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.

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