book report: Samson Occom - Brothertown heritage

Samson Occom's biographer, W. DeLoss Love, wrote at the time of a treaty dispute with the resettled Brothertown tribe and the U.S. Government, a dispute ruled in their favor by the Supreme Court. Love seeks to emphasize to his readers the contributions that these tribes and their ancestors did on behalf of the United States and the colonies before the revolution.
The Brothertown Indians, as the remnant of the New England tribes, have had a peculiar plea for consideration and justice. They alone of all the scattered nations, which our forefathers were wont to term "the lost tribes of Israel, can trace their ancestry back to the days of the founders of this Republic. In their civilization the seeds of the saintly John Eliot's sowing are still bearing fruit. They are the descendants of Wheelock's Indian Charity School - the spiritual children of Samson Occom. Their ancestors fought with Uncas, "the white man's friend," in the Pequot War, went out with his three sons against King Philip and came to the rescue of the English after the massacre of Bloody Brook. The rolls of the all the later Colonial wars contain the names of soldiers from whom they can rove a linial descent. Their great grandfathers fought in the Revolution, and so many of them perished that it was, by the testimony of William Williams, the death blow to their ancient tribal strength. In the war of 1812 their grandsires were engaged, and they themselves, out of their diminished numbers, furnished nearly threescore and ten soldiers in the Civil War. Where in this broad land can such a Society of the Colonial Wars be found? Whatever the merits of their claim may have been, which it is not for the historian to judge, the survivors of the New England Indians have a title to the respect of the American people. pp.323-324
It's striking to me that their volunteerism in wars they had no part in killed off so many of their men. I found a similar note in another Connecticut tribe that did not relocate, the Schaghticoke Indians, provided men who joined "the Continental Army, serving as scouts, signal corps, and soldiers in the Revolutionary War."

I enjoyed reading a book over 100 years old. I highly commend this biography of Samson Occom, Mohegan evangelist and statesman of the 18th century.


Anonymous said…
Indians were and still are a warrior people. They have great respect for those who have borne the battle. In colonial New England, and the Revolution/War of 1812/Civil War, the wars gave the men a chance to do what men used to do on a regular basis in their cultures.
Here in Wisconsin they have a very high enlistment rate. No doubt in part to get some money and off the reservation for a while, but also to engage in an honored way of life. Indians honor their vets far more than the rest of us.

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