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 to all veterans (past, present, and future) who step up and work to make our world a better place. Thank you also to their families who sacrifice so much.
If you were asked to form a mental picture of American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, World War I or II, the Civil War, or the Revolutionary War, would any of your mental images include Native Americans? If not, all of them should. Native Americans have fought for their country in every single war the US has waged. In fact, Native Americans currently have the highest rate of representation (19%) amongst all ethnicities active in the Armed Forces since 9/11 (veteranaid.org). The Brothertown Indians are no exception and have sent soldiers to fight in every US war.
Following are the names of some of the Brothertown Indians who have served their country:
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783)*:
The Civil War (1861 – 1865)**:
Henry W.F. Bostwick
George W. Brushel
Erwin C. Bulman
Moses J. Coffeen
Thomas M. Commuck
Albert D. Cottrell
John B. Coyhis
Hoel R. Crowell
John Morris DeGroat
Asa D. Dick
Charles W. Dick
Edgar Morris Dick
Franklin M. Dick
John W. Dick
Lucius C. Dick
Orlando D. Dick
Samuel H. Dick
James D. Fowler
Lyman Palmer Fowler
Orin Gridley Fowler
John C. Hammar
James A Hart
Orville Amon Hart
Daniel E. Jacques
Ansel J. Johnson
George A. Johnson
Henry C. Johnson
Joseph M. Johnson
Loren Murry Johnson
Nathaniel H. Johnson
Orlando F. Johnson
Ovondo F. Johnson
William H. Johnson
Thomas G. Keeville
James H. Kindness
William H. Reed
George F. Sampson
James J. Sampson
Joel J. Sampson
Julius J. Sampson
Elisha N. Schooner
Luther O. Schooner
Henry F. Shelley
Lewis A. Shelley
Simon Shelley, Jr.
Simon Shelley, Sr.
James Madison Skeesuck
Lewis F. Wauby
Erastus Welch, Jr.
Erastus W. Welch
William Welch, Jr.
Ira D. Wiggins
“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
*http://brothertownindians.org/image/cache/The_Revolutionary_War_-_WS.pdf; accessed 11/11/19.
**http://brothertownindians.org/image/cache/The_Civil_War_Brothertown_-_WS.pdf; accessed 11/11/19.
November 7, 1785 is the date that the Reverend Samson Occom (Mohegan/Brothertown) recorded in his journal as being the day that the Indians who had emigrated from the 7 towns “formed into a body politick”. Occom tells us that the name that was chosen for the town was Brotherton, or “in Indian, Eeyawquittoowaucconuck”(https://collections.dartmouth.edu/occom/html/diplomatic/785554-diplomatic.html). At their meeting on October 20, 2019, the Brothertown Indian Nation Council passed a resolution to celebrate Eeyawquittowaucconuck/Brothertown Day annually on November 7th. The institution of this holiday is not only a reminder of Brothertown’s past but is a defining moment for the Tribe’s future and a day that our citizens will be celebrating.
Brothertown citizens will once again be allowed to join the Brothertown Indian Nation Council meeting via the internet on Saturday, November 16 at 10am Central Time.
At the Tribal Council meeting in June, the Brothertown Indian Nation received a very generous donation from Mr. and Mrs. Russel Welch: a 231-year-old Brothertown Indian Record book. Records of the Brothertown Indians, as the book’s cover reads, was originally begun by our ancestors in 1788 in New York. It continued to be updated regularly with important Brothertown correspondence and records until 1810 and was updated once more in the year 1901. Since the late 1800’s, the book has been safeguarded and passed down through the generations of the Fowler/Kindness/Welch families until its donation on the 15th day of this past June.
“My main concern is that this book is kept safe,” said Mr. Welch. “After much thought about where to pass this book next, I decided it should be kept in Fond du Lac with the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin.”
First cousin Cheri Welch, who was present at the event, said it was “very emotional for many of us. It gave me goosebumps and kind of choked me up.”
Councilwoman Jessica Ryan, who described the book as “absolutely beautiful” with “exquisite handwriting,” admitted that “as a lawyer, and as a judge, it is especially humbling to read, in our own historic record book, how our ancestors and relatives worked together to honor that long-time cultural value of finding, returning to, and maintaining that place of balance and harmony among our People.”
Mr. Welch remembers that he first learned about the book when he was 6 or 7 years old. It had been given to his father, Corliss in 1934 and was always kept protected and on a shelf in a closet. The book passed on to Russel when his father died in 1975. Corliss had received the book from his aunt, Lura Fowler Kindness who, in turn, had received it from her father, William Fowler. The family is not certain how William came to have the book. However, page 270 of Annals and Recollections of Oneida County (New York) may offer clues of its whereabouts prior to Mr. Fowler’s ownership: “Some time in the year 1850, the tribe now at Green Bay sent by a messenger for both books but for some reason the messenger did not obtain the book containing their town records, but did that containing their judicial proceedings [now more commonly known as the Peacemaker’s Record Book and a part of The Brothertown Collection] which he took to Green Bay.”
Throughout the years, the family received several offers from private collectors to purchase the book and from the Wisconsin Historical Society seeking its donation. One such incident was memorialized by Native American researcher Coe Hayne in 1934. After visiting and speaking with the Brothertown Indians still living in Brothertown, Wisconsin, he wrote a five-page paper on the history of the Tribe and its people which he titled The Long Trail of the Brothertown Indians. In this paper, Hayne mentions that he visited with Mrs. Lura Fowler Kindness who showed him the book and told him, “There were antique hunters in our village a few years ago. They asked me to sell this record book to them. I would as soon part with my life.”
Below: Mrs. Lura Fowler Kindness with Records of the Brothertown Indians c 1930’s
Councilwoman Ryan speaks for each of us when she says, “heartfelt gratitude to the family for donating this to the Tribe and for the generations of Brothertowners that have cared for this collection of historic writings.” Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Welch, for your very generous and priceless donation.
Brothertown has been blessed throughout the centuries with industrious, well-educated, and noteworthy citizens who have spent their lives in service to their people and others. Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, William Fowler, Alonzo D. Dick, W. H. Dick, and Thomas Commuck are a few of these names. Probably the most well-known, however, is the name of Samson Occom (Mohegan/Brothertown).
Occom’s notoriety goes well beyond Brothertown, Native America, and the century in which he lived. He was instrumental in the founding of Dartmouth College, helped establish the communities of Marshall and Deansboro in New York and assisted in founding the Brothertown Tribe; all of which continue to exist today. He wrote hymns that are still sung, was the first person to publish an interdenominational hymnal, wrote the first Native American autobiography, and kept journals that are read and studied in classroom settings around the world. He was the second Native American to be published (about 6 months after son-in-law Joseph Johnson (Mohegan/Brothertown)) and the first to be published internationally when his, A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul was printed and sold in Europe.
Occom died in New York on July 14, 1792. Although he was a Presbyterian minister, the Episcopal Church has set this date aside as an annual feast day in tribute to him. Interestingly, the only canonized Native American saint in the Catholic Church, Kateri Tekakwitha, shares Occom’s July 14th feast day.
This Sunday, July 14th, at 7pm CT/8pm ET/5pm PT and MT, Brothertown Forward will be hosting a Zoom event with Brothertown Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Courtney Cottrell and Northwestern University undergraduate, Brad Dubos. Courtney will provide a brief explanation on the process and importance of a close working relationship between the Tribe and researchers while Brad will be speaking about his dissertation research. Part of this research focuses on Brothertown co-founder “Samson Occom and his Choice Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1774) and its impact on the ways people navigated the NY settlement”.
Everyone is welcome to attend this event.
To login on your internet device, please use this link: https://zoom.us/j/361305834
This event will be recorded with a copy placed on Brothertown Forward’s YouTube channel (https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCVyIbYm-3pJ-sJ-XsXm6rog/videos). Participation acknowledges acceptance of such.
Interesting speech of JOHN W. QUINNEY, Chief of the Stockbridge Tribe of Indians.
Albany Free-Holder, July 12, 1854. [as re-printed in WISCONSIN HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS. Vol. IV (1859), pp. 313-20. Viewed in Wisc. Hist. Soc. 2017 then re-typed 2018 by A.G. Kastelle]
[abbreviated introductory commentary:]
There was a large gathering of the people, numbering about two thousand.
. . . .
The Stockbridge Indians once owned all the land on the Hudson river. There is no record of their having sold any part of the land constituting the manor of Rensselaerwyck. That part of Mr. QUINNEY’s speech which touches upon the manner in which most of the land was purchased from the Indians, contains too much truth. We presume that hardly one of the old Indian conveyances was fairly and honorably made. The whole of Saratoga County, and parts of Schenectady, Fulton, and Montgomery, were bought of two or three Indians, who had no power to convey, for a little rum, a few blankets, and trinkets, and these constituted the ground upon which the patent of KAYADEROSSERAS was granted. . . .
Mr. QUINNEY’s speech contains several hard hits. After speaking of the laws passed to legalize titles fraudulently obtained, he puts the following questions: “Will you look steadily at the intrigues, bargains, corruption and log-rolling of the present Legislatures, and see any trace of the divinity of justice? And by what test shall be tried the acts of the old Colonial Courts and Councils?”
Well and stoutly put. Who will answer them?
The last half of this speech is admirable. It is a bold, stern and manly protest against the uniform and persistent injustice which has been meted out to the Indian race. We hope to see it republished in all the newspapers of the country.
“It may appear to those whom I have the honor to address, a singular taste, for me, an Indian, to take an interest in the triumphal days of a people, who occupy by conquest, or have usurped the possession of the territories of my fathers, and have laid and carefully preserved, a train of terrible miseries, to end when my race shall have ceased to exist. But thanks to the fortunate circumstances of my life, I have been taught in the schools, and been able to read your histories and accounts of Europeans, yourselves and the Red Man; which instruct me, that while your rejoicings to-day are commemorative of the the free birth of this giant nation, they simply convey to my mind, the recollection of a transfer of the miserable weakness and dependance of my race from one great power to another.
My friends, I am getting old, and have witnessed, for many years, your increase in wealth and power, while the steady consuming decline of my tribe, admonishes me, that their extinction is inevitable — they know it themselves, and the reflection teaches them humility and resignation, directing their attention to the existence of those happy hunting-grounds which the Great Father has prepared for all his red children.
In this spirit, my friends, (being invited to come here,) as a Muh-he-con-new, and now standing upon the soil which once was, and now ought to be, the property of this tribe, I have thought for once, and certainly the last time, I would shake you by the hand and ask you to listen, for a little while, to what I have to say.
In the documentary papers of this State, and in the various histories of early events in the settlement of this part of the country by the whites, the many traditions of my tribe, which are as firmly believed as written annals by you, inform me that there are many errors. Without, however, intending to refer to, and correct those histories, I will give you what those traditions are.
About the year 1645, and when KING BEN (the last of the hereditary chiefs of the Muh-he-con-new Nation) was in his prime, a Grand Council was convened of the Muh-he-con-new tribe, for the purpose of conveying from the old to the young men, a knowledge of the past. Councils, for this object especially, had ever at stated periods, been held. Here, for the space of two moons, the stores of memory were dispensed; corrections and comparisons made, and the results committed to faithful breasts, to be transmitted again to succeeding posterity.
Many years after, another, and the last, Council of this kind was held; and the traditions reduced to writing, by two of our young men, who had been taught to read and write, in the school of the Rev. JOHN SERGEANT, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. They were obtained, in some way, by a white man, for publication, who soon after dying, all trace of them became lost. The traditions of the tribe, however, have mainly been preserved; of which I give you subsequently, the following:
“A great people came from the North-West: crossed over the salt-waters, and after long and weary pilgrimages, (planting many colonies on their track,) took possession , and built their fires upon the Atlantic coast, extending from the Delaware on the south, to the Penobscot in the north. They became, in process of time, divided in to different tribes and interests: all, however, speaking one common dialect. This great confederacy, comprising Delawares, Munsees, Mohegans, Narragansett, Pequots, Penobscots, and many others, (of whom a few are now scattered among the distant wilds of the West — others supporting a weak, tottering existence; while, by far, a larger remainder have passed that bourne, to which their brethren are tending,) held its Council once a year, to deliberate on the general welfare. Patriarchal delegates from each tribe attended, assisted by priests and wise men, who communicated the will and invoked the blessing, of the Great and Good Spirit. The policy and decisions of this Council were every where respected, and inviolably observed. Thus contentment smiled upon their existence and they were happy. Their religion, communicated by priests and prophets, was simple and true. The manner of worship is imperfectly transmitted; but their reverence for a Great and Good Spirit — (whom they referred to by looking or pointing upwards,) the observance of feasts and fasts, in each year; the offering of beasts in thanksgiving and for atonement, is clearly expressed. They believed the soul to be immortal; — in the existence of a happy land beyond the view, inhabited by those whose lives had been blameless: while for the wicked had been a region of misery reserved, covered with thorns and thistles, where comfort and pleasure were unknown. Time was divided into years and seasons; twelve moons for a year, and a number of years by so many winters.
The tribe, to which your speaker belongs, and of which there were many bands, occupied and possessed the country from the sea-shore, at Manhattan, to Lake Champlain. Having found an ebb and flow of the tide, they said: “This is Muh-he-con-new,”—”like our waters, which are never still.” From this expression, and by this name, they were afterwards known, until their removal to Stockbridge, in the year 1730. Housatonic River Indians, Mohegan, Manhattas, were all names of bands in different localities, but bound together, as one family, by blood, marriage, and descent.
At a remote period, before the advent of the Europeans, their wise men foretold the coming of a strange race, from the sunrise, as numerous as the leaves upon the trees, who would eventually crowd them from their fair possessions. But apprehension was mitigated by the knowledge and belief, at that time entertained, that their original home was not there, and after a period of years, they would return to the West, from whence they had come; and, moreover, said they, “all the red men are sprung from a common ancestor, made by the Great Spirit from red clay, who will unite their strength to avert a common calamity.” This tradition is confirmed by the common belief, which prevails in our day with all the Indian tribes; for they recognize one another by their color, as brothers, and acknowledge one Great Creator.
Two hundred and fifty winters ago, this prophecy was verified, and the Muh-he-con-new, for the first time, beheld the “pale-face.” Their number was small, but their canoes were big. In the select and exclusive circles of your rich men, of the present day, I should encounter the gaze of curiosity, but not such as overwhelmed the senses of the Aborigines, my ancestors. “Our visitors were white, and must be sick. They asked for rest and kindness, we gave them both. They were strangers, and we took them in—naked, and we clothed them.” The first impression of astonishment and pity, was succeeded by awe and admiration of superior art, intelligence and address. A passion for information and improvement possessed the Indian—a residence was freely offered—territory given—and covenants of friendship exchanged.
Your written accounts of events at this period are familiar to you, my friends. Your children read them every day in their school book; but they do not read—no mind at this time can conceive, and no pen record, the terrible story of recompense for kindness, which for two hundred years has been paid the simple, trusting, guileless Muh-he-con-new. I have seen much myself—have been connected with more, and, I tell you, I know all. The tradition of the wise men is figuratively true, “that our home, at last, will be found in the West:” for, another tradition informs us, that “far beyond the setting sun, upon the smiling, happy lands, we shall be gathered with our FATHERS, and be at rest.”
Promises and professions were freely given, and as ruthlessly—intentionally broken. To kindle your fires—to be of and with us, was sought as a privilege; and yet at that moment you were transmitting to your kings, beyond the water, intelligence of your possession, “by right of discovery,” and demanding assistance to assert and maintain your hold.
Where are the twenty-five thousand in number, and the four thousand warriors, who constituted the power and population of the great Muh-he-con-new Nation in 1604? They have been victims to vice and disease, which the white man imported. The small-pox, measles, and “strong waters” have done the work of annihilation.
Divisions and feuds were insidiously promoted between the several bands. They were induced to thin each others’ ranks without just cause; and subsequently were defeated and disorganized in detail.
It is curious, the history of my tribe, in its decline, during the last two centuries and a half. Nothing that deserved the name of purchase, was ever made. From various causes, they were induced to abandon their territory at intervals, and retire further to the inland. Deeds were given, indifferently to the Government, or to individuals, for which little or no consideration was paid. The Indian was informed, in many instances, that he was selling one parcel, while the conveyance described other, and much larger limits. Should a particular band, for purposes of hunting or fishing, desert, for a time, its usual place of residence, the land was said to be abandoned, and the Indian claim extinguished. To legalize and confirm titles thus acquired, laws and edicts were subsequently passed, and these laws were said then, and are now called, justice!! Oh! what a mockery!! to confound justice with law. Will you look steadily at the intrigues, bargains, corruption and log-rolling of your present Legislatures, and see any trace of the divinity of justice? And by what test shall be tried the acts of the old Colonial Courts and Councils?
Let it not surprise you, my friends, when I say, that the spot on which we stand, has never been purchased or rightly obtained; and that by justice, human and divine, it is the property now of the remnant of that great people from whom I am descended. They left it in the tortures of starvation, and to improve their miserable existence; but a cession was never made, and their title has never been extinguished.
The Indian is said to be the ward of the white man, and the negro his slave. Has it ever occurred to you, my friends, that while the slave is increasing, and increased by every appliance, the Indian is left to rot and die, before the humanities of this model Republic! You have your tears, and groans, and mobs, and riots, for individuals of the former, while your indifference of purpose, and vacillation of policy, is hurrying to extinction, whole communities of the latter.
What are the treaties of the general Government? How often, and when, has its plighted faith been kept? Indian occupation forever, is, next year, or by the next Commissioner, more wise than his predecessor, re-purchased. One removal follows another, and thus your sympathies and justice are evinced speedily fulfilling the terrible destinies of our race.
My friends, your holy book, the Bible, teaches us, that individual offences are punished in an existence, when time shall be no more. And the annals of the earth are equally instructive, that national wrongs are avenged, and national crimes atoned for in this world, to which alone the conformations of existence adapt them.
These events are above our comprehension, and for wise purposes. For myself and for my tribe, I ask for justice. I believe it will sooner or later occur—and may the Great and Good Spirit enable me to die in hope.
WANNUAUCON, the Muh-he-con-new
Thank you to Gabriel Kastelle at whiteravenarchivesproject.wordpress.com for allowing me to repost.
All nations have their own unique anniversaries, holidays, and nationally-revered “heroes”. Annual dates of remembrance not only honor a nation and its ancestors but are an effective way of ensuring that these events and people remain perpetually in the individual and collective memory of a nation. Celebrating its people and anniversaries also helps to instill national pride and fosters a sense of community amongst citizens.
The Brothertown Council is currently considering resolutions to memorialize two important dates as annual Brothertown days of remembrance: July 14th, the anniversary of the death of Samson Occom (1792) and celebrated as his feast day in the Episcopal Church; and November 7th, the date in 1785 that Occom recorded in his journal as being the date “we proceeded to form into a Body Politick we Named our Town by the Name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck (https://collections.dartmouth.edu/occom/html/diplomatic/785554-diplomatic.html).”