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."]

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