A Glimpse Into The Future

Over the weekend, our Tribal Historic Preservation Officer gave birth to our very first 2021 Brothertown baby! Mother and son look very happy and well. A new baby is always welcome news, and particularly after a year like 2020. Likewise, a new Brothertown baby is always special news, but Oliver’s birth seems especially poignant. Perhaps because it follows so closely after Lani’s departure; perhaps because I’ve seen Oliver’s grandfather serve our Tribe in many ways over the years, and his mother as well; or perhaps it’s because Oliver’s birth, like the heralding of spring, sparks renewed hope.

In mostly subtle ways, Brothertown has been gaining renewed strength in recent years. We’ve always had folks ready and willing to serve our Tribe and we’ve always had friends helping us when we’ve needed them. But recently, we’ve seen a renewed increase in participation, greater communication and camaraderie, and our young people are becoming increasingly more involved. Indeed, 4 of our 9 Council members are in their early 30’s or younger. [I believe that this is the youngest group of leaders we’ve ever had; save for our beginning in the 1770’s and ‘80’s.] We’ve also seen renewed interest from those outside of Brothertown who want to know how they can help. There are many exciting things upon the Brothertown horizon and it may be Oliver’s generation that bears the fruit thereof. Oliver’s birth, like all of our Brothertown children, is a sign of hope, a renewal of strength, and a glimpse into our future. Welcome, Oliver!

Please spare a moment to pray for Oliver and his parents as they begin a new life together. May God bless, guide, and guard them.

A Time of Mourning

We Keep a Fire For the Dead”

We keep a fire for the dead whose spirits walk before us
Who, shoes exchanged for eagle’s wings, now sing angelic chorus
Though they no longer walk the land in Brothertown today
Our hearts remain forevermore where’er our brethren lay
~A Brothertown Citizen

This has been a difficult week in Brothertown.  Many of our people were diagnosed with Covid-19.   On December 1, elder Lani Bartelt walked on.  Lani began volunteering with the Tribe in the 1980’s and never looked back.  Here is a link to a YouTube video that Lani did with us a couple of years ago: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dQFMQeCuH_c

Lani, you will be sorely missed but we are comforted by the thought that the ancestors are there to welcome you with open arms at the gates of our Heavenly Reservation.

Eeyawquittoowauconnuck Day

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Wisconsin’s Governor Evers has declared this Saturday, November 7th, Eeyamquittoowauconnuck/Brothertown Day in the state of Wisconsin!  This coincides, of course, with the tribe’s annual celebration of this date which, according to the Reverend Samson Occom’s journal, is the day on which our Brothertown ancestors gathered into a “body politick” in New York and christened themselves “Brotherton, in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck.” 

You (Brothertown descendant or not) are invited to join us in our virtual celebration this Saturday, November 7th.  We will begin at 6:30pm Central with a welcome from our Tribal Council and a reading of the proclamation followed by a presentation from Andrew Olson on the Brothertown Indians involved in Indiana’s St Mary’s Treaties.  Please contact me for login information.

Hope to see you there!

Samson Occom’s Bible

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The University of Michigan’s Clements Library is in possession of a Bible once owned by Samson Occom. The Library’s curator, Emi Hastings, has agreed to share this Bible via Zoom this Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 7pm Central/8 Eastern. This will be done during our regular Brothertown Book Club meeting. If you’d like to see the Bible and/or join us for future book club meetings, please contact me for the Zoom link and password.

Photo Courtesy of the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan
https://search.lib.umich.edu/catalog/record/004642614

2020 Homecoming Updates

The auctions for Brothertown’s 2020 Virtual Homecoming are underway! If you’d like to purchase some unique gifts while also helping to support the Brothertown Tribe, please visit the Brothertown Facebook auction page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/3630594243630943. Some of the items being auctioned include a wool blanket, fleece and deerhide gauntle mitts, ribbon skirt, books, jewelry, dolls, and many other works of art created by Brothertown artists. All auctions are set to end at 8pm Central Time Monday, October 19th!

If you would like to join us in making some traditional recipes this weekend, please click here:

For some coloring and activity pages for the kids, click here:

Brothertown Indian Nation Homecoming 2020

This year, the Brothertown Indian Nation Homecoming will be a virtual one. EVERYONE is welcome to gather with us on Saturday, October 17 from 9:30 CT until about 12:30. Stay all morning or just drop in when you’re available. Festivities will include a story time for kids, roundtable discussion on “Old Brothertown”, a musical performance, a menu and recipes you can make and enjoy at home, plus auctions running all weekend long.

Please see the official event page for more details and updates: https://fb.me/e/1ylwjrFd1

July 14, 2020: The Brothertown Indian Nation Celebrates First Annual Samson Occom Day

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Today, July 14, 2020, is the first annual Samson Occom Day to be formally celebrated by the Brothertown Indians.  The Nation’s Council issued a decree establishing the holiday during their monthly meeting this past June.   The resolution, which passed unanimously, cites, in part, the Reverend Occom’s sizeable role in the organization and the propagation of the Brothertown tribe.  While festivities will certainly be muted with this year’s pandemic, the event will not go unnoticed.

To commemorate this special day, tribal citizens will be offering up prayers in gratitude to God for the gift of Samson Occom’s life; speaking with their family members “about [his] story and what he stood for”; reading portions of his journals, letters, and sermons; watching YouTube videos about him; and, in imitation of one of the ways in which Occom supported his family financially, one person is planning to carve a wooden spoon.

If you are interested in participating in Samson Occom discussions, you might like to join the Calumet and Cross book club for our Wednesday evening chapter chat. We are currently on chapter 12 of William DeLoss Love’s, “Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England” (available online at https://archive.org/details/samsonoccomchris00love). For book club login info please click “contact me” above. Everyone is welcome.

 

For more about Samson Occom, please visit these links:

**A Short Narrative of My Life, Occom’s autobiography, is available to read at Dartmouth https://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/Library_Bulletin/Nov1999/Hoefnagel_Close.html Occom originally wrote his autobiography in 1765.  He wrote this 2nd draft in 1768.

 

Samson Occom; a book by Harold Blodgett: https://archive.org/details/samsonoccom0000blod/page/n241

 

“SAMSON OCCOM”: A clipping from the Utica Morning Herald dated February 1894. Contains a lot of accurate (and some inaccurate) information on Samson Occom: Occom  

 

Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England by William DeLoss Love and published in 1899: Includes an index with all of the known Brothertown Indians. samsonoccomchris00love  

 

The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan by Joanna Brooks is available to preview on Google: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Collected_Writings_of_Samson_Occom_M.html?id=R9ELRhEdupMC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Occom’s 1774 hymn book, A Choice Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs: Intended for the Edification of Sincere Christians, of All Denominations, (published as words only; no musical notation) contains many reprinted songs and a few of Occom’s own: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N10659.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext).

 

Occom’s 1st publication, A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul in 1772https://archive.org/details/sermonatexecutio01occo

 

Dartmouth College hosts the Occom Circle site which contains both scans and transcripts of a significant number of Samson Occom letters and journals: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~occom/

 

Other original Occom documents are available through the Connecticut Historical Society at http://connecticuthistoryillustrated.org/islandora/search/occom?type=dismax

 

4 sermons recovered from Occom’s trip to England and not included in the Joanna Brooks book, The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan:  https://brothertowncitizen.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/recently-discovered-samson-occom-sermons/

 

“A Brief Narrative of the Indian Charity School in Lebanon in Connecticut, New England”briefnarrativeof00whit_bw  This is an interesting collection of letters, endorsements, and accounts from the early to mid-1760’s which, seemingly, were to be used by Reverends Occom and Whitaker on their mission trip to England.  Some highlights are a detailed account of Occom’s 1761 meeting with the Oneida and the wampum belt received, Wheelock’s very clear statement of intent as to what he planned to do with the money raised by the Rev.’s overseas, and an appendix added in this second edition which provides updates from 1766-‘67.

 

Occom programs:

 

Radio program on Occom with NPR’s Alex Nunes and Brothertown’s Kathleen Brown-Perez: https://thepublicsradio.org/episode/ep-4-the-betrayal-of-samson-occom

Joanna Brooks gave a Zoom video presentation to our citizens in 2017 which is available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxDDcpbiSYw&t=2s.

Tim Eriksen sings a Samson Occom carol called “O Sight of Anguish”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhO34_w1yW4

Brad Dubos, Rutgers graduate student, who is, in part, researching Samson Occom and the importance of place for the Brothertown Indians talks with Brothertown Forward: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SOeEt28rby0

CNAIR Symposium at Rutgers 2019 (Brad Dubos is the 2nd speaker in this episode – episode 2): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4B7Ka5V5zxE&list=PLJl9Zsw3ptuJ9eCjyLr9XcUPufzyhxk9_&time_continue=727

 

 

Occom

Samson Occom

Why I’m Proud To Be A Brothertown Indian

Reason #1: We Are a People of Hope

Last weekend, we celebrated the birthday of the United States (July 4th). In less than 4 months, the Brotherton will celebrate the birthday of our Indian nation, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck / Brothertown (November 7th). Hope is one of the seeds that planted our nation and continues to re-sprout seasonally.

Our ancestors were motivated by many things when they gathered in Mohegan on March 13, 1773 to discuss removal to new lands. Well-known events, such as the Mason Land controversy, the re-appropriation of Indian funds collected during Samson Occom’s missionary trip to Britain, and the execution of Moses Paul stand out as obvious catalysts alongside the continual racism and prejudicial treatment that Native Americans were accustomed to receiving. Yet, rather than accept the status quo or take up arms, 7 Native communities gathered to envision a new settlement where they and their children would be free from land encroachment and from European prejudices and negative influences. This would be a place where they could be free to live and govern themselves; a place where they could hunt and plant and raise themselves up from the poverty that had been thrust upon them.

Hope was alive and well when Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, Elijah Wampy, Roger Wauby, John Tuhi, Andrew Simon, the Waukeet, Hammer, Coyhis, Dick, Niles, and Fowler families, and the rest of our ancestors gathered in Mohegan that winter day. Hope saw us through again when we were burned out of our lands in upstate NY; when the land promised us in Indiana fell through; when we made the arduous journey to relocate to Green Bay, Wisconsin; and, in the early 1830’s, when we finally settled off the coast of Lake Winnebago. We still had hope when the government decided we must move further west just a few short years later. We asked to become US citizens in 1839 in the hopes that this would prevent another removal. It did prevent it for the moment. Instead, we lost much of that land lot by lot to the tax man.

We also lost many of our men when they took up arms against slavery in the Civil War; we lost our children to the promise of a better life elsewhere, beyond the pock-marked borders of a reservation stagnant with the suffocating smell of prejudice. We lost our native language; buried in the ground with each passing elder; elders who were silent long before death in the hopes that their children would not be marked with the scarlet letter of “Indian”. We lost so much, yet the seed of hope that was planted by our ancestors, will only lie dormant for a time. Each season, it springs forth again and the Brotherton remember. We dream of and work toward a better life. A life where we all live in peace and equity as brothers the way the Creator meant for us to live-respecting the water, land, air, and all of creation; sharing what we have and who we are, and loving and helping each other because we are all children equally valuable in the eyes of the Creator.

Tawbut ni, Ancestors, for the seed and example of hope which you planted.

Samson Occom Day

At their June meeting, the Brothertown Indian Nation Council unanimously passed a resolution to honor the Reverend Samson Occom (1723-July 14, 1792), one of the tribe’s founding fathers, with a national day of remembrance every July 14th.

This marks the second national holiday that the Council has instituted for the tribe in as many years. In 2019, an annual Eeyawquittoowauconnuck (Brothertown) Day was established to commemorate the tribe’s official day of formation on November 7, 1785.

On This Date

On May 19, 1859, the Wisconsin town that had become home to the Brothertown Indians officially became known as “Brothertown”.  The Brothertown Indians had originally named their new home in Wisconsin “Deansborough” in honor of their agent and friend, Thomas Dean. After the Brotherton became US citizens in 1839, a US Post Office was officially established.  On March 7, 1840, the first postmaster, Thomas Commuck, chose “Pequot” as the town’s official name.  In 1859, and several postmasters later, the name changed again. Under the leadership of Walton Ball, it became known as “Brothertown”.  In between these 2 official names, “Manchester” was also used for a period. 


Photo Credit: The photo above was taken by Gabriel Kastelle. The page shown is from the Brothertown Collection, Box 7, Otto Heller Correspondence file “Correspondences  1832 – 1949”; Accession Number A2010.022.120 (item number 120).