The Mohicans of Stockbridge

By Patrick Frazier | Go to book overview

9+̳
ADDING INJURY TO INSULT

Besides the boarding school fiasco, several other developments impeded the progress of religion and New England civilization among the Stockbridge Mohicans. First, a new market enticed the Indians into the woods to hunt for a cash crop. Ginseng was in heavy demand in Europe for the China trade, and New England forests yielded a prime grade. Young and old Indians gathered the root and headed for the Albany trading posts, trying to recapture the heyday of the beaver trade and leaving church and school behind. According to Springfield's Samuel Hopkins, too much of the Indian trade was controlled by unscrupulous colonials. Hopkins maintained that although "their lust after drink exposes them to be cheated out of what little they have, yet this gives us no right to deal unjustly by them. They have a natural right to justice, and may with great propriety challenge it at our hand, seeing we profess to be subject to the law of Christ."1'

An ominous incident occurred next, in April of 1753. While collecting maple sap in the woods southeast of Stockbridge, Solomon Waunaupaugus's son and grandson heard a commotion nearby. They started chasing two men who appeared to be stealing horses. One of the men shot and killed Solomon's son. The Stockbridge Indians were outraged. They held an elaborate ritualistic funeral in the Indian tradition, defying Christian standards.2 Mohicans from other villages came to learn what was being done about the killing. The threat of Indian justice seemed real, and

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