Thursday, August 24, 2006

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)

"Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character. Do you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not.

It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke. Cease then to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy. Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they.

No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action, but the consciousness of having served his nation.

I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."

Joseph Brant to King George III

The Story of Joseph Brant
by Tom Penick

The Mohawk Indian chief Joseph Brant served as a spokesman for his people, a Christian missionary of the Anglican church, and a British military officer during the U.S. War of Independence. He is remembered for his efforts in unifying upper New York Indian tribes and leading them in terrorizing raids against patriot communities in support of Great Britian's efforts to repress the rebellion. He is also credited for the establishment of the Indian reservation on the Grand River in Canada where the neighboring town of Brantford, Ontario, bears his name.

Brant was born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River and given the Indian name of Thayendanegea, meaning "he places two bets." He inherited the status of Mohawk chief from his father. He attended Moor's Charity School for Indians in Lebanon, Connecticut, where he learned to speak English and studied Western history and literature. He became an interpreter for an Anglican Missionary, the Reverend John Stuart, and together they translated the prayer book and the Gospel of Mark into Mohawk. Molly Brant, Joseph's sister, married General Sir William Johnson who was the British superintendent for northern Indian affairs. Sir William was called to duty during the last French and Indian War of 1754-1763. Joseph followed Sir William into battle at the age of 13, along with the other Indian braves at the school.

Following this frightening experience, Joseph returned to school for a short period. Sir William had need of an interpreter and aid in his business with the Indians and employed Joseph in this prestigious position. In his work with Sir William, Joseph discovered a trading company that was buying discarded guns from the Army, filling cracks in the barrels with lead, and then selling them to Indians. The guns would explode when fired, often injuring the owner. Joseph was able to prove this in court and the trading company's license was revoked.

It was the custom for young men not to marry until they had made their mark, and Joseph was now prepared to choose a wife. Around 1768 he married Christine, the daughter of an Oneida chief, whom he had met in school. They had both Indian and Anglican wedding ceremonies and lived on a farm which Joseph had inherited. Christine died of tuberculosis around 1771, leaving Joseph with a son and a daughter. During this time, Joseph resumed his religous work, translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk language. In 1773, he married Susannah, sister of his first wife. Susannah died a few months later, also of tuberculosis. In 1774 he was appointed secretary to Sir William's successor, Guy Johnson. In 1775 he received a captain's commission and was sent to England to assess whether the British would or would not help the Mohawk recover their lands. He met with the King on two occasions and a dinner was held in his honor.

While in England, Brant attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet. Lady Ossory, a member of a famous Irish family, asked him, "What do you think of that kind of love-making, Captain Brant?" He replied, "There is too much of it, your ladyship." "Why do you say that?', and Joseph answered quickly, "Because, your ladyship, no lover worth a lady's while would waste his time and breath in all that speech-making. If my people were to make love in that way our race would be extinct in two generations." [Monture, p. 36]

On his return to the colonies, he saw action in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. He led four of the six nations of the Iroquois League in attacks against colonial outposts on the New York frontier. The Iroquois League was a confederation of upper New York State Indian tribes formed between 1570 and 1600 who called themselves "the people of the long house." Initially it was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. After the Tuscarora joined in 1722, the league became known to the English as the Six Nations and was recognized as such in Albany, New York, in 1722. They were better organized and more effective, especially in warfare, than other Indian confederacies in the region. As the longevity of this union would suggest, these Indians were more advanced socially than is often thought. Benjamin Franklin even cited their success in his argument for the unification of the colonies. They lived in comfortable homes, often better than those of the colonists, raised crops, and sent hunters to Ohio to supply meat for those living back in New York. These hunters were usually young braves or young married couples, as was the case with Joseph Brant's parents.

During the U.S. War of Independence a split developed in the Iroquois league, with the Oneida and Tuscarora favoring the American cause while the others fought for the British under the leadership of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. A few of the leaders favored a neutral stance, preferring to let the white men kill each other rather than become involved. Brant feared that the Indians would lose their lands if the colonists achieved independence. Basic to animosities between Indians and whites was the difference in views over land ownership. The Indians felt that the land was for the use of everyone and so initially saw no reason to not welcome the Europeans. The colonists, on the other hand, were well acquainted with the priviledges of ownership (or lack thereof) and were eager to acquire land of their own.

Brant commanded the Indians in the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777. In early 1778 he gathered a force of Indians from the villages of Unadilla and Oquaga on the Susquehanna River. On September 17, 1778 they destroyed German Flats near Herkimer, New York. The patriots retalliated under the leadership of Col. William Butler and destroyed Unadilla and Oquaga on October 8th and 10th. Brant's forces, along with loyalists under Capt. Walter N. Butler, then set out to destroy the town and fort at Cherry Valley. There were 200-300 men stationed at the fort but they were unprepared for the attack on August 11, 1778. The attackers killed some 30 men, women, and children, burned houses, and took 71 prisoners. They killed 16 soldiers at the fort but withdrew the following day when 200 patriot reinforcements arrived. The settlement was abandoned and the event came to be known as the "Cherry Valley Massacre." Brant won a formidable reputation after this raid and in cooperation with loyalists and British regulars, he brought fear and destruction to the entire Mohawk Valley, southern New York, and northern Pennsylvania. He thwarted the attempts of a rival chief, Red Jacket, to persuade the Iroquois to make peace with the revolutionaries. In 1779, U.S. Major General John Sullivan led a retaliatory expedition of 3700 men against the Iroquois, destroying fields, orchards, granaries, and their morale. The Iroquois were defeated near present-day Elmira, N.Y. In spite of this, Indian raids persisted until the end of the war and many homesteads had to abandoned. The Iroquois League came to an end after admitting defeat in the Second Treaty of Ft. Stanwix in 1784.

Around 1782, Brant married his third wife, Catherine Croghan, daughter of an Irishman and a Mohawk. With the war over, and the British having surrendered lands to the colonists and not to the Indians, Brant was faced with finding a new home for himself and his people. He discouraged further Indian warfare and helped the U.S. commissioners to secure peace treaties with the Miamis and other tribes. He retained his commission in the British Army and was awarded a grant of land on the Grand River in Ontario by Govenor Sir Frederick Haldimand of Canada in 1784. The tract of 675,000 acres encompassed the Grand River from its mouth to its source, six miles deep on either side. Brant led 1843 Iroquois Loyalists from New York State to this site where they settled and established the Grand River Reservation for the Mohawk. The party included members of all six tribes, but primarily Mohawk and Cayugas, as well as a few Delaware, Nanticoke, Tutelo, Creek, and Cherokee, who had lived with the Iroquois before the war. They settled in small tribal villages along the river. Sir Haldimand had hurriedly pushed through the land agreement before his term of office expired and was unable to provide the Indians with legal title to the property. For this reason, Brant again traveled to England in 1785. He succeeded in obtaining compensation for Mohawk losses in the U.S. War for Independence and received funds for the first Episcopal Church in Upper Canada, but failed to obtain firm title to the Grand River reservation. The legality of the transfer remains under question today.

Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks was built in 1785 at the order of King George III. The simple wooden structure survives today as the oldest Protestant church in Ontario and is the only church outside the United Kingdom with the status of Chapel Royal. The church contains some lavish appointments including a silver service and bible dating from 1712 when Queen Anne had a church erected for the Mohawk on the Mohawk River in New York. Also erected for the Indians in 1785 was a saw and grist mill and a school.

Brant continued with his missionary work. He felt that his followers could learn much from observing the ways of the white man and made a number of land sales of reservation property to white settlers to this end, despite the unsettled ownership. He tried unsuccessfully to arrange a settlement between the Iroquois and the United States. He traveled in the American West promoting an all-Indian confederacy to resist land cessions. Late in his life, he continued the work he had begun as a young man of translating the Creed and important passages of the Old and New Testament into the Mohawk language. He was a man who studied and was able to internalize the better qualities of the white man while always remaining loyal and devoted to his people. Joseph Brant died on the reservation on August 24, 1807.



1. "Brant, Joseph," Dictionary of American Biography, 1927.

2. "Brant, Joseph," The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

3. "Brant, Joseph," The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

4. "Brantford," The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

5. "Cherry Valley Massacre," The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

6. Flick, A.C., "The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779," History of the State of New York, 1933-1937.

7. Green, Evarts Boutell, The Revolutionary Generation 1763-1790, 1943.

8. "Iroquois League," The new Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991.

9. Mathews, R. V., "In Defense of Joseph Brant," Conservationist, 31:41, March 1977.

10. Mitchell, Lt.Col. Joseph B., Discipline & Bayonets, 1967.

1. Monture, Ethel Brant, Famous Indians, 1960.

12. Van Steen, M., "Brantford's Royal Chapel," Canadian Geographical Journal, 57:136-41, October 1958.

13. Weaver, Sally M., "Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario," Handbook North American Indians, 1978.

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), Mohawk

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pueblo Revolt, 1680

August 10, 1680: The Pueblo Rebellion takes place in New Mexico under the leadership of a Tewa named Popé. Popé has arranged for an attack on as many of the Spanish missions as possible to all take place on the same day. Some sources say this happens on August 11th.

(BACKGROUND: From Glenn Welker's website)

Pope, c.1630-c.1690, a celebrated medicine man of the Tewa PUEBLO Indians at San Juan, N. Mex., instigated a successful rebellion against the Spaniards in 1680. Preaching resistance to the Spanish and restoration of the traditional Pueblo culture and religion, Pope led his people in an attempt to obliterate all Spanish influence. On Aug. 10, 1680, the Indians under his leadership killed about 400 missionaries and colonists and drove the other Spaniards south to El Paso, Tex. Pope and his followers then proceeded to destroy Christian churches and other evidences of the Spanish presence in Pueblo territory. Thereafter, as the head of several Tewa villages, Pope exerted what many considered increasingly harsh rule. Dissension arose, weakening Pueblo unity, and in 1692, two years after Pope's death, the Spaniards regained control.



Pueblo Rebellion

Life for the Pueblo Indians during the 1600s was hard. The Spaniards had settled on their lands and Spanish towns and ranches were built throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Soldiers and priests were living in the Pueblo villages. The Spanish priest outlawed traditional Pueblo ceremonies and forced the Indians to worship the Spanish god. If any Indian refused, he was beaten, jailed, or killed. The Pueblos knew that if they tried to fight against Spaniards at the mission, soldiers from Santa Fe might come and destroy their village.

Strange diseases brought by the settlers from Europe also swept through the Pueblo towns. The illnesses killed hundreds of people and left many villages empty. Before Onate and his colonists had come, the Pueblos had always prepared for dry times by storing extra food for their villages. When the Spaniards conquered the Pueblos, they forced them to surrender the stored good as taxes. When dry times came, there was no food and hundreds of Pueblos died from starvation. The people began to abandon their villages to get away from diseases, hunger, and the Spaniards. Some joined their Navajo friends living near Dinétah. Others joined the Zunis or the Hopis who lived far to the west. Some Pueblos moved onto the plains to escape the Spaniards. When Onate first entered New Mexico in 1598, there were over one hundred Pueblo Indian villages in the Rio Grande valley. By 1680, only forty-three pueblo villages were occupied.

By 1680, many Pueblo chiefs had decided something had to be done about the Spaniards. The Pueblo way of life was ending. A San Juan Pueblo leader named Pope held a secret meeting with other pueblo leaders. He knew that if a single Pueblo village fought against the Spaniards, the army could easily destroy that pueblo. His plan was to have all the pueblo villages attack the Spaniards. The Spaniards could not fight all the pueblos at one time.

Pope outlined his plans to the chiefs and chose a day in August of 1680 for the rebellion. On that day, Pueblo warriors from all villages would storm into the churches and kill all the priests and soldiers. Not one Spaniards should escape to warn the governor and soldiers in Santa Fe. When the priest and soldiers were dead, the warriors would join together to form a huge Pueblo army. Next, they would march into Santa Fe and drive the Spaniards out of New Mexico.

How would the villages know when to attack? Pope told the leaders that each day he would send messengers to each village chief. Each messenger would carry a knotted rope. The numbers of knots on the rope told how many days were left. Each day the village chief received the rope, he would untie one knot. If seven knots were left, that means there would be seven days left. When all the knots had been untied, the Pueblos would attack. The chiefs agreed with Pope's plan and returned home to their villages to get ready. Pope left for the northern pueblo of Taos where he could direct the rebellion in secret.

At first, Pope's plan went well. Then, four days before the rebellion, he discovered that someone had informed the Spaniards about it. He knew that the pueblos had to strike quickly before the soldiers could attack them. He immediately sent out messengers to all the pueblos. He told them to attack immediately.

On October 9, 1680, the Pueblos rebelled. Pueblo warriors killed every priest and soldier they could find and then joined together in a huge army and marched towards Santa Fe. The surviving colonists retreated into Santa Fe. The governor, Antonio de Otermin, knew he could not protect the settlers. The Pueblo army surrounded Santa Fe and cut off all supplies to the town. After a week, Otermin knew his people could not survive much longer.

He ordered his soldiers and colonists to abandon Santa Fe. The governor and nearly two thousand Spaniards fled to friendly Isleta Pueblo for protection. Then they marched down the Rio Grande Valley towards Mexico. At last they reached the Spanish settlement at El Paso in what is now known as Texas.

The Spaniards had escaped, but they lost the war. Over three hundred colonists had been killed. They had lost their homes, ranches, missions and most of their belongings. Not one Spaniard was left in New Mexico. Pope's rebellion had worked. The Pueblos celebrated and tore down Spanish buildings and burned the churches. They destroyed much of Santa Fe. The Pueblo Indians were sure the Spaniards would never come back.

Ten years passed. The Pueblo warriors returned to their villages and returned to their traditional way of life. Medicine men resumed their traditional ceremonies without fear. Pueblo villages began trading freely with each other and with the Navajos.

The Pueblos had many problems. Navajos raided Pueblo villages as they had done before. This time the Spaniards were not there to protect them. Mounted Navajo attacks increased. Apache and Ute horsemen raided the pueblos too. Some Pueblo villages even fought with each other. During this time, the Spaniards made three unsuccessful attempts at reconquesting the Rio Grande Valley. Many Pueblo villages were so busy fighting with each among themselves and with their traditional enemies that they hardly noticed any Spanish soldiers in their area.

Spanish leaders in Mexico had not forgotten the Pueblos or New Mexico. Don Diego de Vargas was selected as the new governor o New Mexico. He was to go to El Paso and form an army to reconquer New Mexico for Spain.

Vargas arrived in El Paso in 1691. He immediately made plans to invade the Rio Grande Valley. He learned from spies that Pope's army had fallen apart. He also knew that the Pueblos were fighting with their enemies and among themselves. Vargas spent a year in El Paso getting his army ready for the reconquest of New Mexico.

In 1692, Vargas and his men marched out of El Paso and entered New Mexico. They caught one of the Pueblo villages by surprise. Soon Governor Vargas' men had taken Santa Fe. One by one the Pueblo villages were defeated. Pope had died before the reconquest. However, soldiers caught and killed other leaders of the Pueblo Rebellion. Most people surrender, but many ran away. After four years of war, Vargas and his men had reconquered all of the Pueblos. The Spaniards were back to stay in New Mexico.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mayan King "Casper," 422 A.D.

August 8, 422: Maya King Casper is born, according to some sources. Eventually, he rules over Palenque, Mexico.

For the resemblance to the "friendly ghost," and because his real name could not be read, the second ruler of Palenque was given the nickname "Casper" by Floyd Lounsbury at the First Palenque Round Table. There is still controversy about the reading, so the undignified nickname remains. In his catalog of Maya hieroglyphics, Eric Thompson called this main sign "Xipe", for its resemblance to the flayed human skin associated with the Aztec deity Xipe Totec. Alfonso Morales Cleveland and Merle Greene Robertson have suggested a resemblance to a manatee. The prefix to the left of the main sign is clearly ch'a, but the main sign itself will never be read until a phonetic substitution is found (where the logogram is spelled syllabically). Casper has also been referred to as 11 Rabbit (by David Kelley, because his birth date, 11 Lamat, correlates with the day "rabbit" of Highland Mexican calendars).



Vast, mysterious and enchanting, the ruined city of Palenque is considered to be the most beautifully conceived of the Mayan city-states and one of the loveliest archaeological sites in the world. Its geographic setting is splendid beyond words. Nestled amidst steep and thickly forested hills, the ruins are frequently shrouded in lacy mists. A rushing brook meanders through the city center and from the temple summits there are stupendous views over an immense coastal plain. Here and there, piercing the dark green forests, soar great pyramids, towers and sprawling temple complexes. In its period of cultural florescence however, Palenque was even more beautiful, for then its limestone buildings were coated with white plaster and painted in a rainbow of pastel hues. These fabulous ruins were so hidden in the jungles that their existence was unknown until 1773. Even then, Palenque was discovered and lost several times until 1841 when the explorers Stephens and Catherwood arrived and described it in detail. Scattered pottery shards show that the site was occupied from as early as 300 BC, but most of the buildings were constructed between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. Then, mysteriously, the great city was abandoned and reclaimed by the inexorable claws of the jungle. Even the Mayan name of the city was lost, and the ruins received their current name from the nearby village of Santo Domingo de Palenque. While the ruins have received some of the most extensive excavation and reconstruction efforts of any of the Mayan sites, only 34 structures have been opened of an estimated 500 that are scattered around the area. As one wanders through the ruins or gazes from atop the tall buildings, small hills are seen everywhere about the site. These are not hills however, but Mayan structures long overgrown with jungle. ... the so-called Temple of the Inscriptions, erected in 692 AD, was originally an eight storey platform later converted into a three-tier pyramid. In 1952 an amazing discovery was made inside this pyramid. Beneath the slab floor of an inner room was found a stairway leading down to a funerary crypt 80 feet (24 m) below. The crypt contained a coffin with a skeleton covered with jade ornaments and other precious jewels. Inscriptions reveal the burial to have been of the great priest/king Pacal Votan who ruled the city from 615-683 AD. It is interesting to note that since the coffin is too large to maneuver down the staircase, the crypt must have been constructed prior to the pyramid that now covers it. This fascinating structure, both temple and tomb, was the primary sacred site in Palenque and one of the most visited pilgrimage shrines in the vast Mayan territories.