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).

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