Thursday, August 2, 2012

Racial Identity Among the New York Indians - Chris Geherin Looks at "New Guinea"

The issue of African American blood running through the veins of the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indians has been a controversial one and I have avoided it for that very reason.  But today I surfed onto an award-winning journal article that is clearly part of Algonkian Church History.

Above: "Brothertown Descendant Greg Wilson, of Union Grove, Wisconsin, on a tour of Brothertown Indian Cemeteries" as noted in the blog "At Home in the Huddle 2."

The New York State Historical Association awarded its Kerr History Prize to Christopher Geherin for the best article in New York History in 2010.  The title itself says a lot:

New Guinea: Racial Identity and Inclusion in the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indian Communities of New York

The full text of the article - along with old photos and maps -  is found in the e-Journal, New York History.

Blogger's note:  Hey, I'm sorry, everybody.  It seems that the New York History e-journal is now a subscription site.  Here's their address:

Here are a few things that Geherin addresses:

1. William Gardner's status is something I addressed in an earlier post, but Geherin has more to say:

In 1824 the Stockbridge tribal council formally adopted William Gardner, identifying him as Narragansett. But in 1826 the legislature of New York defined Gardner as "coloured," and by the 1870s the tribe sought to exclude the Gardners by characterizing the family as "negro."
2. Rev. John Sergeant [Jr.] "mentioned preaching to a small nearby settlement of mulattoes."

3. Names of those (apparently only "heads of families") who lived in the so-called "New Guinea" settlement: Nathaniel, Joshua, and Peter Pendleton; John Baldwin; Henry and George Cook; and Margaret Reid

It should go without saying that Geherin did careful research and documented his sources.  Please refer to his article if you would like to check them.


Christopher Geherin, "New Guinea: Racial Identity and Inclusion in the Stockbridge and Brothertown Indian Communities of New York," New York History; Summer 2009 (2 Aug. 2012).


D. Emmett said...


The individual in the picture is actually Greg Wilson and he lives in Union Grove, WI. He's my cousin. We are both Welch descendants through Henry Welch and his Brothertown wife Lucy Skeesuck. The DeGroat's are another tri-racial family intermarried with the Brothertown and Stockbridge communities with roots back to the Ramapough Indians in New Jersey. The pride associated with being both African American and Indian runs strong in our family. In fact, my great great grandmother, Rozella Welch, married a mixed African and Native American individual returning from service during the Civil War in the U.S. Colored Infantry. It's our family belief that he may have been following an Underground Railroad route back from the South through Stockbridge, WI on his way to the Upper Peninsula, where he was raised. Our family has been listed alternately as mulatto, black, negro, Indian or white depending on the census taker. There is prejudice to this day against individuals who are more "black looking" in the Brothertown and Stockbridge tribes. It's a shame really since we have such a rich history of which to be very proud.


Darren Kroenke
Brothertown Indian

Jeff Siemers said...

Hi Darren,

Thanks for sharing that bit of genealogy from your family.

I made the correction - thanks also for pointing that out.