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The Mohegan People of Connecticut
Just who are the American native eastern woodland Mohegan people and where did they come from?
Scholars, archeologists, anthropologists and just plain people have been trying to trace my people the Mohegan's for years now.
I believe most would agree to start someplace in the middle east or the middle of Africa, this is the place that is agree on as the start of our life as we now know it.
Religion set aside for now only so that I may make the point of where my people got that name, many now believe that their ancestors followed the food chain across the Striates (what was then a land bridge between what is now Russia & Alaska) across (what is now Canada) and then our people continued down into what is now called the Great Lakes in upper New York Lower Canada.
My ancestors, a part of the (Monheags) Mohican people, after some time became closer to Mother Earth as farmers; they became so good at farming that other villages wanted their land and pushed them all the way across the land and over what we call the Pequot river (Thames River).
After so many years of being beat up and pushed around, our people finely learned how to fight back, so when the villages of this new land started pushing my people pushed back and pushed back so well they ended up with all of the land!
When the Europeans showed up and stated pushing they pushed back and pushed so hard that the Europeans called our ancestors the Piquet's (destroyers), later the English changer the name to Pequot's.
When Grand Sachem Wopigwooit, one of many of our peace loving Sachem's, died in 1631
(there should never be a vote of the people)
however, two names came up as too who should be the next sachem, Uncas had seniority and the blood line and Sassacus wanted war so he (Sassacus) became the next Sachem of the Pequot people?
After many years, many wars and the loss of so many young braves of the Pequot people, Uncas, now war chief, tried to get Sachem Sassacus to stop the wars and try peace with the Europeans and neighboring tribes.
As Uncas explained, every time the Europeans lost a warrior, ten more would come to fight in his place; the Pequot's had no replacements and would soon no longer exist. The trickster (Coyote, Satan) blinded the eyes of Sassacus and most of the Pequot people so Uncas took all that wished to go over the Pequot river to what is now called the Great falls and changed the name back to Mohican.
This group of his people asked Uncas to take his rightful place as Sachem of this group of Mohican. Martha, his wife, had one husband, Uncas as Sachem had many wives.
Now because it this Sassacus considered Uncas and his people to be just another of his many enemy so the Pequot's immediately attacked this group across the river at a place now known as Fort Shantok park named after one of the Mohican braves that held off this brutal attack from their relatives.
Eventually the Europeans and all of the Pequot neighboring tribes soon grew so tired of this constant fighting that they joined forces and
regardless of what you now read in the papers or from some people
completely decimated the entire Pequot nation!
It was at this time that Uncas became the Grand Sachem of all of the people.
Because of new wars with the Narragansett's (who many time were much more brutal to the peace loving smaller tribes then the old Pequot tribe) Uncas moved a small band of non-royal mixed clan of his new tribe and settled them as lookouts in the area now known as Fort Shantok. As usual the European's began misspelling the name of our people and started calling them
As Paul Harvey liked to say,
"Now you know the rest of the story". As told to me by our Elders --"AHO"
O K I may need to go through this once again before you read the following article.
In an Eastern Woodland American Native Society (a Matriarch Society) the Sachem is the ruler of the people.
This person is born into the Royal family no one can vote for a Sachem.
This person male or Female can designate anyone of his people as chief and that person will be a chief for as long as the Sachem needs that person to be chief of a job for the tribe.
Each tribe has a number of clan mothers with one chosen by the Sachem as head Clan Mother.
The tribe also has a council of Elders and this council is set up and run by the clan mothers.
Now the entire tribe collects and hands over everything to their Sachem, then the Sachem distributes everything through-out the tribe!
Once everything is evenly distributed the Sachem and family must rely on the tribe for the families care and comfort!
This has a tendency to have a very good Sachem.
Prior to her death on July 15, 1929,and because he was the next in line Alice Melinda Storey/Tracy Fielding appointed William James Storey to be Sachem Tallfox and her choice to rule the Mohegan's.
Alice Storey/Tracy Fielding was at that time known as the Princess (Sachem) of the Mohegan's, and is a direct descendant of Uncas, acknowledged leader of the Mohegan Indian Tribe during the "Pequot War" of 1637, and thereafter. This title was affirmed as "Sachem for Life" by the Officers of Tribal Council of Mohegan Indians and on November 18, 1933 Sachem Tallfox appointed his cousin John Hamilton as his War Chief of land claims and this was recognized and supported by the Mohegan's, including Courtland Fowler, from 1933 through the 1960s.
In the late 1960s, War Chief Hamilton was authorized by the Council of Descendants of Mohegan Indians to act on its behalf in matters pertaining to the relations between the Mohegan Indian Tribe and the State of Connecticut. At that time, Fowler served on the Council under war chief John Hamilton.
In 1970, a faction of Mohegan's became dissatisfied with the prospects of the Mohegan Indian Tribe filing a land claim suit against the tribe's neighbors so at an unofficial Council meeting in May 1970, sought to elect a new leader of the Mohegan Tribe?
War Chief Hamilton rejected the asserted authority of the Council to replace him so he and his followers left the meeting.
The remaining Mohegan Indians and non Indians at the meeting elected Courtland Fowler as their leader?
The total number of people casting votes was fewer than 10 according to public statements made by Courtland Fowler.
Fewer than 10 people tried to overthrew the Sachems Constitutional government and leadership tradition older than recorded history and leave the majority of Mohegan's out.
Despite this separation however, from the 1970s until 1994, no Mohegan Indian was excluded from participation in traditional practices, events or ceremonies by virtue of association with either the Storey/Hamilton or Fowler faction of Mohegan Indians.
War Chief Hamilton continued to pursue a land claim suit on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe, and retained counsel for the purpose of prosecuting the land claim suit.
In 1977, "The Mohegan Tribe," acting through War Chief Hamilton, filed a land claim suit in federal district court in Connecticut against the State of Connecticut, asserting that aboriginal and historic claims and titles to over 2,000 acres in Montville, Connecticut had been extinguished in violation of the Non-Intercourse Act.
War Chief Hamilton further filed a notice with the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") seeking federal acknowledgment of "The Mohegan Tribe" in 1978. Both the land claim suit and the acknowledgment petition were filed on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe by Attorney Jerome Griner, who had been retained by Hamilton under his authority as Chief of Land claims.
From May 1970 through 1979, the Fowler faction continued to actively and publicly oppose both the land claim suit and the federal acknowledgment petition. From 1979 to 1981, the Fowler faction organized an entity called the "Mohegan Tribal Council" and adopted a constitution for its governance in 1980. At around this time, Attorney Griner, counsel of record for the Mohegan Tribe in the land claim suit and the federal acknowledgment petition, ceased accepting direction from Chief Hamilton and instead began to take direction from the Fowler faction, without notifying either the federal court or the BIA of his change in clients. WHY?
Upon discovering that Attorney Griner had begun to serve the interests of the Fowler faction in 1981, Hamilton discharged him and retained separate counsel from Attorney Robert Cohen. Although the State raised the issue of the propriety of filings by two attorneys on behalf of "The Mohegan Tribe" in the land claim suit when Cohen filed his appearance in 1981 and then later in 1989, the issue of authorization for the filings of Griner and Cohen was never resolved by the district court.
The Fowler faction amended its constitution in 1984 and renamed itself the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut ("MTIC").
In 1985, Attorney Griner filed detailed documentation before the BIA in support of the 1978 acknowledgment petition on behalf of "The Mohegan Tribe, petitioner." Griner submitted an MTIC membership roll of 1,017 members, claiming that this roll relied on lists of Mohegan Indians prepared by the State of Connecticut. The BIA then placed the petition under "active consideration."
Also in 1985, the State of Connecticut filed a formal opposition to federal acknowledgment with the BIA, characterizing Hamilton and his followers and the Fowler group as two factions of a single, unitary Mohegan Tribe. In support of this position, the State relied on a 1979 letter from a member of the Fowler faction stating that "'they do not have a tribal organization because they are going to organize to form a tribal group for the sole purpose of combating War Chief John Hamilton.'"
In November 1989, the BIA announced its proposed decision that the United States would not acknowledge the Mohegan Tribe, based on its finding that from 1941 to the date of the rejection, the Mohegan Tribe did not demonstrate sufficient social community or sufficient political authority and influence as required under 25 CPR 83.7 (b) and (c). The BIA did not examine the files and records of Hamilton or the Council prior to issuing the proposed rejection. In 1990, Cohen submitted a response to the BIA pointing out that the BIA had never examined these files, and in which he narrated the internal leadership and external political and land claim efforts of Hamilton from 1941 until his death in 1988.
Because of the crossing of War Chief Hamilton and the crossing in 1986 of Sachem Tallfox's last living son Sachem Zeak, Clarence J Storey, another Mohegan tribal faction started under the leadership of Eleanor Fortin The Secretary/driver of War Chief John E Hamilton.
The Mohegan Tribe and Nation is an incorporated tribal organization representing the interests of its membership, Native Americans of Mohegan ancestry, community and traditions, The Mohegan Tribe and Nation's membership consists of the living descendants of the aboriginal Mohegan Indian Tribe who are followers of the Mohegan land claims.