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The Stockbridge, originally known as the Housatonic, became known as the Stockbridge, after the settlement of Stockbridge, Massachusetts was founded near their village. The Stockbridge often assisted the American colonists during their conflicts with the French, during Pontiac's Rebellion (1763 1766), and during the American Revolution. Due to white encroachment the Stockbridge moved westward several times during the 1700s and 1800s. In 1822 they faced relocation to Wisconsin, where they later obtained a reservation with the Munsee.

The Munsee makeup one of the three principal divisions of the Delaware and like the Stockbridge, belong to the Algonquin linguistic family. During the course of more than a century a band of Delaware gradually migrated west from their original home located on the headwaters of the Delaware River in New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. This division of the Delaware became recognized as a separate tribe named "Munsee," an adaptation of Minsi from the tribal place-name of Min-asin-ink, meaning "at the place where stones are gathered together." During the War of 1812 a portion of the Munsee went to Canada and became affiliated with the Chippewa.

In 1832 the Stockbridge joined with the Munsee to purchase a reservation tract near Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin. A portion of the Stockbridge-Munsee moved to the Delaware Reservation, situated in present Kansas, in 1839. Angered Kansas settlers raised objections to any reservations, forcing their removal. In 1867 this group of Stockbridge-Munsee made an agreement with the Cherokee to settle in northeastern Indian Territory, and they became citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

The commissioner of Indian affairs promoted the termination of federal relations with the tribe under the assumption they no longer required governmental protection. Consequently, Congress passed acts in 1904 and 1906 that ensured an end to all relations by 1910. Affected by the Great Depression the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided a method for the Stockbridge-Munsee to secure government aid. In 1938 the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribal constitution and bylaws of the Stockbridge-Munsee community. In 1966 a total of 750 Stockbridge-Munsee were listed on the tribal rolls.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: William C. Sturtevant, Handbook of North American Indians: Northeast, Vol. 15 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Carl Waldman, Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1988). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983).

Julie Bennett-Jones

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