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.

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