Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jack Campisi's Brief History of the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin, Part 2

The Brothertown Indians' Tribal Storyteller, Dick Welch, shows his daughter, Shelley Dekker, a historical display at the Fond du Lac Public Library (in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin). Jack Campisi gives credit to Samson Occom for persuading the following Native villages or communities to join together and move west to live near the Oneidas: "Mohegan, Mashantucket, Stonington, and Farmington in Connecticut; Charleston and Niantic in Rhode Island; and Montawk [or Montauk] on Long Island."

However, it was not long after the first group completed their migration that they were forced to flee as a result of the Revolutionary War. It was not safe for them to return until 1783. However, by as early 1785, white land speculators started to pressure the tribe to sell its land.

Despite being somewhat involved with the earlier removal plans of the Stockbridge Indians and Eleazar Williams, Campisi tells us that it was not until 1831 that bands of Brothertown Indians began to move from New York to Wisconsin. He adds that the migration happened gradually, with"members still joining as late as 1841."

Campisi's next two paragraphs are very important for understanding Brothertown history:

The tribe was hardly settled in its new location [in Calumet County, WI] having been pressured out of New York and pushed off its land in Kaukauna [aka Statesburg], when a new threat appeared. The federal government entered into negotiations with the tribes in New York and Wisconsin to exchange their lands for land in the Indian Territory of Kansas. On January 15, 1838, the United States concluded the Treaty of Buffalo Creek.

Once again the Brothertown tribe was in danger of being uprooted and forced to move. Once again, it was apparent that the cause of the problem was the manner in which the tribe held its land. By a perversity of law, as long as the land was held in common and inalienable, it was subject to loss by government action. The remedy, some thought, was to protect it in the same manner as the property of non-Indians was protected; through private ownership.

And so the Brothertown Indians chose to become citizens.

This series will continue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jack Campisi's Brief History of the Brothertown Indian Nation, Part 1

I wasn't able to find a photo of Jack Campisi, retired history professor and author of the pamphlet I'm blogging about today. However, since Jack Campisi is a consultant for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Mashantucket, Connecticut, I thought it would be a good chance to let you see some photos of that museum. From all that I can tell, the Pequot's casino money has gone to good use in helping to educate the public about eastern Algonkians. (For full disclosure, I must admit that I've never been to that museum myself. Nevertheless, if you live in or near Connecticut, please check it out and tell me how you liked it.)

An aerial view of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

The Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin, a Brief History, is a pamphlet written by Jack Campisi in 1991. It was given to me by Dick Welch, the tribe's official storyteller. Although the pamphlet is well-written, readable, and authoritative, it has only been distributed informally. What I mean by that is that you cannot purchase it at a bookstore, or through, nor can you ask your local librarian to get it for you as an interlibrary loan. You can get a copy of the pamphlet from the tribe, or by reading about it here on Algonkian Church History.

The Brothertown Nation, as you may know, was formed from the remnants of a number of Native communities. To make it simple, they were from tribes in present-day eastern Connecticut and western Rhode Island. According to Campisi, most of today's Brothertowns are descendants of the "Mohegan-Pequots." Campisi explains how the fur trade led to competition and eventually wars between various groups. The Pequots were nearly destroyed by the Pequot War of 1637 and most of their land was taken over by the English in its aftermath.

The Mohegans and Narragansetts faced similar problems with losing their land and losing their warriors in battle. Few Indians succeeeded in making the transition to an agricultural economy and the result was frustration and the "social pathologies" that go with it, alcoholism being one of them.

Details vary from tribe to tribe, but, from a more general standpoint, Campisi's early-contact history of the tribes that make up today's Brothertown Nation sure sounds a lot like the early-contact history of the Mohicans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making an Offer for the Stockbridge Bible

Are you sick of reading about the Stockbridge Bible yet?

Will Garrison, Historic Resources Manager for The Trustees of Reservations, sent me the notes of a lecture that he gave at the Algonkian Peoples Conference at Albany, New York in the spring of 2007. I've put together a timeline based on those lecture notes:

August 1929: Mabel Choate learns of the Stockbridge Bible from her employee, Virginia Baughman.

Summer-fall 1929: Choate hires Ruth Gaines to be an agent and consultant.

November 1929:

*Choate writes to Gaines on November 7th: "I think you know very well what I should like: any articles which would be suitable for my museum, or any papers, or other things in connection with the early Stockbridge Indians, and their first Missionary, John Sergeant."

*Gaines writes to Choate on November 10th: That she was leaving New York's Grand Central Station for Shawano County, Wisconsin. Somehow she knew that Paul Warner, a collector from Chicago, was also on the trail.

The Museum of the American Indian in New York City: On hearing about of the existence of the Stockbridge Mohicans' tribal Bible, Mabel Choate hired Ruth Gaines, a librarian at the museum, to be her agent and consultant.

Despite her serious interest in the Stockbridge Bible and despite the competition, including offers discussed in the previous post, it was April, 1930, and Mabel Choate still had not made an offer to purchase the two historic volumes. Jameson "Sote" Quinney had passed on and the Stockbridge Bible was being kept at the First National Bank of Shawano (see photo). Members of the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church considered the Bible to be church property. But most of the Stockbridge Mohicans had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the Bible that they understood to be tribal property.

In an April 28th letter to "Miss Choate," Fred Westfall explained that he believed the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church would soon "cease as an organization." He said he foresaw a "scramble for the...possession" of the Stockbridge Bible and the Communion set that was associated with it.

Rev. Westfall felt the best way to preserve the Christian heritage of the Stockbridge Mohicans was to send the historic Bible to Mabel Choate's new museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Unlike some others, I don't think of Fred Westfall as a villain; perhaps his biggest fear was that some white person having no association with the history of the Stockbridge Mohicans would wind up with the Stockbridge Bible. He was far from being the only person in the area who was unaware that tribal members would work together towards a remarkable political reorganization a few years later. In his April 28th letter he noted "the young men are scattering," as a result of a loss of employment in the local lumber industry. As described in an earlier post, Westfall took the Stockbridge Bible from the home of Sote Quinney's widow because he'd heard a rumor that some kind of a dealer "was out canvassing the Indians." Undoubtedly the continued poverty of the Indians made them more vulnerable to cash offers.

After mentioning the two white ministers that had already apporached him regarding the sacred volumes, Westfall told Choate that the "Stockbridge [Massachusetts] Museum is the logical place for them." He added, "I think it would be wise for you to make an offer for them."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Collectors and the Stockbridge Bible

By 1990, when the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed, there was a long history of Indian artifacts coming into the possession of various museums and collectors. To put things in simple terms, things that once belonged to Indians were being "discovered" and claimed by whites as their stuff. Many, or arguably all, of those artifacts were sacred or had been sacred to the tribes that once possessed them.

The Stockbridge Bible was another sacred item that went from Indian hands to white hands. As you may remember, there was a time when the Stockbridge Mohicans were particularly vulnerable. They were (arguably) not recognized by the federal government. As a tribe they were given up for dead as far as white people were concerned. The movement for reorganization couldn't have been much more than an impulse at that time.

When Jameson "Sote" Quinney brought the Stockbridge Bible with him to Milwaukee to show other Presbyterian elders and clergy, the article about it that appeared in The Milwaukee Sentinel (October 10, 1915) stated that "offers of several thousand dollars" had been made for the two-volume Bible. As a result of the vagueness of that report, one theory that I have is that Sote Quinney may have exaggerated the amount of money offered for the tribal Bible when he spoke to the reporter. It would have been a way of saying that the Stockbridge Bible was not for sale at any price.

Whether or not serious offers to purchase the Stockbridge Bible were actually proposed to Sote Quinney or Rev. Kilpatrick will never be known for certain. However, Rev. Fred Westfall's statement on the same subject in a (4/28/1930) letter to Mabel Choate, was more convincing. Westfall reported having been approached by two ministers, one who wanted to put the Stockbridge Bible in a museum in Green Bay (about fifty miles away) and another who wanted to take the Bible to the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia.

It's been my impression that Sote Quinney treated the Stockbridge Bible as sacred tribal property. However, as was stated in an earlier post, no other Stockbridge Mohican (except possibly Sote's wife, Ella,) was willing to take the responsibility for keeping the Historic Bible as Quinney's death drew near.

Ultimately, as you may know, the Stockbridge Bible would wind up here (see photo above) in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the Mission House Museum, the home of Rev. John Sergeant [Sr.] which was moved from its original location (also in Stockbridge, MA), and restored by Mabel Choate. In addition to Mabel Choate and the people who worked for her, and those mentioned in this post so far, there was another collector on the trail of the Stockbridge Bible. That and other details of how the two volumes wound up back in Massachusetts are the topic of (a) future post(s).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Stockbridge Mohicans Choose Lutheranism, Part 3

On page 8 of Christian Religion Among the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, Thelma Putnam tells of the momentum that the Lutheran presence was gaining among her people:

Rev. Nickel...purchased twenty acres...from Cornelius Aaron... About this time, the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other States showed an interest in the mission with the result that Rev. Nickel turned it over to them. They soon decided to build a parsonage and call a full-time pastor. They planned that one room of the parsonage would be used for church services. Before the year was out this had all been accomplished. The pastor was Rev. John David Larsen....

The Larsens were warm, friendly folks who mixed with the people like old friends. The congregation grew so rapidly that soon the one room was not large enough for church services, and it spread out into two other rooms.

This image was scanned from Thelma Putnam's book (page 8). The man on the left, William C. Davids, was Thelma Putnam's father. The caption states that the man on the right may be Adam Davids.

The Lutherans started a school in 1902 and by 1908 it had become a boarding school. The Lutheran mission became the center of social activity for the Stockbridge Mohicans and a community sprang up around it.

On page 12 of her book, Thelma Putnam remembered a speech that her father, William C. Davids, gave about "the joy of being a Lutheran" at a social gathering. He told the crowd that twenty-minute Lutheran sermons were more effective than the much longer Calvinist sermons and Lutherans were allowed to "play ball" and enjoy other fun activities on Sundays.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Status of the Brothertowns' Status

This image was scanned from the July 20, 2009 issue of The Fond du Lac Reporter. The caption below reads: Brothertown Indian Nation veterans Boyd Radcliff, Jr., of Appleton, left, and Bernard Johnson of Oneida share a meal at the Brothertown Indian Nation's Annual picnic. The gathering was held on Oven Island at Lakeside Park. (Photo by Justin Connaher.)
Comments on an article in the July 20, 2009 Fond du Lac [Wisconsin] Reporter:

The headline reads "Tribal Status Close for Brothertown Nation." Unfortunately, the amount of new information about the Brothertown Indians' bid for federal recognition is minimal. Certainly there wasn't enough to make up a whole article. So the piece that was printed in today's Fond du Lac Reporter consists mostly of historical background, and let's face it, few people subscribe to newspapers to read about the past.

The impression that I get from the article is that the federal government isn't showing its cards. That wasn't even commented on, I imagine, because it is par for the course. But, for whatever reason, tribal officials are optimistic. Tribal chairman Rick Schadewald of Green Bay was quoted as saying that the Brothertowns are "at the top of the list and waiting for a decision." Apparently the federal government has been dragging its feet because the article says the "proposed findings date set by the government was June 23."

Let's hope the Brothertowns have good reason to be optimistic.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Stockbridge Mohicans Choose Lutheranism, Part 2

In the last post I told of how a Stockbridge Mohican named Henry Sprague approached Rev. Francis Uplegger in 1892 about the possibility of sharing his ministry with the tribe. In this post I will recount Uplegger's response to Sprague's proposal.

Here's a recent photo of one of the school buildings for the Lutheran Indian Mission.

When asked if he would share his ministry with the Stockbridge Mohicans, Rev. Francis Uplegger reminded Henry Sprague that Protestant denominations had a "no compete" agreement. Sprague countered that the Presbyterians had been neglecting the tribe and data that I have bears this out fairly well. The Presbyterians did send three ministers since Rev. Jeremiah Slingerland's death eight years earlier, but they stayed an average of less than two years.

Uplegger himself explained that he was too busy to minister to the Stockbridge Mohicans, so he enlisted the help of Rev. Theodore Nickel in Shawano and the two men determined that the Presbyterians in town were happy to give the Lutherans a chance to reach out to the Stockbridge Indians. In fact, according to one account, the Presbyterians said that the Stockbridges were "a tribe of harlots" (I will cite the document that says that when I find it).

Like Uplegger, Rev. Nickel was German-born and had never preached in English before he took on the Stockbridge mission work. Nickel not only had to travel rough roads, but he took a significant pay cut when he committed himself to preaching to the Indians.

Nickel started out preaching in people's homes. More and more Stockbridge Mohicans gradually came into the Lutheran fold. By 1899, Nickel's success was such that he used his own money to purchase 20 acres for the Lutheran mission on Mission Lake.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Stockbridge Mohicans Choose Lutheranism, Part 1

Portrait of Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) a Roman Catholic monk and theologian. Luther and John Calvin were probably the two biggest leaders of the Protestant Reformation.

Although it can be said that the Mohican Indians have been around since "prehistoric" times, you'll recall that the Stockbridge Mohicans first came together as a mission community in the 1730's. The Stockbridge Mohicans' political organization, and much of their way of life, was associated with Calvinist Protestantism (Congregationalism, Presbyterianism, and/or "Presbygationalism") from the 1730's well into the 1830's and 1840's.

Following the period of a unified tribal church, the tribe's own Jeremiah Slingerland was a well-educated and capable Calvinist minister, but his involvement in partisan politics alienated the Citizen party. Slingerland's death in 1884 left even the Indian party without a steady and reliable minister. Roman Catholics were in the area and some Stockbridge Indians "went Catholic" for a while.

Here's what happened next:

In the 1800's many of the white neighbors of the Stockbridge Indians were German immigrants and they conducted their Lutheran worship services in their native language. In 1892 a church-shopping Stockbridge Indian named Henry Sprague approached the German-born Rev. Francis Uplegger but soon realized that, although it was a weekday, members of the congregation were gathering to celebrate a church holiday, probably Ascension Day. Sprague offered to stay for the service and Uplegger claimed he "followed every part of the service with great attention" despite not knowing German.

As Rev. Uplegger told it, Sprague told him after the service that he and other Indians had been impressed with the kindness of people from the church and as a result he wanted Rev. Uplegger to minister to the Stockbridge Mohicans. After some questioning, Sprague revealed that he was eager to bring Lutheranism to the Stockbridges as an alternative to Catholicism. According to a pamphlet written by Lutheran clergy, Sprague quoted from 2 Thessolonians, chapter 2 as a proof text against the Pope. Thelma Putnam (page 6), however, has pointed out some other reasons why the Stockbridge Mohicans weren't comfortable with Catholicism. They were

Bible-reading strict Presbyterian Indians. They knew the Bible says 'Thou shalt not make graven images.' At that time the Catholic Church had many images in their church. They did not sing in their services, and they used the Latin language. These Stockbridge Indians loved hymn singing and wanted sermons in a language they could understand.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

John Sergeant III: Indian Agent

The Old Capitol Building in Albany, NY. Built in 1806-08. (Photograph from the Division of Visual Instruction Lanern [Lantern?] Slides, State Education Department, New York State Archives.)
In this blog I use the abbreviations "Sr." (for Senior), and "Jr." (for Junior), after the name "John Sergeant," to keep readers from getting confused. But in all the documents that I've ever looked at, I've never found any evidence to suggest that those abbreviations were used to distinguish between those two men during their lifetimes. The first John Sergeant died before the age of forty and his son John was too young to have any memory of his father.

But there is a third John Sergeant in Algonkian Church History. When Captain Hendrick Aupaumut refers to a "Mr. John M. Sergeant, Jr.," he is clearly referring to the grandson and not the son of the Stockbridge Mohicans first missionary.

Transcripts of a series of documents that were recently sent to me by the Harvard University Library system are about the man who we'll call John Sergeant III. Of this series of documents, the one which best explains the controversy at hand was written by "the undersigned chiefs and principal men of the Stockbridge tribe of Indians," [specifically "Chief HENDRICK AUPAUMUT, ELIJAH PYE, SAMPSON MARQUIS, THOMAS S. HENDRICK, AARON RONKJOOT [Konkapot?], ABRAM M'KOWN [Metoxen?], JOHN M. BALDWIN, JACOB JEHOIAKIM, [and] JOHN W. NEWCOMB"] and addressed to the legislature of the State of New York.

The Indians' letter is consistent with the other documents sent to me (including a letter written by a John Sergeant dated 1829, proving that he was the son of the Sergeant who died in 1824). Allow me to summarize the Stockbridge Indians' letter to the New York legislature.

The tribe needed the assistance of a white man to move west. They asked John Sergeant III to serve as their agent and he resisted, fearing he might impoverish himself as a result. (Apparently only whites could apply for loans at that time, plus there were travel and other expenses.) However, Sergeant was encouraged by state officials. Sergeant was appointed by Governor De Witt Clinton and worked on the tribe's behalf for four years. It was agreed that 500 acres was a fair payment, but by no fault of the Stockbridge Indians, the land designated for him went to somebody else. The papers sent to me, then, are all documents that vouch for Sergeant's honesty and advocate that the state pay him the money he was owed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rev. Westfall's Gutsy Move

The Stockbridge Bible Series, Part 11

A photo of the Stockbridge Bible and the communion set that was long associated with it. This photo was taken in 1929-1930, while the relics were being kept at the First National Bank of Shawano. The Wisconsin State Historical Society claims ownership of this and five other black-and-white photos of the Bible.

In my last post, I introduced the evidence of how the two-volume Stockbridge Bible went from the home of Jameson "Sote" Quinney to a steel safe on the altar of the John Sergeant Memorial Church. Furthermore, I established that it was done by 1917, years before Rev. Fred Westfall came into the picture. So Westfall cannot be blamed for taking the Stockbridge Bible, right?

Well, not necessarily.

While members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee presented the possession of the Stockbridge Bible as going from Sote Quinney to the church and then on to Mabel Choate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I came up with a different conclusion. In my version, the Bible goes from Sote Quinney's house to the safe in the church and remains there for several years, then it comes back to the Quinney home, before being sold to Mabel Choate.

Furthermore - and this again is something different from what was talked about at the meeting of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee that I attended - The Bible was kept at the First National Bank of Shawano for a period of time before Mabel Choate took possession of it.

Here's what happened with the Stockbridge Bible according to the paper I wrote that was published in the Spring, 2007 issue of The Book Collector:

When Sote Quinney died on March 22, 1929, the Stockbridge Bible was still at his house. A few weeks later, Rev. Fred Westfall heard a rumor that some kind of a dealer was 'out canvassing the Indians' so he went into the Quinney house while two relatives, but not the widow, Ella Quinney, were present, and took the two volumes, claiming them for the church.

How do I know that Rev. Wesfall took the once-revered Stockbridge Bible from the Quinney home? Westfall thought that he was doing the right thing so he told Mabel Choate's employee, Ruth Gaines, about it in a January 31, 1930 letter.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Photographic Evidence in the Story of the Stockbridge Bible

This is part 10 of an ongoing series about the Stockbridge Bible

In the fall of 2003, the staff of the Stockbridge Mohicans' Museum gave me a digital copy of this photo which depicts Rev. Charles Kilpatrick (standing), William Dick (the last person to fluently speak the Mohican language), and the infamous "steel safe" where the Stockbridge Bible was kept.

If you have read my post of June 22, you'll remember that Rev. Fred Westfall was regarded as the villain responsible for sending the two-volume tribal Bible back to Massachusetts in 1930. Part of what made Rev. Westfall such a villain - as members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee saw it - was that he took the Bible from the Quinney family and put it in the safe on the altar of the John Sergeant Memorial Church before selling it to Mabel Choate of Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

However, the photo you see above clearly proved that it wasn't Rev. Westfall's idea to purchase a safe. Rev. Kilpatrick's last year of ministering to the Stockbridge Mohicans was 1917, and Rev. Westfall didn't come into the picture until a few years later.

In the tribe's museum, I found a letter written by Viola Jacobs Knight in 1978 which explained how the Stockbridge Bible moved from the house of Jamison "Sote" Quinney to the safe in the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church (where Sote Quinney served as an elder). Ms. Jacobs wrote that when Quinney got older he asked around to see if any member of the tribe was interested in keeping the two historic volumes in their homes and after he realized that nobody would take him up on the offer, he agreed to keep them "in a steel safe" on the altar of the church.

I was getting closer, but I still didn't have all the answers.