This article offers a reconsideration of the Stockbridge-Mahican Indian sachem, Hendrick Aupaumut. Most treatments of Aupaumut's career have focused exclusively on his service as a commissioned agent of the newly established United States, whose job was to attempt to avert a war with the Indians of the Ohio and Great Lakes regions who protested the American claims to territory west of the Ohio River. While Aupaumut did indeed serve as an intermediary between the United States and the Western Indians, he should also be considered as a leader of a revitalization movement. Like the Shawnee Prophet, Aupaumut blended elements of traditional religion and Christianity in the effort to equip his people with the tools necessary to survive in a radically altered world. During his three decades as chief sachem of the Stockbridge Indians, Aupaumut articulated a philosophy that was at once fully Mahican and fully Christian. In the Christian idea of a common descent from Adam and Eve, Aupaumut found a means of extending the traditional tribal ties of fictive kinship. And in his people's Mahican past, Aupaumut found a society that embodied the ideals of virtuous republicanism. With this melded philosophy, Aupaumut sought to make a place for Mahicans in the new republic, challenging the increasing racialism embraced both by followers of the Shawnee and citizens and officials of the United States.
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jun 13, 2005
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