Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clarence Chicks at 91

An old photo of Clarence Chicks, taken while on vacation in Massachusetts.

Clarence Chicks will turn 92 years-old next month. Instead of being merely independent, he's closer to being self-sufficient than most people that I know. Not only does he still drive a car, but he still has quick enough reflexes to drive on the freeway when he visits family in Milwaukee. And his vision is practically perfect without glasses - really. I didn't ask Clarence if he still chops his own wood (I doubt it). But he loads up his wood-burning furnace twice a day throughout the winter. He also grows a lot of his own food.

Clarence used to ride his bicycle from Milwaukee all the way home to the town of Red Springs once a year. He's not indestructible though, he had to stop making his long ride about five years ago (I think it was due to a broken bone).

Anyway, Clarence is a World War II veteran, having served in the Navy. His wife was also a Stockbridge Indian and she served in the Army Nurse Corps. Clarence proudly told me that his wife made the rank of Captain, prompting me to ask if he was required to salute her. That was pretty funny to Clarence, who admitted that his wife's rank was higher than his, but the two of them wouldn't ever have had the chance to run into each other while in uniform.

Clarence's wife died in the 1950's. He had to finish raising three children. The youngest, Bob, was only five years-old at the time. As you may know, Robert Chicks has been President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council for the last several years. Clarence told me that he himself never had much interest in tribal politics.

Clarence attended the old Lutheran Mission School in grades 7-8 before going on to the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. He was fortunate to get a job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Kansas City after graduating - he had steady work with the federal government when most people were going through really tough times.

Clarence is blessed with a mechanical mind. He worked for General Motors for quite a few years in Milwaukee and while there he was part of a team assigned to build the guidance system for NASA's 1969 Apollo project. He laughs at how primitive that system was compared to the GPS technology that we have now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Stockbridge Bible and the John Sergeant Memorial Church

The image below illustrates how thoroughly complex the various splits and reconciliations within the Presbyterian church have been. The point of showing them here is to illustrate that the Presbyterian church is not a single body, but rather a group of denominations. The Stockbridge Mohicans were served by many Calvinist ministers, probably most of them claimed to be Presbyterians (the ABCFM, however, was a predominantly Congregational organization). Click on the diagram to enlarge it.

In telling the church history of the Stockbridge Mohicans, I haven't reached the point where the tribe comes to feel they are not being served by Calvinist church bodies (more specifically the Presbyterians), and move on to Roman Catholic and/or Lutheran churches. That happened at the end of the 1800's, I referred to it in my last post as "a low ebb" in "organized Christianity."

Despite some activity with other denominations at the end of the 1800's, there were still Stockbridge Indians who continued to identify themselves as Presbyterians, remaining loyal to Calvinist roots that stretched back to the ministry of John Sergeant [Sr.] (1734-1749).

The following account is excerpted from my paper that appeared in the Spring, 2007 issue of The Book Collector.

[Jamison] Sote Quinney and other leaders got to know white Presbyterian ministers in the area who came in to preside over funerals. On Sunday, September 29th, 1907, the Assistant Superintendent of the Presbyterian church's Wisconsin Synod visited and preached to the Stockbridge [Mohicans]. the scripture lessons were read from the Stockbridge Bible for the first time in [many] years. finally, at the end of the service, a petition to start a new church was placed on top of the revered Bible. Forty-five adults signed the petition, some of the older ones with tears in their eyes (Putnam, Christian Religion, pages 5-6, and Earl North, in the Interior, 234-235).

On reading of the establishment of the new congregation in a church newspaper [North's 1908 article], a few of the descendants of John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Stockbridges, offered to provide financial support. the rest of Sergeant's descendants were also asked to contribute, and the church became known as the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church (letter from Charles Kilpatrick to the descendants of John Sergeant, August 15, 1911, in the John C. Adams Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin). Sote Quinney was an elder of the Sergeant Memorial Church from its beginning until his death (Jameson [Sote] Quinney is repeatedly mentioned as a church elder in the papers of the John Sergeant Memorial Church which are kept at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, PA).

In the fall of 1915, Quinney was given a free trip to the Presbyterian synod meeting in Milwaukee for the purpose of showing off the Stockbridge Bible (entry in the church records, October, 3, 1915). He brought the two volumes in an oak chest, possibly the same oak chest that was used to transport the Bible since the tribe left Massachusetts (Milwaukee Sentinel, October 10, 1915, an image of that article is in my previous post).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jamison Quinney and the Stockbridge Bible

What happened to the Stockbridge Bible? The short answer is that after Calvin Colton's (1830) observations on the two-volume Bible, we have no record of what happened to those volumes for decades. Although Jeremiah Slingerland assured whites in Massachusetts at one point that the Stockbridge Bible was "still being guarded like the terraphim of the orientals," no detailed account of the old book was printed until 1908.

The 1908 account was written by Rev. Earl North in an article for The Interior, a Calvinist newspaper ("The Last of the Mohicans: Descendants of Indian Parishoners of Jonathan Edwards Reorganized Into a Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin." 2/20/1908, pages 233-235).

Unfortunately, North did not cite his sources, but he worked closely with church elder Jamison "Sote" Quinney, making it highly likely that Quinney was his source for the following statement:

The old Bible was found in a deserted house and carefully cleaned and put in a place of safety at the home of Mr. Jamison Quinney.

We'll see in a later post why some people insisted that the Stockbridge Bible was never lost or abandoned. I must admit that I didn't want to believe it either. It was important to me that the Bible meant a lot to the tribe. Of course it meant a lot to them, but tribal conflicts and poverty loomed larger.

The above clipping from The Milwaukee Sentinel depicts Jamison "Sote" Quinney holding the Stockbridge Bible.

Here's more from my paper (as printed in The Book Collector), "From Generation to Generation."
....Jamison "Sote" Quinney kept the Stockbridge Bible at his house for a number of years. Rev. North's report doesn't claim that Sote Quinney found the Stockbridge Bible, but rather that the two volumes were brought to him because he was both a political and religious leader of the Stockbridges. We'll see later that Quinney, although he kept the Bible at his house, didn't behave as if it were his personal property.

I've been told that Jamison Quinney was the grandson of Austin E. Quinney.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Directive of Hoke Smith

As the Citizen vs. Indian conflict raged on, more federal agents came to the conclusion that all the treaties and acts of Congress - despite their claims of being "for the relief" of the Indians - only reinforced the bitter in-fighting among the Stockbridge Mohicans.

M. Hoke Smith,
US Secretary of the Interior,
1893-1896 --->

Could anything be done to stop the hiring of lawyers, trips to Washington, closed-door meetings and all the unpleasantness that went with them? One recommendation, first made by Indian Agent Edward Kemble in 1877, was to terminate federal relations with the tribal government (Oberly, page 125). Eighteen years later, Kemble's thinking was adopted at the highest levels of the bureaucracy. In 1895, Secretary of the Interior Hoke Smith wrote a directive to abolish the Stockbridge Mohicans' tribal government and set up a business committee to replace it.

However, for a number of reasons, Smith's directive doesn't seem to carry much weight on the pages of history. According to James Oberly, Smith didn't even have the legal authority to abolish the tribal government. But even if he did, the federal government had unfinished business with the tribe. Allotments of land needed to be made and cash payments needed to be distributed. Those things were carried out in a government-to-government fashion over a period of roughly twenty years.

The issue of the current reservation's boundaries has been in the courts recently . There was a period of time when the Stockbridge Mohicans didn't have a reservation [I've now learned that this too is being argued by lawyers, I may address it in a future post]. But - despite Hoke Smith's directive - tribal lawyers can still make the argument that the Stockbridge Mohicans always had a tribal government.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Stockbridge Mohicans' Casino and Their Economy

There may be some exceptions, but today's Stockbridge Mohicans are middle class Americans. The older ones remember having to choose between poverty and a life away from home. But changes occurred across Indian Country when gambling lost its moral stigma and tribes were granted the right to establish casinos. Not all tribes have benefited, but the Stockbridges, with their Northstar Mohican Casino, and a few other tourism ventures, like the Pine Hills Golf Course, have been quite successful. As a result of that success, some feel that the tribal government is losing touch...

This tribe - that was very poor through much of its history - went into debt like never before to build a brand new $100 million casino. This tribe, one of the first to practice the white man's "agriculture," is now so - for lack of a better word - modern, that they don't want any working farms on their reservation.

But of course, there are those who see the foolishness of some of these "modern" ways of viewing things. One is Wayne Miller, who wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in the Mohican News last month:

In a more recent issue of Mohican News, another tribal member agreed with Miller, and added "What if older folks could teach younger people how to grow their own food, instead of how to roll the dice?"

That might be a question that Americans of all racial backgrounds should be asking themselves right now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Partisanship, Even Within the Quinney Family

Aside from the fact that they died when he was a small child, what we know about Jeremiah Slingerland's parents is minimal. Little Jeremiah was raised by female relatives in New York State until another relative, John W. Quinney, took a liking to the seven-year-old, unofficially adopted him and brought him to present-day Wisconsin (Jones, 1854). Based on Slingerland's letters and other data, he appears to have been close to both John W. and Electa Quinney, referring to them as "Uncle John," and "Aunt E."

As you may remember, Electa Quinney married Dan Adams and they had a son named John C. Adams. By the time John C. Adams had grown up and attended Lawrence University (it may have been called "Lawrence College" back then), Slingerland was one of the biggest leaders in the Indian Party. Of course the Indian party had also been known as the "Quinney party," so it may come as quite a surprise that John C. Adams devoted most of his adult life to advocating for the Citizen party (aka the "Old Citizen Party," the "Citizen Party of 1843," or the "Chicks party").

This photo of John C. Adams graces the cover of James Oberly's A Nation of Statesmen --->

How did the bitterness of the in-fighting among the Stockbridge Mohicans play out in the Quinney family?
In a letter to his mother dated May 12, 1872, John C. Adams related that he had visited Jeremiah and Sarah Slingerland and had "quite a talk" with them in which he spoke plainly about tribal politics and chose not to stay overnight because "as I told them, my room was better than my company."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NPR Asks "Who is an Indian?"

National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported on the big controversy in Indian Country these days: Who is an Indian?
To read or listen, use this link:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Schafer's Wisconsin Domesday Book, Part 2

"Stockbridge history, from the year 1843, tends more and more toward the ruin of that interesting tribe. In fact, so sharply did the citizenship conflict etch the character defects of the people[,] that their missionary pastor, Rev. Cutting Marsh, was at last brought to confess himself nearly hopeless in regard to them" (James Schafer in the Domesday Book, page 58).

In the previous post, I said that Joseph Schafer's account of the Stockbridge Mohicans (in The Domesday Book: The Winnebago-Horicon Basin) is not politically correct. But he didn't actually blame the "ruin" of that tribe on "Indian character." Instead, his position appears to be that the tribe's dealings with the federal government created or encouraged character defects.

I've said before that much effort was put into writing letters and making trips to Washington D.C. by the leaders of one party or another. As the years went by and the federal government first sided with one faction and then another, the bitterness of the "Citizen" vs. "Indian" conflict only intensified. And so Schafer (page 66) speaks of the Stockbridge Indians as "quarrelsome," and "litigious." I don't think he or anybody would blame tribal leaders for trying to right past wrongs, but the point has to be that the in-fighting was not healthy.

At least by the later part of the 1800's (if not sooner), Schafer's labels do seem to apply to a tribe that frustrated a number of federal agents. One such agent was William Parson, who felt

"the men are all either politicians or 'statesmen' and the almost sole occupation of the entire male portion of the tribe is politics. This is largely due to the many preceeding years of political wire-pulling which has cursed this people" (letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1/16/1888, printed in the Congressional testimony of 1892, page 31).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Schafer's Wisconsin Domesday Book, Part 1

From 1920, until his death in 1941, Joseph Schafer was the Director of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. He believed that detailed study of local data was required before historians could make generalizations.

A Domesday Book is a census which is compiled from a comprehensive survey of a geographic sector. Given Schafer's viewpoint, it is no surprise that he was the author of a series known as the Wisconsin Domesday Book. Here we are only concerned with Volume IV: The Winnebago-Horicon Basin: A Type Study in Western History, which was published in 1937. Two chapters are largely about the Stockbridge Mohicans.

Schafer might have been the first white historian to write about the Citizen vs. Indian conflict. He doesn't appear to have felt any pressure to write what we might call "politically correct" history, but he still put most of the blame for the "ruin" of the Stockbridge Indians on the federal government. Nevertheless, he also put a lot of blame on the Indians themselves.

Schafer's expertise was on economic and agricultural history, and he explored that aspect of the Stockbridge Mohicans of the 1800's like no historian has before or since.

A flaw in Schafer's view is that he used statistics from the 1850 census. That was a time when there was a lot of controversy over land ownership at Stockbridge, which kept some of the tribe from farming. Nevertheless, here's what Schafer had to say about the Stockbridge farmers:

In 1850, as the census reveals, very few of them were raising wheat, the regular market crop among white farmers. Their fields usually varied from four to forty acres; they grew some corn, some potatoes, other garden truck, and made maple sugar. Nearly all had a few head of cattle for the support of which they put up a little forage, usually a yoke of oxen, sometimes a horse, commonly a number of swine, which could 'rustle' their own feed in the woods. But it was the most primitive subsistence farming that they carried on.... The 1860 census, representing mostly white farmers recently settled in the township, shows a definite improvement in that virtually all raised crops of wheat and corn and put up quantities of hay for winter stock feed, while the business of sugar-making - favored by the abundant and fine maple groves, had been pushed farther.
It is surprising that the people who invented maple sugar would be beat in its production by those who came after them, but that is what Schafer is saying.

What do we make of Schafer's analysis of the 1850 census data?

Instead of ridiculing Schafer for being politically incorrect, I think the data says something very important if we put it in a different context. Instead of comparing the tribe's rather low output to that of the whites that came after them, we can compare it to how they were doing back in New York State. As early as 1796, it was reported that two-thirds of the Stockbridge males were "industrious" and some even sold hogs to the Oneidas (source: Belknap and Morse). So when Schafer says they were "primitive subsistence" farmers in 1850, it appears they had taken a step backward.

Stay tuned for more on this topic

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gerald McDermott Looks at Jonathan Edwards Career as a Missionary

Lots of professors of religion and history consider Jonathan Edwards to be a hot topic right now. Mostly they are studying either his abstract thinking or his life in a white world. Nevertheless, his years as the missionary at Stockbridge, Massachusetts haven't been completely neglected. In an earlier post, I told you about Rachel Wheeler's recent book. In addition to Wheeler, Gerald McDermott (pictured), professor of religion at Roanoke College, has done research on what Edwards was like as a missionary and what he thought about Indians.

McDermott contributed the 17th chapter to The Princeton Companion to Jonathan Edwards. The chapter title is "Missions and Native Americans."

Here's what McDermott had to say:

Page 262-263: "Edwards' first sermon to the Indians at Stockbridge was on Acts 11:12-13, the story of the Roman Centurion Cornelius, a devout man who knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Edwards compared himself to Peter and the Indians to Cornelius."

Maybe it is no coincidence that Cornelius was a fairly common name among the Stockbridge Mohicans. (One of them, Cornelius Aaron from the Chicks family, was a minister in the first half of the 1900's.)

Page 268: "In her careful study of the Stockbridge sermons, Rachel Wheeler notes that Edwards spoke of salvation more to the Indians and spoke of judgement and wrath more to his 'English' auditors."

Page 269: "Edwards concluded that Indian hostility to whites in North America was God's judgement on Euro-Americans for their treatment of Native Americans: defrauding and killing them, poisoning them with alcohol, and depriving them of the gospel.... [Thus Edwards] acknowledged the humanity of Native Americans in a way that most of his compatriots did not."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Calvin Colton Reports on the Stockbridge Bible

An artist's conception of the ancient Israelites' ark of the covenant ---->

Not everything ever written about the Stockbridge Bible made it into the paper that I submitted to The Book Collector. My paper did mention, however, that the oak chest which was used to transport the two volumes was compared to the Ark of the Covenant which was used by the ancient Israelites to carry two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. The person who made that comparison was Calvin Colton. Here is what he observed:

"I saw a Bible yesterday, safely kept in a sort of ark, at their place of worship, a remarkable relic of Hebrew custom), printed at Oxford, England, in 1717, of the largest and finest type I have ever seen; except one shown me two years ago in the English Church at Montreal, the last of which was said to be the largest and fairest type of a Bible ever done in English. From the resemblance of the two, I have reason to believe they are both of the same impression."
Colton then describes the physical characteristics and quotes the inscriptions of Ayscough and Coram. Then he continues:

It was transported with the tribe to the State of New York; -and for aught I know, with all the sacerdotal solemnities of their Hebrew fathers, in ancient days. And it was again transported by the same religious care to this vast wilderness [Coram had referred to New England as a vast wilderness], of the North-West. And here it is, a perpetual monument of their fear of God, and of their love of his word and ordinances. their reverence for this volume and for the ark [the chest of oak] which contains it, is almost superstitious" (pages 187-190).
Did you notice that Colton's words don't make a lot of sense until you realize that he was a believer in the lost tribes theory?