The Brothertown Nation of Indians: Land Ownership and Nationalism in Early America, 1740–1840, and: Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge and the Problem of Race in Early America (review)
- Journal of the Early Republic
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 32, Number 1, Spring 2012
- pp. 138-143
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138 • JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Spring 2012) revision into an honorific for a national hero. John Sevier’s unsuccessful attempt to earn the support of the state’s eventual namesake, and antebellum revivals of statehood petitions in 1842 and 1861 resurrecting the ‘‘State of Frankland’’ moniker, both point to this Franklin/Frankland dichotomy as a fruitful discussion point regarding issues of language, memory, and nationalism that receive only fleeting analysis. Overall, what The Lost State of Franklin does, it does well; it provides a rigorous, readable, and compact narrative account that will appeal to both general readers and scholars seeking a foothold in a time and place fraught with confusion. Barksdale’s book should convince scholars of the early republic , and most especially of its trans-Appalachian West, that Franklin deserves a place in their stories. But it also leaves a feeling that there is more work to be done before the greater significance of this ‘‘lost’’ state is truly ‘‘found.’’ Christopher M. Osborne earned his PhD in 2011 from the University of Notre Dame with his dissertation ‘‘Written into the West: Print-Visions and the Revolutionary Inheritance in Early National America ’s ‘Western Country.’’’ He is currently teaching at Robert Morris University and other institutions in the Pittsburgh area. The Brothertown Nation of Indians: Land Ownership and Nationalism in Early America, 1740–1840. By Brad D. E. Jarvis. (Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, 2010. Pp. 358. Cloth, $45.00.) Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge and the Problem of Race in Early America. By David J. Silverman. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010. Pp. 296. Cloth, $35.00.) Reviewed by Matthew Dennis These two books tell essentially the same story—one that’s by now familiar in its general contours, and yet worth retelling. The Brothertown and Stockbridge Nations of Indians singlehandedly embody in their sagas the first three hundred years of Indian–white relations in colonial America and the United States, from the foundation of New England through the final removal of some Brothertowns and Stockbridges (and others) to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the 1870s. The devil is in the details of PAGE 138 ................. 18176$ $CH5 01-23-12 13:45:13 PS REVIEWS • 139 this intricate plot, and the experience proved hellish, despite the fact that these much-removed peoples were among the most committed Christians and ‘‘civilized’’ farmers in the early republic. The Brothertown Indians formed themselves in the crucible of early America, amalgamating remnant peoples of southern New England and western Long Island—Pequots, Narragansetts, Mohegans, Niantics, Tunxis, and Montauketts—in a new community settled in Oneida lands in New York in the 1780s. Similarly, in a nearby town, the Stockbridge Indians incorporated Mohicans, Housatonics, Wappingers, and Esopus from the border regions of Massachusetts and New York. Delawares later joined the community from New Jersey. The distinctive Christianity of these refugees offered them a new means to cohere, marshal power, and survive as Indians. It helped forge new Native identities and shape their responses to the relentless encroachment and dispossession suffered by Native people in their original homelands and wherever else they resettled . Brothertown and Stockbridge were modeled on the classic New England town. While holding some land in common, the Christian inhabitants divided their property into individual lots, adopted prescribed gender roles and patterns of work, including plow agriculture for men and domestic industry for women, and attempted generally to emulate the social and economic virtues of whites. Imitation, it is often said, is the highest form of flattery, but these Christian Indians’ mimesis of white cultural practice was strategic, less about adulation than survival. And as David J. Silverman argues in Red Brethren, it was accompanied by a growing sense (among Natives as well as white subjects and citizens) of an essential racial difference. Ironically, even as some Indians became ‘‘white,’’ the racial categories themselves became entrenched. Though the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians had voted with their feet, distancing themselves from intruding whites, ridding themselves of internal dissenters, and creating more homogenous communities in New York, they were soon revisited by familiar problems —factionalism, white encroachment, trespassing, and threats to their land and sovereignty. Enduring intolerable pressures, some began to cast their eyes...