Letter from Reverend Joseph Fish requesting support for a school on the Eastern Pequot Reservation
This is a letter from a British colonial minister to a group that gave money to convert American Indians to Christianity. Look for the voice of the Eastern Pequot parents and what Rev. Fish tells us about the Eastern Pequot community in 1757. Just a few years before, in 1751 and shortly before her death, Eastern Pequot Sachem Mary Momoho had convinced the Connecticut Colony to protect the Eastern Pequot’s land from colonists who wanted to take it for their own use.
[Note: the letter has been slightly shortened and punctuation revised to make it easier to read.]
To the Honorable and Revered Commissioners for Indian Affairs in Boston
About four miles from my dwelling house and three from our meeting house, there is a small Indian town consisting of 16 houses and wigwams in which there are 71 persons, great and small, which are one branch of the Pequot Tribe [Eastern Pequot].
I formerly preached to them, at times, and have lately [preached] once a fortnight. …
They have 21 children of a suitable age to be put to school, and the parents are very desirous of having them taught to read English in order to which it [is] necessary that they should have a school master steadily among them. But they are poor. …For though they live on lands devoted to their use by the colony, …they shall really need the most or all the profits of their lands, for several years at least, to defray other necessary charges.
On their behalf, I would humbly ask your help for the support of a school among them…, hoping that by this means, the ignorance in which their poor children are growing up may be happily exchanged for the knowledge of truth. The Indian parents profess a willingness to submit to your orders, respecting the school proposed, if they may obtain your help. And, I shall readily take all needful care of them, touching the school, or anything you may direct, as far as ability serves.
By your honors most obedient, humble servant,
Stonington, North Parish, March 15, 1757
P.S. If the school should be set up, they will need a number of books suitable for beginners, which would be very acceptable. Yours humbly, Joseph Fish
As the Indians above have increased from 7 or 8 houses to 16 within five or six years past, so they are still growing. Two or three families more, with eight or ten children, are coming to join their brethren this spring which I forgot to observe in its place.
READ NEXT: Rev. Joseph Fish’s report of the school, 1772 – 1775