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Isaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 31

ms-number: 765431

abstract: Dakayenensere and Waonwanoron write to say that they are ready and willing to receive missionaries and to accept help in setting up mills and learning husbandry. They warn that they will not sell their land.

handwriting: Unknown hand is clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in fair-to-good condition, with light wear and staining.

ink: Faded brown.

noteworthy: This doucment is possibly a copy. For Wheelock's response to this letter, see document 765469.

signature: Two signatures appear to be in the same hand.



Brethren
We were informed by our Meſ­
ſenger, that we ſent you laſt Spring, that you would
not only Aſiſt us by ſending us Miniſters to
teach us Chriſtianity; but alſo that you would
aſiſt us, in ſeting up huſbandry, by ſending a Num­
ber of white people to live with us; who when come
ſhould build us Mills, teach us huſbandry, & furniſh us
with Tools for Huſbandry &c—
we greatly rejoiced at hearing of it, & expected
them this Spring; but are diſappointed, at which we
are very ſorry; but we hope that we may yet re­
ceive them, & ſhould much rejoice in it ſhould
you ſend them to us —
We would have you Underſtand Brethren that
we have no thoughts of ſelling our Land to any that
come to live among us; for if we ſhould ſell a little
land to any, by & by they would want to buy a little
more & ſo our Land would go by Inches till we ſhould
have none to live upon — yet as thoſe who come to
Inſtruct us muſt live, we have no objections againſt
their improving as much Land as they pleaſe; yet the
Land ſhall remain ours
We have Brethren never petitioned to you
yet for any to aſiſt us, but only thoſe that come with
Gods News; yet as you have offered to aſiſt us like­
wiſe in teaching of us Huſbandry, we greatly rejoice
in it; & think that they ſhould go together, the one
as well as the other; & that we want Inſtruction in
both.
Brethren we ſend our kindeſt Love to you, & remain
your Brethren.
Iſaac Dakayenenſere
& Adam waoonwanaron

from Iſaac Dakayenenſere
& Adam Waonwanoron
July 31st 1765

Dakayenensere, Isaac

Isaac Dakayenensere was a chief and spiritual leader at Onaquaga. Dakayenensere worked closely with Good Peter to minister to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) community at Onaquaga, a predominantly Oneida town with a diverse population. After converting during the 1740s, both men took up the mantle of evangelism and Christian education at Onaquaga. They cooperated with Gideon Hawley, an Anglo-American missionary, throughout his missions in the 1750s, and in the 1760s they began writing to Wheelock for missionaries and assistance with farming. They received Joseph Woolley, who kept school at Onaquaga from late August/early September of 1765 until his death at the end of that November, but they do not seem to have received the promised farming assistance. Dakayenensere’s daughter, Neggen Aoghyatonghsera (alias Margaret or Peggie) married Joseph Brant, a Moor’s alumnus and famous Mohawk war chief. In some scholarship, Isaac is misidentified as a Mohawk.

Waonwanoron, Adam

A resident of the Oneida community in Onaquaga, New York, and cosigner, with Isaac Dakayenensere, of correspondence with Wheelock requesting advice on and assistance with farming, milling, and religious education.

Wheelock, Eleazar

Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.

HomeIsaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 31
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