Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Name of the Stockbridge Mohicans

The photo below was taken at The Great Mohican Pow-Wow in Ohio. I include it here once again to underscore that many of the "original" Mohicans migrated to the Ohio River Valley long before the Stockbridge Mohicans came together in Massachusetts.

I've already written two posts on this subject. Those posts received more comments than I usually get and all they really covered was the confusion surrounding the name of the tribe known in this blog as the Stockbridge Mohicans.

In The Mohicans and the Stockbridge Mohicans I argued that a historical change in the makeup of the "Mohican" people makes it confusing to use the same name across all historical periods. Then in The Mohicans and the Mahicans I argued that there really isn't an accepted distinction between those two different forms of the word "Mohican." Recently I've given the Mohican/Mahican issue further thought, and decided that those two different spellings which are the same except for a single vowel, should not, in my opinion, represent different meanings because the difference in pronounciation is so small. It seems to me that the difference in pronounciation between "Mohican" and "Mahican" is smaller than the variations in pronouncing practically any single word by two people with different regional accents. So not only is the Mohican/Mahican distinction not well known or observed, but, in my opinion, it wouldn't end the confusion even if it was known and observed by many people.

Like I've said before, a group of people can call themselves whatever they want. Nevertheless, after taking the time to point out problems with the status quo, I figure I might as well offer what I think is the best solution. Let the tribe and everybody else ignore this post if they want, but I might as well put it out there.

If it comes down to one word, most of the tribe likes to call themselves "Mohicans." One exception was a man who posted a comment to the Mohican Seven forum saying he prefers "Stockbridge" because it is more historically accurate. I use "Stockbridge Mohicans" as the name of the tribe because the people identify with the word "Mohican" and the word "Stockbridge" makes it clear which Mohicans they are.

So there you have it, the tribe from about 1740 to the present should - in my opinion - be called the Stockbridge Mohicans.

A reader of my Mohican/Mahican post said he thought the original Algonkian languages can tell us a lot about what name or names a tribe should take for itself. If he was onto something, then we might want to call the pre-Stockbridge Mohicans the "Muhheconnew" people and call their land or their old nation the "Muhhecunnuck." There are other possible names to use for the pre-Stockbridge Mohicans, one would be the "Aboriginal Mohicans."

Anyway, I'm content to think that I've said enough about this topic.

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