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.

4 comments :

Sue Glasco said...

Preach on, Brother! I don't think historians should take poetic licence on anything. If they want to write fiction, they should be called fiction writers, not historians.

Caroline K. Andler said...

Brothertown or Brotherton Indians – the name has been used interchangeably since on November 7, 1784, on lands the Oneida Nation had given them in New York, Samson Occom named the new settlement. “But now we proceeded to form into a Body Politick – we named our Town by the Name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyamqittoowauconnuck.” (See Occom’s Diary, Nov. 7, 1785)
The Brothertown Indian Nation has been known as the Brotherton Indians, the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin, and the Brothertown Indian Nation.
The Tribal Council, on June 21, 1997 adopted, by resolution, the name “Brothertown Indians.” This resolution was passed to clarify any confusion between the names “Brotherton” and “Brothertown,” which were used interchangeably for years by the federal government and even within the tribe when not using the traditional tribal name Eeyamquittoowauconnuck.
For example, the Treaty of Buffalo Creek between the United States and the Brothertowns, Munsee, Oneidas, St. Regis, Stockbridges, and Other New York Indian Nations (1838) refers to the tribe as the “Brothertowns residing in the State of New York.” In an article of agreement made and entered into at Vernon in the State of New York between various parties and the Stockbridge Indians regarding lands for Stockbridge and Brothertown Indians, Brothertown and Brotherton are used interchangeably throughout the document. While as a party to the Emigrant New York judgment award, the tribe was known as the “Brotherton” Indians. (The New York Indians v. United States, 30 Ct. Cl. 413 (1895); New York Indians v. U.S., 170 U.S. 1 (1898); New York Indians v. U.S., 170 U.S. 614 (1898). While “Brotherton” is not necessarily wrong, it is not contemporary, and the tribe has decided to use “Brothertown” for consistency. Additionally, “of Wisconsin” has been dropped from the tribal name by Council resolution.
The Brothertown Indian Nation submitted an acknowledgement Petition document on April 15, 1980 under the name “Brotherton Indians of Wisconsin.” On October 21, 1995, a documented Petition was submitted under the name “Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin.” The Brothertown Indians when submitting supporting documentation to its 1995 Petition, in December of 2005 did so under the name “Brothertown Indian Nation.”
Caroline K. Andler, Enrolled member of the Brothertown Indian Nation

Jeff Siemers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Siemers said...

Being a Brothertown Indian and also the Tribal Genealogist, Caroline Andler has more expertise on the topic of my post than I do. I welcome her participation and appreciate what she has added. Nevertheless, the only thing she wrote in her comment that appears to be inconsistent with my post is that the Brothertowns themselves used the two names "interchageably." So was I wrong to say that the name Rev. Occom gave to the town "didn't catch on"? Maybe, but not by much.
I welcome more participation in Algonkian Church History from Ms. Andler and other experts. Up to this point I have written all the posts, but I hope that guest bloggers will contribute in the future. Contact me if you'd like to do that.