Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Death of the Tribal Church: the Citizen Party Makes a Request

Death of the Tribal Church Series
A series of blogposts about the Stockbridge Mohicans and their relationship with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
I. Introduction
II. Summary of Tribal Church History, 1734 - 1844
III. A "Riot" with "no Fighting"
IV. Was Jeremiah Slingerland "a Man of too much Consequence"?
V. Was Jeremiah Slingerland a Big Spender?
VI. The ABCFM Pulls out of Stockbridge

VII: Today's post:
The Citizen Party Makes a Request

This modern-day Lenape elder is doing a switch dance. This isn't necessarily the same kind of dancing that the Munsees that came to the new Shawano County reservation were doing at that time.

A new treaty made in 1856 was intended to bring together the Indian Party, the citizen Party, and other Indians, including Munsees, on some land purchased for them from the Menominees in what is now Shawano County, Wisconsin. Since the new reservation was purchased entirely with Indian party funds, much of the Indian party refused to move to the new reservation. However, Jeremiah and Sarah Slingerland made the move in February of 1857, while other Indian party leaders were still protesting (letter from Sarah Slingerland to J.N. Davidson, 9/19/1890, quoted in Davidson, page 55).

The citizen party was in power on the Shawano County reservation and within three weeks of Slingerland's arrival they sent a letter to the ABCFM in which they claimed their political troubles had finally been settled. They proceeded to ask that another missionary be sent.

The Munsee Indians still remain in darkness and ignorance - they worship the great Spirit by dancing. Our people here have had no regular teacher [of the gospel] for some time... and as their former missionaries have heretofore been sent by good white people of the east, they are led to look again that way, and...respectfully inquire [whether they will] again be favored by a minister or not (quoted from a 3/3/1857 letter from the Stockbridge Indians to the ABCFM, ABCFM Papers).

The letter itself, of course, tells us that the citizen party leaders wanted a minister. But some parts of the quote above, as well as the timing of the letter, suggests that the citizen party leaders didn't want Slingerland, a leader of the Indian party, to be their minister.

The ABCFM did not send a new missionary.

Additional sources used:
*John C. Adams Papers (State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin)
*Schafer's Domesday Book
*Oberly's A Nation of Statesmen.

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