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Unformatted text preview: ¡I Believe It Is Because I Am a Poor Indian¢: Samsom Occom£s Life as an Indian Minister by Samsom Occom By the beginning of the eighteenth century Mohegan Indians had lost vast amounts of their land to the English colonists. They found it hard to continue with their traditional tribal economy; some turned to alcohol for escape and others found an answer in Christianity. Evangelical ministers converted Mohegan Samsom Occom to Christianity during the Great Awakening in the late 1730s and 1740s. He attended the Reverend Eleazer Wheelock¡s school and trained as a missionary and teacher for his people, first in New London, Connecticut, and then moving to Montauk on Long Island as an ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom composed a short autobiography where he described the difficulties of making a living, his experience as an Indian minister, and his poor treatment at the hands of the religious establishment. From my Birth till I received the Christian Religion I was Born a Heathen and Brought up In Heathenism, till I was between 16 & 17 years of age, at a Place Calld Mohegan, in New London, Connecticut, in New England. My Parents Livd a wandering life, for did all the Indians at Mohegan, they Chiefly Depended upon Hunting, Fishing, & Fowling for their Living and had no Connection with the English, excepting to Traffic with them in their small Trifles; and they Strictly maintained and followed their Heathenish Ways, Customs & Religion, though there was Some Preaching among them. Once a Fortnight, in ye Summer Season, a Minister from New London used to come up, and the Indians to attend; not that they regarded the Christian Religion, but they had Blankets given to them every Fall of the Year and for these things they would attend and there was a Sort of School kept, when I was quite young, but I believe there never was one that ever Learnt to read any thing, ¢and when I was about 10 Years of age there was a man who went about among the Indian Wigwams, and wherever he Could find the Indian Children, would make them read; but the Children Used to take Care to keep out of his way; ¢and he used to Catch me Some times and make me Say over my Letters; and I believe I learnt Some of them. But this was Soon over too; and all this Time there was not one amongst us, that made a Profession of Christianity¢Neither did we Cultivate our Land, nor kept any Sort of Creatures except Dogs, which we used in Hunting; and we Dwelt in wigwams. These are a Sort of Tents, Covered with Matts, made of Flags. And to this Time we were unacquainted with the English Tongue in general though there were a few, who understood a little of it. From the Time of our Reformation till I left Mr. Wheelocks When I was 16 years of age, we heard a Strange Rumor among the English, that there were Extraordinary Ministers Preaching from place to Place and a Strange Concern among the White People. This was in the Spring of the Year. But we Saw nothing of these things, till Some Time in the Summer, when Some Spring of the Year....
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This note was uploaded on 12/12/2011 for the course COM ARTS 374 taught by Professor Melissa during the Spring '11 term at University of Wisconsin Colleges Online.
- Spring '11