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Odd Wisconsin Archive

An Indian View of July 4th


In July 1854, John W. Quinney (1797-1855) returned home from Wisconsin. A leader of the Stockbridge (Mohican) Indians who helped organize the tribe's emigration to Wisconsin in the 1820s, Quinney had been invited to speak at July 4th celebrations in Reidsville, N.Y.

In his speech there to 2,000 listeners, he described how to him the festivities marked "the triumphal days of a people who occupy by conquest, or have usurped the possession of, the territories of my fathers, and have laid, and carefully preserved, a train of terrible miseries."

His speech was printed in an Albany newspaper and later reprinted in Madison. It traces the history of the Mohican nation and tells exactly how they had been dispossessed of the Hudson River Valley, reduced to starvation, and ultimately moved to the frontier wilderness of Wisconsin. "I have been taught in the schools and been able to read your histories and accounts of Europeans, yourselves, and the red man: which instruct me, that while your rejoicings to-day are commemorative of the free birth of this Giant Nation, they simply convey to my mind, the recollection of a transfer of the miserable weakness and dependence of my people from one great power to another."

You can learn more about John Quinney, the coming of the Mohicans to Wisconsin, and Indian views of white history, at Turning Points in Wisconsin History and at the Web site of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.
:: Posted in Curiosities on July 3, 2013

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