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.

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