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Today, November 7, 2017, marks the 232nd anniversary of the “incorporation” and naming of Brothertown.  On Monday November 7, 1785, Occom noted in his journal that, “we named our town by the name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck.”  By virtue of the fact that Occom included this “Indian” name in his journal, we can make the assumption that this detail was important.  However, while we know that Eeyawquittoowauconnuck means “Brotherton”, ideas vary a bit on exactly how Eeyawquittoowauconnuck would be translated.

In his book, Becoming Brothertown:  Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World, Craig Cipolla makes the claim that Eeyawquittowauconnuck means “town or plantation of equals or brothers,” or “many eat from one dish” (p95).  In The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan, Joanna Brooks quotes Stephanie Fielding (great great great niece of Mohegan linguist Fidelia Fielding*) who “believes that [it] translates as “he does so like someone looking in a certain direction or a certain way.”  Phrased differently, this meaning might indicate a group united by a distinctive shared perspective” (p 25, footnote).

While the proffered translations may not be exact and are each a little different, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck reflected the desire of its founders that it be a distinct place where inhabitants with a common vantage point were bonded to one another within a caring community.

…..to be continued.

* ling.yale.edu/news/Stephanie-fielding-interviewed-wnpr

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