book report: Samson Occom - Statesman

Samson Occom's biographer in 1899, W. DeLoss Love, greatly admired his subject.
If any native has merited the dignity of being called an Indian statesman, that man was Samson Occom. To recapitulate his views: he believed in the efficacy of Christian missions, and in education, particularly in industrial affairs; but he seems to have thought that the civilization of the Indian depended in large measure upon his relation to the land upon which he lived. So long as he roamed at large in the forest, he thought the native would remain a savage. It was necessary to gather them apart from the white men and on land which they could not sell, where they could be taught industrial pursuits and obtain a living from the soil. Moreover, he believed in maintaining, so far as possible, a tribal unity, establishing a form of self-government under the protection of the state, and preserving the Indian blood inits purity, especially from a mixture with the negro. These principles he sought to embody in the Brothertown tribe and the town they founded. p.284
The dissonance in the part about blood purity clangs loudly in my head. I think the white biographer in 1899 does perceive a problem with it either. In fact, I thought maybe Love added that because of his own fancy. However, he quotes from the deed the Oneidas gave the Brothertown Indians for land in New York state.
These lands were given to the New England Indians and their posterity "without power of alienation," and they could "not be possessed by any persons deemed of the said tribes who are descended from or have intermixed with negroes or molattoes." p.285
As posted earlier, Love had previously mentioned Occom's opposition to slavery as well as Indian-African inter-marriage. I also noted earlier the apparent effects of Indian-Anglo intermarriage in the appearances of Brothertown leaders. The Brothertown Indians tried to make a town based on Connecticut's Constitution and the Bible. Unfortunately, they included anti-miscegenation laws.

They made stringent laws against immorality, profanity, drunkenness, theft, extortion, idleness, neglect of children, and marriages with person of negro blood.
p.302 It just proves no Christian organization will ever succeed in bringing heaven to earth. We will always screw it up. Except for that inter-marriage law, I'd be happy to live there, but I'm white, which would also exclude me.

This reminds me of the thesis of Ben Kiernan's Blood and Soil, of which, I did several book reports. Pure blood and undefiled soil were goals used to justify all sorts of atrocities by the stonger against weaker humans, including the European invaders of North America against the natives. However, minority Christian leader, Samson Occom, never stooped to violence to achieve those goals. Perhaps, because, he was a victim of the ends justifying the means.


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