Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Establishment of the Shawano County Reservation

New York Indian Removal, Part XVIII:
Establishment of the Shawano County Reservation

In authorizing Superintendent Francis Huebschmann to make the treaty of 1856, Commissioner of Indian Affairs George Manypenny noted that attempts at a compromise to somehow re-create the Stockbridge reservation on the east shore of Lake Winnebago had proved futile. Manypenny decided there should be a new reservation which would "be a home alike for the Stockbridges, whether known as 'citizens' or 'Indians,' and the Munsee parties to the treaty of September 3rd, 1839, wherever they may now be"(letter from Manypenny to Huebschmann of January 7, 1856, in the John C. Adams Papers).

The new reservation would essentially be purchased with proceeds from the 1848 sale of the old reservation. As a result, the Indian party objected to the idea of sharing a new reservation with members of the Citizen party, Munsees, and those who left for Kansas after the treaty of 1839 was signed. They were splitting the new reservation among 409 people instead of the 177 Indian party family members recognized in the 1848 census. The Indian party argued that members of the Citizen party had already taken allotments or payment for their land and that the federal government only had an obligation to treat with their relatively small party.

Many Indian party members, led by Austin E. Quinney, refused to move to the new reservation until 1859. The Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library/Museum (the Stockbridge-Munsee Community's tribal museum) in Shawano County possesses a large peace medal which was given to Austin E. Quinney by the federal government. Although the museum staff told me they have no idea why it was awarded to Quinney, my guess is that he received it after he gave up his protest and showed up at the new reservation.

Anyway, the "Citizen vs. Indian" conflict truly was a bitter one - and a complicated one. But the establishment of the new reservation in Shawano County is about more than that.

Shawano County, Wisconsin: The treaty of 1856 established a new reservation for the Stockbridge and Munsee Indians in the townships of Red Springs and Bartelme.

By 1856 Jeremiah Slingerland was one of the Stockbridge Mohicans' most powerful leaders. Slingerland and Superintendent Francis Huebschmann butted heads over exactly where the new reservation would be located. (In fact, they accused each other of being dishonest. I prefer to think they just misunderstood each other, and I doubt that enough written evidence exists for any solid conclusions to be made.)

As Oberly points out (on page 89), the treaty of 1856 didn't actually define where the new reservation would be located (nor even how large it would be). As a result, it was largely up to Superintendent Huebschmann to determine where the Stockbridge Indians would wind up. While Huebschmann may have been honest, he stuck the tribe with a reservation on the swampy and sandy land of the Wolf River Batholith. How could he have justified that?

The Indians at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and their descendants in New York and Wisconsin had made the transition to an agricultural economy much like that of white Americans. It was one of the things they were supposed to do to become "civilized." But after the treaty of 1856, those who wanted to continue farming showed up on the reservation to get their annuity payments and rented better land in nearby counties. Others did their best on the new reservation, trying to make a go of it by some combination of farming, logging, trapping, berry picking, hunting and fishing, and seasonal labor.

*An "Indian Party Brief," (as reprinted in the Concordia Historical Quarterly).
*James Oberly, A Nation of Statesmen. University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.
*The John C. Adams Papers. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison, WI.
*Joseph Schafer, The Winnebago-Horicon Basin, (see especially page 75).

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