William Fowler (Brothertown Indian)

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William Fowler (1815 – October 10, 1862) (Brothertown Indian) was a politician from Calumet County, Wisconsin who served as a Representative in the 1845 session of the Territorial Legislative Assembly of the Wisconsin Territory. He was elected as Wisconsin's first Native American legislator.[1][2] In 1856 he was elected as County Treasurer of Calumet County. He enlisted while in his 40s in the Union Army during the Civil War; died in 1862 as a result of wounds suffered while fighting as a Union soldier.

Background[edit]

William Fowler was born in 1815 into the Brothertown Indians,[2] at a time when his people were living on a small reservation in Oneida County, New York. He was presumably part of one of the five groups of Brothertown people who removed to Wisconsin, arriving on ships at the port of Green Bay between 1831 and 1836, after having traveled across the Great Lakes, when the entire tribe was removed to Wisconsin.[3]

Tribal affairs[edit]

Fowler was one of a seven-man committee elected at a civil township town meeting to arrange for the sale of tribally owned saw mill and grist mill(s) to two non-Indians in 1841.[4]

In 1854, Fowler submitted "a memorial of the Brotherton tribe of Indians" to the U.S. Congress advancing a historical claim for $30,000 as compensation for lands allegedly ceded by several treaties. He signed the memorial as the "delegate from the Brotherton Indians" and claimed to be "their legally authorized agent."[5]

Legislative and other civic offices[edit]

Fowler served during the 1845 session of the Territorial Assembly ("Third Session of the Fourth Legislative Assembly" January 6-February 24, 1845) as one of three Representatives from a district consisting of Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Brown, Fond du Lac, Marquette, Portage, Calumet, and Winnebago counties. He was identified by a footnote in subsequent Annals of the Legislature as "*Brothertown Indian." (In December 1843, he had been chosen by the Assembly as their fireman for that year's session.[6])

In July 1856, when a Calumet County Agricultural Society was organized, Fowler was elected as one of the vice-presidents.[7]

In November 1856, Fowler was elected County Treasurer for Calumet County.[8]

Civil War service and death[edit]

Fowler enlisted in the United States Army, in the 21st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, during the American Civil War when he was in his late 40s. He was injured in combat, and died of his wounds at Sulphur Springs, Virginia on October 10, 1862.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Legislative Manual of the State of Wisconsin; Comprising Jefferson's Manual, Rules, Forms and Laws for the Regulation of Business; also, lists and tables for reference Tenth Annual Edition. Madison: Atwood and Culver, State Printers, Journal Block, 1871; p. 178
  2. ^ a b United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. Proposed Finding Against Acknowledgment of The Brothertown Indian Nation (Petitioner #67): Prepared in Response to the Petition Submitted to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs for Federal Acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe August 17, 2009; p. 74
  3. ^ Commuck, Thomas. "Sketch of the Brothertown Indians" (pp. 291-298 in Draper, Lyman C., et al. Document M: Fourth and Fifth Annual Reports and Collections of State Historical Society) in, Annual message of Alexander W. Randall, Governor of the state of Wisconsin, and Accompanying Documents Madison, James Ross, 1860 [Covers 1858/1859
  4. ^ United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. Proposed Finding Against Acknowledgment of The Brothertown Indian Nation (Petitioner #67): Prepared in Response to the Petition Submitted to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs for Federal Acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe August 17, 2009; pp. 70-71
  5. ^ United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. Proposed Finding Against Acknowledgment of The Brothertown Indian Nation (Petitioner #67): Prepared in Response to the Petition Submitted to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs for Federal Acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe August 17, 2009; p. 76
  6. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives; Second Session of the Fourth Legislative Assembly of Wisconsin; With An Appendix Madison: George Hyer; pp. 4, 28
  7. ^ Powers, D. J.; Skinner, E. W., eds. The Wisconsin Farmer, and Northwestern Cultivator; a monthly journal, devoted to agriculture, horticulture, mechanics and rural economy Volume VIII, p. 419. Madison: Powers and Skinner, 1856
  8. ^ Jones, David W., et al. "Document B: Ninth Annual Report of Secretary of State for 1856", p. 106, in Governor's Message and Accompanying Documents for the Year 1857 Vol. I (1857 [Covers 1856]). Madison, 1857
  9. ^ Bruckner, Andrea and Caroline Andler. Letters Home from the Brothertown Boys. Bloomington, Illinois: AuthorHouse, 2001; p. 26, footnote 11