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).

Brothertown Elections June 2020

As you may have heard, Brothertown Indian Nation elections have been postponed until June.  Ballots will be going out in the mail shortly.  Be sure to mark your choices and return your ballot by the date provided in your packet.

Brothertown Forward’s Meet The Candidates forum really helped citizens get to know the candidates and understand their vision for the Tribe.  Notably, almost all are multi-generational Brothertown volunteers.  Here is a list of openings and those running for them:

COUNCIL POSITIONS:

3 nominees are running for the 2 open Council positions:  Skip Blanc (incumbent), Erin Farris-Olsen, and Tad Delude.  Below, please find bios for those who chose to make their information available here:

Erin Farris-Olsen:  

5A51FBD3-6444-4B97-858D-7AA7C4BC43D7  “I appreciate the opportunity to announce my candidacy for Brothertown Indian Nation Tribal Council. In 2019, my two children were enrolled in our Nation and I never could have envisioned the fire that ceremony lit within me to be more involved and supportive of my children and their cousins as they start their journeys as Brothertown.

Over the years, I have desired to be more involved in our tribal issues. After attending the tribal council meeting in October 2019, I better understood the limited capacity of our tribal government. From my experience, in order to be more involved, it’s not enough to wait for the right moment or opportunity. Sometimes, you just have to jump in.

My background is in non-profit and government program management, conservation, law,
and rural economic development. I am called to leadership because of my visionary tendencies and passion for putting good ideas to action.

My past volunteer efforts for our Nation include assisting on a committee designed to respond to our federal recognition issues in 2009. Recently, I enjoyed helping plan the 2019 Pacific Northwest Gathering and the origination of the Brothertown Department of Natural Resources.

As a tribal council person, I will listen to other council persons and the members and work with other council persons to continue to build the strength of our Nation. Specifically, I care about restoring our sense of community, achieving federal recognition, and exercising our sovereignty.

I would like to apply my skills in organizational management to enhance our financial practices to include annual budgeting and reporting to our membership. I would also like to apply my legal and policy background on our federal recognition effort. Finally, I will be on the lookout for opportunities for members like myself, who would like to be more engaged, to learn more, and to practice our culture. Sharing points of access that will strengthen our community so that future generations never have to question the validity of their heritage.

I am a proactive and energetic spirit and my desire is to make my grandmother proud and be a valuable resource to our Nation, present and future. I hope that my diverse background will be uniquely helpful in serving our members and fulfilling the Council’s responsibility to govern many aspects of our Nation’s affairs.”

You can learn more at Erin’s website:  https://www.erinnuwisuwok.com/

 

Tad Delude:

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“Hello, my name is Tad Delude. I’m a descendent of Lucy Skeesuck, a Narragansett, and Cyrus Welch. I first became interested in our tribe after listening to my grandfather, Dennis Gramentz, tell me about our history. I watched his involvement with the tribe as a former Council Member, Enrollment Chairman, and Peacemaker.

My grandfather grew up in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Some members of our tribe migrated to Minnesota in search of better land in the late 1800’s. This is how my grandfather originated in Redwood Falls and how many other members of our tribe were spread throughout the Union. My mother, Theresa Delude, married my father, Stephen, and moved to Des Moines, Iowa for my dad’s career, where I was born and raised, along with my two brothers. Later, my grandparents, late uncle, and aunt moved to central Iowa to be closer to family.

I graduated from Des Moines Christian and majored in Political Science at Iowa State University. I have an IT background and run a small videogame 501(c)(3). I pursued political science instead of a harder science because reading, writing, and speaking are not my natural strong points. I was born with the gift of being more technically inclined and enjoy navigating complex systems of any sort. I consider myself an avid learner.

I suffer from severe Crohn’s disease, which I was diagnosed with at age 11. I was on IV nutrition for over 130 days with no food or drink while waiting for a surgery in 2008. My experiences with health issues have taught me to always try to keep life in balance, while maintaining an open mind. Over the years, I became thankful that I had to endure these hardships and will continue to endure them, for without these experiences, I’d be half the person I am today.

After my ordeal with my last bowel resection, I entered the realm of sport skydiving. I’ve been a licensed skydiver and a local skydiving club member for over a decade. Participation in our club meetings has given me first-hand experience in how to run an effective organization composed of diverse personalities. The skydiving world is not that different from being involved in a big extended family, like our tribe. Sometimes, there are various factions that arise over time, but it’s important to remember that we all generally have the same interests at heart.

I believe it’s important to preserve our past, and in order to do that, it will take more young people getting involved within the tribe. I think the modern world is full of things for young people to spend their time on, and as a result, interest in our tribe is declining. Many of us are spread throughout the country, seeking jobs or following their families. I believe we need to focus on bringing everyone back together as a tribe if we hope to survive in the future. We don’t have any federal benefits that bind us together like other tribes do, so it’s up to us to figure out ways to incentivize members to stay engaged, even when we are remote from each other.

As a tribe, we have been facing some important issues, which are currently hot topics of dispute. Specifically, our Red Tagged Files have continued to keep our rolls closed, we have not made any major headway on pursuing an Act of Congress for federal recognition, and government transparency is still not at a level where it probably should be. I don’t believe anyone is to blame for these things, but I do think that this is something we should be aggressively pursuing. I intend to serve more as a listener and a steward than as someone who wants to decide our future. I think whatever we decide to do, it must be done in the spirit of the tribe as a whole.

In closing, I want to make it clear that I am not running to make a name for myself, but rather, I want our tribe to continue progressing far into the future. That is my intent and what I aim for if I am elected.

Thank you for joining me in my thoughts. I hope to hear yours as well. Feel free to reach out to me in any way you like. I enjoy hearing other’s reflections and opinions.

-Tad”

 

Skip Blanc: Incumbent Skip Blanc did not attend Brothertown Forward’s Meet the Candidates event and did not respond to requests for a bio or photo to post here, but he is planning to run.  Please check your voting packet for more information on this candidate.

The Secretary position, which is both a Council and Officer position, is also open but, so far, no one is running for this spot.  If you’d like to run as a write-in candidate, please let me know and I’d be happy to help spread the word.

PEACEMAKERS

There are 2 men running as write-in candidates for the one Peacemaker position.  Please write in 1 of their names on your ballot.  Here is more about them:

Elder Steven Bissell:

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I’m Steve Bissell, descended from the ancestry of Clarissa J. Johnson.  I am throwing my hat in the ring for the Peacekeeper position at this election time.  

     I have a DVD of my election platform, which members may receive free by requesting it at my E-mail address: indianboy_whitehawk at yahoo.com, or by sending me a note to Converse Access television, PO Box 1314, Converse, Texas  78109.  Just let me know where to send your DVD copy.

     One thing that would help with inter-tribal communications would be a membership directory. Request and watch the DVD.

      A historic documentary about the BIN could be produced with the DVD offered for sale in the BIN gift shop.  

     These are a few of the ideas to raise funds for the preservation of the Brothertown spirit.  Please vote for me and I pledge to do my best as a Peacekeeper.

                    Sincerely,

                                            Steve Bissell, Elder

Mikel (Mike) Elsen:

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“My name is Mikel Elsen and I am asking for your write in vote for Peacemaker. I believe that I am qualified for this position because of my vast experience of building relationships, being inclusive of others and negotiating with various stakeholders.

I have been a supervisor of eight people in the environmental public health sciences for a Washington state agency for 15 years and have been the director of nearly eighty people in that office for the last three years. In these positions, I set policy and have to interpret federal and state laws and regulations, policy, and guidance. Personal accountability, integrity, building relationships and inclusiveness have all contributed to the successful negotiations involving operations and environmental remediation of major facilities. In these negotiations, I have employed a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and decision-making, having to balance the interests of my agency, affected Tribes, and licensees.

I am a descendant of Lucinda Brushel. Additionally, my mother Renona Welch Elsen was a past member of the tribal council and worked on re-recognition efforts for the tribe.

Thank you for your consideration.”

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Who has my vote?  Our young Council candidates who not only have a drive and fire for the Tribe but have clear cut ideas for seeing Brothertown through the next 7 generations as a stronger, better, more vibrant, and more cohesive community.  My Council vote is for Erin Farris-Olsen and Tad Delude.

 

 

 

 

Brothertown-Related Book Club Wednesday Evenings

The Historical Committee for Calumet and Cross will be hosting a book club event every Wednesday evening. Everyone is invited to participate. Our first book is William DeLoss Love’s, “Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England”. We are reading 1 chapter a week so please plan on reading chapter 1 in anticipation of the first meeting this  Wednesday, April 29, at 7 CT/8pm ET via Zoom.

Don’t have a copy handy? No worries—read it online or download from here: https://brothertowncitizen.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/samsonoccomchris00love.pdf

Please contact me to receive the Zoom link and password.

See you there!

2020 Brothertown Calendar of Events

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Tonight, February 7th at 8pm CT, the Peacemakers will be hosting their monthly meeting on Zoom. Everyone, enrolled or not, is invited to attend. https://zoom.us/j/272190735

Sunday February 16th at 10am CT will be the next Council/General Membership meeting. This event will also be attend-able via Zoom but only for enrolled citizens. If you have not already signed up for online Council meetings, please fill out this short form to do so: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSffhwOkN5PAj8_mwyNk7v6ZFIidZZ48GCZY0oS6gAH46WDzgw/viewform

Calumet and Cross Heritage Society will be hosting an all day singing event at Union Cemetery in Brothertown, Wisconsin on June 27th with dinner coordinated at a nearby home.  Everyone is invited to attend and to sing (shape note style) to our ancestors and honor headman Thomas Commuck on this year’s 175th anniversary of the release of his Indian Melodies.

Here is a list of additional 2020 Brothertown events:

Rocks and Gems Book Released By Brothertown Artist

Congratulations to Brothertown author and artist Suzette Fell Buhr on the release of her new book, Mama Rae’s Rocks And Rhymes!  

Suzette emailed this morning saying, “over the last 4 years, I have been slowly working on a book about my hobby of rocks, gems and minerals. Many of you have seen my Designs in a Nutshell necklaces and they are also on display in this book on pages 131, 205, and 221.  I finally finished this book and it’s officially published on Amazon.com now! The title is: Mama Rae’s Rocks and Rhymes. Check it out! And share it with all your friends and co-workers! Here is the link   https://www.amazon.com/dp/1734328401 ”

Over the years, Suzette has created many one-of-a-kind black walnut shell necklaces with gemstones embedded in them.  Here are photos of some of her beautiful creations:

Congratulations, Suzette!

Peacemaker’s Procedural Guidelines

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The Brothertown Indian Nation Peacemakers are working on updating their Procedural Guidelines and are looking for input from citizens.  Please see their note and click on the document link at the bottom:
Aquy fellow Citizens and relatives!
  Your Peacemakers are moving to update the GRIEVANCE PROCEDURAL GUIDELINES.  We want you to look over the procedures and offer comments. You have until March 31, 2020 to offer suggestions and comments. You can make your comments through this website or you may contact the Peacemakers directly by emailing us atpeacemakers@brothertownindians.org  We want to be sure that YOUR voice is heard!
Kôkicash!
Brothertown Indian Nation Peacemakers

 

Brothertown Stories Wanted

Dear Brothertown friends and family,

I am looking for Brothertown-related stories, photos, thoughts, and memories for an upcoming publication whose working title is “The Collected Stories of the Eeyawquittoowauconnuck or Brothertown Indians”.

Stories are a fundamental part of who we are.  More than just an ageless form of entertainment, stories teach us how to interpret and navigate the world around us.  They teach us what is important to know and help us to define ourselves. Similarly, a nation’s stories help to define that nation’s unique perspectives and history through the highlighting of important cultural beliefs, traditions, historical events and/or citizens.   The telling of its stories helps to ensure the continued success, longevity, and cohesiveness of a nation.  Stories needn’t be long or even necessarily entertaining to accomplish this objective; all they need to do is exemplify something unique pertaining to that nation.

Just as important as the telling of its stories is that a nation tell its own stories.  As much as I love reading about Brothertown by outside authors, we are uniquely qualified to tell our own stories from a Brothertown perspective.  Let’s share with others Brothertown’s unique history, culture, and citizens and preserve our stories, thoughts, and memories for our great grandchildren’s great grandchildren.

EVERY Brothertown descendant is invited to contribute. Maybe you’d like to share something about a particular Brothertown ancestor, event, object, or place?   Maybe you’d like to talk about your involvement in Tribal activities or your thoughts on Brothertown today or your hopes for it tomorrow?  If you’re Brothertown, you have a story, thought, or memory that you can share.

Stories can be in any form:  hard copy or digital, written, photos, drawings, carvings, crafts or whatever you feel is important to share.   Whether you would like to tell your story verbally or visually, I would love to hear it.  Some stories may be shared here on this blog, and/or the Tribal newsletter and it is anticipated that all stories and photos collected will be printed in book format with all profits going towards a Brothertown scholarship(s).  Stories can be any length—from 1 sentence or photo to hundreds.  If you’d like to share a brief memory (such as getting together with Brothertown relatives at Grandma’s house) but don’t think that makes for enough of a story, think again!  ALL memories, thoughts, and stories are welcome.

If you’re just not the sort who likes to write, feel free to leave me a phone number and I’d be happy to call you back and take notes and then write something up and run it past you for your approval.  Please ask your Brothertown relatives to share their stories as well.  Together, we can create a valuable keepsake of important personal and historical stories, photos, thoughts, and memories about and by the Brothertown Indians.  Please help.

To submit your story, ask questions, or leave a phone number please do so here:  submissions/questions 

Thank you,

Megan