Friday, December 13, 2013

Navaho Star Wars is Available on DVD

I am so happy for the Navajo people!

Although it is still spoken, the language of the Navajo people, Dine' has been falling into disuse.
So what did the Navaho Native Mueum do about it?

They redubbed the orignal (1977) Star Wars movie (aka A New Hope) into Dine'!

I first read about it at Indian Country Today.

At the premier, one museum official said "the most important thing that happened tonight was...people....were...enganged without feeling they were, you know, in a lesson."

The voice actor for Han Solo told a reporter that the youth of the tribe would be speaking more Navajo/Dine' because of the film.

I cannot say enough about what the movie already means to the Navajo people, but I also feel I need to point out that this film - with English subtitles - was shown "off the rez" and the critics at Roger Ebert's Balder and Dash felt it was - in some ways - an improvement over the English language version. That is high praise.

What a wonderful, feel-good story!

And now "Navajo Star Wars" is available on DVD!!!

Read about it in the Navajo Times.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Announcing my book: Proud and Determined

As you may know, Algonkian Church History has been an advertising-free, not-for-profit blog for five full years (with more than 300 posts).

But changes may be coming. I'm working on getting a different kind of blog because I have something to sell: a book!

Click on the image to enlarge.
But the cover that you see above was a team effort. When you need help with something, you find out who your true friends are. So I'd like to publicly thank the people involved with "my" book cover: Bart Putzer, Vicki Bowman Stevens, Doug Rand, and John Martin.
John's father created the Many Trails symbol and he gave me permission to use a photo of it. The photographer is Doug Rand, a friend of John's. And Vicki, the "cover model," is John Martin's step-daughter (if you want to be technical about it, but I don't think John and Vicki use the "step" word).
Finally, Bart Putzer put it all together and designed the cover. Hard to believe he had never designed a book cover before!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Learn the Yupik Alphabet Painlessly

Yupik isn't part of the Algonkian language family, but I couldn't resist embedding this charming video.

Thanks Jackie!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kid Lit about Native Americans: Rethinking Columbus and Other Titles

The latest issue of School Library Journal features a list of books for kids about American Indians.

It is a good thing that these books come from a variety of genres. Nevertheless, this blog is about history, so I won't tell you about any Native science fiction or other genres that aren't specifically about history. We'll stick to history here.

That leaves just two books, both of which are aimed at high school youth. The first one, with its lesson plans and attention to the educational process, might be aimed at teachers as much as it is at students.

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, 2nd Edition
Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson, editors.
The first edtion of this book made a big splash in 1991.
Oddly, the second edition (published in 2003) is not available on Amazon, but you can purchase it from Rethinking Schools.

The other book is good for teens but also a good read for adults:

Code Talker Stories by Laura Toho
The author's father, Benson Toho was a code talker and the book is based on interviews with the surviving code talkers. Includes photos by Debra O'Grady.
Available at Treasure Chest Books

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Update on Electa Quinney, The first Female Schoolteacher in Present-day Wisconsin

In an earlier post on Electa Quinney, I stated that I hoped I would never come across any data that proved she hadn't taught school in 1828. Well, I came across that data a few months ago and, seeing that "Electa Quinney" is a search term that brings people to this blog, I decided it is time for an update.

Volume XV of Wisconsin Historical Collections contains a letter from an Augustus T. Ambler. The purpose of that letter was to report the death of the Stockbridge Mohican's missionary, Jesse Miner, to the philanthropical society that supported his work.  Miner died in March of 1829.

In that same letter, Augustus T. Ambler reports that he had been teaching for three months and had also been sick for three weeks. Ambler adds that "Electa Quinney, a competent native teacher, will probably take charge of the school this summer."

And she did. Electa Quinney had taught for six years at New Stockbridge, New York and after arriving at Statesburg (which is now Kaukuana, Wisconsin), she taught the children of her people for one more term, in the summer of 1829.

I pieced these things together at about the same time that I got access to Electa Quinney's only known biography, an unpublished college term paper written by Annie Paprocki in 1999. Paprocki says the same thing: Augustus Ambler taught in the winter of 1828-1829 and Electa Quinney took over the teaching duties the next term, before being replaced by Jedidiah Stevens.

Here's a somewhat amusing sidenote:

Out of an understandable eagerness to point to positive role models (or to make money on the web), people need to be careful not to make false claims. I came across a webpage that even claims Electa Quinney was South Dakota's first schoolteacher. Correction: Electa Quinney never even lived in South Dakota. Also, there is no Kaukauna in South Dakata. 

Anyway, to wrap it up, I think Annie Paprocki was right to conclude that Electa Quinney is still a good role model despite not having taught school in 1828. You don't have to be the first one to do something to be a good role model. Electa Quinney was a Christian schoolteacher, and later a wife and mother at a time and place where nothing came easy - especially not to Indians.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Milestone - Algonkian Church History's 300th post

A lot of Algonkian Church History posts lead readers to other sites or to books or other resources.
But today - with our 300th post - Algonkian Church History is honoring itself!

According to Google, ACH has received over 80,000 page views since it began on November 5th, 2008. As the creator of almost all of the posts, I've been surprised when some posts are viewed by many - while others that I've worked hard on are seen by only a few.

Anyway, here's a list of some ACH posts that were popular, and others that deserve special mention:

Most Viewed Posts:

3rd Place: Occom's Short Narrative of My Life (1735 views to date)

2nd Place: Bury My Heart at the Monastery: The Menominee Takeover of the Novitiate
This well-illustrated post includes links to relevant sites. The standoff between a dissident faction of Menominees and the federal government was probably the most newsworthy event for Wisconsin Indians in the 1970's. The post now has 2039 views.

1st Place: The High Point of Stockbridge Calvinism
Don't get me wrong, this was not a bad post, but I suspect that it has received 2405 views partly by accident. Many web surfers undoubtedly came to this post by clicking on the symbol you see below on Google images:

Least Viewed Post:

NPR Asks Who Is an Indian? The once-broken link to the NPR segment now works. And, as before, this post is graced with a photo of a reader of this blog, Darren Kroenke.

Most Humorous Post:

Who Taught the Stockbridge Indians to Moon? This one needs no introduction.

Most Controversial Post:

Racial Identity Among the New York Indians: Chris Geherin Looks at "New Guinea"
I was thrown out of an online community after this post appeared. Even now, some people who self-identify as Indians are not willing to accept that they may also have some African blood. Get over it!

Most Viewed Series of Posts:

The New York Indian Removal Series Thanks to a link from the New York History blog, this series of twenty posts had a reasonably large audience.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marker for Jacob Konkapot and Hendrick Aupaumut

About thirty Revolutionary War veterans were buried in what is now the state of Wisconsin. Most of them were white men buried in marked graves. Two of them - Captain Hendrick Aupaumut and Jacob Konkapot - were Stockbridge Indians buried in an unmarked site somewhere in present-day Kaukauna. In 1976, Aupaumut and Konkapot were memorialized on this marker.

As of October 11, 2013 - that is three days ago as I write - Melinda, a recent transplant to the state, completed her goal of visiting - and blogging on - all 537 Wisconsin Historical Society markers. As a matter of fact, Melinda went way beyond her goal and visited a grand total of 1754 Wisconsin historical sites!

Melinda has a late-stage cancer diagnosis, so it was that much more important to her to finish her tour within the roughly 18-month time-frame that she set for herself. Read her story here.

Melinda was only a few weeks into her project when she blogged on the marker that was erected on behalf of H. Aupaumut and J. Konkapot. This is what that post looks like.

Congratulations Melinda! Rest in Peace Captain Hendrick and Mr. Konkapot!

Monday, October 7, 2013

High Price for Hopkins' Historical Memoirs'

You can see that this book has a long title. 
Historical Memoirs, Relating to the Housatunnuk Indians: Or, An Account of the Methods Used, and Pains Taken, for the Propagation of the Gospel Among that Heathenish Tribe, and the Successes Thereof, Under the Ministry of the Late Reverned Mr. John Sergeant: Together, With the Character of that Eminently Worthy Missionary; and an Address to the People of this Country, Representing the very Great Importance of Attaching the Indians to their Interest, not only by Treating them Justly and Kindly, but by Using Proper Endeavors to Settle Christianity Among them. 
Perhaps you can see that it was published in 1753. That is four years after John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Housatonic Mohicans (eventually known as the Stockbridge Mohicans) died.
It is a very important book, partly because the author, Samuel Hopkins, had access to John Sergeant's journals which were later lost. The book also contains descriptions of things like maple syrup that white people don't seem to have been aware of before that point. The Indians boiled it down into a kind of sugar.
I got a chance to read a legitimate copy of this old book at the Wisconsin State Historical Society ten years ago. As I turned the pages it was literally falling apart - that is what happens with a book that is more than two hundred years old.
Anyway, a copy of this book brought $5,856 in a 2010 auction.
Sounds like an awful lot, until you realize that it was purchased for $10,500 in 2001! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Battle of the Thames Bicentennial:Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh and Harrison Struggle over the Old Northwest

October 5th, 2013 marks the bicentennial of the Battle of the Thames. In a series of posts on this blog you may have already read how the Shawnee Indian Lalawethika became a prophet and how he rose to prominence among the more anti-American Indians in the Old Northwest, first by officiating in a witch purge and later by predicting a solar eclipse. White people at the time and historians until recently have thought of the Native resistance movement as being a primarily political one led by the prophet’s brother, Tecumseh. However, in recent years, historians like Alfred Cave and Adam Jortner are putting Tecumseh’s brother front and center. Their research indicates that the Native resistance movement or city-state if-you-will was primarily religious or spiritual in nature – at least up until 1809 when William Henry Harrison’s aggressive conduct forced the Indians to defend their territory. But until then the movement was led by Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa, alias Lalawethika.

Let’s pick up the story after Lalawethika successfully predicted the solar eclipse of June 16, 1806. His followers had already established a town near the remains of Fort Greenville in Ohio, but the prophet asserted that the Master of Life – his name for the Great Spirit - told him to construct a new settlement in present-day Indiana. The move was made in 1808. At roughly the same time as his base of operations moved from Greenville to Prophetstown, Lalawethika changed his name to Tenskwatawa. Historian Adam Jortner doesn’t doubt that the Shawnee prophet was motivated by religion. At the same time, Jortner (114) observes that Prophetstown, at the confluence of the Wabash and another river that whites mispronounced as “Tippecanoe,” was ideally located from a secular viewpoint. By moving from Ohio, to Indiana Territory, Tenskwatawa was moving onto William Henry Harrison’s turf; Harrison was the governor of Indiana Territory. Harrison had denounced the prophet after he put four Delaware Indians to death in the witch purge of 1806, but the two men got together soon after Prophetstown was established and Harrison actually took a liking to Tenskwatawa.

However, Harrison was more concerned about his career than with making friends with Indians. He used a number of shady tactics to effect the 1809 treaty of Fort Wayne, in which three million acres was ceded to the United States by Miami, Delaware, Shawnee, Kickapoo and Potawatomie chiefs (Jortner, 160-164). Harrison had recognized the local chiefs as owners of the land and that was precisely what Tenskwatawa and his followers objected to. As they saw it, Harrison was taking advantage of Indians by bargaining with local chiefs. The all-Indian confederacy they were building was intended to force the United States to deal with all the tribes collectively, rather than allowing them to play tribes against each other. So Harrison’s Fort Wayne treaty of 1809 was the thing that turned Prophetstown from a primarily religious or spiritual movement or city-state into a primarily political and military one. Tenskwatawa threatened to not allow the United States to survey the 1809 treaty lands and in 1810, his brother Tecumseh personally threatened Harrison that the movement would ally with the British if the treaty wasn’t nullified (Langguth, 167). In November, 1811 Harrison brought a thousand soldiers to Prophetstown and the result was the Battle of Tippecanoe. With about sixty men dying on each side, it wasn’t the rout that Harrison’s supporters later claimed.

At this point Harrison’s political opponents in Washington launched an investigation. In an earlier post, I explained historian Adam Jortner’s research about how William Henry Harrison got away with his belligerent conduct towards the Indians of the Old Northwest. To make a long story short, there were already tensions with Britain and a common, but erroneous, belief that the British were a bad influence on the Indians. So Harrison got away with his aggressive tactics by making them just one part of the push for war.

Tecumseh and his warriors teamed up with the British forces. In taking Fort Detroit, they declared all of Michigan Territory theirs. However, within a few months, the British supply chain was cut off due to Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry’s naval victory on Lake Erie. This prompted the British General Henry Proctor to plan a retreat. When Tecumseh got word of Proctor’s plans he was outraged and made a valiant speech. After a few days the two leaders came to a compromise: they would only retreat to the nearest defensible location. That was the Thames River. That retreat meant giving up Michigan and many of Tecumseh’s warriors – who were fighting specifically for Michigan - left at that point.

When the Battle of the Thames started, Tecumseh’s forces were on high ground overlooking a swamp and the British were somewhat protected by the river. In what Canada’s Battle of the Thames Bicentennial website calls a “bold and unconventional move,” Harrison unleashed his cavalry on the British, who - being outnumbered and unmotivated - spared their own lives by surrendering or fleeing. Tecumseh and many of his most militant warriors, fought to the death, however, in a decisive victory for the United States.

Although Tenskwatawa fled into Canada, the Battle of the Thames did not put an end to his movement as many have believed. As of 1816, he still had a large following of warriors. But when many of them decided to rebuild Prophetstown, he was afraid to go back with them (Cave, 138). He later worked out a deal with the United States and died in a Shawnee community in present-day Kansas in 1836.


Cave, Alfred A. Prophets of the Great Spirit: Native American Revitalization Movements in Eastern North America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

Jortner, Adam Joseph. The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Jortner, Adam Joseph. The Gods of Prophetstown, online interview: accessed on 8/23/2012.

Langguth, A. J. Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is Short Hair More "Civilized"? (The U.S. Government Thought So)

What does it mean to be "civilized"? It is a question we no longer ask today because we've become sensitive to what happens when one group of people - a group that assumes their ways are better - interferes with another group and tells them what to do. But the word "civilized" was still being used in United States government documents at the beginning of the last century.
This comes from Slate's historical blog, The Vault In case you cannot read the small text, here is a transcript:
This Office desires to call your attention to a few customs among the Indians, which, it is believed, should be modified or discontinued. The wearing of long hair by the male population of your agency is not in keeping with the advancement they are making or will soon be expected to make, in civilization. The returned male student far too frequently goes back to his reservation and falls into the the old custom of letting his hair grow long....
The letter continues for another page and a half, if you find it outrageous or outrageously quaint, you may want to read the post that goes with it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Video: "Christianity and the Native American Religious Experience," a lecture by Linford Fisher

In only fourteen minutes, Linford Fisher gives a broad overview of a topic that goes far beyond Algonkian Church History.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Wisconsinology Blog: Ancient Wisconsin and Much More

Frank Anderson is the creator of the Wisconsinology blog. It is a not-for-profit site and doesn't promote anything except the views of Frank and his guest bloggers. Wisconsinology - in my opinion - features a lot of interesting content, some of it being relevant to Native people.

One of the posts is about our own Revolutionary War hero (or, more precisely, it is about his gravesite, the exact location of which is unknown), Captain Hendrick Aupaumut.

A series of posts on Wisconsinology is called "Ancient Wisconsin.." Some of the posts in that series gave me a better understanding of the effigy mounds that I've come across in various parts of the state.

Another post is about Billie Freshette, the Menominee whose claim to fame is that she was John Dillinger's ladyfriend. Somewhere else on the site somebody writes something about Johnny Depp's Public Enemies being a good movie - I disagree with that. I thought Public Enemies was a waste of my time. But enough about me, what do you think?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jeanette "Granny" Gardner: A Living Bridge

The 1930's was a pivital time for the Stockbridge Mohicans.  In the political sphere, the Indian New Deal gave them a chance to regain federal recognition, purchase land that was once theirs, and have a piece of it proclaimed a reservation again.

But the 1930's were just as important to the Stockbridges from a cultural point of view.

On the downside, William Dick, the last speaker of the Mohican language, died and the Stockbridge Bible was sold in a transaction that many of today's tribal members regard as illegal.  (That is a moot point, however, since the Bible was returned to the tribe in 1991.)

Anyway, on the positive side, Granny Gardner was 100 years old in 1930 and she survived for six more years.  I have seen some literature put out by the Lutheran Church which boasted that, at age 98, "'Granny' Gardner" was "the oldest Lutheran Indian in America."  It also said that she was still making splint baskets with no tools other than a jacknife and her own hands.

Jeanette (her given name) was an Oneida by birth.  When she was nine years old her grandmother sent her off to Wisconsin Territory, where the New York Indians were a somewhat closeknit community.  Our heroine became part of the Stockbridge community when she married Jeremiah Gardner. 

The thing about Granny Gardner that is so important is that she was a medicine woman.  And not just a medicine woman, but the oldest known link in a thread of knowledge that continues to this day.  The Stockbridge Mohicans have worked really hard at reviving their language and other cultural ways.  But herbal medicine seems to be the one field of knowledge that was never really "lost," forcing tribal leaders to get help from other tribes to bring it back. 

Granny Gardner taught the Native medicine to her granddaughters, Ella (Bowman) Besaw and Mary (Bowman) Burr.  Ella Besaw passed the knowledge on to her son, Dave Besaw.  Dave had been the administrator of the tribe's clinic until arthritis forced him to retire early.  He stayed actvie in retirement and passed on his knoweldge to Misty (Davids) Cook.  While speaking before a sizable audience at the 2011 tribal history conference, Besaw announced that his apprentice was ready to practice traditional healing.  The torch was passed.  About six weeks later Dave Besaw died.

Postscript: Misty (Davids) Cook has written and published a book about traditional medicine. She ignored a request from this reporter to be interviewed.  However, if you want to purchase the book, I have the following information to share, thanks to the August 15, 2013 issue of Mohican News "According to Cook, the book will be available for $35 via contacting her at 715-851-2848 or via email at niconishkawah[at]


Thursday, July 11, 2013

American Indian Gothic

Have you seen American Indian Gothic before?

It is part of the Smithsonian art collection and when you find it online it comes with this important information:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History

It can be a lot easier to learn history if maps are avaliable.  That is a central premise of a book that can be very helpful to anybody trying to understand Indian history in the Great Lakes states and Ontario, Canada.  The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History was edited by Helen Hornbeck Tanner and the Cartography is by Miklos Pinther.  It is far from just a book full of maps.  Instead, maps illustrate the text.  The two formats complement each other very nicely.

If you want to locate an Indian village in one of the Great Lakes states, this book is the place to look (see especially pages 88-89).  If you want a clear understanding of the Blackhawk War, the map and text provided (151-154) might be the best place to start.  For most peole it will be as much as they need to know. I doubt there is a better source for getting an understanding of "the frontier in transition" for this part of the country.  Tanner and Pinther have done us a great service.

Here's an example of one of the maps (click on it to get a better veiw):

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carlisle Fools Harvard: The Hidden Ball Trick

Pictured above is Jim Thorpe, known as the greatest athlete of all time.  He played football for the Carlisle Indians before going on to professional football.  However, most of Carlisle's players were not as big and powerful as Thorpe.  The average weight of the players on Glen "Pop" Warner's teams was about 170 pounds.  They were smaller than the college teams they played against.  And they made up for it with speed, deception, and tricky plays, the most famous of which was the "hunchback" or "hidden ball play."

A number of years before Jim Thorpe came to Carlisle, the team's quarterback was an All-American named Jimmie Johnson.  Johnson was a Stockbridge Mohican.  Under Johnson's leadership, Carlisle pulled off one of the most remarkable trick plays in all of sport.  And it happened during a game against the arrogant Harvard Crimson.  It was a home game for Harvard but the Carlisle Indians duped the Harvard players so badly that the fans were laughing at the home team's obliviousness.

The game and the play that I'm talking about is featured in Sally Jenkins' book, The Real All-Americans.  Fortunately for us, the chapter is already online, thanks to NPR books

After Carlisle, Jimmie Johnson continued his education and became a dentist.  He also continued playing football at Northwestern University.  (They didn't have strict eligibility rules back then in college sports.)  A special tribute to Jimmie Johnson was created by an unoffical website of Northwestern Football.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Louis Leroy - One of the "Real All Americans"

Admittedly the reputation of Lance Armstrong has suffered; not only from his cheating, but also from the fact that he lied about it.  Nevertheless, the 2001 biography Its Not About the Bike was a bestseller and is still favorably regarded on Amazon.  Armstrong's co-author, Sally Jenkins, came out with another popular book in 2007, this one was about the football teams at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. The Real All Americans is a good read.

This blog is often about the Stockbridge Mohicans and one young man from the tribe, Samuel Miller, is said to have played for Carlisle under the famous coach Glen "Pop" Warner.  Miller didn't make it into Jenkins' book, but another Stockbridge Indian, Louis Leroy, did.

We pick up the action in 1901.  Warner's teams were struggling because they "played against teams that were invariably bigger, wealthier, better educated and more privileged"(page 190).  On page 191, Jenkins introduces Leroy.
One of Warner's recruits was a twenty-year-old Stockbridge from Gresham, Wisconsin, named Louis Leroy.  But Leroy was only a halfhearted teammate - he really aspired to baseball's big leagues.  Leroy would stroke his arm and tell the other players "Now this here is a ten thousand dollar arm."
According to to Jenkins, Louis Leroy had run away from Carlisle before the 1901 football season, was followed by the coach, brought back to Carlisle and "tossed" into a "guardhouse."  And here's what happened next:
Leroy responded by attacking the guard who brought him his meal.  Leroy hit him with the heel of his shoe, broke out of the cell and tried to hide in a haystack.  He spent the rest of the summer in a dank cell, and was finally released in September, just in time for football practice. 
And sure enough, Louis Leroy stuck around to play some football.  In that 1901 season, Louis Leroy was a "steady performer" at halfback for Carlisle until they traveled to Detroit to play Michigan in November.  At that point Leroy took off again, and he took the team's other halfback, Edward DeMarr (another Wisconsin Indian), with him.  Without their speedy backfield, Carlisle lost to Michigan 22-0.

Louis Leroy really did make it in major league baseball, pitching for the New York Highlanders in 1905 and 1906.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Different Perspective on St. Joseph's Industrial School from Elaine Doxtator Raddatz

It is now taught in K-12 scoial studies classes that Native American boarding schools were "tools of enforced assimilation."  And they were.  I don't intend for this blogpost to be meant as an argument against that sad reality.  Forced assimilation was a very bad thing.

Students (residents) of Carlisle Indian School, Carlisle, PA.

Nevertheless, if you've been reading this blog, you know that, as a tribe, the Stockbridge Mohicans accepted a Christian mission voluntarily in 1734.  As a result, by the time some of the Stockbridges became students at St. Joseph's Industrial School on the neighboring Menominee Reservation, they were speaking better English than the white people who ran the place.  At least that is what Elaine Doxtator Raddatz's mother told her about her expeience there.

Elaine Doxtator Raddatz, a longtime resident of Chilton and Calumet County, Wisconsin, and co-author of The Stockbridge Story walked on to the next world last year.  Before she died she completed a book of family recollections, which was produced for her family members and not for sale.  However, a copy of Ms. Raddatz's book, Touching Leaves, is available at the Arvid E. Miller Library-Museum on the Stockbridge Reservation.

As Doxtator Raddatz recalls her mother telling it, St. Joseph's Industrial School was, at first, kind of scary because everybody lived in "a big, strange house."  But, at the same time, her mother said that she "loved it there," and that the "priests, brothers, and nuns helped the children with schoolwork, homemaking, gardening, and other trades. They were like a huge family."

In regards to language, here is how Doxtator Raddatz quoted her mother:

The nuns spoke German and French and the brothers and priests spoke German and Polish.  The Indian children could speak in the Menominee language and French but I couldn't speak in any of those languages.  I spoke English!
Another intriguing recollection of St. Joseph's in Touching Leaves has us witnessing how Elaine Doxtator Raddatz's mother became a good enough organist that she was asked to teach the younger girls how to play that instrument.  One of her students was a "gentle little girl named Evelyn Frechette."  Lilttle Evelyn later took on the nickname Billie and, when grown up she became the girlfriend of one of America's most notorious bank-robbers, John Dillinger.

See these other possts about the St. Josph's Industrial School:

Sarah Shillinger's Case Study: An Oral History of St. Joseph's
Menominee Confessions to Sister Mary Ignace

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Many Trails Symbol and a pdf about the "Folk Art" of Wisconsin Indians

Richard March of the Wisconsin Arts Board (now retired) developed an apprenticeship progran in the mid-1980's that facitated the process of passing along traditional skills also known as folk art.

March and Janet Gilmore proceeded to develop what might be called a pamphlet, now accessible online as a pdf.  The full title is

WOODLAND WAYS: Folk Arts Apprenticeships Among Wisconsin Indians 1983-1993

This blog tends to focus on the Stockbridge Mohicans and the creator of that tribe's "Many Trails" symbol, Edwin Martin, is one of the featured artists.

If you're a Stockbridge Mohican, you already know that the Many Trails symbol has been reproduced in pendants, rings and earrings. (In my web searches for a good pic of the Many Trails symbol I've also seen it as a large tattoo on a woman's back.)  These were depicted in Woodland Ways:

Here's Martin's description of the symbol that he created:
The design symbolizes the endurance, strength, and hope of a long-suffering, proud, and determined people.  The curved shape represents the arms of a man raised in prayer.  the circles represent many campfires.  The lines represent the many trails taken from the time the Indians left their ancestral homes.

There are also a lot of other good artists featured in the Woodland Ways pdf:


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Appenoose Declines Mission Opportunity

It may come as a surprise to many, but the Stockbridge Mohicans were such devout Christians that they initiated a mission trip to their fellow Algonkians, the Sauk and Fox (aka Sac and Fox) Indians.  At that time, 1834, the Sauk and Fox Indians were living in Iowa and along the western edge of northern Illinois.  Due to their lack of funds, the Stockbridge Mohicans asked the mission society that supported their church, the ABCFM (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) to help pay for the trip.  They also asked if a missionary could accompany them.  

Not surprisingly, the ABCFM liked the idea and they instructed the Stockbridges' missionary, Cutting Marsh, to make the trip.  The Stockbridges were living at Statesburg back then (present-day Kaukauna, Wisconsin), so the delegation took a birch-bark canoe up the Fox River, then portaged onto the Wisconsin River which they took down to the Mississippi.  From there they traveled by steamboat, horse and maybe again by canoe.

The record we have of the mission trip comes from Cutting Marsh's journals.  He unfortunately didn't have much to say about the four Stockbridge Mohicans that traveled with him.  Nevertheless, Marsh's descriptions make for a rather good read.

Even better - I think - is the summary of the trip written by Marsh's biographer, Roger Nichols.  Nichols' re-telling of Marsh's attempts to get the Sauk Chief Appenoose to bring Christianity and "civilization" to his people is worth quoting at length.

After a week, Appenoose agreed to confer with [Marsh] on August 7.  They had already talked informally about the possibility of establishing a school or mission, and the chief seemed interested.  His apparent cooperation caused Marsh to become very optimistic, but their planned meeting was never held.  That afternoon an Indian trader brought several kegs of whiskey to the village and in a few hours all was badlam.  The chief, as well as most of the tribe became drunk and Marsh lost this opportunity.  He retired early, complained bitterly about the lack of dependability among the Indians, and blamed the white men who brought whiskey to the village.....

The following morning Marsh and Appenoose conferred about the establishment of a school at the village.  They were unable to reach an agreement, partly because the chief was suffering from the effects of his drunken spree.....the Indians managed to treat Marsh with some courtesy and still, in effect, refuse his offer.
Nichols tells us that Marsh did some preaching and persuading over the next two days but made little headway and, feeling sorry for himself, he went into the woods to be alone.  Nichols continues:

While [Marsh] was gone the traders brought another canoe with whiskey, and the merriment began again.  Marsh was disgusted by the drunken revelry and savage yelling in the village, and remained away until late in the evening.