Return to OLLI: Indigenous Culture in the Berkshires and Beyond

Indigenous Cultures: Session Six

This is a link to the slides that were used in class.

Mohican Values

Here is a link to a document describing some elements of a trip to London, which was taken by four Mohican Chiefs and their wives. They went to see the King, and ask for redress for the wrongs done to the Mohican Nation by the English colonists. I have excerpted these pages from a longer document, provided to me by my brother Rick.

The first 3+ pages of this excerpt are an account of conversations about Mohican values, and the reactions of the Chiefs to seeing “civilized” life in London. The last two pages are reflections by the English author on the relative merits of the “savage” life of the Indians versus the “civilized” life of the English.

It obviously didn’t occur to the English author that the Indians came from a sophisticated civilization that had been around for longer than the English Nation.

More Mohican Values

A second document (again, excerpted by me from the book cited) gives an account, in the words of Hendrick Aupaumut, from the oral tradition of the Mohicans, of two important elements of their culture.

The first two pages tells of the relationship of the Mohican (Muhheconneok) people with other Nations in the Northeastern part of what is now the United States. The last two pages (beginning at the bottom of page 2) tells of the values that are taught to children.

I think it is instructive to see how closely aligned these values are with the Christian teachings that were being thrust upon the Indians by the colonial missionaries. In both cases (Indians and colonists), the fact that these principles were being taught does not mean that they were always being observed. Still, it’s easy (for me, anyway) to see that derogatory terms such as “heathen” and “savage” and “primitive” served a political purpose, rather than being accurate descriptions of the Native Americans.

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