Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grave Sites of Simeon and Stephen Gardner Found

The Septemeber 1, 2009 edition of Mohican News (Vol. XVII, No.17) features two articles that I want to blog on. The first, "Past Mohican Veterans Recognized," is about a "rededication of Civil War veterans" at the Woodlawn Cemetery in (the city of) Shawano, Wisconsin.

The article states that as of "[a] few years ago, Civil War veterans grave sites were unmarked or in a soldiers plot, group burial." Since Shawano has always been a predominantly "white" town, that statement is surprising: Is the Mohican News really saying that both white and Indian Civil War veterans from Shawano County were buried in unmarked graves? Is it saying that veterans of both races were buried together in a "group burial"?

I cannot tell you the answer to those questions. They only led me to scrutinize the article further and I think the News should also have been clearer on how many veterans who survived the Civil War were also in unmarked graves. They were, of course, young men when they returned and were likely to live long enough to purchase a gravestone and request to be buried with loved ones in Red Springs. (Other Stockbridge Indians who died in the late 1800's were buried in marked graves in the cemetery in Red Springs.) As a subscriber to Mohican News I wish more detail or explanation was provided.

Anyway, here's some of the "meat" of the article (these quotes are verbatim, that is, with grammatical errors):

"Through record searches, Mohican veterans, Simeon Gardner and Stephen Gardner, brothers were discovered and arrangements were made through the government to have their graves marked. Simeon Gardner received a new head stone, and now all Civil War grave sites located in the Woodlawn Cemetery will be marked."

"Simeon Gardner's grave had a musket with bayonet perched on and a Civil War backpack."
Maybe that is why Simeon Gardner's grave site "was used as the main point of representation of all 71 Civil War" veteran's grave sites in the re-dedication ceremony.

The ceremony in Shawano and the military history behind it, of course, are things for Gardner descendants and others to be proud of. We'll be hearing more about the Gardners in future posts. The same Stephen Gardner who fought in the Civil War also plays a prominent role in the church history of the Stockbridge Mohicans.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Indians on a Seesaw: An Article on the Menominees in the August, 1974 National Geographic Magazine

left: Carl Maskewit and his children pose with raccoon pelts.

The August 1974 issue of the National Geographic Magazine featured an article about the Menominees written by Patricia Raymer with photographs from her husband, Steve Raymer. The full title of the article was "Wisconsin's Menominees: Indians on a Seesaw" (pages 228-251).

The Raymers spent time with the Sanome Sanapaw family, one of a few families still living, to a large extent, off the land.

"In the past the Menominees believed that the Great Spirit had granted the tribe two foods to be their own forever - wild rice and maple sugar. but the Sanapaws are the only family still tapping sugar maples in the spring" (page 242).

Patricia Raymer walked behind the hunters and heard their reaction when they got this Black Bear. The caption on page 232 states that Dude Valliere is carrying a 75-pound yearling. As of 1974, hunters still honored the old tradition of sharing their harvest with "friends, the sick, and the elderly."

According to the article, the tribe's economy at that time was based on the lumber mill and leaving the reservation to find other work.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sultzman's "Compact History" of the Menominee Indians

I introduced Lee Sultzman's "compact histories," in my December 31, 2008 post. Today's post is about Sultzman's compact history of the Menominees.

Which tribes lived on the land that is now Wisconsin back in 1600?

That's right, the Menominees were one.... and some of you will remember the Ho-Chunk (Winnebagoes) and the Ojibwe (Chippewa). Who were the others?

According to Sultzman, the Dakota Sioux were in the northwest, the Illinois were in the south and - surprise - the (Algonkian-speaking) Cheyenne were in the west-central part of what is now Wisconsin!

Sultzman says that the Menominees were never a huge nation - estimates of their pre-contact population range from 2,000 to 4,000 members. They were far from the only small nation in the midwest but the Menominees were different in that they

survived while the others disappeared or were absorbed by the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and the Menominee themselves. The Menominee, however, came very close to sharing this fate. When the French reached Green Bay in 1667, wars and epidemics which had swept Wisconsin after refugee tribes arrived in the 1650s had reduced the Menominee to about 400.

Here's what I didn't know about the Menominees:

Although the federal government helped them establish their successful sawmill, the government didn't always oversee the sawmill business in the Menominee's best interests. As a result, the tribe took the federal government to court and won a $9.5 million judgement. Sultzman says it is no coincidence that the tribe's federal recognition was terminated soon after they won that judgement.

Read Lee Sultzman's compact history of the Menominees.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How the Stockbridge Bible Made News in the 1920's

You may remember how I tracked the whereabouts of the Stockbridge Bible from Jameson "Sote" Quinney's house to the safe on the altar of the Sergeant Memorial Church and then back to Quinney's house again (before going on to a bank in Shawano and then being sold to Mabel Choate). Of course we'll never know why Sote Quinney brought the two sacred volumes back to his house, but I think it has something to do with rumors he may have been aware of that outsiders wanted the tribal Bible.

Sote Quinney could have learned of those rumors by word of mouth, and he may also have read an article that came out in the newspapers of two "white" towns in 1927. On July 27th of that year, the Shawano Advocate published an article that was also printed in the Wittenburg Enterprise the next day. The article, as I noted in my Spring, 2007 paper printed in The Book Collector, was "full of racial bias and lacked accuracy."

Maybe you can make out some of the words of the article. It starts out by saying "Few Shawano county citizens know that locked securely in a strong safe in the little Presbyterian chuch at Red Springs is the Bible which was presented to the Stockbridge Indians by George III in 1742 when he was then Prince of Wales." Relatively minor details like who exactly gave the tribe its Bible and when the gift was made can be overlooked, but it gets worse.

The newspapers claimed that Quinney found the Stockbridge Bible in "an old rubbish heap." This claim is clearly a caricature of Rev. Earl North's report (which I consider quite reliable). According to North, the two volumes had been "found in a deserted house" and later brought to Sote Quinney because he was a spiritual and political leader of the tribe.

Anyway, I don't think we can consider the newspaper article to be reliable, but, nevertheless, I feel it won't hurt to include a few lines of it here:

Quinney kept this sacred book in his possession for thirty years. Ten years ago he consented to leave it in a small safe in the church. The combination of this safe is a secret, nobody but Quinney knowing how to obtain the Bible....

Quinney has been in ill health for some time, and it is expected that he will give the combination to Rev. McGreaham, pastor of the church for several years, before he dies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bury My Heart at the Monastery: The Menominee Takeover of the Novitiate

In 1975, a dissident faction of Menominees attracted national media attention for their armed takeover of an abandoned monastery near their reservation. The Monastery building is known as "the Novitiate," because it housed a community of novice monks.

In 1995 I became part of a group of whitewater paddlers who came to Shawano County's Red River on Tuesday nights. The biggest appeal of the Red for many paddlers is this "surf hole" at the bottom of "Monastery Falls." The long-abandoned monastery you see in the top of the picture was once the object of an armed conflict that, fortunately, did not result in any deaths.

Here's another view. Both the photo and accompanying caption are from Google Images:
Gresham, Shawano County. October 20, 1975. Altitude c. 2,000 ft. The camera looks SSW to the former Alexian Brothers Novitiate, situated on the north bank of the Red River about two miles east of Gresham and one-half mile south of the Menominee (County) Indian Reservation. On New Year's eve, 1974, a group called the Menominee Warrior Society took control of the vacant Roman Catholic facility, claiming it for Menominee tribal use as a hospital. In a well-publicized confrontation with the Wisconsin National Guard, the demonstrators were forced to withdraw, leaving the building in a state of disrepair.

You may remember my post about a book called "Airlift to Wounded Knee." Although it was about the Lakota Sioux, I considered it relevant to this blog because it represented a nation-wide turning point. As I commented in that post, "In less than three months, the scale that had been tipping towards shame, dramatically tipped to pride." And now, less than two years after that group of dissident Lakotas took over their own reservation, a group of dissident Menominees was taking over a large abandoned monastery building. (Apparently, as they understood it, an old treaty promised them the land back if the Roman Catholics ever left.)

Instead of trying to tell you the whole story, I'd like to recommend that you view an excellent 14-minute documentary video that is easily found on Patrick Rick's "Novitiate" website. It features live historical footage, interviews, and just a lot of material that I cannot possibly duplicate here.

This and other photos are the intellectual property of the Shawano Leader. Their use has been permitted by Wolf River Media, LLC, owner and publisher of that newspaper. Read a little more about the appearance of the National Guard's armored personnel carriers here.

The bus is parked less than a mile from the monastery. The photo is from the Alexian Brothers historical webpage.

Another photo used with permission of Wolf River Media, LLC, owner and publisher of the Shawano Leader. Read more about this photo here.

As they had done in South Dakota, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) participated in the Shawano County, Wisconsin takeover. The caption above the drawing reads: "Bury My Heart at the Monastery."

The Wisconsin State Historical Society digitized more photos and other images from the Shawano Leader. You can see them here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brothertown Bid for Federal Recognition Denied


Yesterday, August 17, 2009, the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the Brothertown Nation's petition for federal recognition.

Some of the details of the decision were related in an article (with no "byline") on Here's how the article begins:

The Obama administration has made its first decision on a federal recognition petition. The Interior Department said today that the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin doesn't qualify for federal status. A press release said the tribe failed to meet five out of seven mandatory criteria for recognition. "Therefore, the department proposes to decline to acknowledge the Brothertown petitioner," the press release stated.

In considering the petition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs agreed that the tribe was previously recognized by the federal government. "The evidence in the record indicates that a Senate proviso to a Treaty of 1831, a Treaty of 1832 and an Act of 1839 constitute 'unambiguous previous federal acknowledgment' of the Brothertown Indian tribe of Wisconsin," the press release said.

But the BIA said the tribe lost its federal status 170 years ago. "Congress, in the Act of 1839, brought federal recognition of the relationship with the Brothertown Indian tribe of Wisconsin to an end."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

I know that some leaders of the Brothertown Indians will disagree not only with the decision that was made by the BIA, they will also disagree with the substance of the arguments made. Any members of the tribe who wish to voice their views on this blog are encouraged to contact me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

William Dick: The Last to Speak Mohican

Do you remember when a petition to start a new Presbyterian church was placed on the Stockbridge Bible? (Some of the older Stockbridge Mohicans signed it with tears in their eyes.) The new church, of course, was named after John Sergeant, the tribe's first missionary. The three elders of the new church were William C. Davids, Jamison "Sote" Quinney, and William Dick (remember the photo of him sitting next to the steel safe?).

William Dick's Indian name was "Makwa Monpuy" or "Maq-wau-pey," according to the front page of The Milwaukee Journal on Wednesday, November 8, 1933 (see image above). The death of William Dick the day before at age 76 made the front page because he was the "Last of the Mohicans" as the newspaper put it, explaining that he "often repeated" that "the Mohican tongue was forgotten by all but himself."

William Dick was born in Stockbridge, Wisconsin where he learned to speak "lingering musical remnants of his native tongue" from his grandmother. He moved to the Shawano County reservation and then around 1914 he moved to Milwaukee to be close to his daughter and grandson.

The article states that Professor Franklin Speck of the University of Pennsylvania discovered "Dick's value to science." How that happened is not made clear, but the Journal did record that in 1932 anthropologists from the University of Chicago "sought his help in recording the ancient tribal tongue." He was understandably "a little dusty on the nouns and verbs, but Miss Olive Eggan...went back with a portfolio bulging with more than 300 Mohican words in their various forms."

As you may know, today's Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians has a language committee. Hopefully they are trying to get ahold of the recordings in the portfolio at the University of Chicago.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A List of the Ministers Who Have Cared for the Spiritual Needs of the Stockbridge Indians

The image below is from the Winnebago Presbytery's website. The design at the right appears to be their logo.
The title of this post is taken verbatim from an entry in the records of the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church (it can be obtained on microfilm from the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia). Anyway, here's the list produced about as close to verbatim as I can get (unfortunately, the right edge has been cut off so dates of death are not visible on my photocopy):

1. Oct. 1734 to (illegible) Rev. John Sergeant b.1710 [ordained] Aug 31, 1735

2. Aug. 1749 to July 1751 Mr. Timothy Woodbridge [was the schoolteacher (for many years), but deserves credit for caring for the spiritual interests of the Stockbridge Indians nonetheless (especially after John Sergeant's early death).]

3. July 1751 to 1758 Rev. Jonathan Edwards

4. Nov. 1758 to 1775 Rev. Stephen West, D.D. b.1735 [?] [ordained] June 13, 1709[?]

5. 1775 to 1824 Rev. John Sergeant, jr b. 1781 [date of ordination not given]

[Unfortunately, Samson Occum is not mentioned in the document]

6. July 1827 to March 1829 Rev. Jesse Miner b. 1781 [died in present-day Wisconsin, 1829]

7. May 1, 1830 to 1848 Rev. Cutting Marsh [born 1800]

8. 1848 [1845 is arguably more accurate] to 1884 Rev. Jeremiah Slingerland [died 1884]

9. Oct 1888 to Oct 1888 Rev. A.W. Williams

10. April 1889 to April 1891 Rev. Thomas Knox Fisher

11. July 1891 to Feb 1892 Rev. Thomas Haug

----------------------- Services discontinued ----------------------------

12. July 1910 to Dec. 1917 Rev. Charles Kilpatrick

13. July 1, 1921 Rev. J.A McGreaham

14. May 1926 [Rev.] F.G. Westfall - Ordained at Caro, Michigan, June 15, 1897 by Flint Presbytery

15. Sept. 6, 1930 Rev. David Hillegas

16. Nov. 1, 1935 - Rev. Louis J. Albert

Of course there were ministers from other denominations in this period of time, but - with the exception of Samson Occom - this is an accurate record of the succession of the Calvinist ministers that served the Stockbridge Mohicans from 1734 to 1891 and then again from 1910 to about 1937.

The historian of the group appears to be Rev. Kilpatrick, who accompanied William Dick, one of the elders of his church, on a trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Entries after Kilpatrick's time were recorded by each succeeding minister.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Clarence Chicks Portrait by Tom Lindfors

Tom Lindfors is a professional photographer who made a name for himself in Chicago working for thriving businesses and prestious institutions. If you look at his website, you'll see that he even took Michael Jordan's portrait. He took this photo of Clarence Chicks a number of years ago and asked Clarence to write something about himself to go with it. Below the photo is what Clarence wrote back then:

My name is Clarence Chicks. I am a member of the Stockbridge Tribe of the Mohican Nation. I was born on July 27, 1917 the eldest of nine children. I attended public and parochial schools in the Town of Red Springs, Wisconsin. I went on to attend Haskell Indian Institution in Lawrence, Kansas. There I completed High School and also a two year business course graduating in 1937. I was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, served four years in the United States Navy during World War II and retired from General Motors in 1974. My recollections from early childhood was that I knew I was Indian, but it was some years before I fully realized the uniqueness of being a Native American and the development of intense pride in this fact. Life has been good to me with three successful children as well as a grandson I am proud of.

As we approach the 21st Century, I look forward to life as a Native American, as well as, an American citizen doing my part to fulfill my responsibilities as both. I am confident that in the coming century we will continue to enjoy the benefits of our democracy.

I probably could have devoted a whole post to the work that Clarence did fixing up his church - Immanuel Mohican Lutheran - and the old school building next to it (see photo). The bottom line is that the two buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Clarence certainly has mechanical ability and he's worked with Habitat for Humanity for a long time. That is how he got to know the photographer, Tom Lindfors.

Now a resident of northern Wisconsin, Tom Lindfors told me (in an August 4, 2009 e-mail) about how he first heard about Clarence. Neither man could tell me how old Clarence was at the time, but a reasonable guess is that he was between 70 and 80 years old when, while using the Stockbridge tribe's firetruck to paint the upper reaches of the school building's exterior, there was an accident. Clarence was one of three men in the bucket and one of them wanted to go back down to the ground. Believe it or not, in the process of lowering, the bucket somehow broke. Perhaps even more unbelieveable was that although old Clarence fell out of the bucket, he sustained no serious injuries. When Tom Lindfors' father told him about that event, he felt destined to meet Clarence Chicks - and, of course, it goes without saying that he would take photos of Clarence. I asked Tom if he remembered taking those photos and I got a lot more than I expected. Here's some of what he told me:

I would consider Clarence a very good friend and one of the wisest people I know. He is someone I really admire. I have learned a great deal from him not only about Native Americans but about life in general.

The image Clarence sent you was the result of a rare reshoot, one of a handful I can remember in my career. I was working on an exhibit entitled, "Faces Within," and Clarence had agreed to sit for a portrait. We chose the church property for a variety of reasons, personal, historical and spiritual. The morning of the original shoot, was, one of the most memorable mornings I can recall. A very cool, exceptionally clear early autumn night, left a ghosty fog, moving like smoke in and out of the woods. The half hour drive to the church that morning was completely surreal, forest scape of intense color, masked by the serpentine fog knifed by distinct shafts of sunshine. It was truly breathtaking. Clarence had selflessly agreed to meet me early in the morning. The camera I had chosen was the perfect tool for the vision I had conjured, but unfortunately I was very unfamiliar with it. It was not one of my standard choices. Envision the same image Clarence sent you with brilliant leaves on the branches behind him, traces of fog mixed with dramatic white clouds against a deep blue sky and Clarence in his sharp black shirt. I was so caught up in the moment, I failed to properly pay attention to the framing constraints of the panoramic camera and ended up with Clarence out of focus in most of the frames. It was some of the most disappointing film I have ever had to look at and I'm left with only mental memories of that morning . . . and Clarence's patience and understanding. We remade the image as you see it, a week or two later. It is one of my favorite images in my collection maybe because of all that transpired in its making but also because of the perspective it demands of me, my own shortcomings and Clarence's friendship. We've had some long conversations since then.

Immanuel Mohican Lutheran Church

This is the church building which was part of the Lutheran Indian Mission in the township of Red Springs, Wisconsin. Photo taken by Jeff Siemers, spring, 2009.

This is the church building that was part of the Lutheran Indian Mission. The congregation, you may remember, first got together in people's homes in 1892. By 1899 the parsonage was built with one room designated for worship services. The church building which you see above was dedicated on July 14, 1901. The congregation that had started out so informally eventually took the name of Emmanuel Mohican Lutheran.

The mission school began in 1902 and a dormitory was built in 1908 (see photo). (A bigger dormatory was built across the lake in 1922, but it is no longer standing.) According to Thelma Putnam (page 13), the mission eventually reached a census of 120 boarding students, plus 15 to 20 daily commuting students.

The mission was forced to close its dormatories in 1933 because it depended on contributions from people who no longer had anything to give. Nevertheless, the school remained in operation until 1958.

Over a two-year period (7th and 8th grades), one of the commuting students was Clarence Chicks (whose attendance at the mission school roughly coincided with the onset of the Great Depression). Clarence told me that in addition to Stockbridge Mohicans, the student body consisted of "a lot of Oneidas," and some "Winnebagoes" [Ho-Chunk] and "Chippewas."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jack Campisi's Brief History of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin, Part 3

This photo, posted on the internet by the Wisconsin State Historical Society, depicts a "Brothertown Dwelling" on/near Lake Winnebago.

On March 3, 1839, the U.S. Congress passed legislation dividing the Brothertown tribal lands in severalty and making the tribal members citizens. But in granting the Brothertown Indians citizenship the Congress faced a dilemma; could the Brothertown Indians be citizens and still retain tribal status?.....The specific language in the act read as follows: "...and their rights as a tribe or nation, and their power of making or executing their own laws, usages or customs, as such tribe, shall cease..."

Campisi says that citizen status worked out for a little while, but

By the 1870's much of the land was lost to non-Indians, and many tribal members were living on other tribe's [Stockbridge and Oneida] reservations, working on other people's farms, or living in one of the cities around Lake Winnebago.

Yet the tribe continued to operate as an organization. As part of the New York Indians, the Brothertowns received payments for a case against the United States regarding their land in Kansas.

When the Oneidas and the Stockbridges lost their lands as a result of the Dawes Act of 1887 and the "Citizen vs. Indian" controversy, the Brothertown Indians who had been living amongst them were thrown into what Campisi calls "social chaos." I think that pretty well describes the state of all the New York Indians in Wiscosnin in the first decades of the 1900's. But during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Stockbridges and Oneidas had the opportunity to take advantage of federal programs to gradually build themselves up again. However, Campisi laments, "No such effort was made on behalf of the Brothertown."

In all those decades since the depression there really isn't a lot to add to that. Without federal recognition or a significant land base, tribal members are largely on their own. But there was another court case in which the New York Indians - after a long court proceeding and huge delays - received per capita payments for Wisconsin land taken from them almost 160 years after it happened. That court battle motivated many of the Brothertown Indians to work towards federal recognition.

They're very close to being recognized, let's keep our fingers crossed for them.