Sergeant & Konkapot, 1972-1976
"Since my remembrance, there were ten Indians where there is now one. But the Christians greatly increase and multiply, and spread over the land; let us, therefore, leave our former courses and become Christians." This 1734 summation by Chief Konkapot led to Reverend John Sergeant's 1736 arrival in "Indian Town" to act as missionary to the eight Mahican families led by Konkapot and sub-chief Umpachene. Thus, the mission town of Stockbridge was established.
From the west window of his South Street studio, Rockwell could view the area along the Housatonic River that had once been hunting and fishing grounds of the Stockbridge Indians. Inspired by his town's history, Rockwell painted a meeting of Chief Konkapot with John Sergeant. The setting is Sergeant's home. Sergeant's wife Abigail, known to harbor contempt for the Indians, is seen peering around a corner. Because it was not a commissioned piece and had no deadline, Rockwell worked on Sergeant & Konkapot intermittently. Poor health prevented his completing it to his satisfaction.
Odds & Ends:
The Stockbridge Mahicans were the only Native Americans to serve with the Colonists in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, and the first Native Americans to be granted U.S. citizenship. In 1785, after being excluded from community activities, and having their land whittled away by years of encroachment by white settlers, the Stockbridge tribe migrated west to Oneida Lake where they were welcomed by the Munsee tribe, and eventually to east-central Wisconsin, where some now live on a reservation.
Sergeant & Konkapot, 1972-1976, Norman Rockwell. Oil on canvas, 36" x 57". Unpublished. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.