Perhaps the first English-speaking people in the state were in the John Metoxen group. Electa Quinney, the first public school teacher in Wisconsin, was a Stockbridge Indian woman. The first Protestant minister, as well as the first Christian Temperance Union, came with the Stockbridge Mohican people. Again they established a church and a school.
Meanwhile, the federal government was forcing Indian nations to agree to land session treaties, often physically moving them to lands far distant and different from their original homelands. In 1832, Congress had enacted President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act by which all Indians from the east would be moved to lands west of the Mississippi River. A group of Stockbridge Mohicans, fearing the inevitable, moved to Indian Territory in 1839. Many died while making this journey. Some reached Kansas and Oklahoma and married into other tribes. Most simply gave up and returned to Wisconsin, which had gained statehood in 1848.
During this period a group of Munsee joined the people at Stockbridge, Wisconsin, and were accepted into the community. Known as first as the Stockbridge and Munsee, eventually this community was simply called the "Stockbridge-Munsee."
The federal removal policy caused dissension among the people who remained in Wisconsin, which led to political divisions in the tribe. Presented with the opportunity by government agents, some Stockbridge people relinquished their Indian status and became tax paying citizens of the United States, while others chose to retain their tribal membership and form of government. New lands were explored, new moves considered. As a result of the Treaty of 1856, the Stockbridge and Munsee moved to the townships of Red Springs and Bartelme in Shawano County. But the conflict between the Citizen Party and Indian Party was to have repercussions for many years to come.
In the late 1800's, almost every Native nation in the United States had been assigned to reservations. The reservation land of the Stockbridge-Munsee was mostly covered with pine forest. Farming was attempted but the land was sandy and swampy and so forestry became the base of the economy. However, services promised in treaties were inadequate and of poor quality. Poverty prevailed for most people. Treasured wampum belts and other cultural artifacts, craft materials and even traditional clothing were sold to collectors for a pittance.
In 1887 the General Allotment Act was passed by Congress. This law divided up reservation lands and allotted portions to individual people. This was not new to the Stockbridge Mohicans, whose lands had been allotted in Massachusetts, New York, Kaukauna and "down below" in Stockbridge. The policy proved to be a very successful way of removing land from tribes by making it possible to deal with individuals who had little experience with private ownership. Some people who needed money sold their allotments to business dealers who wanted the forest for lumbering. Some dealers connived to get the land, and some elements were built into the Act of 1887 allowing lumber barons to secure un-allotted lands. This happened on the Stockbridge Reservation. The lumbering companies cut down the trees and moved out, leaving land with little economic value.
Some families sold lakeshore property in order to make their mortgage payments on land they had purchased or to which they held title. Other Indian individuals lost their allotments because they were unable to meet tax or loan payments. Thus the tribe began to see its reservation land disappear. Hard times continued and grew even worse during the Great Depression in the 1930's.
Some Americans were disturbed by the conditions to which Native people had been reduced and by the prohibitions that had been placed on them. Such a person was John Collier, an advocate for American Indian people. After he was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs by Franklin Roosevelt, he prevailed upon Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). This law made it possible for Indian communities to get funds from the federal government to reorganize their tribal governments and retrieve some of the lands which they had lost. The IRA, along with the tenacity of dedicated tribal leaders during the hard years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - leaders such as Carl Miller and others - made possible the continuation of the Stockbridge-Munsee people as a nation.
It is ironic that the Stockbridge-Munsee regained about 15,000 acres in the township of Bartelme. This western portion of the reservation lands had been clear cut, making it sub marginal or useless and therefore eligible for repurchase for American Indian use. Of the total 15,000 acres, however, only about 2,500 were placed in trust for the tribe, now officially called the "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians." Shortly after the mid-1930's, families began moving into the rough buildings that were once the headquarters of the Brooks and Ross Lumber Company. By the end of 1937 the tribe had a new constitution based on a Bureau of Indian Affairs model, and the Stockbridge-Munsee had a land base on which to rebuild homes for the people.
A new tribal council was elected with Harry A. Chicks as its president. The second president, Arvid E. Miller, was a leader of his people for twenty-six years. He was one of the founders of both the National Congress of American Indians and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council. In 1972 the remaining 13,000 acres of land were placed in trust, and tribal members received compensation (about eighty cents an acre) for lands that been taken in eastern Wisconsin.
Today, on Shawano County Road A in northeastern Wisconsin, a new sign announces the reservation of the MOHICAN NATION. Circling the Many Trails symbol are the words "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians." The term "Mohican Nation" acknowledges the tribe's sovereignty and its government relationship with federal, states, county and township governments. The words "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians" acknowledge the people's history.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Community is still located on this reservation in Wisconsin, although enrolled tribal members live in other parts of Wisconsin, the United States and the world. The reservation boundaries encompass the two townships of Red Springs and Bartelme.
Some of the tribe's families live on trust land which is assigned to tribal members for their use. Others live on privately owned lands within the reservation boundaries, as do some non-Indians. Approximately half of the tribal population of about 1,500 lives on or near the reservation.
Over the past sixty-some years, the Stockbridge-Munsee has not only survived but the community has grown in many ways. First of all, the forests have returned, and with the forests so have deer, bear, waterfowl, wild turkeys and other animals. People have reported seeing a white deer and also a cougar.
Some of the homes still provide shelter, including a few stone houses that are now on the National Historic Registry. However, mobile homes, apartments and more and more permanent homes continue to add to the housing opportunities on the reservation. New apartments for the elderly, called the Moshuebee Apartments, are attached to the Elderly Center where meals and other activities are provided.
Numerous structures are needed to house the tribal government, the tribal court, legal department, Mohican News, tribal administration and roads departments. The Mohican Family Center features a full-size gym, exercise room, aerobics room and youth center. In addition, a new comprehensive Health and Wellness Center, including medical and dental and behavioral health facilities, has recently opened.
The Pine Hills Golf Course has expanded to eighteen holes, and the new Supper Club provides fine dining on weekends. The original clubhouse has also been expanded and serves as a Many Trails Meeting Hall and Banquet Facility. The sand filter/waste-water treatment facility will provide drinkable water to parts of the reservation and several roads are newly paved.
The pow-wow grounds have been groomed for the annual gathering which is held the second week of August. Sweat lodges are used frequently, at many sites on the reservation.
The North Star Mohican Casino can be credited with much of the Mohican Nation's economic progress. The casino is the largest employer in Shawano County. Over half of the 600 employees are non-Mohicans. The casino also contributes to the economy of the county. Numerous busses arrive at the casino daily; deliveries of casino and bingo supplies, foods and beverages, fuel, paper products, cleaning supplies and other necessities attest to the economic contributions of the casino in the area. The recently opened Little Star Gas Station and Convenience Store provides employment and services.
The children from the reservation attend school in the Bowler and Gresham Public Schools. Many of the high school graduates go on to college, technical school or a university. Tribal members hold degrees in law, medicine, education, engineering, architecture, science, fine arts and other disciplines. The Stockbridge-Munsee Education Board oversees programs meant to encourage students to progress in and advance their education.
Back in the early 1970's, Bernice Miller requested a space from the Tribal Council for the purpose of preserving the papers and artifacts of her late husband, Arvid E. Miller. An active historical committee, consisting of Elders and anyone else interested in tribal history, committed themselves to gathering everything that is known about the Stockbridge-Munsee/Mohican people. A "ditto-machine" newspaper was started and shared community news for about ten years.
Gathering history required travel to homelands in the east. Since 1969 at least twenty research trips have been made. Traveling in caravans of autos or by bus, youth and elders have visited the Mission House and burial grounds in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Many climbed Monument Mountain. Research has been done in the Stockbridge Historical Room, the New York State Historical Library in Albany, the Huntington Library in New York City and in numerous other libraries and museums.
The research library includes books, hand-written letters, notes, maps, photos, genealogy records and more.
The museum collection includes: baskets made of splints and birch bark, arrowheads, stone axes, war clubs, and other original artifacts.
Through Repatriation artifacts recently returned to the library Museum include a wampum belt and ceremonial pipes.
As a result, the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library is an excellent resource for students and scholars involved in research. The Library/Museum welcomes visitors from near and far daily.