Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some Wept Aloud

A Meeting of Reconciliation and
the Allegations of Robert Konkapot
If 1829 is the correct date, this would be the church building at Grand Kawkawlin, not the reservation on the shore of Lake Winnebago. However, the date given must be wrong. See this post to understand why I say that.
Are you ready to get back to the chaotic things going on amongst the Stockbridge Mohicans in the Territory of Wisconsin?

In some of my recent posts, we've seen that there was factional conflict in the tiny Stockbridge nation. We don't know the whole story, but it had something to do with crime and punishment and whether or not to emigrate to what is now Kansas. Most likely, the pot was stirred by an unscrupulous federal Indian agent (and I regret to remind you that he was an ordained minister), John F. Schermerhorn.

Towards the end of 1836, Rev. Marsh tried to play the role of peacemaker, holding a meeting of reconciliation in which "all wept, many made confession publicly and some wept aloud"(Cutting Marsh's diary, in the Cutting Marsh Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society, November 13, 1836). Marsh did have something like a honeymoon period with the tribe, lasting a few years, but his position as a spiritual leader was compromised by 1836. He appears to have made his situation worse by siding with tribal leaders in political matters.

The official tribal leaders (known as the "Wiskonsin party) left us plenty of data to understand their position and it is spelled out in previous posts. On the other hand, I only have one document written by Robert Konkapot and none written by Thomas Hendricks. On January 16, 1838, Konkapot made a number of allegations against Cutting Marsh and the leaders of the Wiskonsin party in a letter to the president of the ABCFM.

According to Konkapot, "a commissioner" apparently Schermerhorn, entered into a business deal with "five or six men" who "divided the avails of the land amongst themselves." Konkapot also believed that Cutting Marsh was in on the deal. He felt that Marsh was refusing communion to certain Indians based on their refusal to pay taxes. Furthermore, Konkapot alleged that Rev. Marsh refused new converts for secular reasons:

" minister visited us last winter [and] by his instrumentality many sinners were awakened and resolved to serve the Lord long as they live, but none ever [were] admitted [to] the church unless they sign[ed] that new law...and they were told that they can not be Christians unless they come under that law."

Friday, February 27, 2009

WI State Journal Series: Down to a Whisper

The Wisconsin State Journal has done us a great service by running a series of articles about Wisconsin's Native languages, especially Menominee, Ojibwe (both Algonkian languages) and Ho-Chunk (a Siouxan language). The Potawatomie (Algonkian), and Oneida (Iroquois) languages also come into play in the series.

Use the links below for articles by Jason Stein:

  • "Last Hope for Native Languages,"

  • "Languages a Window into Human Mind,"

  • Kris Caldwell (pictured right), a 58-year-old Menoninee, explains why her father never taught her how to speak the Menominee language in
    "'Through Love we Lost the Language' "

  • "Overcoming Their Past to Teach the Young"

  • "A Journey Back to Ourselves"

  • and, last but not least, an interactive audio-visual experience, "Down to a Whisper" can teach you the basics of Menominee, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk.

  • Reporter/author Jason Stein won the Freedom Forum/American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity for this series.
  • Thursday, February 26, 2009

    A Genealogical Puzzler

    A reader sent me an e-mail hoping that I could help him with a genealogical "dead-end," that he admits is "certainly a longshot." After thinking about his question for a while, I consider him an optimist.

    The reader wants help identifying the biological parents of an ancestor of his who was "found along the side of the road as an 1807." The infant was given the middle name of "Shaw" because the adoptive parents figured that - because they found her in a certain part of Ohio - she was a Shawnee.

    I'm really not an expert on the Shawnee, but I highly doubt that an Indian born in Ohio around 1807 would have a birth certificate or baptism papers or anything like that. I also think that being born to people who aren't able to take care of you would make it less likely that there is any documentation.

    Okay... I'm an optimist too. I want to give my reader some possible sources.

    One is the Ohio-based Amy's Genealogy, etc. Blog.

    Then there's the National Archives. The problem you're likely to run into with them, however, is they don't claim to maintain records from before 1830. The Shawnee nation had already begun to fade away by that time and besides, you're looking for somebody born more than twenty years before that.

    But why not try to talk to a real expert on this kind of thing?
    The National Archives has two regional facilities in Ohio:
    Dayton (937) 425-0600,
    and Miamisburg (937) 425-0601.

    If my reader never finds the answer he's looking for, I still think he has a great story to tell at parties and genealogical society meetings.

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    More About the Munsees

    New York Indian Removal, Part XIII:
    More About the Munsees

    This flag represents the cultural preservation of the Munsee Delaware Indians. It doesn't stand for any geographical or political entity. --->

    Not a lot has been written about the comings and goings of the Munsee Delaware Indians in relation to the Stockbridge Mohicans. The Stockbridge-Munsee "partnership," when not made official by the federal government, seems to have been informal enough so as to have been an unwritten one for many years - and it appears to have been an "on-again-off-again" kind of thing.

    I believe there were Munsees settled in present-day Wisconsin as early as 1823, but I've been having a hard time locating specific and conclusive documentation of it (I'll keep looking through my papers). Maybe there were a significant number of "New York" Munsees in Wisconsin in the 1820's, but if there were, they don't appear to have stayed through the next decade. Cutting Marsh reported "only one Munsee family is at present on the ground" in a September 21, 1836 letter in the ABCFM Papers.

    As I explained in a previous post, about 200 Munsees showed up at the Stockbridge Reservation in 1837, but as "Canadian" Munsees, I cannot say for sure whether or not they were in any way associated with the "New York" Munsees who had settled along the Fox River more than ten years earlier. My guess is that they weren't the Munsees that John W. Quinney had in mind when he went to Washington D.C. to negotiate for new land. That would explain why he complained to the Secretary of War about their arrival. Maybe it also explains why he left the Munsees out of his 1837 constitution.

    When the tribe is referred to as the Stockbridge- Munsee Mohicans, it is easy to forget that the Munsees weren't Mohicans. ---->

    Anyway, after some months at the Stockbridge Reservation, about 70 of the Munsees continued on to the Delaware Reservation in what is now Kansas. Did the rest stay permanently? Some historians appear to assume that they did. But I have my doubts: when the treaty of 1839 provided an official framework for the Hendricks-Konkapot faction to move to the Delaware Reservation, it is likely that the rest of the Canadian Munsees went with them.

    When the migration to the Delaware reservation didn't quite work out, the treaty of 1856 not only allowed members of the Hendricks-Konkapot faction into the new reservation that was created, but also made it official that the Munsees would be included. But how many Munsees came to live on the new reservation in Shawano County, Wisconsin? I really don't think anybody knows for sure. [Some information on that can be found in a post written several weeks after this one: "The Munsees: According to an Indian Party Brief."]

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Airlift to Wounded Knee

    In the first couple months of this blog, one of my readers told me that his favorite book was The Island at the Center of the World. So last weekend I headed for my public library, looked that book up in the online catalog and went upstairs to find it. But the book wasn't where it was supposed to be. I figured that as long as I was there, I'd browse that part of their collection. A few feet away was the book you see on the right, Bill Zimmerman's Airlift to Wounded Knee.

    As soon as I saw the cover photo and the "absolutely spellbinding" recommendation, I knew I would borrow the book (and read it too), but as I made my way through it over the course of the week, I kept asking myself one question: Is this the stuff of Algonkian Church History?

    It is for this reason: The 1973 siege of Wounded Knee (although it was very much about the Oglala Sioux), for reasons that are explained in the book, marked a nationwide change in the self-image of American Indians. In less than three months, the scale that had been tipping towards shame dramatically tipped to pride.

    If you aren't familiar with the siege, here's some bare-bones background on it: As a protest, many Oglala Sioux "occupied" the village of Wounded Knee (which was part of their Pine Ridge Reservation anyway). The FBI, other federal agents, and the hired "goons" of a crooked tribal official, surrounded Wounded Knee and attempted to block anybody from going in and out, even if all they were bringing in was food.

    Essentially the Wounded Knee siege was a 71-day armed standoff and although both sides experienced casualties, the government wielded much more firepower. As starvation became an issue, Bill Zimmerman, the book's author and an amateur pilot, was called on to organize an airlift of supplies.
    Zimmerman alternates chapters between the Sioux and his own adventure with the Airlift. Reading his book in 2009, I felt that he made too many references to the Vietnam War, but he nevertheless convinced me that the federal government was doing roughly the same thing in South Dakota as they were doing in Indo-China. The author has a bias, but when you risk your life to deliver food to starving people, you have a right to tell things from your own point of view.

    When the author expects to die at any minute and then survives to be chased by the FBI, you know you're reading a true thriller! So much the better if it's a true story.

    Here's a couple articles about the Wounded Knee siege: From a Libertarian viewpoint and from a Liberal viewpoint.

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    The First Permanent Split in the Stockbridge Tribal Church

    New York Indian Removal, Part XII:
    The First Permanent Split in the Stockbridge Tribal Church

    An understanding of this post depends upon my posts of Part X and Part XI of the New York Indian Removal series.

    This illustration of the westward migration of the Delaware Indians acknowledges the Munsees in Canada, but doesn't recognize their stopoff at the Stockbridge Reservation in Wisconsin.
    It is unfortunate that there is a lot more data available and known to historians from the point of view of the Quinneys and Rev. Cutting Marsh than there is from the point of view of Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot. In the most politically correct terminology, they were the leaders of the "Emigrant party." Cutting Marsh, of course, called it the "Disaffected party," and I have also used that term, not as a slight to Hendricks, Konkapot, or others in the party, but because I suspect that one of the main reasons that they were so willing to leave good agricultural land for a drier climate to the west (present-day Kansas), is that they had had enough of the Quinney-led, missionary-backed tribal government.

    As I have outlined before, various historians have offered various explanations for the origin of the factional conflict, but I think that my "Crime and Punishment" post [see the comment where I give due credit to Roger Nichols for my viewpoint] best explains how Hendricks and Konkapot emerged as leaders. They were also, of course, members of the tribe's other leading families and that may have something to do with their "disaffection."

    In my last post you read that the Quinneys had accused Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot of bringing roughly 200 Munsees to the Stockbridge Reservation in Wisconsin so they could cash in on the $500 offered in the 1836 Schermerhorn treaty. Instead, it is more likely that their main intention was to add numbers to their "disaffected" party.

    Since there wasn't a lot of separation between church and state in the tribe from 1734 up until the 1830's, events in the tribal church are significant benchmarks in following the conflict. In a May 28th, 1838 letter to David Greene of the ABCFM, Cutting Marsh reported that he had suspended Thomas Hendricks from the tribal church and excommunicated Robert Konkapot for "slander, lying and dishonesty."

    Marsh's next letter to the ABCFM (11/29/1838) marks the first permanent split in the tribal church of the Stockbridge Mohicans. (An earlier split was reconciled when Samson Occom died and members of his congregation re-joined John Sergeant[Jr.]'s congregation). Marsh had the nerve to tell his supporters that it seemed "as though the adversary [meaning Satan] had sent two Baptists to help them." Somehow Hendricks and Konkapot got in touch with two Baptist Indians who had ties with the tribe, brought them to the reservation and held their own worship services to rival those of Cutting Marsh and the tribe's regular leaders.

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Munsee Removal and the Quinneys' Perspective

    New York Indian Removal, Part XI:
    Munsee Removal and the Quinneys' Perspective

    This painting of Austin E. Quinney is owned by the Wisconsin State Historical Society. --->

    To missionary Cutting Marsh, there was nothing wrong with the 1837 Tribal Constitution of the Stockbridge Mohicans (reprinted on pages 209-213 of James Oberly's
    A Nation of Statesmen). So when members of the Hendricks and Konkapot faction - also known as the Disaffected party - opposed it, Marsh felt that they just weren't ready to adhere to the laws that "all civilized nations" had in common (letter from Marsh to Green, December 13, 1838 ABCFM Papers).

    Marsh wasn't specific about what the Hendricks and Konkapot faction were doing to oppose the new constitution. However, after considering the Schermerhorn treaty of 1836 and a hand-written copy of an old letter I found in the John C. Adams Papers (at the Historical Society in Madison, WI) I have concluded that it had a lot to do with the Munsee Delawares.

    The treaty the United States made with the Menominees in 1832 set aside two townships on the east shore of Lake Winnebago for the Stockbridge and Munsee Indians, but the vast majority of Munsees remained either in New York State or in southern [southeastern] Ontario, Canada. By the 1830's, present-day Wisconsin was a popular destination for white settlement and instead of removing New York Indians to Wisconsin, the federal government aimed to move them west of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. As a result, the Schermerhorn treaty of 1836 contained a clause in which any chief who would "remove his Tribe or any party of not less than 100 persons [would receive] $500 for his services"(the treaty is reprinted in Oberly, pages 243-246).

    As you may remember, the tribal leaders (aka leaders of the "Wiskonsin party") had seen the land west of the Missouri River and decided not to make the move. While John W. Quinney was lobbying Congress not to ratify the Schermerhorn treaty, Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot were lobbying Congress to ratify it (see Oberly, 62).

    A handwritten, undated letter, addressed only to "the Honorable Secretary of War," and signed by John W. Quinney and Austin E. Quinney, alleged that Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot left their reservation and met up with roughly 200 Canadian Munsees near Detroit. According to the Quinneys, Hendricks and Konkapot persuaded the Munsees to "come round by the way of Green Bay, telling them that that was the easiest and they would be provided with everything necessary by the government in this route to the end of the journey." Furthermore, the Quinneys claimed that Hendricks and Konkapot induced the Munsees by telling them that there were Munsee lands near the Stockbridge settlement which had recently been sold and they could receive some of the proceeds of that sale if they showed up.

    <------ Joel Poinsett, U.S. Secretary of War, 1837-1841. An amateur botanist, Poinsett imported a plant from the Aztecs that was named after him (the Poinsettia).

    As the Quinneys tell it in their letter, nearly all the Munsees wanted to continue on their way to what is now Kansas, but they were "persuaded to remain until the [Schermerhorn] treaty was ratified." In other words, the Quinneys were alleging that Hendricks and Konkapot worked to keep the Munsees on the Stockbridge reservation in order to collect the $500 payoff promised in the treaty. They even pointed out that these were "Canadian" Munsees, not the New York Munsee Indians that the government was so eager to see gone.

    Was it worth $500 for the two leaders of the "Disaffected party"? You'll see in my next post that Hendricks and Konkapot may have been motivated by more than that.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    The Need for a Constitution

    New York Indian Removal, Part X:
    The Need for a Constitution

    This map of the Wisconsin Territory (from the David Rumsey Map collection) shows that the move from Grand Kawkawlin (Statesburg) to Stockbridge in Calumet County wasn't a long one.

    As you may recall from my previous post, the negotiations that brought the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indians to their reservation on the east shore of Lake Winnebago involved a rather large delegation of Menominees, but there were only two representatives for the Oneidas, and John W. Quinney - whether it was his intent or not - bargained on behalf of not only the Stockbridge Mohicans, but also the Munsee and Brothertown Indians.

    In a September, 21, 1836 letter to ABCFM officer David Green, Cutting Marsh explained that the treaty that brought the Stockbridges to their current reservation had also set aside a share of it for the Munsees. Some Munsees, apparently a small number, had already settled along the Fox River in the 1820's (and most people assume they went along with the Stockbridges to their next reservation on Lake Winnebago), but the bulk of them remained in New York and the southern part of Ontario, Canada.

    According to James Oberly, John W. Quinney wrote the Stockbridge Mohicans' first constitution as protection against the removal policies of the federal government. That conclusion fits in with some significant data, namely things that were happening to other Native nations and the sequence of signing the Schermerhorn treaty in 1836 but later seeing the land and deciding that it was not fit to move onto.

    The first constitution of the Stockbridge Mohicans, written sometime in 1837, does appear to have been one of Quinney's ways of protecting his people from treaties, including Schermerhorn's. However, the plot thickens when the rise of the Disaffected party and the Munsees remaining in New York and present-day Ontario are thrown into the mix. Stay tuned.

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Ellis Describes More Negotiations

    New York Indian Removal, Part IX:
    Ellis Describes More Negotiations

    Let's back up a little ways. Remember the treaties of 1821 and 1822? Remember how they were sloppily done and appear to have aimed to set up conflict between the New York Indians and the Wisconsin Natives? Remember how the summer council of 1830 didn't resolve anything? (See this post if you don't remember.)

    To take us further, I think the best source is Albert G. Ellis' "Advent of the New York Indians Into Wisconsin," (originally printed in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Volume II, pages 415-449). (Ellis is pictured on the left.)

    The new Indian agent in the Green Bay region, Colonel Samuel C. Stambaugh, was denied permission to take ten Menominee Chiefs to negotiate a new treaty in Washington, D.C. Instead, Stambaugh left Green Bay with fourteen Menominees on November 8, 1830. Three weeks later they arrived at Detroit where they picked up Eleazar Williams and Daniel Bread who would represent the Oneidas. The party of sixteen Indians and a few federal officials finally made it to Washington on December 11th, and were joined by John W. Quinney of the Stockbridge Mohicans (Ellis, page 433).

    John W. Quinney -->

    As Ellis tells it (433-434), the officials of Andrew Jackson's administration worked with the Menominees and essentially ignored the New York Indians. The first treaty that was written up (he refers to it as "the Stambaugh treaty") didn't allow the New York Indians the quality nor the quantity of land they wanted. Senators from New York opposed that treaty. They wanted enough land set aside not only for the New York Indians that were already in Wisconsin, but also for the Senecas and other Indians that had stayed put up to that point.

    So the Senate never bothered to vote on whether to ratify the Stambaugh treaty. In the next session of Congress, however, a treaty was passed with more favorable terms for the New York Indians. On page 440 Ellis reveals the terms of that treaty relevant to the Stockbridge, Munsee, and Brothertown Indians.

    Sure the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indians would have to move again, but instead of the swampy land on the west bank of the Fox River that Andrew Jackson's administration wanted them to go to, they were moving to good land on the east shore of Lake Winnebago. John W. Quinney's negotiations had paid off!

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    The Disaffected Party

    New York Indian Removal, Part VIII: The Disaffected Party

    In an 1869 sermon, Rev. L. P. Norcross said it started with the theft of a cow. James Oberly, author of A Nation of Statesmen portrays the conflict as largely about where different Indians wanted to live. But Roger Nichols (in his unpublished thesis) appears to have understood the rise of the Disaffected party the best.

    In the 1830's, conditions were in place to push more Indians out of New York State. (Posts III and IV of the New York Indian Removal series provide some explanation and recommendations for further reading.) At the same time, present day Wisconsin was becoming a popular destination for white settlers, becoming a territory by itself in 1836. The government's goal was now to remove all "New York Indians," whether in New York State or Wisconsin Territory to a new reservation in what is now Kansas. As I understand it, it was at this point that the Brothertown Indians chose to give up their relationship with the federal government and become U.S. citizens. However, I will focus on the Stockbridge Mohicans in this post.

    Rev. John Schermerhorn was the Indian Agent who made the treaty which ultimately sent the Cherokee Nation packing for their infamous Trail of Tears. Unfortunately, Schermerhorn also got involved in the further removal of the New York Indians. In September of 1836, Schermerhorn met with the Stockbridge Mohicans and succeeded in getting the tribal leaders (including John Metoxen, John W. Quinney, Austin E. Quinney, and Jacob Chicks) to sign a treaty that would bring about one more removal.

    Schermerhorn arrived only weeks after the debacle of crime and punishment which I related in my previous post. When the two murderers managed to escape, some Stockbridges expressed doubt that their nation of roughly 320 people was big enough to govern itself effectively. If not, wouldn't it be to their advantage to combine with the other New York Indians on one large reservation? Furthermore, although it wasn't that long ago that some had said the Green Bay area would be reserved exclusively for Indians, it wasn't necessarily naive for some to hope that moving to an all-Indian territory would eliminate alcohol-related murders and other problems associated with white-encroachment.

    Five of the established tribal leaders went with John Schermerhorn to look at the new land to the southwest offered in the treaty, but they found it unfavorable on account of the hardness of the water and scarcity of wood among other things (Marsh to Green, December, 13, 1837). The established tribal leaders and those who supported them became known as the "Wiskonsin Party" because they wanted to stay put.

    The party that opposed them was led by Thomas Hendricks and Robert Konkapot. They were know as the "Emigrant party," the "Missouri party," and Cutting Marsh also referred to them as the "Disaffected party." There were a number of possible reasons why they might have been disaffected. Maybe cattle ownership and the pros and cons of relocating again were part of the conflict. And, as James Oberly pointed out, a key aspect of Schermerhorn's strategy was to stir up conflict between tribal factions. But Cutting Marsh and John Metoxen felt that the murder that summer and its aftermath is what led the Stockbridge Mohicans down the wrong path. Roger Nichols put more weight on their opinion and so do I.

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Crime and Punishment

    The event that Deacon John Metoxen would later describe as what set the Stockbridge Mohicans down the wrong path (Marsh to Green, May 28, 1838 in the ABCFM Papers) occurred either on July 3rd or July 4th of 1836. A Brothertown Indian was brutally murdered by two intoxicated Stockbridges. Rev. Cutting Marsh, having audited some medical classes back east, was the closest thing to a doctor in the area and was called on the scene immediately. (I will spare you his graphic description of the murder itself, I only include it in Algonkian Church History because of the events that followed it.)

    Not long after the crime was committed, the father of one of the murderers approached missionary Cutting Marsh and brought up the story of the adulterous woman from the Gospel of John, in which Jesus declared: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her"(King James Version). The man's point, of course, was that the tribe should also forgive the two murderers. But Marsh, a strict, stern Presbyterian (see post about Roger Nichols thesis) was unmoved by the Biblical proof.

    James Oberly's research shows that the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians went to white authorities but none of them felt it their responsibility to try the two accused Stockbridges. Instead the tribal governments attended to the issue.

    The two nations met in Council.... The councils were characterized by a spirit of harmony, coolness, and deliberation which reflected the highest honor upon them.... [the accused] were there declared guilty by every voter, which were about forty, except two and in the same manner declared worthy of death by a very large majority and sentenced to be executed upon the gallows... (Cutting Marsh in a letter to David Green, 8/18/1836 in the ABCFM Papers).
    Here's something that illustrates the lack of separation between church and state at Stockbridge, Wisconsin: Marsh also reported to the ABCFM that the two assailants were brought into his church in chains and shackles to hear him preach a sermon on "crime and punishment."

    Both Rev. Marsh and Chauncey Hall (the schoolteacher to the Stockbridge Mohicans), wrote to the ABCFM saying they were disappointed that the white man who sold whiskey to the murderers was not brought to justice as an accomplice in the crime. According to Hall, at least one of the murderers "would never have raised his hand to shed his brother's blood had not a white man furnished [them with] whiskey" (letter to Green, 9/8/1836, ABCFM Papers).

    The murder would have lasting political ramifications for the Stockbridge Mohicans as Robert Konkapot and Thomas Hendricks emerged as leaders of a faction that rallied to get both prisoners released. The regular tribal officials, of course, wouldn't hear of it.

    Somehow both prisoners escaped.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Sergeant's Ordination

    We've already seen

    1. The Housatonics Accept a Mission

    2. Sergeant Meets the Indians


    3. The Mission is Approved by the Mohicans

    What Comes Next?

    Massachusetts Governor Jonathan Belcher was the leader of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs in Boston and it was he who first suggested the idea of an integrated mission town in 1730 (see Frazier, 39). Since Governor Belcher was planning to meet with some Roman Catholic Mohawks at Deerfield in August of 1735, that would also be a good opportunity to "announce the dedication of an English missionary's life to the service of Indians"(as Frazier put it on pages 31-32). So the Housatonic Mohicans, forty-three in all, headed for Deerfield. Umpachenee, however, chose not to make the trip. It is likely this was a passive protest against the mission or against the English in general.

    We do know that Umpachenee never was a big supporter of the Calvinist mission. Konkapot, however, was, and he thanked Governor Belcher in a formal speech (see Frazier, page 33) for sending John Sergeant and the schoolteacher, Timothy Woodbridge.

    Sergeant's ordination ceremony must have been a huge event. High civil and military officers of the colony of Massachusetts, clergy, gentlemen and many Indians were present. After Nathaniel Appleton's sermon (see illustration at left) and the ceremonial laying on of hands, Rev. Stephen Williams turned to the Housatonic Mohicans who were sitting together in a place of honor and, through an interpreter, asked them to indicate if they would receive Sergeant as their missionary. All forty-three of them rose to their feet to show their approval.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Indian Missions: A Critical Bibliography

    The big problem with James Ronda and James Axtell's Indian Missions: A Critical Bibliography (published by Indiana University Press) is that it came out in 1978. If you can get past the fact that the book misses everything that historians have done in the last 30 years, you're sure to get something out of it.

    On pages 40-47, the authors outline the various responses American Indians have had to missions. They are:

    1. Conversion. This category includes both genuine converts and "loaves and fishes" Christian Indians.

    2. Theological criticism.
    The authors say this was often expressed as "You have your religion, I have mine."

    3. Syncretism:
    "Faced with the physical and political demands of an increasingly Euro-American world, substantial numbers of Indians mixed indigenous theologies and Christian symbols to create the religious experience anthroplogists call syncretism"(page 45).

    4. Revitalization: On the surface, this one is similar to syncretism. As old ways were dying out and Christianity and other white ways were introduced, revitalization religions emerged. They were attempts to preserve Native religion, but usually contained Christian elements. Handsome Lake (a Seneca) was one charismatic prophet who "combined traditional Iroquois values with those learned from Quaker mission workers to compose an ethical code" that brought about "a renaissance of nineteenth-century Iroquois culture"(page 46).


    5. Armed Resistance. In extreme cases, the Indians felt threatened by missionaries. For an example of this, the authors recommend Henry Warner Bowden's "Spanish Missions, Cultural Conflict and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680," in Church History (volume 44, 1975, pages 217-228).

    Although Algonkian Church History is mainly about genuine Christian converts and their Christian descendants, in upcoming posts we'll see examples of other categories. Also, I'll illustrate one category not outlined in Ronda and Axtell's book. By the 1800's the Stockbridge Mohicans knew the Bible very well and would sometimes quote Bible passages to support arguments they had with their missionary. This new category might be called "Theological resistance from a Christian perspective."

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Marsh's Opinion of Sergeant's Ministry

    Right: A modern road map of east-central Wisconsin. The Stockbridge Mohicans lived at modern-day Kaukauna (known then as Statesburg or Grand Kawkawlin) in the 1820's and at Stockbridge in the 1830's and 1840's. Note that Brothertown is south of Stockbridge.

    In my February 8 post, I shared with you a long quote from a letter by John Sergeant [Jr.] in which he promoted the preservation of Native languages. Sergeant felt that bi-lingual literacy and the use of "white" agricultural technology was best for the Indians' welfare. He doesn't come across as a stubborn or pushy type, his belief that Indians would choose the appropriate level of "civilization" was based on his own experience, almost his entire life was lived among the Stockbridge Indians.

    Things were different with Rev. Cutting Marsh. His life experience was different and his thinking was different. His efforts to push "civilization" amongst Indians who had already adopted as many white ways as they wanted, caused him some frustration. He discussed this issue with John Metoxen and later shared the conversation with the ABCFM in a letter to David Greene (10/19/1842).

    ...He [Metoxen] furthermore said that 'Mr. Sergeant was with them 50 years and never got discouraged in all of that time.' ....from all I have learnt of the result of his labors and of all the instruction in schools during that half century, no advances whatever were made in the Nation in knowledge and civilization, all remained precisely in status quo. But I put this question to the old man. If, the Lord when he gives the gospel to a people and expects and requires improvement, is it wrong for his servants [missionaries] to expect the same?

    ....Metoxen has often made [the] foolish expression that 'speaking the English language is what has made so many of the Brothertown people infidels.' Some, I know not how many, have never been pleased with me because I have not learnt their language so as to speak it. But this I have done from principle. This was one thing on account of which they liked Mr. Sergeant so well.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    The Mission is Approved by the Mohicans

    A map of Massachusetts. Berkshire County is in red.

    Here's what we've covered so far in regards to the establishment of a mission in what would become Stockbridge, Massachusetts:
    1. The Housatonics Accept a Mission
    2. Sergeant Meets the Indians

    And our story continues:

    The local council of July, 1734 wouldn't be the final word on Christianity for the Mohican nation. Being regional leaders, Umpachenee and Konkapot understood the mission should be approved by the national leaders, including Mtohksin, who was Chief Sachem at the time. Umpachenee hosted a council in February, 1735 that was attended by nearly 200 Mohicans and featured a sermon by Stephen Williams. Following the sermon, the national leaders discussed many of the same pros and cons of accepting the mission as the Housatonics had in their council. The verdict, as Samuel Hopkins (34-35, quoted in Frazier, 29) understood it, was that the Mohicans would "as a nation submit to instruction." However, another account of what was decided at the council was more nuanced. This account was passed along orally and eventually written down by Captain Hendrick Aupaumut and published in the Massachusetts Historical Society Collections in 1804. According to Aupaumut's account, the Christian gospel should "be preached in one certain village and let every man and woman go to hear it and embrace it; if they think best."

    The "one certain village," of course, eventually became known as Stockbridge. Its success or failure in the short run, depended on how receptive individuals would be to what was preached there. For that reason, I don't believe that the Stockbridge Mohicans - as we know them - would exist today, if not for Rev. John Sergeant [Sr.]

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    If They Lose Their Language

    <---The Natick Bible, the first book printed in the United States, an Algonquian-language translation by John Eliot (he must certainly have had lots of help from Native ministers/translators).

    Not long after John Eliot's Natick Bible came out, missionaries gave up on translating the Bible and instead put more of their efforts behind teaching English. Learning a second language isn't a bad thing. The bad thing was that it reflected a common prejudice that the Indians' languages were "barbaric."

    In the Appendix of his Report to the Secretary of War, Rev. Jedidiah Morse includes copies of a number of letters, one written by John Sergeant [Jr.] in which he reveals to Morse (and to us) his "ideas...concerning Missionary Establishments among the Natives of America"(Appendix, 113).
    1. With regard to the Missionary: he ought to be a man of good abilities and extensive learning; a man of prudence, and with all, of common sense.
    2. He ought to be instructed to learn the language of the natives. It is not so barren, but that every doctrine of the gospel can be communicated to them in their own language.
    3. Some books ought to be printed in their language, and children ought to read them. This plan is now in operation among the Oneidas.
    4. My people, I find, can read their own language very fluently, when they pronounce English very indifferently. This will always be the case, so long as they speak their own language in their families.
    5. If they lose their own langugae, they will lose with it their national pride and respectability. This is the case with the Brothertown Indians. They have lost their language; and are now, perhaps, more corrupt than any Indians in the country.
    6. Their reservations ought to be large, and at least twenty miles from white or black inhabitants.
    7. Civilization and religion must go hand in hand, as I have read, with regard to Africa. "The plough and the Bible go together." As soon as they can feel and taste the sweets of a civilized life, their disposition to hunt and wander will cease. (pages 113-114 in Morse's Appendix)
    Some people seem to think that missionaries could not have been in favor of both "civilization" and a healthy amount of what we might call "cultural preservation," but the impression I get of John Sergeant [Jr.] is that he was tolerant and probably ahead of his time.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Metoxen Takes Center Stage

    New York Indian Removal, Part VII:

    Metoxen Takes Center Stage
    Although New York removal and Wisconsin settlement isn't exactly the same thing, this post about the New York Indians' first years in what is now Wisconsin will give you a better idea of the ins-and-outs of the removal.

    Metoxen's grave. Stockbridge, Wisconsin.

    Several bands of New York Indians migrated to present-day Wisconsin over a period of years. In March of 1823 President James Monroe recognized the New York Indians' right to occupy two million acres that had formerly belonged to Wisconsin Natives, mostly to the Algonkian-speaking Menominees, some to the Souixan-speaking Winnebagoes or Ho-Chunk. Unlike James Monroe, the Menominee and Ho-Chunk leaders viewed the treaties of 1821 and 1822 as fraudulent, they claimed that their true leaders were not present for the negotiations. There were other problems with the treaties; suffice it to say that they were open to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

    In 1827 John Quincy Adams' administration negotiated the Treaty of Little Butte des Morts with the Ho-Chunk and Chief Oshkosh of the Menominees. With this new treaty, the United States purchased some of the land from the Menominees that the New York Indians believed they had purchased from them a few years earlier. In an effort to resolve the confusion, an eight-day council was held in the summer of 1830, not long after Andrew Jackson became president.

    While new administrations in Washington D.C. might be blamed for a lack of consistency in Indian policy, it can also be said that the old "divide and conquer" strategy was in place, this time pitting the "civilized" Stockbridges, Oneidas and other New York Indians against the Menominees and Ho-Chunk. But John Metoxen, Deacon of the the Stockbridge Mohican's tribal church, and their Chief Sachem (see Mohican News, 2/1/2005), didn't take the bait. Although the Wisconsin Indians refused to budge in the eight-day council, he made a concluding speech that made it clear that he knew the score and hoped the Wisconsin Natives would recognize his people as brothers and sisters. An observer from the east, Rev. Calvin Colton, managed to transcribe Metoxen's speech.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Negotiations and Arrivals

    New York Indian Removal, Part VI:
    Negotiations and Arrivals

    When it comes to negotiations, dates of arrival, and similar details related to the New York Indians in Wisconsin, it is very easy to go down the wrong path. So bear with me: Since good historians have already gotten this stuff wrong, I'm going to tell you where I'm getting my data.

    I have Annie Heloise Abel to thank for including a copy of a July 28, 1820 Detroit Gazette article in her book. The Gazette reported that Eleazar Williams and some of the Oneida men arrived "last Saturday" in the steamboat Walk-in-the-water, intending to "visit the Indians in this Territory" to promote Christianity and "to find a suitable tract of country within the Territory" which, at that time, included all of what is now Wisconsin.

    Some kind of agreement was made in Green Bay in the summer of 1820, but various parties made various objections to it and President Monroe never submitted it to Congress. Nevertheless, a June 9, 1821 letter from the Stockbridge Mohicans (signed by Hendrick Aupaumut, Jacob Konkapot, Abner Hendricks, and Solomon U. Hendricks) to the Episcopal Bishop Hobart makes it clear that the Stockbridges wanted to be part of that agreement.

    Solomon U. Hendricks led a delegation of four Stockbridge Mohicans, the first Stockbridges to set foot on Wisconsin soil, in August of 1821 (Lion Miles, e-mail to Jeff Siemers, 5/10/2006). Once again, according to a Detroit Gazette article (7/13/1821, quoted in Ellis, p.423) they cruised the Great Lakes on the Walk-in-the-water. Albert Ellis in his "Recollections of Rev. Eleazar Williams" (in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol.VIII, p.333) characterized the larger New York Indian delegation of 1821:

    "Excepting those of the first Christian party of the Oneidas, and the Stockbridges, all these delegates, to wit: one from Onondaga, one from Tuscarora, one from the Senecas, and one, Mr. Williams himself, from St. Regis [Mohawk] went on their own private responsibility, without any authority from their tribes."
    A letter from John C. Calhoun to Territorial Governor Lewis Cass adds: "The Munsees also sent a delegate, who, by the special permission of the Government, was included in the Stockbridge contingent." This, I believe, is the first official recognition of Stockbridge-Munsee partnership.

    To make a long story shorter, treaties were made between Wisconsin Natives and the New York Indians in 1821 and 1822. The first permanent settlement of New York Indians in Wisconsin occurred in 1822, "when fifty Christianized Stockbridges" located themselves on the north side of the Fox River at Grand Kaukaulin, which is now the city of Kaukauna (WI Historical Collections, vol.XIV, p.423). These first settlers included John Metoxen's Band (the Indians that had left New York in 1818 and never turned back), plus twenty more that came directly from New Stockbridge, New York (e-mail from Lion Miles, 5/10/2006).

    Blog Receives Rave Reviews

    John Warren, creator of the New York History blog, has recommended my series on the New York Indian removal to his readers.

    A special WELCOME to readers of the New York History blog!

    For those of you who haven't seen it, much of John's post today is devoted to my personal story - how I got interested in Algonkian church history.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Jedidiah Morse

    New York Indian Removal, Part V: Jedidiah Morse
    As I write this, the Wikipedia article for Jedidiah Morse is relatively short, but it is on-target in portraying him as a clergyman, geographer, and scientist, as well as the father of Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph. I am not aware of Morse doing any direct mission work among American Indians, but rather, he held some kind of administrative post in the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).

    As I've said before, for many years there wasn't much separation between church and state when it came to Indian missions. So it shouldn't be too surprising that Rev. Morse also worked as a consultant or advisor to the United States Secretary of War. In 1820, Morse made a tour of many tribes and filed a 496-page report which was printed in 1822 and recently made available online. One of the notable events of Morse's 1820 tour was a sermon preached at Fort Howard (located near the modern city of Green Bay, WI). That sermon has been recognized as the first protestant sermon preached in what is now Wisconsin and it helped pave the way for the New York Indians, many of whom were protestant Christians.

    According to Google Images, this map is probably Morse's own work, and he is known as the "father of American Geography." The map is taken from his Report to the Secretary of War.

    Morse's report promotes the "civilizing" of American Indians. While you may remember that I once wrote that the "civilizing" process was harmful to Native cultures, I still think that Rev. Morse deserves a certain amount of recognition as an advocate for Indians. Why? Well, it doesn't seem like there was much diversity sensitivity back then. By advocating for "civilizing" the Indians, Morse was way ahead of other white Americans who wanted to exterminate them.

    Some, I will hope...that the number is small, have...said, 'Indians are not worth saving. They are perishing - let them perish. The sooner they are gone the better.' ....A sufficient answer to such of these objections.... will be found, I conceive, in the facts collected in the Appendix of this work. It is too late to say that Indians cannot be civilized (page 81).

    and he continues on page 82:

    Indians are of the same nature and original, and of one blood, with ourselves [white people]; of intellectual powers as strong, and capable of cultivation, as ours. they as well as ourselves, are made to be immortal. To look down upon them, therefore as an inferior race, as untameable, and to profit by their ignorance and weakness; to take their property from them for a small part of its real value, and in other ways to oppress them; is undoubtedly wrong, and highly displeasing to our common Creator, Lawgiver and final Judge.

    There were some whose urging of the New York Indians to remove west came across as self-serving, but Morse really had nothing to gain by their leaving. Morse and others - quite possibly this includes many of the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indians - felt that Indians would have a better chance to prosper if they were segregated from whites, particularly from the kind who would sell them alcohol.