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.

No comments :