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.


John Umland said...

We had a 1 year family membership to the MP museum awhile ago. It's really good. The walk through dioramas are very interesting. It's worth a couple trips.
God is good

Jeff Siemers said...

Thanks again John.
What did you like about it the most? (e.g. was there a specific walk-through diarama that was particularly compelling?

John Umland said...

There is a very large walk through full of mannequins and wetus, winter and summer as well as a stockade fort. Here is one snapshot of it.
It is fantastic.
God is good