Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Indian Land Case in the Colony of New York, part 3 of 3

*Read part 1 of this series*
*Read part 2 of this series*

Henry Moore (below) was the Royal Governor of the Colony of New York from 1765 to 1769.

The remainder of Patrick Frazier's thirteenth chapter in The Mohicans of Stockbridge is impossible to summarize in the space of one blogpost. As is often the case, his research turns up a lot of details that can hardly be called insignificant. Nevertheless, for those of you who won't be reading Frazier's book soon, here's what happened next:

The four Stockbridge chiefs returned to the colony of Massachusetts full of optimism after having been treated so well in London. They were told that the earl of Shelburne would send instructions on their case to New York's Governor, Henry Moore, and there is no reason to doubt that those instructions were sent. On the other hand, Governor Moore's willingness to heed those instructions is another matter. It appears that just too much was riding on the case - I mean that Moore's cronies had a lot to lose if he ruled in favor of the Indians. For that reason he apparently managed to ignore any pressure that may have been applied from London.

Here's how the case was resolved according to Patrick Frazier (page 169):

At the end, Governor Moore asked [Wappinger Chief Daniel] Nimham's counsel if they thought they had had a fair trial. The lawyers avoided answering directly. The 'several exceptions' they had taken to the [contested] deed were, in their minds, rather fundamental legal points. Moore closed the proceedings without rendering a final decision. A few days later the decision suddenly appeared in the public press. The governor and the council declared that the [land] patent was good and the purchase valid, that the Wappingers had no right to the land, and that they had been induced to complain by squatters who wanted support for their own claims. The Wappingers' complaint was "vexatious and unjust, and...accordingly dismissed.
This decision was not only a shock to the Indians but it was also a shock to their schoolteacher, Timothy Woodbridge, who wrote a number of letters in a futile attempt to advocate for the Indians.

A contemporary account of this "Indian Land Case" exists. Learn about it from this post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stockbridge Indians Appeal to the King

The Hudson Valley Land Case as told by Patrick Frazier, Part 2

The 13th chapter of Patrick Frazier's The Mohicans of Stockbridge (pages 160-171) is called "Learning the King's Limitations." It begins with our Indian heroes of Stockbridge, Massachusetts - the Wappinger Chief Daniel Nimham, as well as the Mohican patriarchs Jacob Cheeksaunkun (believed to be the father of the Chicks family), Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut (the father of Hendrick Aupaumut and the Hendricks family), and John Naunauphtaunk - striking a deal with "William Gregg, Jr., a well-to-do New Englander." Essentially, Gregg was paying the four Indians and their four wives to go to England, and paying them to reside there for three years while they appealed their land case (as discussed in the previous post) to the King. In return, Gregg would receive a twelve square-mile tract of land and, while in England, the three Mohicans (but not Chief Nimham) would "act as Gregg's servants" (page 160).

Below: The Salisbury Cathedral is just one of the remarkable sights seen by the delegation of eight Indians when they arrived in England in 1766.

Frazier's account of the visit - as you might imagine - is quite remarkable. Nevertheless, in the limited space I have, I'll stick to the appeal of the land case itself, the reason for the trip.

At the end of August [1766] the Lords of Trade reported their findings to the King, focusing on the Wappinger claim. In their opinion there were grounds for further investigation into the facts, especially since 'frauds and abuses in respect to Indian lands...have so notoriously prevailed and been complained of in the American colonies and in [the colony of New York] in particular' (page 163).
Frazier continues in the next paragraph:

The earl of Shelburne had taken [the Indians'] affairs under his wing. After consulting with the king, the earl informed the Indians that he would instruct Governor Moore to give their case serious consideration and to find a just and speedy solution.
My guess is that the delegation had hoped for more when they set off across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the "Indian land case" was at least taken seriously in London and Daniel Nimham and the rest prepared to pursue the case with the Governor.

The Hudson Valley Land Case as told by Patrick Frazier, Part 1

Land conflicts (as well as military conflicts) were discussed at the Albany Congress of 1754. In this particular artist's conception, Benjamin Franklin appears to be ignoring the plea of a chief or is possibly just looking towards us because he is "easier to draw" that way.
In one of my first posts, I recommended that you read The Mohicans of Stockbridge, by Patrick Frazier. The book has merited mention in several posts since that time and needed to be kept out of my previous post so as not to upstage the remarkable document which is its topic. Having read that post, you're ready for a preview of that same legal case as told by Patrick Frazier on pages 155-170 of The Mohicans of Stockbridge.

The Highlands patent covered "about 200,000 acres" and Daniel Nimham's father and grandfather had "complained frequently to the patentee and his heirs about the patent"(page 155). In the wake of the Seven Years War (often called the "French and Indian War"), Chief Nimham, as you may know, moved his Wappinger remnant - roughly two hundred people - to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Soon afterwards, the estate's heirs, Roger Morris, Beverly Robinson, and Philip Philipse, "asserted their claim and even extended it by nearly 5,000 acres" (pages 155-156). Sir William Johnson, an advocate for the Indians made appeals to the authorities which were "met with polite but evasive answers" (page 157).

Sir William Johnson ---->

However, a hearing was granted for the Indians before Lieutenant Governor Cadawaller Colden on March 5, 1765:

Daniel Nimham, speaking in English, presented the Wappinger claim to the territory based on the ancient tribal heritage. Then he interpreted the proceedings for the other Indians, while [Samuel] Munrow [a white ally of the Wappingers whose own self-interest was also at stake], and the representative of the patent heirs debated the issues. The Indians, somewhat intimidated by the imperious air of the council, were taken aback when Beverly Robinson produced a curious Indian deed for the area in question, dated 1702 and signed by several Indians. Although one of the old tribesmen recognized some of the names, he recollected no transaction that the deed described. Samuel Munrow was allowed to examine the deed only briefly, but he could see flaws and possible fraud even so.
Before they had to leave, Chief Nimham asked to hear a verdict from the Lieutenant Governor. Colden conferred with his council and declared the deed to be good and, Frazier also reports that Colden "told the Indians to trouble the government no more" (page 158).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Indian Land Case in Colonial New York

A remarkable document was reprinted in the Summer, 1964 issue of Ethnohistory (volume 11, Number 3). This document, having been preserved in the British Museum, was introduced and edited by professors Oscar Handlin and Irving Mark under the title: "Chief Daniel Nimham v. Roger Morris, Beverly Robinson, and Philip Philipse - An Indian Land Case in Colonial New York, 1765-1767" (known hereafter as simply the Indian Land Case).

A portrait of Beverly Robinson.

At issue was a large tract of land in the Hudson River Valley, at least 20 miles long. British aristocrats from the Philipse family claimed to have made a legitimate purchase of it from certain Wappinger Indians. To this day, Philipse descendants do not acknowledge the illegitimacy of their ancestors' claim.

Patrick Frazier dealt with this land ownership controversy so very well in pages 155-170 of The Mohicans of Stockbridge (since the Google e-book omits some pages, you're much better off getting ahold of the print version). However, Frazier "cheated" by using many good sources. My job right now is to just tell you about the Indian Land Case as it appeared in Ethnohistory about 200 years after it was first written by an anonymous Connecticut lawyer sympathetic to the cause of the Indians.

The Indian Land Case tells of how the Wappingers occupied and held claim to the contested land when whites first discovered this country, how they fought and died for the British and how their remnant moved to "a place called Stockbridge" in 1756 (pages 196-197). (The issue of why the Stockbridge Indians, despite being made up of so many Wappingers and other non-Mohicans, are often called Mohicans is something that I won't make an issue of right now.)

The Land in question was in Dutchess and Westchester Counties on the New York side of the Hudson River.

By the 1760's, the purported lords of the land-in-question were Philip Philipse and his brothers-in-law, Beverly Robinson and Roger Morris. The three aristocrats sought to eject the Wappinger Indians and their salt-of-the-earth white tenants in 1765.

With just a few sentances, professors Handlin and Mark's introductory summary tells us exactly what happened over the course of about two years:

The Indians and their tenants, charging that the Philipse claim fraudulently deprived them of their land, petitioned Lietenant-Governor Cadawallader Colden and his Council who in 1765 rejected their plea... they appealed to the King's ministers who referred them back to the Governor, Sir Henry Moore, and his Council, with the same result as formerly (page 193)."

Cadawallader Colden -->

Why was the original plea, and in particular, the final appeal rejected? This quote from the Indian Land Controversy makes it quite clear:

They [the Indians and their attorneys(s)] also further intimated that inasmuch as it had been Suggested to them that most if not all the Gentlemen of the Council, were either Interested in the Lands in Controversy, or in other Lands which lay under Similar Circumstances and had perhaps once before Judged in this same Case; they were desirous that his Excellency [the Attorney General of the Colony of New York] should hear and determin the matter of said Complaint without his Council; or at least that None of those Gentlemen who were thus Interested or who had already once Judged in the Cause might sit in Council during the trial. But this being taken as an Impeachment of the Honor of the Council was not Granted (page 213).

To put it another way, there was no such thing as a conflict of interest back in those days. If you were an aristocrat or an oligarch, you were entitled to be interested in whatever you were already interested in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

1900 Census: Menominee and Shawano Counties (Wisconsin)

The German Lutheran Church, Rev. Nickel's (inset) congregation before his ministry to the Stockbridge Indians. This photo and others can be found on the Shawano County Genealogy website.

A local group of genealogists created Shawano County Genealogy a while back. Last month they added a "1900 Menominee/Stockbridge Census" page.

Jean Barkow and Cathe Ziereis transcribed a listing of people - Indian and non-Indian - who lived in Indian Country in Shawano and Menominee Counties who were counted in the 1900 federal census. I'm calling your attention to the list, partly because you may want to use it, but also because of how Cathe introduces the list:

I personally feel like we killed these names in transcribing them as they were written.
On the plus side, you may be able to provide Cathe with the correct spellings.

Also available on the site are lists of Stockbridge Indians buried at The Old Stockbridge Cemetery and the Red Springs Cemetery. This article is at the bottom of the Red Springs Cemetery page:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Black Elk's Vision and the Two Roads Map

Possibly the most memorable part of John Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks is Black Elk's description of the vision that he experienced as a boy. On page 93 of Steltenkamp's Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala, he reviews what a couple of scholars had to say about visions:

In Lakota tradition, "visions of real significance could come to a child of ten and twelve years and might affect the course of his life" (Royal Hassrick, 1964). Never taken lightly by their recipients, such visions still retained a forceful hold on people quite advanced in age. A vision often prescribed particular obligations and brought special power to the person receiving it (Robert Lowie, 1963).
Steltenkamp refers specifically to Black Elk's own vision in his next paragraph:

At the age of nine, Black Elk received a great vision, and Neihardt vividly narrates its details in an early chapter. Referred to as the living heart of the book and Black Elk's life, one commentary notes that an "attempt to describe it would do it injustice"(Frank Waters, 1984).... This childhood experience is shown as haunting Black Elk's conscious life, and the holy man repeatedly asks Wakan Tanka [God or The Great Spirit] if he properly sought the vision's fulfillment.The book's concluding chapter movingly suggests that Wakan Tanka answered Black Elk's question affirmatively.
On page 94, Steltenkamp tells us that "a key to interpretation of the vision, perhaps unknown to Neihardt and other commentators, surfaced in Black Elk's life at the time of his conversion [to Christianity]." The key that Steltenkamp refers to is a Roman Catholic teaching aide commonly known as the Two Roads Map (pictured right). The Two Roads Map was a "picture catechism," a piece of paper one foot wide and several feet long that illustrates "what Christians have traditionally called salvation history" and, Steltenkamp adds on page 95, "the Two Roads Map imaginatively captured in picture form the basic worldview of traditional Christian theology."

Remarkably, Steltenkamp notes that there are parallels between Black Elk's vision and the Two Roads Map, including "thunder beings, a daybreak star, flying men, tree imagery, circled villages, a black road, a red road, friendly wings, an evil blue man living in flames, a place where people moaned and mourned, emphasis on people's history, and gaudily portrayed, self-indulgent individuals. "

In Black Elk's vision as well as in the Two Roads Map, the Red Road was the good path. The term "Red Road" has now come to mean the good and authentic path for all Native Americans, to many of them, "the Red Road" now means "the traditional Indian way."

But - while this may come as a shock to many American Indians - Michael Steltenkamp's research has made it clear that for Nicholas Black Elk himself, Christianity was the Red Road.