Just a reminder that Samson Occom Day is coming up this Wednesday! For those who may have missed the news, in 2020, the Brothertown Indian Nation Council established July 14th as an annual Brothertown Indian Nation holiday. It is the 2nd national holiday instituted by our tribal nation. The other is Eeyawquittoowauconnuck Day which is celebrated on November 7th; the day Occom recorded in his journal as the date of the formal founding of our “body politick”.
How do you plan to celebrate?
For further reading on Samson Occom, please follow this link:
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!
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.
Daunted by its 22 letters and 7 syllables, some people simply refer to it as “the E-word”. However, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is not just a word; it is a name. It is our name; one that holds meaning and value for us as a People. For those who are not already comfortable using it, it is well worth taking a few minutes to become more familiar with “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”*.
For the sake of ease, let’s start by dividing Eeyawquittoowauconnuck into 7 manageable syllables. They look like this:
Now, lets pronounce them*. Try saying these out loud:
“Ee” (pronounced just like it looks…like the long sound of the letter “e” as in “me”)–Ee
“Yaw” (rhyme it with “paw”)–Yaw
Next, put those 2 together: “Ee”+“Yaw”= “Eeyaw”.
Say it out loud so your tongue and ears get used to it.
“quit”(pronounce it with a long “ee” sound in the middle so it rhymes with “tweet”)—quit
“too”(also like the English word too)—too
Now put them together and say them out loud. “quit”+”too”=“quittoo”.
Let’s go back and pick up the first part and pair it with this: “Eeyaw” + “quittoo”=“Eeyawquittoo”
Good job, we’re almost done!
The next 3 syllables are:
“wau” (rhyme it with “la”)—wau
“con” (like the English word con)—con
“nuck” (rhymes with truck)—nuck
Now, put those 3 together: “wau”+”con”+”nuck”=“wauconnuck”. Say it again, “wauconnuck”.
Finally, lets put the entire word back together: “Eeyawquittoo”+”wauconnuck”=”Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”.
Congratulations, you did it! Now keep using it. Try it out at the next Brothertown gathering, teach it to your kids, greet one another with it. Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is who we are. Say it often and say it proudly: Eeyawquittoowauconnuck!
UPDATE WITH AUDIO:
*It should be noted that the above pronunciation of “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” is based on the author’s personal estimation of Occom’s spelling of the word as found in his journal entry of November 7, 1785. Occom had a strong grasp of the phonetic sounds of English letters and wrote the name accordingly. The author acknowledges that there is, however, some room for variation. For example, the double o’s in the 4th syllable, “too,” suggest that Occom heard it as either the “oo” sound as in “too”(as presented here) or possibly, the “Uh” sound as in “book”. Mohegan linquist, Stephanie Fielding, suggests that Eeyawquittoowauconnuck, in Mohegan orthography today, might be spelled “Iyáhqituwôkanuk”(1). Using the Mohegan pronunciation guide(2), as found in Fielding’s work at http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/collections/MoheganDictionary.pdf, the pronunciation of this 4th syllable (“too”/”tu”), might change the sound into “uh” as in “pup”.
- Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. p25, Footnote 28.
- Fielding, Stephanie. A Modern Mohegan Dictionary, 2006, pp 9-10.
243 years ago, on October 4th, 1774, the land contract between the Oneida and the “New England Indians” was drawn up and signed. Officiating was Guy Johnson, who had recently succeeded his late uncle, Sir William Johnson, as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern portion of North America. A copy of this document is transcribed below. To see the copy this was taken from, as well as many other Brothertown-related New York documents, please visit the “Brothertown, New York” section of the Digital Historical Library on this site*.
By Guy Johnson Esquire, Superintendant of Indian affairs for the Northern Department of North America, &c, &c.
Whereas the Indians of Mohegan Narragansett, Montock Pequots of Groton and Stoneington, Nahantic, Farmington, inhabiting within the New England Governments, did last year represent that they were very much straightened and reduced to such small pittances of land that they could no longer remain there and did through the channel of Sir William Johnson Bar & late superintendent apply to the Six Nations for some lands to live on which was at length agreed to in my presence at the last Treaty and a Tract allowed them by the Oneidas and whereas some of them have since in company with the Oneida chiefs, viewed the said lands and determined on its boundaries as follows desireing a certificate of the same as that it might be entered on the records of Indian affairs Viz. Beginning at the west end of the scaniadaries or the long lakes which is at the head of one of the branches of Orisca Creek from thence about twelve miles northerly or so far that an easterly course from a certain point on the first mentioned course shall intersect the road or pathway leading crom old Oneida to the German flats, where the said path crosses Scanindowa Creek the line settled as the limits between the province of New York and the Indian at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, thence Southerly along the said line about thirteen miles or so far that a westerly line from thence keeping one line south of the most Southerly bend of Orisca Creek shall reach the place of beginning do as to comprehend(??) the lake first mentioned.
I do therefore in compliance with the joint request of the said Oneida and the said New England Indians declare that the said Oneidas do grant to the said New England Indians and their posterity forever, without power of alienation to any subject the afore described tract with this appernenancies in the amplest manner-also full liberty of hunting all sorts of game throughout the whole country of Oneidas beaver hunting only excepted, with this particular clause or reservation that the same shall not be possessed by any persons deemed of the said Tribes, who are decended from or intermixed with Negroes or Mulattoes**.
Even under my hand and seal at Arms at Guy Park- October the 4th 1774
(Signed) Guy Johnson (and his seal)
We the chiefs in testimony of the foregoing affix the character of our Tribes unto the day and year above mentioned,
The Mark of Longhqish(turtle) The mark of Ughmyonge (wolf) The mark of Canadegona (bear)
*A special thank you to the Hamilton College Library staff for their assistance in providing this, and numerous other Brothertown-related digital documents.
** The exclusion of “Negroes and Mulattoes” from Indian lands was a legal requirement implemented by the Colonies in an effort to quell the possibility of concentrated slave uprisings (1).
(1) Stone, Gaynell. The History & Archaeology of the Montauk Volume III 2nd Edition, 1993, p. 520
Part II: Eeyawquittoowauconnuck
Because of its length and the challenge of reading the original script, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is commonly spelled several different ways. For example, on page 536 of The History & Archaeology of the Montauk Volume III, 2nd edition, contributor Russell T Blackwood (a Professor at Hamilton College near old Brothertown in New York) quotes the famous Occom journal entry of November 7, 1785 thus: “…we named our town by the name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyamguittoowauconnuck.” Here, an “m” and a “g” are used. However, it is most common to see the following two spellings: “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” or “Eeyamquittoowauconnuck”.
Otto Heller, the man responsible for gathering the items now found in “The Brothertown Collection”, preferred the latter spelling. Heller spent a lot of time and money researching and collecting Brothertown knowledge, books, and artifacts. It is not known for certain, but is very probable that he visited Dartmouth College and read Samson Occom’s journal for himself. According to Heller, the Indian name of Brotherton appeared to be “Eeyamquittoowauconnuck”(see Figures 1 and 2).
Another person who used an “m” in the name, and perhaps where others have gotten their spelling, is William DeLoss Love in his 1899 book, Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England (https://archive.org/details/samsonoccomchris00love).
Eeyamquittoowauconnuck is probably the most commonly seen spelling of the name although there are plenty who use a “w” instead of an “m”. For example, in the Joanna Brooks book, The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan, and in Craig Cipolla’s writings, “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” is used. This is also how it is transcribed at Dartmouth’s Occom Circle site (https://collections.dartmouth.edu/occom/html/diplomatic/785554-diplomatic.html).
Thanks to the Circle site, we are able to see a high quality scan of Occom’s journal for ourselves. Let’s take a closer look.
In Figure 3 above, beneath the underlined “Brotherton”, you can see the first 13 letters of the Indian name. The 5th one could appear to be an “m” or it may look like a “w”. Let’s zoom out and look again.
Find the name in Figure 4 and look at the “w” after the double o’s midway into “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”(directly beneath the “n” in “Brotherton”). Notice that it ends in an upswing which points a bit back toward the left. Now, look at the letter in question, the 5th letter. It also hooks back to the left in exactly the same way.
Next, look at the ending letter “m” in the word “form” (middle of the 2nd line from the top) and, at the very bottom of the page, the name “Abraham”. Both “m’s” end with a rightward slant. Occom’s “m’s” slant right while his “w’s” hook back to the left. Judging by the formation of the “m’s” and “w’s” in this sample alone, it seems pretty certain that the original Indian name for Brotherton does not include any “m’s”. It appears that Occom wrote it as “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”.
…..to be continued
*The photos in Figures 1 & 2 were taken by Gabriel Kastelle.
Figures 3 & 4 came from the Dartmouth College Occom Circle site.
Part I: An Introduction to Brothertown
While it may be tempting to believe that our Brothertown ancestors, with their agricultural lifestyle, European clothing, Colonial homes, and English speech, were doing everything they could to leave their “Indianness” behind them, that would be an erroneous notion. On the contrary, preserving their race and heritage was extremely important to the Brothertown founders. There are a number of examples one could offer as proofs of this but none so starkly evident as that line from Occom’s journal entry of November 7, 1785, which reads, “We named our town by the name of Brotherton; in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck (emphasis added)(1).”
The formation of this town was not undertaken lightly. Plans began at least as far back as March 13, 1773, when members of seven Native communities met in Mohegan (2). Long trips were taken on foot through the snow(3), letters were written(4), Oneida headmen and local leaders like William Johnson(5), the area’s British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, were consulted. A “Colony Law Book” was obtained (6), a layout of the new town was drawn up, and agreements were made on how the town would be run and who would oversee certain positions (7). Primarily due to the American Revolution, nearly 15 years passed between that first meeting in Mohegan and the day they finally “formed into a body politick” on their new land. This was a well-planned and long-sought-after venture. The name they gave to their town could not have been bestowed lightly either; it too was well considered.
…..to be continued
(1)Occom, Samson. Journal entry November 7, 1785.
(2)Murray, Linda. To Do Good to My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776, p 207.
(3) Hutchins Report, https://www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/motf/brothertownone%5B1%5D.pdf,p.24.
(4) Ibid p23ff.
(6)Wimpey, Elijah. Letter to the House of Representatives of the Colony of Connecticut, May 25, 1774. Available online through the Yale Indian Papers Project.
(7)Occom, Samson. Journal entry of November 7, 1785