The Road to Kingsbridge

The Road to Kingsbridge: Daniel Nimham and the Stockbridge Indian Company in the American Revolution

Serving the American cause in the Revolution did little to make life easier for the Stockbridge Indians in the years that followed the war. The conflict was devastating to the Stockbridge community. A month after the disaster in the Bronx, Washington allowed the four of the Stockbridge Indians still in military service to go home to their grieving community. The survivors of the Indian Company and families of those killed were denied bounty-lands offered to all white soldiers who fought on the Patriot side. The Stockbridge community also faced a major problem that actually had begun before the American Revolution. Even before the outbreak of hostilities in April 1775, colonists had been pouring into Berkshire County. Although the Stockbridge Indian mission continued in operation until the mid 1780s under the supervision of John Sargent, Jr.. the war’s survivors were largely impoverished widows. The Indians there suffered constant land loss. By 1784, for the very first time, American Indians lost political control of the praying town when non-Indians were elected selectmen to the Stockbridge Town Council.

Despite the Stockbridge service in the Continental Army and guarantees of friendship and alliance, extreme land pressures continued after the Revolution. In 1785, the Stockbridge Indians were “encouraged” to seek refuge in Oneida Country in central New York. With the construction of the Erie Canal after the War of 1812 and the rapid non-Indian settlement that resulted, the Stockbridge Indians were once again forced to migrate. They eventually resettled their community in Michigan Territory, now Wisconsin.

Today, this federally recognized American Indian nation – the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians – is located in Bowler, Wis. Yet their presence is still being felt in their Hudson Valley homeland. American Indians have initiated an annual intertribal powwow, now it its 16th season, at Putnam County’s Veterans Memorial Park, dedicated to the memory of the region’s great Wappinger sachem Daniel Nimham.

Laurence M. Hauptman, a frequent contributor to American Indian magazine, is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History.