Stockbridge and Munsee Testimony, 1892
Stockbridge and Munsee Indians: Testimony Taken Before the Subcommittee... for the Relief of the Stockbridge and Munsee Tribe Indians...
The Stockbridge Indians who came to Wisconsin in the 1820s were forced in 1832-1834 to move to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, where they were joined by a number of dispossessed Munsee Indians. There, in 1843, the U.S. government offered residents a chance to become U.S. citizens and own their own property, or to remain within the tribe and live under treaty provisions. This split the community into a Citizens Party, who accepted the U.S. offer, and an Indian Party, who preferred to retain tribal status. Precisely which residents were tribal members entitled to treaty stipulations, and which were not, divided the Stockbridge-Munsee for the next several decades. In 1856 a new treaty between the Stockbridge-Munsee and the U.S. government relocated them again, this time to heavily forested lands near Bowler, Wis.
In 1871, under pressure from white lumber companies, the U.S. Congress passed a law selling some of the Stockbridge-Munsee timber lands, which produced $179,000. The question of which Stockbridge-Munsee were entitled to share in these proceeds created two more decades of conflict between the Citizens and Indian parties. This conflict played out in the U.S. Congress, where Democrats, Republicans, and lumber barons all had their own agendas in addition to those within the Stockbridge-Munsee community.
In 1892 Congress took testimony from all parties, some of which is given in this fragile pamphlet. J.C. Adams, whose testimony takes up much of the pamphlet, was a Stockbridge attorney who argued that all members of the community, Citizens and Indian Party, should share in the profits of the timber sale. His view prevailed in legislation passed by Congress the following year, but determining an accurate tribal enrollment list and dispersing payments took more than a decade. Besides giving the arguments for a liberal interpretation of tribal status, this pamphlet contains several tables listing specific Stockbridge and Munsee individuals and the lands they owned, 1843-1871, so it is useful for genealogical purposes as well as tribal history.