Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Doris Duke Collection: Primary Data on the Delawares, Shawnee, and Other Tribes

The Internet Scout Project reviews websites and one of the sites that recently passed muster is the Doris Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History. As the Scout Project states, the digital version of the collection allows readers to access hundreds of interview transcripts from the period 1967 to 1972. The interviews were conducted with Indians across Oklahoma regarding the cultures and histories of their different nations and/or tribes.

A photo of Nora Thompson Dean, also known as Touching Leaves. Being fluent in the Delaware language and traditional Delaware ways, she was sought out by researchers such as Clinton A. Weslager and Herbert C. Kraft.

Here's an April, 1968 interview with Nora Thompson Dean labeled by the University of Oklahoma as "Family History; Peyote Rituals, and Delaware Customs."

Here's Webb Littlejim's "History of the Shawnee."

Tom Captain talks about the "Eastern Shawnees and Other Small Tribes of Notheast Oklahoma," including Ottawas. Senecas, and Miamis.

Something of interest on the New York Iroquois: Kenneth Oyler tells Stories of Cayuga - Seneca Country.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Grave of John Sergeant Jr.

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a woman from Arizona who asked where she could read more about her ancestor, John Sergeant, Jr. I replied that there are no books on him and I don't know of any chapters devoted to him either. But there are lots of anecdotes about him scattered around, and sometime down the road I'm planning to have a series of posts about his relationship and falling out with Samson Occom.

More recently, I heard from Carleen Vandezande, another reader of Algonkian Church History. After reading this blog for some time, Carleen remembered back to her school days and a summer job back home in New York State. It turns out that Carleen had worked in historic preservation at the place once called home by the Stockbridge Mohicans.

Carleen gave me a disk of several photos (including the one you see above) and I was somewhat surprised at how similar the rural New York landscape looks to Calumet County, Wisconsin (especially Stockbridge and Brothertown, Wisconsin). Anyway, more photos and descriptions will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Westfall - Choate Correspondence

The woman on the left is Mabel Choate, the heiress who restored John Sergeant Sr.'s home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and purchased the two-volume Stockbridge Bible and the communion set that was associated with it. The restored Sergeant home became known as the Mission House Museum. Miss Choate's will left an organization called The Trustees of Reservations responsible for keeping and maintaining the museum and its contents, including the Stockbridge Bible.

The papers which I call the Westfall - Choate Correspondence might have a different official name. The originals are held in Stockbridge, Massachusetts by the Trustees of Reservations, proprietors of the Mission House Museum, the restored home of John Sergeant, Sr. The photocopies in my possession are third generation, copied from the copies at the Stockbridge Mohicans' museum in Shawano County, Wisconsin.

Just about all that I know about Rev. Fred Westfall comes from the letters sent back-and-forth between him and Mabel Choate and her associates. There should be no doubt that Westfall was a legitimately ordained Presbyterian minister, but he understandably broadened his role with the Stockbridge Mohicans, describing himself as "a sort of buffer between them and the wolves of want"(letter from Fred Westfall to Ruth Gaines, January 31st, 1930). He took an active role in helping the Indians earn money with their skills, including helping them to sell items they made.

According to Will Garrison, Historic Resources Manager for the Trustees of Reservations, Mabel Choate sent a scout to Wisconsin, looking for relics to put in the mission house that she had just finished moving and restoring.

A photo of Naumkeag, another Stockbridge, Massachusetts property managed by the Trustees of Reservations. Naumkeag was the 44-room summer
"cottage" of the Choate family.

Here's a few excerps from Choate's first letter to Rev. Westfall:

Dear Mr. Westfall:
Through Miss Baughman I have heard that you are now in charge of the John Sergeant Presbyterian Church, of Red Springs, where the remaining Stockbridge Indians live; and I am writing to tell you a little about what I am doing with the old Mission House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, thinking it might interest you, and clarify the situation in your mind.

...It has taken a great deal of time and work in the last three years, and I have become so absorbed in it that anything in connection with the Indians and their history, interests me enormously.

I understand that the Indians are very poor, and have sold some of their papers and documents, to give them help during last year's winter months

If there is anything that I could do for them, perhaps you would let me know. I should like to keep in touch with them through you; and if there are any documents or other things of theirs which they would care to part with, I should be more than grateful if they would let me know. In doing so, I should like them to realize that these things would remain permanently in the Mission House, surrounded by the associations of the last two hundred years.

With many thanks again for all your interest, believe me,
Very sincerely yours,
[the original is signed] Mabel Choate

Monday, June 22, 2009

The JSM Presbyterian Church, Fred Westfall, the Safe, and my Research

The safe you see below was prominently displayed at the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library Museum [that is what the Stockbridge Mohicans call their museum], in the fall of 2003. At that time people were still allowed to take photos, so the picture you see is my own intellectual property.

In the fall of 2003, I was a library school student working on a term paper about the Stockbridge Bible. An employee of the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Museum invited me to attend a meeting of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee so that I could ask questions of the tribal elders who were considered to be the experts. I listened attentively and tried my best to understand everything that was said.

There was emotion in the room. It was raw anger. I don't think you could honestly call it anything else. Maybe it was just one member of the committee getting worked up - but boy did she get worked up. And her anger was directed towards one villain in particular: the Reverend Fred Westfall.

According to the S-M Historical Committee (or according to their most vocal member that day), Rev. Fred Westfall of the John Sergeant Memorial (JSM) Presbyterian Church entered the home of an Indian [Jamison Quinney] took the Stockbridge Bible and put it in a safe in the front of the church, before selling it off to Mabel Choate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

I didn't write down exactly all that was said, but suffice it to say that (over the course of the semester) I interviewed as many people as I could - whether in person or over the phone -and most people really didn't know much, but of those who had something to say, the conventional wisdom was that Fred Westfall was the villain responsible for sending the Stockbridge Bible back to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One person even told me he suspected that Rev. Westfall had pocketed the money obtained from the sale of the sacred volumes.

Although I ran into many dead ends, I was fortunate enough to speak with members of a family that had belonged to the old John Sergeant Memorial Church and realized that they looked at things very differently. However, they also told me that they weren't going to share the phone number of a family member that knew more and they weren't going to say much at all. They told me something to the effect of 'go find another topic to study.'

I didn't listen to that particular comment. I was too far into it anyway by that time. I gathered photos and made photocopies of relevant documents and read them, thought about them, and read them again. And I asked myself these questions: Was Rev. Fred Westfall truly a villain preying upon the Indians? Did he take the Stockbridge Mohicans' tribal Bible? Did the hushed up disagreement I encountered from former members of the JSM church represent a longstanding difference of opinion about ownership of the two volumes? and especially, I asked myself the most basic of all historical questions: what happened when?

Stay tuned to find out the answers to those questions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Chicks Family Goes Methodist

Although it appears that the unified church of the Stockbridge Mohicans reached its peak during the early 1830's, that same church began splitting into factions by the end of that decade. You may remember that the first permanent split came when the Hendrick and Konkapot faction came into conflict with the tribe's official political leaders as well as with Rev. Cutting Marsh. Eventually a deal was made which sent the Hendrick and Konkapot faction packing to what is now Kansas.

The next split came only a few years later. Again it happened amidst political turmoil, this time it was the Citizen or "Chicks" party against the Indian or "Quinney" party. Cutting Marsh appears to have tried to remain neutral in that conflict, but the situation proved too tricky for him.

In the spring and summer of 1844 Marsh censured John N. Chicks for "intemperance" (drinking alcohol) and even excommunicated other members of the Citizen party. John's father, Jacob Chicks, a deacon in the church, was insulted by what he felt was unfair treatment of his son. He left Marsh's church to join the Methodists at Brothertown. But the son, John N. Chicks, went farther. He asked Rev. Wesson G. Miller to hold a revival meeting in his father's barn.

Ethel A. Furman and Associates, were commissioned by the United Methodist Church to create this bronze statue. Clearly the circuit riders' importance is still recognized by the Methodist church today.

Miller was a young Methodist circuit rider who, as a middle-aged man in ill health, wrote a memoir, Thirty Years in the Itinerancy, which includes an account of what happened next. But first I need to explain that in those days Protestant missionaries had an understanding that they were not to compete with each other. Therefore, Miller understood that John N. Chicks was asking him to step onto Cutting Marsh's turf. Nevertheless, based on what Miller (page 25) was told about Cutting Marsh, he felt that the tribe could use another church.

According to Miller, the worship which he conducted in "Father Chicks" barn was highly successful. My impression is that Miller had a tendency to exaggerate, but nevertheless, the Citizen party's defection to the Methodists was a real split in the Stockbridge church.

The people from the two nations [Stockbridge and Brothertown] came in throngs. The barn was filled, and the groves around it, until my head grew dizzy in looking at the multitudes and thinking of what was to follow... The part borne by Father Chicks, as he was called, the head chief of the Stockbridge nation, also added not a little to the interest of the occasion... his heart was overflowing... Tall and erect in form, with a brow to rule an empire, he rose in the midst of the great assembly and came forward to the stand (page 27).
What followed was a remarkable speech or lay-sermon. Actually, I'll never know which is more remarkable, Jacob Chicks' speech or Miller's description of it:

'Me been a great sinner, as all my people know,' For the moment he could go no further. His noble form shook with emotion, and his manly face was flodded with tears. The whole audience wept with him, for his tears were sublimely eloquent. Recovering himself, he simply added, 'All me want now is to love him, Christ.' Then turning to his people, with a face as radiant as the sunlight, he began to address them in his own language (27-28).
As J.N. Davison pointed out in 1893, Jacob Chicks most likely spoke better English than Miller gives him credit for. Furthermore, Miller estimated Jacob Chicks to be about eighty years-old by then, but he was considerably younger. Nevertheless, saying the man was about eighty set up the next scene. Miller wrote that Chicks became "lithe and animated," and that his non-verbal communication was "enough to move the human soul to the depths of its being." And he goes on:

But to those were added the human voice divine with its matchless cadences, now kindling into a storm of invective, before which his audience shrank, like shriveled leaves in autumn, then sinking to sepulcral tones that seemed to challenge a communion with the dead; now wailing in anguish of sorrow utterly insupportable, and then rising in holy exultation, as one redeemed from sin and inspired with the triumphant shout of victory (page 28).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Puritan Ideals and the Stockbridge Mohicans in the 1830's

I'm not certain, but my guess is that by the 1830's, a dance among the young New York Indians in Wisconsin Territory, would look as "civilized" as this dance held by "Negro" firefighters in Charleston, South Carolina around that same time (sketch by William Waud).

I think that on one hand, the Puritans may have had some beliefs that made them feel good, but, on the other hand, some of the things they considered sinful tend to be regarded as good clean fun nowadays. And so we've come to equate the Puritans with prudishness. That is basically what this post is about.

One story related by Rev. Cutting Marsh (in a letter to the ABCFM, July 8, 1833), illustrates how the leaders of the Stockbridge Mohicans had internalized what we today might refer to as 'Puritan ideals.' Marsh's own biases, of course are also made clear.

Marsh felt that "dancing parties, or what white people call balls," were a "relic of paganism." He noted that such parties were popular among the young people in the winter of 1833, but in the spring, one of the tribe's political leaders "took the constable, proceeded to the house, ordered them to disperse, which they did forthwith, and broke their violin." Marsh reported that the next time a dancing party was held "the violin shared the same fate and the young people were sent home."

Did you notice that Marsh himself was not involved in banishing the parties? By the 1830's, strict Calvinsm, or "Puritanism," was internalized among tribal leaders to the point where they chose to stop the dancing themselves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The High Point of Stockbridge Calvinism

Calvinism has long embodied many denominations. But, together, those denominations continue to share this common symbol.

A photo of the Rev. Cutting Marsh, Missionary to the Stockbridge Mohicans, 1830-1848. Although (as Roger Nichols noted) Marsh tended to be "stern and stubborn," he experienced a sort of honeymoon period with the tribe before political conflict compromised the whole situation.

By the time Rev. Cutting Marsh enters the scene, the Stockbridge Mohicans had been a Christian nation for nearly one hundred years. This, of course, does not mean that all members of the tribe were pious, or even baptized, but if you've read enough of my posts, you can at least understand why I say they were a Christian nation, not merely "Christianized" or "missionized."

While the Stockbridge mission as a whole was supported by the largely Congregational ABCFM, Marsh identified himself as a Presbyterian, and his salary was contributed by the Scottish Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). Based on Marsh's ongoing reports to the ABCFM, and his annual reports to the Scottish mission society, I consider Marsh's first six years or so to represent the high point of Calvinism among the Stockbridge Mohicans.

Here are the benchmarks noted in Marsh's letter to the ABCFM of July 8, 1833:

  • Out of a nation of roughly 250 people, Marsh reported that weekly church attendance ranged between 100 and 150 persons.
  • Marsh stated that of those who attended his worship services, none of them "violate the Sabbath by attending to secular concerns or indulging in amusements of any kind" on Sundays.
  • Marsh observed that the Stockbridge Mohicans were hospitable, kind, peaceful, not revengeful, ready to forgive and respectful, both to the aged and to "superiors;" [those traits, of course, are Indian values, but they are also Christian values].

And here's what Marsh wrote in his 1831 report to the SSPCK:
"...the sabbath here is generally observed, all kinds of labour are suspended & many of them observe it with great strictness. And when I arrived at the place of worship, which is not large, I found it filled with decently clad, and apparently devout worshippers. There is on the Sab. a very general attendance at meeting, & better order and more stillness I have seldom witnessed in assemblies of white people than uniformly prevail here. The singing is conducted wholly by themselves and they are very fond of it, have excellent natural voices & would excel provided they had suitable instruction in the art."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

American Creation

American Creation is a history blog that I occasionally look at. It is about the role of religion in the founding of our country (the United States of America). I wouldn't call the authors anti-Christian, but they sometimes take a few rips at people like televangelism pioneer Pat Robertson. Only a few of their posts are about Native Americans. Here are three that I consider to have some relevance to Algonkian Church History:

1. Should We Celebrate Columbus Day? Answer: whether we do or not, you should remember this: He was a Really Bad Person. He used the Bible to justify violence and enslaving the Taino people for his own economic gain.

2. American Indians and Property If you think American Indians had no concept of property, you're guilty of looking upon them as "noble savages." To me, the post would have been better if historic/anthropological details were discussed, rather than just a discussion about European philosophers and what they said or wrote. Nevertheless, I agree that the Algonkians did have notions of property. But they weren't quite the same as those of the whites, were they? The Indians (of course) had an economy, but it was more of a communal one than that of the whites.

3. Native Americans and the Lost Tribes of Israel This is American Creation's take on the Lost Tribes theory.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Court Ruling on Stockbridge Reservation Boundary Issue is Apparently Final

This is a map covering (approximately) the two townships of Red Springs and Bartelme that made up the historic (1856) Stockbridge Indian reservation. White denotes the current reservation for the Tribe with the exception of the white area in the northeast corner which is part of the Menominee reservation. The Stockbridge Mohicans hold additional lands in fee title and federal trust outside the reservation boundaries which are not indicated on this map.
Scott Seaborne, a regular reader of Algonkian Church History, sent me the map you see above and this comment:

I continue to enjoy your excellent blog on Stockbridge-Munsee tribal history.
In the closing paragraph of your post about Hoke Smith, you state the 1856 Shawano County reservation boundaries are still unsettled.

This question was finally settled in January 2009 by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case State of Wisconsin v Stockbridge-Munsee Community and Robert Chicks (case # 04-3834).

The Appeals Court affirmed the trial court's ruling (case # 98-C-0871) the Act of 1871 diminished the reservation to 18 sections. Later, the Act of 1906 (34 Stat. 382) provided for allotment of the entire remaining 18 sections to individuals in unrestricted fee titles. The records indicate there was no remaining reservation after the final fee titles were delivered in April of 1910.

The Court determined that the original reservation was disestablished, therefore the current reservation consists exclusively of lands purchased by the federal government and proclaimed reservation on three occasions. Lands were acquired and proclaimed reservation in 1937, 1848 and 1972. I don't have the exact number of acres at my disposal but I believe the total acreage to be about 15,000.

Following the Appeals Court decision, the Tribe asked for an "en banc" rehearing which was denied. The Tribe did not timely file within the 90-day window allowed to seek review from the Supreme Court. It's my understanding that the trial court determination stands and no further litigation is expected on this matter.

There are no official maps that have been updated to reflect the court ruling as yet but I have provided a map created by the Shawano Chamber of Commerce which I believe is relatively accurate and is based on the recent court ruling.

While the judicially determined boundaries will remained fixed, the Tribe continues to purchase fee lands within the original 1856 treaty boundaries. The Tribe has applied to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to convert approximately 2600 acres of their fee lands into federal trust. When converted to federal trust title, these parcels become functionally identical reservation lands as far as tribal jurisdiction is concerned.

Scott Seaborne

For a news item related to the ruling, see my post of January 21, 2009.
Thanks to Scott for setting the record straight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Atlas of the North American Indian

Carl Waldman's Atlas of the North American Indian is what it sounds like: a very general reference book. I think it would be a very good resource for K-12 teachers. On the other hand, it doesn't contribute much to Algonkian church history (and, unfortunately, the Menominee reservation went unlabeled in one map).

I found this map in the Atlas and added a small copy of it to my New York Indian removal Wrap-up. I imagine that you can barely make out the phrases I highlighted, including "New York Indians" and "Delaware Outlet." At first I wondered at how small the Lenni Lenape/Delaware Reservation and "Outlet" appeared. It seemed way too small for that once-mighty Native nation. I later realized that the section in purple represents a large section of three western states: Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Don't forget that in addition to the space reserved for the New York Indians that you see on the map above, the Stockbridge, Oneida, Mohawk and Seneca Indians still have reservations in Wisconsin and New York.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Jersey's Forgotten People: The Piney-Lenape

For every Indian migration or removal, there are almost always a few who stay behind. Although you might expect that after 200-plus years the Lenape that stayed in New Jersey would have been integrated and intermarried into the larger culture to the point of not being visible on the internet, this is not the case. Thomas H. Bozarth Sr. and Steven Carty "manage" a website under the banner "New Jersey's Forgotten People" and they also refer to it as "The Piney-Lenape Domain."

The shortcoming of the site is that it appears incomplete, claiming on the one hand to be under construction, but on the other hand, reporting their last update was August of 2007. Nevertheless, I think the site really has enough content, it just promises a little more than it delivers.

The Piney-Lenape Domain is well-illustrated with contemporary photos and historic maps. It includes a "Who we are" section, appropriate links and other resources, and a "Misinformation page," which features a link to a scathing review of one of Evan Pritchard's books.