Wednesday, November 22, 2006

270 Years Later, Queen Elizabeth II Accepts Stone Pipe of Peace From Mohegan Leaders

[Posted by reader_iam]

The ceremony took place Wednesday, in honor of Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon, legendary leader of the Mohegans (sometimes also referred to as Mohicans, not to be confused with Mahicans, as James Fenimore Cooper apparently did.)

From the BBC article:
The Queen was given a peace pipe at a memorial to a Native American chieftain to symbolise the righting of a wrong.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she paid her respects to Mahomet Weyonomon, of the Mohegan tribe, who died of smallpox in London in 1736.

Tribal leaders in traditional regalia blessed a memorial stone in his honour.

Mahomet had travelled from Connecticut to petition George II about the capture of his tribe's land by English settlers but died before he met the king.

Foreigners were barred from being buried in the City of London so his body was interred in an unmarked grave.

'Proper burial'

The Queen and the duke were joined by tribal spiritual leader Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum and other Mohegans wearing deerskin leggings and headdresses made with turkey and eagle feathers at the memorial ceremony at Southwark Cathedral on Wednesday.

She was presented with a scroll containing a copy of the original petition and a red stone peace pipe.

Mr Bozsum said: "We are glad that we have given him a proper burial now.

So am I--as was the Anglican priest-friend who alerted me to this story earlier today, while we were attending a special pre-holiday season program at my 6-year-old's school. He's not the sort of Englishman who uses such phrases as "jolly good show," but you could tell that the story resonated and caused pride.

People have different Thanksgiving holiday traditions. One of mine--not so original, of course--is to present historical stories related to the settling and expanding of this country that my son is not so likely to get elsewhere. How cool, this year, that a topic has dropped into my lap--and with an element of timeliness, no less!

It's also neat that as part of his school program today, my son--who has Native American ancestors through his father's maternal line--read a story he had written from the point of view of a Native American. Tomorrow, we will talk about Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon, some of his experiences, and his fateful (and fatal) trip to England, where one of my grandfathers was born and raised (before relocating to America and marrying the daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, but that's another story).

Now this post has begun to ramble--but that's OK: One of the things I love about history itself is the way that it rambles and tangles, unravels and weaves, and sometimes lands one in a satisfyingly circular, even unified, place.

Makes me feel thankful, somehow.

(More pictures and details of the ceremony at Southwark Cathedral are here.)