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Monday, March 14, 2016

Lewis Henry Bowman and Joseph Edward Bruchac Research Time Line Part 4:

The "mistake of making false claims" ...

The Bruchac Family of Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York made the quote, "mistake of making false claims"?

How many Books, CD's, Educational School System Presentations wherein the Bruchac's have quote, made the "mistake of making false claims"? THINK ABOUT IT.

Dated December 13, 2006

Quote: "Sometimes, in fact, a non-Native writer becomes the entire representative of a particular Native culture and the true Native voice is never heard."

Eliza T. Dresang: "Lately I have heard there is a controversy about being a card carrying Native America. It came up at the USBBY conference in Madison, Wisconsin, last week. Can you explain more about this and its implications?"

Joseph Bruchac: "I belong to the Abenaki Nation which is a non-recognized nation in the United States. My great-grandfather came from the little village of Odanak in Canada. I do not have a card from a federally recognized Native American nation. However, if you were to go back a hundred years, no American Indians had cards."

"I try to be absolutely straightforward about who I am, where I've been and where I hope to go. I don't want people to conclude that I'm trying to fool them."

Now I am going to share with you two 2-page letters-of-response by both Joseph Edward Bruchac III and his youngest sister, Margaret "Marge" Bruchac, from December 2006:

Page 1
Page 2

December 26, 2006
Joseph Bruchac
P.O. Box 308
Greenfield Center, New York 12833
Phone: (508) 584-1728

Gourvernement Abenakis D’Odanak
102, Rue Siobsis
Odanak (Quebec)

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your letter of December 14th.
I do, indeed, often state that I am of Abenaki descent.
But I do not claim to be a member of the Odanak Band. I have no documented proof for such membership and I have never claimed tribal enrollment. (In fact, I freely acknowledge that I am a person of mixed white and Indian ancestry).
However, I have often made mention of the fact that my great-grandfather, Lewis (or Louis) Bowman recorded on such documents as his marriage certificate and his military enlistment in the Union Army indicate that he came from “St. Francis.” He settled in Greenfield Center, New York where he and his wife, Anna Van Antwerp (or Van Antwert) had thirteen children, among them my grandfather, Jesse Bowman.
My great-grandfather’s mother, Sophie Senecal, remained in Canada was a resident of East Farnum according to documents in the United States War Department. My great-grandfather never returned to Quebec, but remained in Greenfield Center where there was a sizable community of others of Native descent, primarily Abenaki, Mohawk and Mohican.
I am a lifelong resident of Greenfield Center, New York where I live in the same house where I was raised by my grandfather, Jesse Bowman.
It was and remains well-known and widely accepted in our part of upstate New York that the Bowman family – like many other local families—were American Indian and that their tribal background was Abenaki. My grandfather was constantly referred to as a “dirty Indian.” There was no privilege attached to being Indian in our part of New York State during those years and his Abenaki ancestry often caused my grandfather hardships. Because of his own brown skin he was said by some to be “black as an Abenaki.” To be honest, it caused some members of my family great concern due to the prejudice they had experienced when I began as a young man to speak publicly about my Native ancestry over forty years ago.
While I am not a member of your community, I have often visited Odanak. I have enjoyed friendships with several of your elders and other tribal members. I am very grateful for all that I have learned from my friends at Odanak. My son Jesse, was received with warmth and great courtesy during the extensive periods he spent in your community trying to learn the Abenaki language. Other members of my family and I have been invited on several occasions to perform during your community celebrations. I’ve also given, without charge or hesitation, whatever help I can whenever I’ve been asked by the Musee D’Abenakis for assistance.
As a scholar, with a background in university teaching and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, I have done a great deal of research for not only Abenaki history and culture but also for many other Native peoples. I have tried as best I can to project the image and history of the Abenaki and other Native peoples in an honest, dignified, and positive ways in my scholarship, my creative writing and my storytelling for over four decades. I am one of the founders of the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers, internationally known organizations that have worked to recognize, encourage, and support Native writers and storytellers throughout the Americas. I have spoken out and acted for Native rights and Native sovereignty throughout the world.
I have a very long and well-documented history of giving back to Native communities – both financially and in terms of work I have done and continue to do.
I sincerely believe that nothing I have done has either been fraudulent or tarnished the image of the Abenakis or any other Native nations. I am proud of my ancestry.
I wish you all the best in the holiday season and in all the seasons to come.
Dr. Joseph Bruchac

Page 01
Page 02
December 30, 2006
Margaret M. Bruchac
63 Franklin Street
Northampton, MA 01060
Phone: (413) 584-2195

Gilles O’Bomsawin, chief
Claire O’Bomsawin, councillor
Clément Sadoques, councillor
Alain O’Bomsawin, councilor
Jacques T. Watso, councilor
Gouvernement Abénakis D’Odanak
102 rue Sibosis, Odanak, Québec, J0G 1110

                This letter comes to you in response to your letter of December 14, 2006. Please allow me to clarify some of the confusion, and address your concern.
                I have never represented myself as a member of the Odanak Band. I do not claim to belong to the Odanak Band. I do not wish to become a member of the Odanak Band. These so-called claims that you speak of appear to be due to some misunderstanding. The reports that you are receiving about me from members of your First Nation residing in the United States do not accurately represent anything I have said. I am surprised to hear that you have received requests to verify something that is not true to begin with.
                I have Abenaki ancestry through my mother, Marion Flora Bowman Bruchac (1921 – 1999). Her father, Jesse Elmer Bowman (1887 – 1970), was the son of Lewis H. Bowman (1844 – 1918) (his first name was also spelled as Louis), an Abenaki Indian born in Canada, and Alice van Antwerp (1855 – 1909), an Indian from New York state whose family was apparently mixed-blood, with Abenaki, Mohawk, Mohican, Dutch, and/or other ancestry. Family tradition suggests that “Bowman” could be a variant of the family name OBomsawin. Although some of Lewis Bowman’s Civil War service records and other documents identify him as a “Saint Francis” Indian, we do not know if he was ever listed as a member of the Odanak Band. We do know that he lived in various places from the 1840’s – 1880’s, including Durham and Farnum (also spelled Farnham) in Quebec, St. Albans in Vermont, and also in Troy and Saratoga Springs, before buying farmland in Porters Corners in the town of Greenfield, in New York state.
                My mother’s parents, my mother, my siblings, and I were all born in New York State, and we are all American citizens. I identify myself as an American Abenaki Indian with mixed white ancestry. My siblings, my parents, and my grandparents did not ask to be members of the Odanak Band due to our Abenaki ancestry, and I am not asking for member now. There is thus no cause for you to be concerned about the potential of my making any fraudulent claims that might “tarnish your image,” as suggested in your letter. I do not claim to belong to your band. Anyone who says otherwise is mistaken.
                On the many occasions that I have been invited to Odanak, to perform at the July homecoming events, consult with curators at the Musée de Abénakis, or just to visit with friends, I have been warmly received as an Abenaki singer, storyteller, and historian. I am unclear, therefore, about the cause of your concern, since my friendship with members of your band does not give me any special privileges or rights in your country. It is possible that we may share some ancestors, since so many Abenaki people have moved back and forth for so many generations across the territory that is now divided by the United States-Canadian border. I do not, however, receive any special privileges from the United States or Canada by virtue of being Abenaki. I do not receive any of the health care, housing support, trust funds, food assistance, educational grants, casino profits, or other monetary payments that are typically given out to Canadian First Nations and to U. S. Federally-recognized tribes.
                I am led to wonder if there is some historical explanation for this apparent confusion between us? There are many Abenaki Indian families still living in Abenaki territory in the northeastern United States who are not members of the Odanak Band. As you know, during the French War Indian Wars (1670’s to 1760’s), a large number of Western Abenaki people from such tribal bands as Sokoki, Missisquoi, Pennacook, Pequawket, Cowass, etc. passed through Saint Francis/ Odanak, when it offered refuge for New England Indians fleeing from English settlers. Some families from those bands chose to stay at Odanak permanently. Others stayed for a few generations before returning to New England. Others never left their original homelands in New England or New York. When I invited Chief Obomsawin to come to Deerfield in 2004 to witness commemorative events that dealt with this history, he spoke quite eloquently, in the First Church of Deerfield, about historical Abenaki relationships. Perhaps this complex history contributes to the confusion, since there are so many Abenaki people living in the United States who do not identify themselves as members of your band.
                Since your letter raises the question of financial interest, please let me clarify that I have never asked for, nor do I intend to ask for, any special benefits or money from band. I do greatly appreciate your past generosities in reimbursing my travel expenses and feeding me when I have been invited to perform at Odanak. If that is the cause for concern, I am more than happy to pay for all of my own expenses when visiting in the future.
                Although my Abenaki ancestry is a source of pride and inspiration, it does not, on its own, offer me any special rights or income. Please be reassured when I tell you that I pay for my own health care, my own housing, my own transportation, and my own education. For twelve years, my college education has been funded, not by any grants dedicated to Abenaki Indians, but by more than $45,000.00 in student loans borrowed from the United States government, and by 8 years of my hard work as a teaching assistant and visiting professor. My income derives from the teaching, consulting, research, and performance work I do for New England colleges and museums, based on my own hard-earned and carefully developed skills as a teacher, archival researcher, writer, colonial historian, musician, and performer, my professional expertise as a museum consultant, and my advanced Master’s and Doctoral degrees as an ethno-historian and anthropologist. With homes that this sharing of information helps to offer some clarity between us, I wish you well.
Sincerely, in peace and friendship,
Margaret Bruchac

Remember, Jesse Bowman Bruchac, while communicating with his father Joseph Edward Bruchac III, stated and I quote:

"He [Joseph Edward Bruchac III] took a leap of faith / which I respect / and I have joined him on it."

Here's what I think really occurred:

As with many families, grandparents raised at least one or two grandchildren. We see it when poverty happens in a family, we see it when drug usage happens in a family, and we see it subsequently, when a parent is judicially incarcerated or absent within a family. 

Joseph Edward Bruchac III has published some children's books, usually found on the school library shelf for young people to read. I have found them to be full of details, not necessarily found readily in his adult book, Bowman's Store.

The above book was based on a live interview with Joseph Edward Bruchac III on June 06, 2007, and this book was published in 2010 by Michelle Parker-Rock.

When Joe Bruchac was growing up, many Native people, including his grandfather Jesse Elmer Bowman, kept their ethnicity a secret because of the prejudice against them.
"There are some very dark-skinned people in the photo albums of the Dunham family that nobody talked about," he said. "I am sure there was Native ancestry there." Even though he was unaware of his own Abenaki roots at the time, the young Joseph Edward Bruchac III, found himself drawn to American Indian culture. 
Over time, he came to see that his father had been attracted to it well.
As a child, Joseph Jr.'s favorite book was Ernest Thompson Seton's Two Little Savages, a story about two boys who lived like Indians, and his first partner in taxidermy was Leon Pray, an Ottawa Indian ...
Joseph Edward Bruchac III's family (parents and two sisters Mary Ann and Marge) also went to Indian Village at Lake George, where Ray Fadden, a Mohawk elder and an Iroquois storyteller, would tell stories and demonstrate crafts. 
Bruchac's family also visited the Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, New York. There, Maurice Dennis, who was Abenaki, would tell stories and talk about Native culture. 

So what happened?

Joseph Edward Bruchac III, was infatuated with Indians from an early age. As he aged up into adulthood, he wanted to become an Indian, the "exotic other" after, as a boy, he had watched television and read books about Indian portrayed as ... 

Accuracy is important to Joseph Edward Bruchac III.
Joseph Edward Bruchac III sees himself in the role of an uncle, passing onto someone else's children those things that he would want his childrn to know and understand, and to do it as honorably, as truthfully, and as interestingly as possible.

Bruchac: "My dad took a leap of faith in his beliefs. I have said that, as has he"
Bruchac: Yes, definitely we can't prove that we're Abenakis genealogically or genetically ... but I'll take the cultural. It's what matters most in my humble opinion and that of those I love. We're not all the same kind of "fakers”.
Bruchac: The Bowman being Obomsawin doesn't prove out
Bruchac: It was a theory
Bruchac: A guess
Bruchac: Accepted as fact
Buchholz : Perpetuated by your family and naive others as fact ... to as many people as would believe it
Bruchac: I am really honored to be accepted by some, even called family. But I know I cannot, nor can anyone prove that I am Abenaki.
Bruchac: It's something we feel. Complicated, yet so simple
Making relatives is an ancient Native tradition.
My Dad began making relatives when I was just a wee lad. Maurice Denis being the first.
Bruchac: But I can speak the language as a white guy.
Bruchac: But most importantly the struggle for cultural survival in the face of changing blood quantum’s, genetic connections
Bruchac: They called me the white guy on set of "Saints & Strangers." We were great friends and I am physically white, just red on the inside.
Bruchac: We could work only with what we had and honestly stand by it. Sorry but it's our lives.
Bruchac: Yes but still have moved forward on a chosen path
Bruchac: DNA or not, because we believe, And live it that's the only answer I got.
Bruchac: You can choose to believe in anything in life. Based on the life my dad raised me in. And his grandfather raised him to find.
Bruchac: My kids consider themselves Abenaki too. It's how they are being raised with the language and pride in it.
Bruchac: Well, you didn't have anything to go on (until the recent discoveries in your DNA work) so I understand the process, but it doesn't change anything. What's real is how we live. Not our blood or papers.
Bruchac:  I think many would argue we have helped in many ways and will continue to.
Bruchac: Facts about the DNA work are not facts they are just results of your research and don't tell the whole truth. Just one lens to look through. You have a clear opinion, and that's fine.
Bruchac: What makes someone Abenaki? And who decides?

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