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.

No comments :