with totemic signs or marks of past deeds, their ears and noses pierced with baubles and their bodies draped with a mixture of Indian and European fashion.
A Housatonic who spoke English acted as an interpreter. Sergeant adapted his short talk on Christianity 'as well as I could to their capacities and manner of thinking.' There were no words in Mohican to express the finer points of Christian theology. Whatever he said must have made an impression, for the interpreter later told him that one Indian who had been unreceptive to the whole idea of a mission was moved and wanted to learn more.
You can read some of Frazier's book for free on Google Books, but some pages, including page 20, are omitted. If you're interested in Algonkian Church history, you may want to buy it. To my way of thinking, it seems like Frazier describes one remarkable event after another in his first few chapters. In the last 3/5 or so of the book, military history becomes prominent. Maybe that is why I'm much less enthused about that part.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Housatonics Accept a Mission

The photo below was taken at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT.
The Mohicans were once a mighty Native nation inhabiting the Muhhecunnituk Valley, or what we now call the Hudson River Valley. The coming of Europeans changed things, of course. Not only was there death from European diseases that Indians had no immunity over, but there was also a dependence upon goods obtained from white traders, and, another aspect of the fur trade: the problems associated with firewater, especially rum. Furthermore, as European powers established themselves and made alliances with Native tribes, there was greater competition between those nations or tribes. Wars against the Mohawks forced the Mohicans to retreat from the western side of the Hudson and some of them moved farther eastward into the Housatonic River Valley in what is now western Massachusetts.

In 1734, there were two Mohican villages on the Housatonic. Konkapot was the leader of four or five families that made up the village of Wnahktukuk, and Umpachenee was the leader of a village roughly the same size called Skatekook. The two men and their interpreter, Joachim Van Valkenberg, met two ministers in Springfield, Massachusetts who were commissioners representing the New England Company, a philanthropic society based in London. They conferred the British military titles of Captain and Lieutenant upon the two Housatonics and proposed that they accept a Christian mission. The two Indians explained that such a decision must be made in council.

Rev. Stephen Williams, one of the commissioners the two chiefs had met in Springfield, and Rev. Nehemiah Bull took the trouble to travel to the Housatonic where the Indians from the two villages were gathered together. Religious matters were discussed and the proposal for a Christian presence was made again. The response to the ministers was that they would have their answer in four days.

And so, over a four-day period in July of 1734, the Housatonic Mohicans held a council to decide whether or not to accept the proposed mission. The council, of course, was conducted in the Mohican language, so minutes or notes of the council were not recorded. However, what appears to be the winning argument, was later reported to Stephen Williams and the interpretation of that statement made it into the preface of a sermon that was preached at John Sergeant's ordination.

[S]ince my remembrance there were Ten Indians, where there is now One: But the Christians greatly increase and multiply and spread out over the Land; Let us therefore leave our former courses and become Christians.
It sounds like a decision based more on economics than religion.

So are my critics correct in saying that Indian converts never actually bought into Christianity, that instead they just cooperated with missionaries who supplied them with material things? No, of course not. In those days, if a farmer's livestock and crops were doing well, he would give credit to God for blessing him and his family with worldly success. So the Indians were thinking in the same vein when they lamented that their religion no longer provided powerful enough medicine to keep them healthy and prosperous.

Anyway, what you have read is the local politics behind the Housatonics' decision to accept a mission. That "foot in the door" opened the way to a later council of the leaders of the entire Mohican nation and initiated the contact with Christianity that led to individual conversions.

*The Mohicans of Stockbridge by Patrick Frazier.
*The Mohican World,
by Shirley Dunn.
*Gospel Ministers Must be Fit for the Master's Use, a Sermon preached by Nathaniel Appleton on August 31, 1735.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The NY Indian Historical Timeline, 1750-1817

I introduced the New York Indian Historical Timeline in my last post. That post includes a selection of ten events occurring between 1650 and 1750. Here's my "Chosen Ten" from the years 1750 to 1810:

1. 1754-1763: French and Indian War with the English [aka the Seven Years War].
2. 1758: Stephen Calvin [a New Jersey (Brotherton) Delaware] is interpreter for the church and schoolmaster for Indian school near Cranbury, NJ.
3. Threatened with mob violence, Moravian and Quaker missions in Pennsylvania evacuate their converts.
4. 1763: British proclamation halts all settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.
5. 1778: Oneida women bring food to Washington's starving army at Valley Forge, PA. [Read about the statue pictured at right and see the full image.]
6. 1782: First group moves to Brothertown, New York.
7. 1785: Brothertown name adopted, note that this is different from the Brainerd's Brotherton community.
8. 1795: Greenville Treaty denies Munsees to be in Ohio, they move to White River, Indiana.
9. 1810: Holland Land Company sells pre-emption right of purchase of Indian lands to the Ogden Land Company.
10. 1817: Eleazer Williams organizes the [Oneida's] First Christian Party; Pagan Party becomes the Second Christian Party.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Started on the New York Indians

The map below was taken from the Languages of the Americas website.
Please see the post which introduces this excellent resource.

You may also want to read what they have to say about their historical maps.

The push to remove New York Indians to what is now Wisconsin and then west of the Mississippi is a topic I want to address in future posts. Who moved, who stayed, and what happened along the way all goes to make up a huge and significant piece of American history.

But first...

I have a document called the "New York Indian Historical Timeline." I must have originally found it in pdf or "Word" format on the web, because there is no URL on the bottom of the page...and no author's name to be found anywhere (I wonder if it was a group project). It is a little bit sloppy, I question some of the dates and numbers. Nevertheless, I believe the ones I've chosen to share with you are correct (arguably oversimplified, but that comes with the timeline format). I guess I cannot really call this a "Top Ten" list because some of these events were truly devastating, so here's my "Chosen List of Ten" from 1650 to 1750:

1. 1653: Iroquois practically exterminate the Erie.
2. 1654-1657: Smallpox epidemic.
3. 1664: Mohawks make peace with the Mohicans.
4. 1675-1676: King Philip's War, virtual extermination of the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett.
5. 1676: Over 200 enslaved Indians sold in the Caribbean.
6. 1689-1696: Many Delawares killed in King William's War.
7. 1737: The "Walking Purchase," sons of William Penn cheat Delawares out of 1200 square miles - while the Iroquois support the British.
8. 1740: Mohegans become members of David Jewett's Congregational church.
9. 1744-1748: King George's War
10. 1744: Presbyterian missionaries David and John Brainerd begin proselytizing among the Delaware.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today's News: S-M Rez Shrinks Per Court Ruling

I'm devoting this post to a newspaper article that has been passed around on the web today by interested parties. Although it could be argued that the headline reflects a bias in favor of the Stockbridge-Munsee (and/or a bias against the state of Wisconsin), the article (as a whole) is well-written and objective.

Court ruling shrinks Stockbridge- Munsee reservation
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
By Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press

MADISON, [WI] — A Tuesday court ruling shrinking a Wisconsin Indian tribe's reservation means gambling cannot resume at a golf course and some tribal members may have to pay back taxes.
Congress has eliminated a 46,000-acre reservation given to the Stockbridge- Munsee tribe in 1856, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The decision means the reservation consists of parcels about one-third that size that Congress later set aside for the tribe.
The decision came in a decade-long legal dispute between the state of Wisconsin and the tribe that started when the tribe purchased Pine Hills Golf Course and Supper Club in Shawano County in the 1990s.
The golf course is on the original reservation, and the tribe, under its gambling compact with the state, started operating about 170 slot machines there. The state filed suit in 1998, saying the slots were illegal because the land was no longer within the reservation' s boundaries.
In 1999, U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence granted an injunction that shut down the slot machines while the courts considered whether they were located inside the reservation. In 2004, she agreed with the state that the reservation no longer existed as it did in 1856.
The reservation was downsized by an 1871 law that allowed timber companies to purchase part of the land and eliminated by a 1906 act that allotted remaining parcels to tribal members, Gorence ruled.
The tribe appealed, but the case was put on hold while the parties tried to reach a settlement. After negotiations failed, the case resumed and a three-member panel of the appeals court upheld Gorence's decision Tuesday.
Neither law contained language specifically downsizing or eliminating the reservation, but a review of the record shows that was Congress' intent, Judge Terence Evans wrote for the panel. Government agencies mostly treated the reservation as abolished after the second law passed, he wrote.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the ruling and said the court "has hopefully put an end to this long-standing legal dispute."
Tribal President Bob Chicks said he was disappointed with the decision and reviewing legal options. The tribe could ask the full 7th Circuit to reconsider the decision or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The tribe has always claimed the property inside the 1856 boundaries, which include the townships of Bartelme and Red Springs, Chicks said. About half of the 1,500 tribal members live inside that area.
If it stands, the decision could have implications for tribal members who live in the disputed boundaries and have not been paying taxes. In general, Indians who live and work on reservations do not pay state income taxes.
In 2000, the tribe agreed to collect taxes that could be due if its appeal failed. That escrow account could soon be turned over to the state. The program was voluntary, however, and some may not have participated.
Once the case is resolved, the Department of Revenue could seek back taxes and penalties against tribal members who still owe taxes.
The ruling is one more setback for the Stockbridge- Munsee, whose history has been marked by displacement and conflict. The tribe was pushed from the east coast to near Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin in the 1800s and then pressured to give up that reservation in exchange for its current location in 1856.
The appeals court noted that land "turned out to be heavily forested and difficult to farm — not quite the arable land that had been promised in the treaty." And within 15 years, Congress allowed timber companies to buy most of it.
Along with the golf course, the tribe owns and operates the Mohican North Star Casino and Bingo and the Stockbridge- Munsee Health and Wellness Center
Source: Shawano Leader

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Native Languages of the Americas

Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis' Native Languages of the Americas website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2007. While I doubt that everything to know about Native languages can be found on their site, I also doubt that any other site has more information on Native languages.

Orrin is a Cherokee and Laura appears to have been his webmaster or "webmistress."

Relevant quotes from their site:

Confusion about the names:
"Algonquin" vs. "Algonquian" and "Algonkian":
Hardly a week goes by that we don't get email from at least one kid looking for information on the "Algonquian tribe." Adults, too, write to us trying to do genealogical research on their "Algonkian" ancestors or learn the "Algonquian" heritage of their state. There's just one problem with this: THERE IS NO ALGONQUIAN TRIBE! There is an Algonquin (or Algonkin) tribe, who live in Canada. But the word Algonquian (or Algonkian) is a more general linguistic/anthropological term used to refer to not only the small Algonquin tribe but dozens of distinct Native American tribes who speak languages that are related to each other. If you are interested in linguistics, we have a page with in-depth information about the Algonkian languages and their relationships to each other. If you have a school report to write on the culture of the "Algonquians," though, you may have trouble. Imagine you had a homework assignment on "Indo-European" clothing. When you looked in the encyclopedia, you'd see that "Indo-Europeans" actually include the Dutch, the Spanish, the Russians, and the Indians in India. What would you write about? The Spanish don't wear saris or wooden clogs, and the Indians don't wear fur hats or lace mantillas. In Siberia it gets to be -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and in Bombay it can be hotter than 100 degrees and humid. You would have a hard time completing this assignment.

Q & A:
Q: Is Orrin a medicine man?
A: No. Not every old Indian is a medicine person, any more than every old Italian is a priest. I do not have any religious authority as a Cherokee or as a Christian. I'm just an ordinary person. I believe in Cherokee traditions, I believe in Christ, and I believe the two are not incompatible. I also believe Andrew Jackson is in Hell.

Relevant links to the Native Languages of the Americas site:

Their Native American Languages Index:
Their Native American Culture Index:

I recommend their Algonquian Facts for Kids page for all ages.
There's a wealth of information about "Algonquian" or "Algonkian" Languages on their site.

Have you ever wondered which modern-day English words came from the Algonquian languages? Then check this link.
They also have some material about New York Indians, but I'm saving that for a later post.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Church - State Partnership

"...when scandal and corruption in the Indian Service became a national disgrace, President Grant threw the doctrine of church-state separation to the winds and literally parcelled out the task to the denominations."
-Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People,(861).

The separation of church and state is one of the essential aspects of American history, right?

In practice, those two powers haven't always been separated, at least not in regards to Indian policy. In fact, missionaries and government Indian agents were working together long before the United States became a country.

In his preface to American Protestantism and United States Indian Policy, 1869-82, Robert H. Keller reports that in order to do justice to his subject, he had to gain expertise on a whole century of federal Indian policy. On the one hand, Keller tells us, Ulysses S. Grant's "Peace Policy" was "unique in many aspects." But on the other hand, Grant's new policy "involved ideologies and dilemmas characteristic of all Indian-white relations"(page xi).

Keller summarizes the evolution of America's church-state partnership in his introduction. Much of that discussion was about the "Civilization Fund" established in 1819 as Congress realized that churches were struggling to support their missions. They set aside $10,000 for the churches that first year and then the fund became bigger and bigger over a period of time. Remarkably (according to Keller on page 7), the constitutionality of the Civilization Fund was "never challenged or tested in its fifty-year history."

Of course the United States is much different today. This country is now a nation that understands the importance of culture. I probably don't need to explain that making people "civilized" is tampering with those people's culture.

For Grant, the importance of Christian missions among the Indians had more to do with teaching agriculture than with promoting Christianity. Although Grant wasn't an atheist, Keller tells us (on page 25) that he wasn't really a Christian either, not receiving baptism until death was near.

For further reading:
American Protestantism and United States Indian Policy, 1869-82
by Robert H. Keller
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Shawnee

Note to readers: This post was edited after a reader corrected me on something (see comments if you want to know more about that).

The Shawnee nation seems to be different from other Native nations in that historically they didn't have a land base.

Although there is plenty of material out there about the brief careers of Tecumseh and/or his brother, the prophet, it is another thing to find something about the long history of the Shawnee tribe. Lee Sultzman's Shawnee page, for example, consists of little more than a quote form Tecumseh.

Nevertheless, here's a few items that can fill you in about Shawnee history:

"Shawnee Indians," an article from the Online Encyclopedia of Ohio History.

"The Culture of Ohio's Shawnee Indian Tribe" by Cindy Wright.

Henry Harvey's History of the Shawnee Indians from the Year 1681 to 1854 Inclusive.This offering of Google Books was originally published in 1855. Of course you'll want to be careful reading anything by a white author from that era - keep your eyes open for biases.

If you're a seasoned scholar working on a serious project, you already know that you'll have to find information from sources outside of the internet. Randolph Noe's The Shawnee Indians: An Annotated Bibliography will lead you to over 2700 other relevant sources. Since it currently costs over $110 on Amazon, I encourage you to ask your local library if they can get you a copy.

On your left is a My Space photo of a woman who claims Shawnee ancestry.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sac and Fox Mission Trip, Part IV

Previous posts in this series:
Part I //Part II //Part III

How did the expedition to the Sac and Fox Indians end?

The four Stockbridge Mohicans that had traveled with Rev. Cutting Marsh decicided that they wanted to meet with a "pagan" Sac and Fox chief who was known as "The Stabber" to speakers of English (pictured right). Meanwhile, Marsh took the opportunity to meet with another minister and eventually took a steamboat up the Mississippi, trailing his parishoners by a few days.

Either the men weren't able to get an interpreter, or the one they had proved inadequate, but Marsh reported that his parishoners communicated little in roughly five days with The Stabber. In his annual report to the Society in Scotland for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SSPCK), Marsh admitted that the trip didn't succeed in advancing the spread of Christianity. On the other hand, he noted that the "deportment of the whole Stockbridge delegation during the whole tour was such as to do honor to themselves and the cause of missions." Stopping at the white mining town of Galena (now part of Illinois) on his way back, Marsh was told by the townspeople that his parishoners had been there too and had "sang hymns all Sabbath day." Marsh remarked that it seemed "not only new but strange to those who make no distinction betwixt one day or another when traveling."

Marsh's 1834 Report to the SSPCK printed in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. XV, p. 113 and 115.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Jesus Road and the Trail of Tears

LeRoy Koopman, author of Taking the Jesus Road recognizes, as I do, that the Christian church has had a mixed record in regards to Indians. Usually I like to make an effort to point out the positives because they seem to get less ink.

The short description of Taking the Jesus Road in Google Books sums up the negative side of the church in Native history very well. First, the church often cooperated with the government "in implementing shifting policies that allowed the native peoples little or no voice in their own destiny." The other negative was the tendancy to equate "the Christian faith with white culture."

An internet search about the removal of New York Indians led me to Koopman's book. Pages eight through ten tell us something about the "complex and...strange career" of Reverend John F. Schermerhorn, an Indian agent who was appointed to the level of Commissioner by President Andrew Jackson. Tragically, Jackson's Indian removal policy called for all Indians east of the Mississippi to be pushed west. Koopman tells us that Schermerhorn participated in treaty negotiations with twenty tribes between 1832 and 1837, "paving the way for the removal of thousands of Indians" (page 9).

So Schermerhorn's work caused great hardship for many Indians, but oddly, one of his biographers described him as a "minister of the gospel who believed that the Indians' racial and eternal salvation required their removal west of the Mississippi River"(page 9).

Of the tribes that Schermerhorn negotiated with, the Cherokees are the most famous - you've probably heard of their Trail of Tears. The lesser-known tribes he negotiated with include the Stockbridge Mohicans, and the Brothertown Indians. More on that in future posts.

For Further Reading:
Taking the Jesus Road: The Ministry of the Reformed Church in America Among Native Americans By LeRoy Koopman
Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005
ISBN 0802831257, 9780802831255
512 pages

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Above: Chief Tecumseh and his brother, the Shawnee Prophet.

William Henry Harrison,
Governor of the Territory of IndiaCheck Spellingna

The policy of the United States was to make treaties on a "nation to nation" basis. The British liked to do it the same way. That explains why they liked to refer to the Indian chiefs as "kings." For example, when Etowaukaum and three Iroquois chiefs went to London to meet with Queen Anne, they became known as "The Four Indian Kings." Another "king" was "King Ben" Kokhkewenaunaunt who is believed to have moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts in the 1740's (as a result, the town of Stockbridge became the main council fire, or capital city of the Mohicans). And of course, around that same period of time, the British had given Konkapot the title of Captain and Umpachenee the title of Lieutenant.

The difference between white governments and Indian governments was that the Indian chiefs had no coercive power over their people. So white leaders gave the chiefs prestigious political or military titles, hoping that the chiefs would be willing to speak for all of their people. The white leaders didn't want to have to get every Indian's permission before making something official, they wanted to negotiate with one leader, so they gave him a fancy title.

Maybe that is also why even the smallest of tribes became known as nations. Would a community of 200 or 300 white people ever be considered a nation? Probably not, but the Stockbridges were no bigger than that in the 1800's.

Anyway, the United States deliberately chose to fight many Indian nations of various sizes - that was their "divide and conquer" strategy. Tecumseh - and other leaders before him - tried to give Indians a better chance by getting as many tribes as possible to form a confederation. But white Indian fighters like William Henry Harrison succeeded in getting the small "nations" to sign treaties, exchanging their good land for annuities or poorer land in the west.

Want to know more?
Read about the Treaty of St. Mary's.
Read about the Treaty of Greenville.
Read about the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Read "Indian Removals in Indiana."
The United States employed a Native diplomat who was opposed to Tecumseh's confederacy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Article About the Brothertown (not Brotherton) Indians

The caption reads: "The Methodist Episcopal Church was the focal point of the Tribal community for almost 125 years. Church services were held there along with weddings, baptisms and burials. It also served as a meeting place where the Brothertown Indians transacted their town affairs."

The current (Winter 2008-2009) issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History features an article about the Brothertown Indians. "To Procure a Residence Amongst Their Brethren to the West," (pages 28-41) by Alanna Rice will help to fill a void - there isn't much awareness of the Brothertown Indians or knowledge of their history. Nevertheless, the article gave me a bad feeling - maybe it is because I'm a stickler: a stickler for accurate names.

In her third footnote, Ms. Rice asserts: "The author will refer to both the Native community and tribe discussed in this article by the name 'Brotherton.'" Why? Because that was the name first used by Samson Occom. Reverend Samson Occom is a hero of mine, but his original name didn't really catch on like the name "Brothertown" did. [According to Caroline Andler (see her comment below), the two names were used "interchangeably."]

But it is about more than that. For me there is already plenty of confusion knowing that there was another community of Christian Algonkians that was known as the "Brotherton Indians." Because they were a small band that joined the Stockbridge Mohicans unofficially in about 1803 and made it legal in an 1823 treaty, there is even less awareness of the Brotherton Delaware Indians than there is of the Brothertown Indians.

As Ms. Rice admits, the people and the community she writes about were known by the name "Brothertown" throughout almost their entire existence. Brothertown, Wisconsin was never known as "Brotherton" and I don't think that historians should take poetic license with place names.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Smithsonian "Error" Corrected: Etowaukaum not an Iroquois

The headline in the 1/15/2009 issue of Mohican News which I received today is "Descendant Finds Error in National Historical Exhibit - Seeks Correction." The item in question: a variation of the portrait you see on the right. Depicted is Etowaukaum (or "Etow oh Koam" if you prefer the Smithsonian's spelling), Chief Sachem of the Mohican Nation in 1710. That year he joined three Iroquois Chief Sachems on a trip across the Atlantic where they appealed to England's "Queen Anne to send a force against the French and Indians there"(see Frazier, 1992, page 9).

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery appears to have erred by referring to Etowaukaum as being one of the four Indian "Kings" leading the Iroquois Confederacy. The question of whether they should have been referred to as "Kings" is something that I'll save for another post, the error the Mohican News is referring to, of course, is that as a Mohican, Etowaukaum belonged to the Algonkian or Algonquin language/cultural group, not the Iroquois language/cultural group.

The Mohican News tells how Terry Shepard (whose father was Rev. Gordon Shepard, an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians), alerted the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery of their alleged error via e-mail and copied the Canadian National Portrait Gallery in on the message. Here the plot thickens. According to Mohican News, Madeleine Trudeau, the Acting Curator at the Canadian National Portrait Gallery, sent Shepard a reply which explains added complexity: in 1710 the Mohicans were politically in alliance with their former enemies, the Mohawks. As a result, referring to Etowaukaum as a leader of the Iroquois Confederacy can be regarded as accurate, at least from a political or military standpoint. (Trudeau's claim is backed up by Patrick Frazier, who, on page 7 says that the "two tribes now spoke of each other in kinship terms. The Mohicans called the Mohawks uncle and they showed deference to their uncle.")

Mohican News reported that Shepard returned to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for a follow-up visit on January 4th and observed that the portrait in question now identifies Etowaukaum as a Mohican but he continues to have other "issues with the overall exhibit" and up to that point, he didn't find any changes on their website.
(The screencapture below is from that website on January 15th, 2009)
Mohican News relates that another bone of contention brought up by Shepard is that Etowaukaum is referred to as Chief of "the River Nation," which Shepard complained about - not for being inaccurate - but for being "an Anglicization." Of course, the word "Mohican," is also an Anglicization of "Muhheconnuck," but may I point out that - according to Patrick Frazier - "Mohicans" and "River Indians" aren't exactly the same. On page 6, Frazier says that the "Mohicans and the Indians at Schaticoke were collectively called 'River Indians' by their allies" (emphasis added). If Frazier is correct, then it likely is more accurate to say that Etowaukaum was representing the River Indians than the Mohicans.

The past can be so complex that we have to split hairs to understand where other people are coming from...but in the end, pride matters and too many people have only read the word "Mohican" as a reference to an old novel. So...

Let it be known that Etowaukaum was a Mohican!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sac & Fox Mission Trip, Part III

I've been reading Cutting Marsh's journal of the Sac and Fox Expedition. As you can see above, his hand-writing isn't the easiest to make out, but the journal is a worth-while read for anybody who is interested in what it was like to travel the Midwest in the 1830's. One disappointment is that, so far, Marsh has said very little about his traveling companions, four Stockbridge Mohicans, all devout Christians. On the positive side, Marsh relates a remarkable trip. Along the Mississippi River, and into what is now Iowa, Marsh runs into "Winnebagoes" (we now call them Ho-Chunk Indians), observes young Sioux men dancing, and meets quite a few whites. He describes most of the whites as being either "professors of Methodism" or "Universalists," and laments that the Indians are "in darkness" (meaning that they weren't Christians).

It seems there are between two to four men named Davenport that Marsh comes in contact with during the trip. In Part II of this series of posts, I told you about a trader named George Davenport. It seems that in Marsh's entries of June 28-29, 1834 he is dealing with a different Davenport, this one being a United States Indian Agent. Although Marsh said he found Agent Davenport to be "quite an agreeable man," he was the one to tell Marsh that Sac and Fox Chief Keokuck (see photo) had already declined the offer to have a mission school for his people. Davenport told Marsh that Keokuck "said the Great Spirit had given them mouths to speak with and they did not wish to learn to talk on paper."

Like the good Calvinist that he was, Marsh remarked in his journal, "perhaps it is on account of the pride in my heart that God seems to thwart my designs."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brief Abenaki History

The State of Vermont is commemorating the 400th Anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain's visit to the lake that was named after him. They have put out a website that features an article about Abenaki history by Frederick Wiseman. [See comments below for a significant criticism of Wiseman's article.]

You may also want to read Lee Sultzman's compact history of the Abenaki.

Or use this link to visit the Abenaki Tribal Museum.

The picture above of two Abenaki women is from Maggiemac's History of American Women blog.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fowler Family Genealogy

If you're interested in Brothertown genealogy, this website might be a good resource for you. It contains data (more than just the basic essentials) on members of the Fowler family, including ancestors such as Mary Occom, George Pharaoh, Wyandanch and Wuchikittaubut.

Wyandanch is shown here holding a war club. You may recognize the background as a map of Long Island, New York, and southern Connecticut.
Read about Wyandanch

Last Sermon in Stockbridge, Wisconsin

A white congregation had taken the place of one that was once almost exclusively Indian. But they continued to worship in the "old Mission House" until December 19th, 1869. On that day Rev. L. P. Norcross attempted to give his congregation the church history of the Stockbridge Mohicans. (So his sermon was about history, instead of religion.)

The Oshkosh Times had the foresight to print Norcross' sermon (referring to it also as a "MEMORIAL DISCOURSE") in their December 29th, 1869 issue. Of course Norcross didn't have a lot of good resources to work with, so it wouldn't be fair to have high expectations of his sermon. Nevertheless, we can call it a good faith attempt at recounting the past.

Norcross tells us how church attendance was enforced when the tribe still lived in Massachusetts:

"These Indians were very strict, very moral and pure in their habits, especially observant were they of the Sabbath, and the whipping master applied the benefits of his office to all strolling pleasure-seekers with whom he came in contact."
While I'm inclined to think that the term "whipping" is not the most appropriate, Norcross is in the right vein because the old Indian church for many years did have an officer known as a "beadle" who at least wielded some kind of a stick (Calvin Colton observed this in 1830).

Norcross reported something that I have seen nowhere else, something about what he called "the Hendricks and Quinney trouble." Certain political documents (which Norcross was unaware of) will tell us more about this conflict, but Norcross has an anecdote of how the conflict may have started. "It was about a single cow, which Austin E. Quinney claimed was stolen from him by one Hendricks, and, I believe proved on him."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sac & Fox Mission Trip, Part II

Use this link to read Part I of this series of posts.

Maps in this post are from Roger Nichols' thesis, Cutting Marsh: Missionary to the Stockbridges, 1830-1848.

In 1834, John Metoxen, John N. Chicks, two other Stockbridge Mohicans, and Rev. Cutting Marsh traveled by birchbark canoe up the Fox River, and then portaged to the Wisconsin and paddled down to the Mississippi. From there they continued south, spending time in what is now Iowa.

This was their mission trip to the Sac and Fox Indians. Unlike the Stockbridges, the Sac and Fox didn't speak an Algonquin language. From the Stockbridges' point of view, it was also significant that the Sac and Fox weren't "civilized" Indians.

When the delegation arrived in what would become the city of Davenport the next year, Cutting Marsh had a long talk with one of the city's founders, George Davenport, a trader. Marsh, of course, was trying to talk Davenport into getting a Calvinist mission established there. Davenport was noncommittal. He told Marsh that the Sac and Fox were " their present state."

Meanwhile, John Metoxen was fortunate to speak with Chief Blackhawk through a good interpreter. Unfortunately, we only have a second-hand account of the conversation written down by Cutting Marsh. However, the conversation must have started out well with Blackhawk telling Metoxen how he appreciated the level of sobriety he'd seen among the Stockbridge Mohicans during his visit to Statesburg a year earlier. This was probably the opening that Metoxen wanted. Marsh's reconstruction of the discussion from there is not quite believable, but it is all we have:

Blackhawk: "Now what do you think is best about receiving missionaries &c?"
Metoxen: "By all means, receive them...for they will do you good."
Blackhawk: But the trader, Mr. D, told me not to have anything to do with them..."

As contrived as that dialog seems, it likely reflects the larger truth that George Davenport's livelihood as a trader would have been threatened by a mission that would teach the local Indians to become "civilized farmers."

*Letter from Marsh of Sept. 5th 1834 letter in the ABCFM Papers.
*Marsh's 1834 Report to the Society in Scotland for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SSPCK).

This series will continue.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New York Indians in Wisconsin and Elsewhere

Every federally recognized Indian nation has an enrollment officer, a tribal employee who uses census records and various other historical and genealogical sources to determine who has a sufficient blood quantum to be enrolled in that particular tribe. The situation has brought on controversy throughout Indian country for a number of reasons. Possibly the most controversial aspect of the blood quantum issue is that it doesn't really matter how much "Indian blood" you have, but rather what percentage of your ancestry belonged to the particular tribe that you want to be enrolled in.

The enrollment issue is further complicated by tribes such as the Stockbridge Mohicans who base their 1/4 blood quantum not on having 1/4 "Mohican" blood, but rather it is based on having 1/4 of your blood traceable back to the Stockbridge-Munsee Census of 1906 (or was it the census of 1895?, I'll have to check on that). Anyway, I already addressed the question of how "Mohican" the Stockbridge Indians are, so right now I want to share a genealogical resource that applies to all the New York Indians that came to Wisconsin.

Indians From New York in Wisconsin and Elsewhere: A Genealogy Reference compiled or edited by Toni Jollay Prevost is a book that I can only recommend with reservations (no pun intended). I looked at this book a couple years ago and remembered it as being "homemade," because of the "classic typewriter font" that is used. However, when I located the book today in my public library I found that it was published by Heritage Books in 1995. I had to wonder if the typewriter font was some kind of a marketing tool to get families to purchase a corporate project. Well, I know what they say about not judging a book by its cover (or its font), but I believe this is a book that has its share of errors. For example, if you wanted to know the chief sachem of the Stockbridge Mohicans in the 1820's where would you look? Ms. Prevost used a book about the Oneidas to get that information and as a result she claims that a Samuel W. Hendricks was the chief. (The author of the book on the Oneidas must have been referring to Solomon U. Hendricks, a chief for a few years before his early death.)

Anyway, I do recommend New York Indians in Wisconsin and Elsewhere for its duplication of census records and other lists. Included are census records from Brown, Shawano, and Calumet Counties in Wisconsin and Bucks County in Pennsylvania, census records of the Oneidas and Stockbridges, and a list of Iroquois Indians at boarding schools in Virginia, Kansas (Haskell) and Pennsylvania (Carlisle).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cutting Marsh: Missionary to the Stockbridges

In 1959 a young graduate student at the University of Wisconsin(at Madison) completed his Masters' Thesis: Cutting Marsh Missionary to the Stockbridges 1830-1848.
What Roger Nichols wrote back then, like most Masters theses, was saved but largely forgotten about. But, nevertheless, unlike many other graduate students, Roger Nichols went on to become a nationally recognized expert on Native American Studies. He's written some rather well-known books, including American Indians in U.S. History.

I think I can make the claim that I'm one of only a few people to have read Nichols' thesis on Cutting Marsh in recent decades. I believe that because I read things in it that seemed to have gone unnoticed by other authors. But the original or primary sources that Nichols used have been used by others, myself included. They include the ABCFM Papers, Marsh's reports to the Scottish Missionary Society as reprinted in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, and the Cutting Marsh Papers (I doubt that the John C. Adams Papers had been discovered yet at that time). Anyway, a lot of the credit for what I know about Cutting Marsh, goes to Roger Nichols. He was the first person to refer to Rev. Marsh as being "stern and stubborn," and that is a description that I find hard to improve on.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mission Trip to the Sac & Fox, Part I

In 1833, one year after being defeated by the United States in a war that was named after him, Chief Blackhawk (pictured here) visited the Stockbridge Mohicans at their Statesburg settlement (located in present-day Kaukauna, Wisconsin). Blackhawk invited the Stockbridges to visit him and other Sac and Fox Indians in what is now Iowa. The trip that came out of this invitation was at least to some extent a scouting trip since the small Native nation expected to have to move again. But they also thought of the trip they were preparing to make as a mission to spread Christianity and "civilization" among members of their own race. This is how they presented the trip in an October 14, 1833 letter to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM):

Fathers, we ask if there is not some way we can make our visit subserve, in some degree at least, the great object of your society? Cannot we tell them that your society is ready to send teachers if they are willing to receive them?
The letter, signed by Jacob Cheekthaucon, John Metoxen, Austin E. Quinney, Thomas Hendrick, Andrew Miller, Timothy Jordan, Cornelius Charles, John W. Quinney, Samuel Miller, and Josiah W. Miller asked if a missionary could accompany them. The commissioners in Boston decided to support the trip and gave Rev. Cutting Marsh permission to travel with the delegation.

The letter described is part of the ABCFM Papers.