Addendum: Natives and Deerfield -- and the Moosehead Indian World

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Thu Feb 28 15:40:13 MST 2002


I've met a great many people of all ethnic backgrounds on these various Left
lists -- and most are just fine.  A good number are genuinely interested in
Native concerns and some are quite knowledgeable on those matters.  But some
are indifferent, others hostile.  That's their business.  It's a big
country -- even if it isn't exactly free.  For those who are interested:

Earlier today, I made a fairly short post indicating that this is the
anniversary of the famous 1704 Abenaki [and Caughnawaga Mohawk and French]
raid on the British town of Deerfield, Massachusetts; that two very small
white children -- Samuel Gill and Rosalie James -- were among the captives
taken back to Indian mission towns in Canada and raised there; and that
these two children, very much Indianized, married one another in 1715 and
had seven biologically "white" but totally Abenaki offspring -- one of whom,
Joseph Louis-Gill, became the Grand Chief of the St Francis Abenaki, serving
in that capacity for half a century, and losing his Abenaki wife to English
bullets during the vicious 1759 raid on St. Francis by Rogers' Rangers. The
English [and subsequently most Anglo Americans for many epochs to come] were
always  very racist.

The Natives obviously were not racist in that situation or any
other --anywhere at any time.  The fact that Joseph Louis-Gill was
technically "white" in a biological sense made absolutely no difference --
if it even occurred to any other St. Francis Indian.  Joseph-Louis Gill was
Abenaki through and through.

And I mentioned that another of the seven biologically "white" but
thoroughly Abenaki Gill offspring was Marie Appoline who married a Mohawk,
Gabriel Annance [ himself wounded while defending St Francis against Rogers'
Rangers] and that these were my g/g/g/g/g/grandparents and the start of the
famous Abenaki Annance family line -- which thereafter consistently married
other Indians over the many generations to come.

In that post, I mentioned Father J.A. Maurault's substantial and
comprehensive account of this entire episodic high drama -- which was
published in the mid-19th century and which, among other dimensions,
contains a great deal of the Gill genealogy and that of their many, many
descendants to the mid-19th century.  Since posting, I've had four off-list
communications seeking specifics on the Maurault work -- and, in two of the
cases, asking for other book suggestions dealing with the St. Francis
Abenaki.

 Father Joseph A. Maurault's work is Histoire des Abenakis   depuis 1605
jusqui' å nos jours .  It was published in 1866 and contains 639 pages.
Those copies that survived over the generations definitely showed their age
and many of us welcomed the nicely done reprint -- limited and expensive as
its edition was -- in 1969.  This appeared via S.R. Publishers Limited,
Yorkshire, England; Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York City; and  Mouton
& Co., The Hague, Netherlands.  It is, of course, in French.

An excellent introduction to the Natives of the Northeastern United States
and adjoining sections of Canada is Handbook of North American Indians,
Volume 15, Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger, Washington, D.C:
Smithsonian Institution, 1978.  This 924 page volume is easily found in any
good academic library.

Professor Gordon M. Day, who has a substantial section in the foregoing
Smithsonian volume, "Western Abenaki," also wrote a very fine, detailed
monograph, The Identity of the St. Francis Indians, Ottawa, Ontario:
Canadian National Museum, 1981.

The many works on eastern Indians -- especially those in the Northeast --
by Frank G. Speck, are always worth consulting extensively.  Speck was the
noted and extremely honorable anthropologist, based for much of his career
at the University of Pennsylvania -- but always a field man who was much
trusted by the Natives.  He could also write with great lucidity.

Joseph Bruchac, a contemporary Abenaki writer, has produced a number of good
works --including The Wind Eagle and Other Abenaki Stories as Told by Joseph
Bruchac [illustrated by Kahionhes], Greenfield Center, New York: Bowman
Books, 1985.

And that's merely a scratch -- some representative basics.  If more
suggestions are needed, or if there are any other questions, please don't
hesitate to contact me off-list.

A final note at this point:  As the 19th century wore on, with Northeastern
Native life becoming more and more circumscribed on and around the
relatively small reservations and reserves in the United States and Canada,
many of the Indians of the old Wabanaki Confederacy -- Abenakis of St.
Francis and environs,  Maliseets and Micmacs of Southeastern Canada, and
Penobscots of Maine, as well as some Mohawks from Northern New York and
Southern Quebec, wound up by the mid-19th century in the rugged, very wild
and generally unsettled Moosehead Lake section of Northern Maine and
adjoining points north.  There, for several decades and at least two basic
generations, they lived -- often marrying across tribal lines.

And that was, for a period all too short, a fairly close and fascinating
approximation of the old, wild free life: hunters and trappers. And then,
gradually, as the Anglos pushed in and towns like Greenville grew rapidly,
the Native men worked as woodsmen and  river men and guides and the women as
domestics in the great resort hotels that sprang up on the edges of
Moosehead Lake.  A major and very early figure in this setting  was Lewis
[Louis] Annance,  former Dartmouth attendee and close friend of the American
historian, Francis Parkman. Lewis Annance, my g/g/g/g uncle, mostly raised
my great grandmother, Louise, and, until his death in 1875, raised my
grandmother, Mary [Mamie.]

>From him, my grandmother received a wonderful, very heavy wolf robe -- made
from three timber wolves that he killed about the time she was born [1865.]
It went to my father and then to me and we have that huge robe, right here,
to this very day, at our Idaho home.  Unlike most of the Wabanaki, and many
of the Mohawks, Lewis and his two brothers --  great grandchildren of the
two white captive children from Deerfield -- left the Catholic Church and
became Anglicans.  Then Lewis went one step further and became a
Congregationalist -- and, finally, a Mason.

Like all of that old breed in the Moosehead country, he was communalistic --
and also a free person.  He knew Latin [from Dartmouth] and read widely --
always much interested, as his Moosehead search indicated, in Utopia.

I know that he, along with a great many on all sides of my family, would
understand why I became a left socialist at a very early age -- and, as far
as that goes, why I live in Idaho.

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]


Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]
www.hunterbear.org  ( social justice )


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