Thomas Commuck Singing Event This Saturday

On Saturday, February 3, 2018, a singing will take place in Yale University’s “Connecticut Hall.” Shape-note singers, Yale Associates, Brothertown Indians, and other Native Americans will gather to sing and record a significant number of tunes written and published (1845) by Brothertown Thomas Commuck in his Indian Melodies tune book. For those unfamiliar with the […]

via Thomas Commuck Shape-Note Singing Event this Saturday — Brothertown Forward


“What’s In A Name?” Part VI: Beyond New York

When the Brothertown Indians traveled from upstate New York to their new home in what would eventually become the state of Wisconsin, another chapter in their history began.  This new chapter, like their genesis in western New York, also necessitated the naming of their new town.   This name, as well as other writings, provide a clue into the self-envisioning of the Brothertown people during this period and offer insight as to what the name “Brothertown” meant to this Wisconsin Tribe in the mid-1800’s.

Thomas Dean, a Quaker agent paid to help the New York Indians, arranged a treaty in the 1820’s which resulted in the Brotherton purchasing 153,000 acres in Kaukauna in Wisconsin Territory .  Later, treaties were re-negotiated and the land reduced to 23,040 acres and moved to the east side of Lake Winnebago.   The first Brothertown families arrived here in 1831 with more following throughout the ‘30’s and ‘40’s.  The name first given to this settlement was “Deansburg”, in honor of Thomas Dean, and the 10+ years he spent helping them to obtain new lands.  According to the book, Thirty Years in the Itinerancy, it was in 1841 that “the town was changed to Brothertown, this name having taken the place of Deansburg in honor of the Brothertown Nation (page 16).“  It is interesting to note, as Craig Cipolla does in his book, Becoming Brothertown, that while the name “Brotherton” may have officially been the name of their town in New York, before the move to Wisconsin, it had also become synonymous with the name of the Tribe.

Thomas Commuck, one of the first to arrive in the Lake Winnebago area, and very active in Tribal affairs, wrote a letter to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1855.  In his letter, he spoke of the naming of “Brotherton” New York saying, “in consequence of the good wishes, and kind and brotherly feelings that actuated and bound them together, they unanimously concluded to call the new settlement by the name of Brothertown.”   One would suppose, this same sentiment is what guided the 1841 Tribe to once more name their town “Brothertown”.   To better understand the meaning of this name and the closeness amongst Tribal members which it represented, one need only check the local papers.

On December 13, 1894, a newspaper called The Oshkosh Northwestern, printed some remembrances of the Brotherton people in Wisconsin as written by a Mr. Wright who had stayed there in 1836.  Wright noted the Brotherton’s “nearly” daily practice of spending evenings together as a community.  “They were very socially inclined.  Neighborhood gatherings would take place nearly every evening in the week, at which they would engage innocent games or dancing, of which they were very fond (p1).”  Wright goes on to describe their communal “logging bees” and the foods and entertainment they enjoyed there.  He reminisced that they had 2 fiddle players and did some clogging and singing.  Wright concludes this section saying, “These logging bees were great features with the Brothertown people.  Everyone was willing to turn out and help his neighbor.”

Twice, the Brothertown people chose to name their town “Brothertown”.  This name was more than just the name of a town or a Tribe; it also described the intention of the people therein to live as “brothers”.  Despite their change of location and circumstances in the mid-1800’s, the heart of the Tribe continued to hold fast to its original intent of being a place where “kind and brotherly feelings…bound them together”.  In more modern times, while no Tribal members currently reside within the original lands in Brothertown, Wisconsin, this “brotherly” bond continues to be the strength and glue that binds the Brothertown Indian Nation together as a people.

~to be continued…

2018 Brothertown Indian Nation Elections

We are now five months away from the 2018 Brothertown Indian Nation elections. If you plan to run, now is the time to begin formulating your campaign and announce your candidacy.  You should contact the office or a member of the Elections Committee to announce. The deadline to get your name in is the March, 2018 Council meeting (meetings are typically held the 3rd Saturday of the month). Announcements can be made from the floor that day. The positions up for election are Vice-Chair (currently held by Robert Fowler), two Council seats (currently held by Roger Straw and Linda Shady) and one Peacemaker position (held by Renee Gralewicz who stepped in to fill the recent vacancy left by Caroline Andler).
Today, the first candidate has publicly announced his candidacy. Seth Elsen, grandson of Ranona Elsen who was very active with the Tribe in the 1980’s and instrumental in getting our original petition together, is a descendant of the Mohegan Brueshels. Despite college and graduate school, and being newly married (2016), Seth has been actively involved with the Tribe over the past decade. He has served on the Envision and 2013 grant committees and has been instrumental in helping to organize the well-attended annual Pacific Northwest gatherings.  More recently, Seth has taken over the responsibility of the Brothertown Indian Nation Quarterly Report.

By all indications, Seth seems to be taking his candidacy very seriously. He has a blog site and Facebook presence wherein he identifies several key issues that he says are important to him and that he plans to work with Council to accomplish. One of these issues is the transparency of the workings of our Tribal government. As a resident of the state of Washington and through his contact with hundreds of other displaced Brothertown, he is well aware of the importance of communication for our people.  Transparency, he believes, will help to unite the Tribe, encourage more active participation, and strengthen our community. He also plans to assist in expanding volunteer opportunities so that out-of state members can be more actively involved no matter where they live. To learn more about Seth and his campaign, please check out his website at and/or follow him on Facebook at

If you are planning to run for a position in the 2018 elections and would like to have your candidacy information posted to this blog, please send an email to BrothertownCitizen at

Upcoming Zoom Presentations + YouTube Recordings


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This Sunday, December 10, 2017, Brothertown Forward will be hosting a presentation by Craig Cipolla, author of Becoming Brothertown. Cipolla will be speaking to us about the research he did on our Brothertown cemeteries in New York and Wisconsin in 2008.

This event is open to the public and begins on Zoom this Sunday evening at 7CT/8ET. You can join via telephone, smart phone, tablet or computer using either this link: or by dialing +1 408 638 0968 and entering Meeting ID: 774 361 835.

Coming up the following Sunday, December 17th, also at 7CT/8pm ET, we will be hosting Lani Bartelt and Mark Baldwin and will be discussing/remembering the Tribe and its activities during the 1980’s.  Connection details will be posted on Facebook or can be obtained by contacting me or BrothertowForward at

Finally, thank you to Renee Gralewicz for sharing the following link and recording of the recent presentation on Native American Activisim at the BINCC given by Heather Bruegl, Oneida:

Renee also shared another link concerning sulfide mining which was given at UW Fox Valley by Guy Reiter, Menominee:

Additional Brothertown related YouTube videos can be found on Brothertown Forward’s YouTube channel at

“What’s In A Name?” Part V:  Brotherton: Something Old, Something [They] Knew


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Just as it is difficult to know with 100% certainty exactly how Occom and our ancestors pronounced and defined “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”, so too, it is difficult to know exactly why they named their town “Brotherton” or precisely what that name reflected for them.   However, by looking at the writings of our founders and viewing other communities and documents from the same area and time period, modern day scholars have made some well-educated guesses as to where the name Brothertown came from, what it may have meant to our Tribal Founders, and how it was used throughout our time in New York.

On Dartmouth’s Occom Circle site, it states, “They named the land Brothertown to both reflect their intention to live with fellow tribes as brothers and also to pay tribute to Brotherton, a Delaware Indian reservation in New Jersey that served as an inspiration for the Christian Indian Settlement (1).”  That Occom knew about this community is likely.  That the Brotherton Indians of New Jersey moved to Oneida lands in New York in the early 1800’s is unquestionable(2).  However, any substantiation to the claim that Occom’s Brotherton was named in tribute to this community has proven elusive thus far.   Many scholars have looked elsewhere for explanations on the origins of the name “Brothertown”.

Author Brad Jarvis sees the choice of the name “Brothertown” as a reflection of how our founders viewed their new community.  “Symbolic of the proposed internal cohesion of the town’s new name, the residents, “concluded to live in peace, and in friendship and to go on in all [their] public concerns in harmony; both in religious and temporal concerns, and every one to bear his part of Public Charges in the Town (3).”  Jarvis offers another glimpse of how the early Brothertown people saw their community, as well as the boundaries and racism they experienced outside of it, through a 1795 interview conducted by some Quaker ministers.  An unidentified Brotherton man told them that he, “hoped the partition wall that divided nations would be broken down, bigotry and prejudice done away, and all mankind come to live more like brothers.”  “Such language,” Jarvis comments, “reflected the founding principles of Brothertown-a community defined by Christian brotherhood, kinship, and mutual partnership (p 149) (4).”

In his book, Becoming Brothertown:  Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World, Craig Cipolla describes Occom’s view of Brothertown as being “a community linked by shared religious views and approaches to the politics of colonial North America (p 53).”  He points out that the name “Brothertown” accomplished two important things:  1) It was relatable both to Natives, where “brother” or “brethren” denoted Native kinship, and to Euro-Americans who saw it in terms of Christian brotherhood.  2) The name also gave our ancestors a commonality.  They were no longer, “Narragansett, Mohegan, Montauk, etc, but were now “Brotherton”(p64ff).   In this book, Cipolla also looks at usage of the term ‘Brothertown” in the 18th and 19th centuries and compares how it was viewed by Euro-Americans as opposed to the Brotherton themselves.  In short, Euro-Americans tended to place more emphasis on Brothertown being a location or a “town” while the Brotherton people used the name to “mark shared ethnic and racial identities (p63)”.

While there may be differing theories as to where the idea for the name of Brothertown originated and what exactly it may have meant to our founders, there is little doubt of the hopes that this new community held for its people.  As they themselves have said across multiple decades, Brothertown was meant to be a shining example of peace, friendship and harmony; a place where bigotry, prejudice and walls of division would no longer exist and where we all would live like brothers.

~to be continued.



(3)Jarvis, Brad. The Brothertown Nation of Indians, p 115.

(4) Ibid, p 119

Note: If you are interested in exploring how the name “Brothertown” has changed in usage and meaning over the years, please see Craig Cipolla’s book, Becoming Brothertown:  Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World, chapter 4.

“What’s In A Name?” Part IV: Happy Eeyawquittoowauconnuck Day!


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Today, November 7, 2017, marks the 232nd anniversary of the “incorporation” and naming of Brothertown.  On Monday November 7, 1785, Occom noted in his journal that, “we named our town by the name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck.”  By virtue of the fact that Occom included this “Indian” name in his journal, we can make the assumption that this detail was important.  However, while we know that Eeyawquittoowauconnuck means “Brotherton”, ideas vary a bit on exactly how Eeyawuittoowauconnuck would be translated.

In his book, Becoming Brothertown:  Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World, Craig Cipolla makes the claim that Eeyawquittowauconnuck means “town or plantation of equals or brothers,” or “many eat from one dish” (p95).  In The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan, Joanna Brooks quotes Stephanie Fielding (great great great niece of Mohegan linguist Fidelia Fielding*) who “believes that [it] translates as “he does so like someone looking in a certain direction or a certain way.”  Phrased differently, this meaning might indicate a group united by a distinctive shared perspective” (p 25, footnote).

While the proffered translations may not be exact and are each a little different, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck reflected the desire of its founders that it be a distinct place where inhabitants with a common vantage point were bonded to one another within a caring community.

… be continued.


What’s In A Name Part III: “The E-Word”


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“The E-word”

Daunted by its 22 letters and 7 syllables, some people simply refer to it as “the E-word”.   However, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is not just a word; it is a name.  It is our name; one that holds meaning and value for us as a People.  For those who are not already comfortable using it, it is well worth taking a few minutes to become more familiar with “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”*.

For the sake of ease, let’s start by dividing Eeyawquittoowauconnuck into 7 manageable syllables.  They look like this:

  • Ee
  • Yaw
  • quit
  • too
  • wau
  • con
  • nuck

Now, lets pronounce them*.  Try saying these out loud:

“Ee” (pronounced just like it looks…like the long sound of the letter “e” as in “me”)–Ee

“Yaw” (rhyme it with “paw”)–Yaw

Next, put those 2 together:  “Ee”+“Yaw”= “Eeyaw”.

Say it out loud so your tongue and ears get used to it.


Next, is

“quit”(pronounce it with a long “ee” sound in the middle so it rhymes with “tweet”)—quit

“too”(also like the English word too)—too

Now put them together and say them out loud.  “quit”+”too”=“quittoo”.

Let’s go back and pick up the first part and pair it with this:  “Eeyaw” + “quittoo”=“Eeyawquittoo

Good job, we’re almost done!

The next 3 syllables are:

wau” (rhyme it with “la”)—wau

con” (like the English word con)—con

nuck” (rhymes with truck)—nuck

Now, put those 3 together:  “wau”+”con”+”nuck”=“wauconnuck”.  Say it again, “wauconnuck”.

Finally, lets put the entire word back together: “Eeyawquittoo”+”wauconnuck”=”Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”. 

Congratulations, you did it!  Now keep using it.  Try it out at the next Brothertown gathering, teach it to your kids, greet one another with it.  Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is who we are.  Say it often and say it proudly: Eeyawquittoowauconnuck!


*It should be noted that the above pronunciation of “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” is based on the author’s personal estimation of Occom’s spelling of the word as found in his journal entry of November 7, 1785.  Occom had a strong grasp of the phonetic sounds of English letters and wrote the name accordingly.  The author acknowledges that there is, however, some room for variation.  For example, the double o’s in the 4th syllable, “too,” suggest that Occom heard it as either the “oo” sound as in “too”(as presented here) or possibly, the “Uh” sound as in “book”.   Mohegan linquist, Stephanie Fielding, suggests that Eeyawquittoowauconnuck, in Mohegan orthography today, might be spelled “Iyáhqituwôkanuk”(1).  Using the Mohegan pronunciation guide(2), as found in Fielding’s work at, the pronunciation of this 4th syllable (“too”/”tu”), might change the sound into “uh” as in “pup”.

  • Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. p25, Footnote 28.
  • Fielding, Stephanie. A Modern Mohegan Dictionary, 2006, pp 9-10.

On This Date in Brothertown History: October 4th, 1774


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243 years ago, on October 4th, 1774, the land contract between the Oneida and the “New England Indians” was drawn up and signed.  Officiating was Guy Johnson, who had recently succeeded his late  father, Sir William Johnson, as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern portion of North America.  A copy of this document is transcribed below.  To see the copy this was taken from, as well as many other Brothertown-related New York documents, please visit the “Brothertown, New York” section of the Digital Historical Library on this site*.

By Guy Johnson Esquire, Superintendant of Indian affairs for the Northern Department of North America, &c, &c.

Whereas the Indians of Mohegan Narragansett, Montock Pequots of Groton and Stoneington, Nahantic, Farmington, inhabiting within the New England Governments, did last year represent that they were very much straightened and reduced to such small pittances of land that they could no longer remain there and did through the channel of Sir William Johnson Bar & late superintendent apply to the Six Nations for some lands to live on which was at length agreed to in my presence at the last Treaty and a Tract allowed them by the Oneidas and whereas some of them have since in company with the Oneida chiefs, viewed the said lands and determined on its boundaries as follows desireing a certificate of the same as that it might be entered on the records of Indian affairs Viz.  Beginning at the west end of the scaniadaries or the long lakes which is at the head of one of the branches of Orisca Creek from thence about twelve miles northerly or so far that an easterly course from a certain point on the first mentioned course shall intersect the road or pathway leading crom old Oneida to the German flats, where the said path crosses Scanindowa Creek the line settled as the limits between the province of New York and the Indian at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, thence Southerly along the said line about thirteen miles or so far that a westerly line from thence keeping one line south of the most Southerly bend of Orisca Creek shall reach the place of beginning do as to comprehend(??) the lake first mentioned. 

 I do therefore in compliance with the joint request of the said Oneida and the  said New England Indians declare that the said Oneidas do grant to the said New England Indians and their posterity forever, without power of alienation to any subject the afore described tract with this appernenancies in the amplest manner-also full liberty of hunting all sorts of game throughout the whole country of Oneidas beaver hunting only excepted, with this particular clause or reservation that the same shall not be possessed by any persons deemed of the said Tribes, who are decended from or intermixed with Negroes or Mulattoes**.

Even under my hand and seal at Arms at Guy Park- October the 4th 1774

                                (Signed) Guy Johnson (and his seal)           

We the chiefs in testimony of the foregoing affix the character of our Tribes unto the day and year above mentioned,

 The Mark of Longhqish(turtle)  The mark of Ughmyonge (wolf)  The mark of Canadegona (bear)


*A special thank you to the Hamilton College Library staff for their assistance in providing this, and numerous other Brothertown-related digital documents.

** The exclusion of “Negroes and Mulattoes” from Indian lands was a legal requirement implemented by the Colonies in an effort to quell the possibility of concentrated slave uprisings (1).

(1) Stone, Gaynell.  The History & Archaeology of the Montauk Volume III 2nd Edition, 1993, p. 520

“What’s In A Name?”


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Part II:  Eeyawquittoowauconnuck

Because of its length and the challenge of reading the original script, Eeyawquittoowauconnuck is commonly spelled several different ways.  For example, on page 536 of The History & Archaeology of the Montauk Volume III, 2nd edition, contributor Russell T Blackwood (a Professor at Hamilton College near old Brothertown in New York) quotes the famous Occom journal entry of November 7, 1785 thus: “…we named our town by the name of Brotherton, in Indian Eeyamguittoowauconnuck.”  Here, an “m” and a “g” are used.  However, it is most common to see the following two spellings:  “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” or “Eeyamquittoowauconnuck”.


Figure 1*: Otto Heller Folder

Otto Heller, the man responsible for gathering the items now found in “The Brothertown Collection”, preferred the latter spelling.  Heller spent a lot of time and money researching and collecting Brothertown knowledge, books, and artifacts.  It is not known for certain, but is very probable that he visited Dartmouth College and read Samson Occom’s journal for himself.  According to Heller, the Indian name of Brotherton appeared to be “Eeyamquittoowauconnuck”(see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 2*: Otto Heller’s handwritten copy of Occom’s November 7, 1785 journal entry


Another person who used an “m” in the name, and perhaps where others have gotten their spelling, is William DeLoss Love in his 1899 book, Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England (

Eeyamquittoowauconnuck is probably the most commonly seen spelling of the name although there are plenty who use a “w” instead of an “m”.  For example, in the Joanna Brooks book, The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan, snd in Craig Cipolla’s writings, “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck” is used.  This is also how it is transcribed at Dartmouth’s Occom Circle site (  Thanks to the Circle site, we are able to see a high quality scan of Occom’s journal for ourselves.  Let’s take a closer look.


Figure 3: Closeup of Occom’s November 7, 1785 journal entry

In Figure 3 above, beneath the underlined “Brotherton”, you can see the first 13 letters of the Indian name.  The 5th one could appear to be an “m” or  it may look like a “w”.  Let’s zoom out and look again.


Figure 4

Find the name in Figure 4 and look at the “w” after the double o’s midway into “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”(directly beneath the “n” in “Brotherton”).  Notice that it ends in an upswing which points a bit back toward the left.  Now, look at the letter in question, the 5th letter.  It also hooks back to the left in exactly the same way.

Next, look at the ending letter “m” in the word “form” (middle of the 2nd line from the top) and, at the very bottom of the page, the name “Abraham”.  Both “m’s” end with a rightward slant.  Occom’s “m’s” slant right while his “w’s” hook back to the left.   Judging by the formation of the “m’s” and “w’s” in this sample alone, it seems pretty certain that the original Indian name for Brotherton does not include any “m’s”.  It appears that Occom wrote it as “Eeyawquittoowauconnuck”.

… be continued

*The photos in Figures 1 & 2 were taken by Gabriel Kastelle.

Figures 3 & 4 came from the Dartmouth College Occom Circle site.

“What’s In A Name?”


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Part I: An Introduction to Brothertown

While it may be tempting to believe that our Brothertown ancestors, with their agricultural lifestyle, European clothing, Colonial homes, and English speech, were doing everything they could to leave their “Indianness” behind them, that would be an erroneous notion.  On the contrary, preserving their race and heritage was extremely important to the Brothertown founders.  There are a number of examples one could offer as proofs of this but none so starkly evident as that line from Occom’s journal entry of November 7, 1785, which reads, “We named our town by the name of Brotherton; in Indian Eeyawquittoowauconnuck (emphasis added)(1).”

The formation of this town was not undertaken lightly.  Plans began at least as far back as March 13, 1773, when members of seven Native communities met in Mohegan (2).  Long trips were taken on foot through the snow(3), letters were written(4), Oneida headmen and local leaders like William Johnson(5), the area’s British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, were consulted.  A “Colony Law Book” was obtained (6), a layout of the new town was drawn up, and agreements were made on how the town would be run and who would oversee certain positions (7).  Primarily due to the American Revolution, nearly 15 years passed between that first meeting in Mohegan and the day they finally “formed into a body politick” on their new land.  This was a well-planned and long-sought-after venture.  The name they gave to their town could not have been bestowed lightly either; it too was well considered.

… be continued


(1)Occom, Samson. Journal entry November 7, 1785.

(2)Murray, Linda. To Do Good to My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776, p 207.

(3) Hutchins Report,,p.24.

(4) Ibid p23ff.

(5) Ibid

(6)Wimpey, Elijah. Letter to the House of Representatives of the Colony of Connecticut, May 25, 1774. Available online through the Yale Indian Papers Project.

(7)Occom, Samson. Journal entry of November 7, 1785