Queen honours the lost of the Mohegans

Queen honours the lost of the Mohegans


17th November 2006

Two hundred and seventy years ago one of the greatest of all native American Indian chieftains bravely made his away across the 'great water' - the Atlantic - to plead for the lives of his tribe.

Tragically, Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon - leader of the legendary Wolf People - fell victim to the western scourge of smallpox shortly after arriving on these shores.

As foreigners were barred from being buried in the City of London, his body was rowed across the river to Southwark where he was buried in the church graveyard and his sad story lost in the mists of time.

Next week, however, this young brave's life will be celebrated again when a party of Mohicans, dressed in deer skins and eagle feathers take over the vaulted cathedral that was subsequently built on the site for an authentic 'Red Indian' funeral service presided over by the Queen, or 'nonner', as female chieftains are known.

Led by the spiritual leader of the tribe, Bruce 'Two Dogs' Bozsum, the party will offer honour songs and gifts of tobacco to their Creator to take Sachem Weyonomon's spirit back to him.

They will also present the Queen with a traditional peace pipe decorated with eagle feathers taken from one of the original headdresses the Sachem left behind.

Speaking from the Mohegan's reservation in Uncasville, Connecticut, Mr Bozsum explained just how such a revered figure came to die so far from his spiritual home.

Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon, he said, was the great grandson of the great chieftain Uncass, who welcomed the English when they first began to settle in his lands.

As the years went by, however, the visitors began to encroach further and further into the Indians' territory, despite a treaty between the two parties.

In desperation, Weyonomon sailed with two supporters to petition King George II to protect the lands of his ancestors.

The small party made visits upon many influential members of the court before moving to modest apartments in the City of London's Aldermanbury district - a far cry from the wooden and bark wig wam he was used to living in - to prepare their official petition to the King, which is still held in the Public Records Office today.

Tragically, in 1736, disease claimed his life before he had the chance to do so and his unmarked grave has never been found.

More than two centuries later, however, the Mohegan Tribal Council approached the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, The Very Rev Colin Slee, to ask whether they could raise a memorial to their former leader.

The Dean and renowned sculptor Peter Randall Page subsequently flew out to their New England reservation to choose a slab of pink granite, in line with the indigenous custom of naming a boulder after a chieftain who dies.

The five-tonne sculpture was finally lifted by crane into the cathedral gardens this week ready for the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday.

"Although it will take place in a Christian church the funeral ceremony will be a very traditional one, steeped in our history and culture," Mr Bozsum explained.

"My party will all wear traditional regalia with deerskin leggings, breechcloths and vests with moccasins and headdresses with turkey and eagle feathers in them.

"We will conduct what we call a smudge blessing with four songs and prayers. At the same time we will burn sage and tobacco in a clam shell.

"As we do so, we capture the smoke in our left hands, pull it over our hearts and say a prayer as we release it up to The Creator.

"I believe that your Queen has seen many interesting sights during her travels but never, perhaps, one such as this in one of her own churches.

"Sachem Weyonomon brought a stone pipe of peace over to England to give to the the King and Queen but died before he could do so.

"I hope your gracious ruler will accept our offering instead and a sign of the bond between our cultures."

Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:34 AM..
Good one Blackleaf.


That was a joke eh??

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