Bidwell Lore – Magnificent Mohicans “King” Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut and Hendrick Aupaumut

Welcome to week 42 of Bidwell Lore! This week we share stories of two more Magnificent Mohicans, “King” Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut and Hendrick Aupaumut, courtesy once again of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community

“King” Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut, born 1727, was a chief sachem of the Stockbridge Mohicans, serving as a widely-respected community leader, diplomat, military captain, and orator. His name is spelled with many variations, such as Auh-haun-nnu-wau-noniut.  

He is the son of “King” Ben Kokkewenaunaut, and assumed the position of sachem after King Ben resigned from this position in 1771 at age 94. King Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut is the father to Solomon Hendricks and the famous Hendrick Aupaumut.   

Fluent in English, King Solomon served in a diplomatic envoy with Daniel Nimham, Jacob Cheeksaunkun, and John Naunauphtaunk, who, along with three of their wives, sailed to London in 1766. There, they met with British authorities regarding colonial encroachments on their lands. They were ultimately not successful.  

This experience was perhaps a motivator in siding with the Americans in the Revolutionary War. When the Revolution broke out, in a speech at the Treaty at Albany in 1775, Solomon famously said, “Wherever you go, we will be by your sides. Our bones shall die with yours. We are determined never to be at peace with the red coats, while they are at variance with you…If we are conquered our Lands go with yours, but if we are victorious we hope you will help us to recover our just rights.” He became the captain of a company of Mohican soldiers, and served as a leader in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. 

Solomon undertook diplomatic missions to meet with the Oneida and establish continued friendly relations, as other Mohican diplomats traveled throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and Canada to parlay with other tribes. He made it clear in these discussions in the early days of the Revolution that he was willing to fight but that he would do so in his own Indian way, saying “I am not used to fight English fashion, and you must not expect me to train like your men. Only point out to me where your enemies keep, and that is all I shall want to know.” 

Upon his death in February 1777, at age 50, Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut’s replacement was Joseph Shauquethqueat, aka, Joe Pye, as head sachem. 

The house of Captain Solomon Uhhaunnuhwannuhmut is described as being located opposite Little Hill, today more familiarly known as Laurel Hill in Stockbridge, Mass. The records are unclear when Solomon’s house was erected, but it was likely sometime in the 1740s when the Mohicans at Stockbridge began building English-style houses with more frequency. In 1855, nearly 80 years after his death, his home continues to be represented on the local map shown below, which speaks to his enduring legacy. Solomon’s homesite is a subject of study of our historic preservation program to survey and document this location in recognition of this Magnificent Mohican’s importance to our cultural heritage.  

King Solomon's house noted on an 1855 Stockbridge map

Hendrick Aupaumut (1757-1830), was a respected Mohican sachem, attorney, diplomat, and historian. He was well-known for his diplomatic acumen in brokering peace between other indigenous tribal nations and an unstable United States in its infancy, shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War.

Born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he was instrumental in Mohican Nation’s many trails from the East. His life is forever remembered for his fierce advocacy for protecting title to lands for us to live on to ensure the perseverance of our nationhood.

In the late 1770s, Aupaumut assumed a leadership role in the Stockbridge, Mass. mission with Peter Pohqunnoppeet and John Konkapot and wrote a prolific amount of land agreements and petitions to protect the Tribe’s interests. In the 1780s, he became close friends with Mohegan Rev. Samson Occom and would often host the preacher or translate his sermons when the latter visited New Stockbridge, NY to where the Stockbridge Mohicans moved in the mid-1780s.

In the 1790s, Aupaumut was acting as a diplomatic emissary for the United States to mediate and secure peace with western tribal nations. He served under General Harrison in the War of 1812. In the 1820s, Aupaumut led land deals with Wisconsin tribes, and he finally moved west in 1829 along with the remainder of the Stockbridge tribe. His many writings, including those of our history, are among the earliest Native American written records and leave an astonishing legacy for us all.

During perhaps the most tumultuous and perilous period of our Nation’s history, faced with removal and extinction, Aupaumut dedicated his life to ensure our people’s survival, through preservation of history and culture and through exercising his diplomatic skills.

Below is an excerpt from a document composed by Hendrick Aupaumut circa 1790s, one of his legacy of writings. Part of this document, to the New York State Legislature, says “Brothers we wish to live with you in peace and love… Listen to us and the great good spirit will reward your goodness – If you should finally shut your ears may that great spirit forgive you. This is all I have to say. Hendrick Aupaumut, Sachem and Agent, The Mahheconnak Stockbridge Tribe in Behalf of the Nation.”

Excerpt from Document by Hendrick Aupaumut circa 1790s

Thank you to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community for their work on these articles and for allowing us to share them here.

Images courtesy of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community

Next week we will share the story of General George Washington, an 1100-pound Ox, and  “King” Solomon Uhhaunauwaunhmut.