*This is an updated reprint of Brothertown Member Dr. Faith Ottery’s release from 2021.
The Reverend Samson Occom, born as a member of the Mohegan nation near New London, CT in 1723, is an integral part of history and legacy of the Brothertown Indian Nation, head quartered in Fond du Lac. As the day of Occom’s birth in 1723 is not documented, his death on July 14, 1792, is celebrated as Samson Occom Day and was officially acclaimed as such by a Brothertown Indian Nation Council on June 20, 2020. Occom’s 300 commemoration of his death will be recognized in 2023.
The early and lasting impact of Samson Occom’s has been broadly recognized beyond the scope of the Brothertowns (see resources below), with July 14 also recognized as the Day of Samson Occom, Witness to the Faith in New England in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church.
Beyond the well-known history as one of the first and foremost English-speaking native missionaries in early New England, Occom:
Was one of the first Native Americans to publish his writings in English and the first Native American to write his autobiography.
Was critical to the founding of Dartmouth College, recognized by the Native American Alumni Association of Dartmouth College with erection of a memorial in 2019 on the site of Moor’s Charity School in Columbia, CT. This memorial is to commemorate and honor “Samson Occom for his contributions to the education of Native Americans and the founding of Dartmouth College.”
Is recognized by named locations throughout New England, especially New Hampshire and Connecticut
Has been honored with named recognitions such as the following:
The Endowed Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth
The Endowed Samson Occom Legacy Award for American Indian and Native medical students at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
World War II, United States Liberty Ship SS Samson Occom
Join us in learning more about Samson Occom to celebrate his life and influence and the history and influence of Brothertown Indian Nation (some of these listings below link to additional information)
Below are several resources that you may find of interest in learning more about Sampson Occom and that Below are several resources that you may find of interest in learning more about Sampson Occom and that document Brothertown presence and history over more than 3 centuries. All can be located online for download (see select hyperlinks), and many are available the Brothertown Store or through any number of book sellers. To add to this listing or if you need help in locating a resource, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A man called Sampson: The Ancestry and Progeny of Sampson, a Mashantucket Pequot Indian, Born in What is Now New London County, Connecticut, including Brief Descriptions of Family Connections to other Historic Native American Family Groups, the Ancient Pequot Tribe, the Pequot War, the Brothertown Tribe of New York, and the Brothertown tribe of Wisconsin. Will and Rudi Ottery 1989
Letters Home from the Brothertown “Boys” [a remarkable volume of handwritten and transcribed letters home from Brothertown Indian men who fought in the Civil War] Andrea R. Brucker and Caroline K Andler 2011
While the Patriots had relatively little success in counteracting these British alliances with many of the Indian nations, most notably the Iroquois and Cherokee, they were successful in attaining their own allies.
The first official commitment to employing Native Americans by Congress was on May 25, 1776, when it resolved “That the Commander in Chief be authorized and instructed to employ in the Continental Armies a number of Indians not exceeding _______” (the number to be employed was agreed upon in June 1776 when Congress set the number “not exceeding two thousand men”). Following the call for allies, Congress relied upon the “New England Indians, [who] supported their colonial neighbors,” such as the Penobscot, Nova Scotia, Mashantucket, Pequot, Brotherton, and St. Johns. On July 8, 1776, Congress resolved that Washington had permission “to call to our Aid so many of…” these New England Indians. (Passage taken from “‘Rebels and Indians’: The Participation of and Relationship between Native Americans and the American Patriots during the Revolutionary War 1775-1783 – by Bryan Rindfleisch, 2007)
An Important occurrence of Brothertown history happened in February of 1776 in a letter from George Washington to Joseph Johnson. Taken from the National Archives, the letter begins:
I am very much pleased to find by the Strong recommendations you produce, that we have amongst our Brothers of the Six Nations a person who can explain to them, the Sense of their Brothers, on the dispute between us and the Ministers of Great Britain; you have seen a part of our Strength, and can inform our Brothers, that we can withstand all the force, which those who want to rob us of our Lands and our Houses, can send against us… You can read the entire correspondence here…
Take a moment this 4th of July to remember our Brothertown ancestors who helped create and forge this new nation with their sacrifice,
The known names of our ancestors include (Their names have been proudly placed on our Veteran Memorial Wall (view here…):
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783):
“We Keep a Fire For the Dead”
“Nuwacônumumun yoht wáci napukak”
We keep a fire for the dead whose spirits walk before us
Who, shoes exchanged for eagle’s wings, now sing angelic chorus
Though they no longer walk the land in Brothertown today
Greeting relatives, I am honored to be elected Chair of the Brothertown Indian Nation. I pledge to do my very best to address the important issues facing the Tribe at this time including restoration. I want to share a little of my personal background and history and how my previous experiences will benefit the Tribe.
In my family being an Indian was a big deal and something we were always proud of. My Dad, Phil Tousey, went to the Indian Boarding school at Red Springs, near Gresham Wisconsin, when he was 5 years old. I grew up in Beaver Dam, WI and I remember as a kid we would often go “up north” and attend church at the old mission at Red Springs. My Dad and his brothers really rocked that little church. I can still hear them singing.
My Mother was not native but always supported my Dad and his commitment to the Tribe. My parents got married in Fond du Lac, WI rather than in my mother’s home state of North Carolina because at that time inter-racial marriage was illegal. Like many other families in our tribe my parents worked on recognition together, my Mother on various committees and Dad on the Tribal Council as Vice- Chairman. My parents worked on the historical exhibit that traveled around the state in 1982, as part of the events celebrating the 150 th anniversary of the Brothertown Indians in Wisconsin. I was working at Mount Senario College in those days and asked my boss, the college president, Dr. Robert Powless from Oneida to be one of the speakers at the capital celebration for the Year of the Brothertown. The re-recognition effort started in 1978 when the federal government established the recognition process later renamed Federal Acknowledgement and was for me the beginning of my working on the issue of recognition. During that time I was working in Indian education at the college level. Education has always been important to the Brothertown people and my experience providing educational opportunities to Indian students will help strengthen the Tribe’s educational outreach to the public as well as to tribal members. Promoting the history, culture and contributions of the Brothertown Indians to the broader community is extremely important.
For many years I was the co-owner of several family Businesses: specifically Car Washes, Fireworks Sales, retail Swimming Pools and Spas sales and construction. Running a business is a real learning experience as some of you may have already learned. Financial management is an essential part of the Tribe’s continued success and impacts future grant opportunities, land acquisition and after restoration the management of funds coming from the federal government to a federally recognized tribe. I’ve dealt with many different kinds of financial issues as a program manager, a business owner, and a partner in an Indian law firm.
I have had a wide range of experiences over the past 25 years involving Indian child welfare cases, criminal defendants in tribal, state and federal court, Indian tribes and tribal agencies. These experiences have helped prepare me to be the leader of the Brothertown Indian Nation at this important time in history. I thank you for support and with your help we will build a stronger Indian Nation and achieve restoration.
WAUPUN (6/21/2022 Green Bay Press Bay Press-Gazette) – The End of the Trail sculpture in Waupun depicts a weary, historic Indigenous person on a weary horse and some locals are questioning the city’s mayor’s desire to market the statue on the city’s logo. view full article here…
“Many tourists take pictures with it,” said Waupun Mayor Rohn Bishop. “It’s here in Waupun and we should be proud of it. The statue is not racist. The statue is a tribute to what Native Americans went through.
“Firstly, it’s nice that the town has this beautiful piece of art,” said Renee Gralewicz, a citizen of Brothertown Indian Nation and peacemaker for the tribe’s judicial system, but who spoke as an individual and not on behalf of the tribe. “The problem is, what have they done lately for Indigenous America? It seems that in the U.S., Indigenous peoples are always placed in historical context, as if we are no longer here and no longer matter.”
So, if the town of Waupun only likes historical images, then the statue has little meaning to me and my relatives,” Gralewicz said. “It only allows the town to feel good about itself without doing anything to aid and honor the living. However, if the town is actually working to educate their citizens about real U.S. history and all its messiness, then the statue can be a good talking point.”
The results of the 2022 Tribal Election are in! The election for Chair, Treasurer, and Peacemaker were held on May 19th. The election for the Council seat was held on June 17th after a revised ballot was sent out following a printing error. Thank you to ALL candidates for running to serve the Tribe!
Wonderful news for the Brothertown Indian Nation Membership. The Oneida Nation Business Committee approved the transfer of ownership for the Brothertown Collection.
I was honored to be on the Council when the collection became known to the Tribe. There are so many gratitude’s needed here are just a few:
Loretta Metoxen, rest her soul, brought the collection to our attention. She also made the request for the Oneida Nation to purchase the collection.
Caroline Andler who spent countless time with Loretta verifying the collection.
Richard Hill, former Oneida Chairperson, who graciously reached out to me when Loretta made a request to purchase the collection on behalf of the Brothertown Nation.
Courtney Cottrell-Gerzetich, Brothertown Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, who worked hard with the personnel of Oneida Culture Department on the Collection. Dr. Cottrell also began the process of the Oneida Nation returning ownership to the Brothertown. She created the tribe to tribe document for access to the collection and was instrumental in the transfer document that was approved.
Oneida Nation Business Committee for all they have done for the Collection.
Brothertown Chairperson Bob Fowler, Vice Chairperson Jessica Ryan and the Council for steadfast support throughout the Collections journey back to us.
I know I missed too many people so forgive my oversight. A deep personal thank you to my Oneida relatives and friends.