Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some Wept Aloud

A Meeting of Reconciliation and
the Allegations of Robert Konkapot
If 1829 is the correct date, this would be the church building at Grand Kawkawlin, not the reservation on the shore of Lake Winnebago. However, the date given must be wrong. See this post to understand why I say that.
Are you ready to get back to the chaotic things going on amongst the Stockbridge Mohicans in the Territory of Wisconsin?

In some of my recent posts, we've seen that there was factional conflict in the tiny Stockbridge nation. We don't know the whole story, but it had something to do with crime and punishment and whether or not to emigrate to what is now Kansas. Most likely, the pot was stirred by an unscrupulous federal Indian agent (and I regret to remind you that he was an ordained minister), John F. Schermerhorn.

Towards the end of 1836, Rev. Marsh tried to play the role of peacemaker, holding a meeting of reconciliation in which "all wept, many made confession publicly and some wept aloud"(Cutting Marsh's diary, in the Cutting Marsh Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society, November 13, 1836). Marsh did have something like a honeymoon period with the tribe, lasting a few years, but his position as a spiritual leader was compromised by 1836. He appears to have made his situation worse by siding with tribal leaders in political matters.

The official tribal leaders (known as the "Wiskonsin party) left us plenty of data to understand their position and it is spelled out in previous posts. On the other hand, I only have one document written by Robert Konkapot and none written by Thomas Hendricks. On January 16, 1838, Konkapot made a number of allegations against Cutting Marsh and the leaders of the Wiskonsin party in a letter to the president of the ABCFM.

According to Konkapot, "a commissioner" apparently Schermerhorn, entered into a business deal with "five or six men" who "divided the avails of the land amongst themselves." Konkapot also believed that Cutting Marsh was in on the deal. He felt that Marsh was refusing communion to certain Indians based on their refusal to pay taxes. Furthermore, Konkapot alleged that Rev. Marsh refused new converts for secular reasons:

" minister visited us last winter [and] by his instrumentality many sinners were awakened and resolved to serve the Lord long as they live, but none ever [were] admitted [to] the church unless they sign[ed] that new law...and they were told that they can not be Christians unless they come under that law."

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