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.

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