Saturday, April 11, 2009

Given Up for Dead

Does the Good Friday/Easter theme of death and resurrection occur in an episode of Algonkian Church History? You bet it does!

While I'd be setting myself up for some angry comments if I said that the Stockbridge Mohicans had actually "died," there was a time when they were given up for dead. In 1915, an amateur historian from Massachusetts concluded his version of the history of the Stockbridge Indians with this statement:

"The tribe organization, so far as the United States takes cognizance has been abandoned, though it is said that some kind of tribal organization is recognized by the Indian descendants of to-day. Thus ends the strange and pathetic story of the 'friends of our fathers' with whom the history of Stockbridge [Massachusetts] begins"(Bowker, page 62).
Twenty-two years later, a Wisconsin historian made a similar statement:

"Stockbridge history, from the year 1843, tends more and more toward the ruin of that interesting tribe"(Joseph Schafer, 58).
As I'll explain in future posts, the partisan in-fighting between the Citizen party and the Indian party really took its toll on the Stockbridge Mohicans. In 1895 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Hoke Smith wrote a directive which abolished the Stockbridge-Munsee tribal government and set up a business committee to replace it. Smith really didn't have the legal authority to dissolve the tribe, but that was the point of his directive. In 1910 and 1915 the last of the plots on the dwindling reservation were allotted and payments were made to individuals.

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