What is relevant to the Brothertown Indian Nation regarding this date?
Just over a month ago, on July 14th the Tribe celebrated Samson Occom Day. That is a hint…
Many of us know about the great awakening” and the impact it had on a young Samson Occom. At 20 twenty (the year was 1743), he went to study with Rev. Eleazar Wheelock who ran a school. He attended the school with the intent of learning how to read so he could study the bible on his own. Since his own conversion Occom began to share the gospel with other Indians as well. Even though he had very poor eyesight, he learned Latin and Greek as well as English. In fact, many of us also know he was one of the first American Indians to publish some of his works in English.
Eleazar Wheelock, began to think that he could use the other Indians (if they could be trained like Occom) – to carry the gospel to their own peoples. Soon he actively sought other Indians and used Samson Occom to travel to fill the school. Samson Occom had such an impact with spreading the gospel to other Indians, that he quickly became well known in religious circles in New England. Presbyterian leaders on Long Island seriously began to notice Samson’s work. They knew he did not complete college or his theological studies due to his poor eyesight. However on this date they ordained him August 30, 1759. His mission from then on was chiefly to be a missionary to his own peoples.
So now you know the importance of the date. (Now for some mystery about the specific date. Occom’s own diary mentions August 29th as the date of the ordination, and The “Sermon on the Ordination of Samson Occom” by Samuel Buell (you can download below) says August 29th – but Wikipedia and other sources mention he was “officially” ordained on August 30th so perhaps it only became “official” on August 30,, 1759 and the ordination ceremony/sermon was on the 29th.
Rather long way around, and Eleazar Wheelock was not quite finished with Samson Occom as he needed money for his Indian School and asked Samson to go to England to obtain funds – but that is another story for another time.
Interesting resources if you care to learn more: (Also, take a moment to investigate all the historical resources created for the new website, click on “Tribal Education and Reseach” which contains many links to our Tribal history and ancestors from athoritative and open sites...
- SERMON AT THE ORDINATION OF MR SAMSON OCCOM AUGUST 29, 1759, printed in 1761 by James Parker & company New York (the first page is original, and the following pages easier to read as it is an English transcription.
- Or you can read it online here (Universiy of Michigan).