Dear family and friends,
I am beginning to collect photos and stories for Calumet and Cross’s 2022 Brothertown calendar, “Brothertown: 7 tribes; 7 generations”. The plan is to highlight a different family each month with pictures of 7 generations of that family along with a brief family bio. If you would like to have your family featured in the calendar, please contact me. Priority will be given to early submissions. Thank you!
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!
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:
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).”
245 years ago today, March 13, 1773, our ancestors gathered in Mohegan for the first planning meeting for the community that would eventually become Brothertown. Happy Anniversary, Brothertown!
This Sunday, March 4th at 6:00pm CT/7:00 ET, Ms. Laura Murray, author of To Do Good to My Indian Brethren, will be speaking to us about her research and book on Joseph Johnson, the youngest of our Brothertown founding fathers. Not only is this a unique opportunity to gain insight and to speak with a knowledgeable researcher and author on Joseph Johnson, but it is also a great opportunity to connect with your Brothertown family no matter where you live. Don’t miss out!
This is a family-friendly event and is open to the public. See you there!
Sunday, February 25th at 6:30pm CT/7:30 ET, Brothertown Forward will be hosting an online community discussion on the Thomas Commuck shape note singing event held at Yale on February 3rd. This event is open to everyone; whether you attended and would like to discuss your experience there or would simply like to hear how it went. To log in, please go to https://zoom.us/j/2529226987 or dial +1 646 876 9923 and enter the Meeting ID: 252 922 6987.
For a sneak peek of the day itself, please see https://youtu.be/h42vaBNZLUo.
Sunday March 4th at 6:00pm CT/7:00 ET, Ms. Laura Murray, author of To Do Good to My Indian Brethren, will be speaking to us about her research and book on Joseph Johnson, the youngest of our Brothertown founders. The log in information for this discussion is the same as the one above.
Saturday June 2nd, we will be meeting in “Old Brothertown” New York to perform annual cleaning and maintenance at our Brothertown cemeteries. In addition to overgrowth and the accumulation of trash, normal yearly rainfall causes dirt to run over onto the slabs where grass and weeds quickly begin to grow. Without yearly maintenance, the graves of our ancestors not only fall into ruin and decay but run the risk of being lost to us forever. Please consider donating one weekend every year, or even every few years, to go to New York and fulfill your duties to those who have walked ahead. We are working on putting carpools together as well as trying to obtain sponsorship to defray the cost of lodging, eating, and other travel-related expenses. If you would like to donate your time but travel costs are prohibitive; if you are willing to drive or looking to carpool; if you can’t attend but would like to make a donation; or if you’d simply like to be put on a contact list for future trips, please contact me at brothertown citizen at aol.com.
For a calendar listing additional Brothertown-related dates, please see the Tribe’s website at BrothertownIndians.org.
When “Brotherton” was founded in New York in the 1700’s and Brothertown, Wisconsin in the 1800’s, the Brothertown Indians weren’t just forming a town but a familial community. The difference between a “town” and a Tribal “family” is clearly visible not only in their community gatherings (as discussed in the previous post) but also in Brothertown’s migration patterns and current-day interactions with one another. When you ask a Brotherton today, “what does Brothertown mean to you?” , most will tell you that “Brothertown means family”.
When they were squeezed out of their lands in upstate New York, the Brothertown Indians moved to Wisconsin Territory–together. Over the course of 10 years, virtually the entire community picked up and relocated to Wisconsin. While it is true that problems with the whites made it difficult for them to remain in New York, the government did not force them out; they each had a choice. Nor did anyone force them to move to Wisconsin Territory with the rest of the group. Indeed, there were a few who moved back to the parent communities, or to other states, but the majority of the Tribe moved to the east side of Lake Winnebago. Why? Because, they didn’t just see themselves as a people who happened to populate the same town, they saw each other as family. This familial-based connection of the Brothertown Indians is not only evident in their historical communal-relocation practices, but it is also visible in their interactions and practices today.
In a family, people share their time and talents with each other; they do things for the common good of the family without recompense. This includes paying bills and taking care of paperwork, answering phones, making appointments and repairs, cleaning, doing dishes, and so on. These are the same things that the Brothertown people do for their Nation. Every one of the Peacemakers; Council people; Enrollment, Election and all other Committee members; museum, office, and Tribal store workers is a volunteer who has given freely of their time and talents, often for years on end. Most of them hold down more than one position at a time. Among other duties, Tribal Council members answer phones, make ID cards, run the museum and stock our Tribal store. Peacemakers do double duty by helping to keep track of donations and sending thank you letters. Other volunteers write grants, mail ballots, count ballots, run bingo, cook and/or clean at the BINCC. In one case, a man moved his family out of state to Wisconsin for 2 years solely to help work on enrollment files in the Tribal office. Many other volunteers have spent tedious years and uncountable hours researching, documenting & writing our recognition petition to OFA. Every single one of them is a volunteer; they’re not paid, they do it because this is their family.
Recently, a short informal survey was posted on Facebook. The question posed to everyone was, “What is Brothertown? Stated differently, what does Brothertown mean to you?” Here were the answers:
Raven De: Brothertown, to me, is extended family, of sorts. It’s a connection and closeness that’s unspoken, but you can feel it at tribal gatherings.
Katrina Joyner: cousins
Raymond Brooks:… to me Brothertown is my Circle of life….NATIVE PEOPLE OF TURTLE ISLAND BONDING TOGETHER AS ONE IN THE SPIRIT OF LOVE as a FAMILY, under the Blessings of the Creator The head of our Family
Greg Wilson: I view the tribe as our touchstone – connecting us to each other through the past, present and future.
Lani Bartelt: I view the Tribe As A Window For My Grandchildren To See Their Ancestors, their customs and beliefs!
Tom Schuh: I view it as knowledge and remembrance.
Not only did the majority of respondents seem to clearly view the Tribe as a “family”, but they see this family as a continuum; comprised of the people alive today as well as those who have walked ahead and those who will come after.
“Brothertown”, today, means the same thing that it did to our founders in the 1700’s and the same thing that it meant to those who moved to Wisconsin Territory in the 1800’s; Brothertown means family.