Tribal History


REVEREND SAMSON OCCUM

The Mohegan leader, Samson Occum, was "born in a Wigwam" in 1723. He was the son of Joshua Occum and Sarah Uncas; grandson of Thomas Occum and Elizabeth Uncas; greatgrandson of Cesar Uncas; greatgreatgrandson of Oweneco; and greatgreatgreatgrandson of Uncas, Grand Sachem of the Mohegan.

In 1759, Samson Occom became the first formally trained and ordained Christian Indian Minister. He was known as "minister to all the tribes of New England" and "the great Indian man who takes care of Indians".

Samson attempted to raise money for a centrally located New England Christian Indian School. However, anti-Indian public sentiment as a result of the highly publicized rebellion of the Ottawa Chief, Pontiac, in 1763, forced Samson to conduct his fundraising abroad. In England and Scotland, he raised approximately eleven thousand pounds from weathly nobles and royals like the Earl of Dartmouth and King George. However, when he returned home that money was inappropriately diverted by white missionaries towards the funding for the non-Indian institution today known as Dartmouth College.

The site of the school that the Reverend Samson Occom attended, Moore's Charity School, eventually became Dartmouth College. Samson Occom's mother is said to have worked for Eleazor Wheelock and it was through Wheelock's interest in her son that he became a student at Wheelock's charity school and later was sent to England, with Mr. Whittaker from the school, to raise funds to be used for the New England Christian Indian School. It was impossible to raise sufficient funds in the Colonies due to strong anti-Indian public sentiment as a result of the highly publicized rebellion of the Ottawa Chief, Pontiac, in 1763. In England and Scotland, Samson and Mr. Wheelock raised approximately ten thousand pounds from weathly nobles and royals like the Earl of Dartmouth and King George. After a period of two years, Samson Occom and Mr. Whittaker returned home. However, when they returned home they found that the money was inappropriately diverted by white missionaries towards the funding for the non-Indian institution today known as Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Besides the theft of the money he raised for the Indian school, Occom witnessed other disheartening non-Indian abuses of Mohegan money. For example, the Mohegan's controversial "Mason Land Court Case" was decided in favor of the colony against the Tribe in 1767. In that case, the Mohegans had disputed the colony's claim that they had deeded their land to the crown through colonial agents in the Mason family. Losing this case meant that the Tribe was never compensated for the seizure of their lands.

The colony's manipulations of Mohegan land and politics encouraged Samson Occom to lead the Indians away from it's corrupting influences. He therefore led an Indian emigration to upstate New York. He declared, "The poor Indian will never stand a good chance against the English. They have no money and money is almighty nowadays". In 1775, Occom gathered tribal members of the Mohegan, Pequot, Narragansett, Montauk, Nehantic and Tunxis Tribes to build a new Indian life away from the influences of non-Indians. His group planned an expedition to Brothertown, New York, to prepare for permanent relocation among the Oneida Indians. They received the following greeting upon their arrival:

...and now brethren we receive you into our body as it were, now may we say we have one head, one heart, and one blood. One ruler in the Father of us all. Brethren we look upon you as a sixth brother. The Oneidas, Kiyougas, Manticucks, Tuscaroras, and Tdelenhanas, they are your elder brothers. But as for the Mohawks, Onandagas, and Senecas, they are your fathers. Brethren in the spring, we will expect you all again.
Samson Occom died in 1792 in Oneida, New York, after many years of service to his Mohegan people.