Re: Chingachgook's Birth Name

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Posted by Gayle on May 04, 1999 at 13:16:15:

In Reply to: Re: Chingachgook's Birth Name posted by Elaine on May 03, 1999 at 15:43:05:

: : : : : : : Could someone please tell me Chingachgook's birthname or his original one?

: : : : : : Chingachgook, as an hereditary chief of the Turtle Clan of the Mohican tribe, bore the name of his father and grandfather, and of course his son - Uncas.

: : : : : : Gayle

: : : : : Hi Gayle,

: : : : : "My tribe is the grandfather of nations ...... my boy is the last of the Mohicans."

: : : : : Actually, Chingachgook is Delaware. Uncas' mother is Mohican.

: : : : : Elaine

: : : : Elaine,

: : : : The relationship between the Delawares and the Mohicans is one I never got straight, because Cooper seems to intermix the terms so much. However, I think your quote is from the movie, while I am, as usual, going on the books. In The Wept of Wish Ton Wish, Chingachgook's father, Uncas, plays a part. And in the book Last of The Mohicans, Chingachgook explains that his grandfather, his father, he and his son all bear the hereditary name. Again, there is kind of a fuzzy idea of whether it is a Delaware or Mohican name of descent. We're getting into the matriarchy thing here, are we not?

: : : : Gayle
: : : : Gayle

: : : Hi Gayle Gayle .... :)

: : : Actually, the quote is from the book, p.25. (You KNOW I would only use the book as reference!) Within the quote Chingachgook speaks of himself as "a chief and a sagamore" & relates that he has "never visited the graves of my fathers!" Two things about this; yes, we are getting into the matriarchy thing - descendency is only through the maternal line. IF Chingachgook were Mohican, Uncas would not be a Mohican "prince." His title could only pass from Wah-Ta-Wah, his mother. Also, the land upon which LOTM takes place is Mohican land. Delaware (Lenape) land is to the south & east. He could not visit his "father's grave" because he no longer lived on Delaware land. He speaks of the Dutch using "fire-water" to part them from their land "foot by foot."

: : : "Grandfathers" is a termed used for the Delaware because they are said to be the oldest people in the northeast. Cooper understood the relationship of the Mohican to the Delaware which is why he intermixed them at times. Mohicans ARE related to the Delaware.

: : : As for Uncas; it is actually a Mohegan (Pequot) name meaning "fox." Without getting into the possible symbolic usage on the part of Cooper with regards to his choice of the name Uncas, "The Wept of Wish Ton Wish" was written later. I think the hereditary name that Chingachgook speaks of is that of sachem/sagamore. They all have "the blood of the sagamores."

: : : Soooooooooo ...... Ching is a Delaware "noble" - married to a Mohican "noble" - and that boy Uncas is of "noble" blood of them both but a "prince" of the Mohicans. Is that fuzzier? :)

: : Elaine,

: : Much fuzzier, thanks. I will go back and look at the book again, too. For some reason I didn't remember Chingachgook refering to Uncas as "my boy" except in the movie. Oh well, you can see how I'm beginning to merge the book and the movie in my mind. Darn Mann for creating such a seductively great film. It ruins the best of literary purists! ;-)

: : Gayle

: My sentiments exactly! Damn that Mann! Seducing, corrupting, and confusing the purists with his great film.

: Let me know if I can help fuzz it up some more.

: E

: PS By the way, that should read "tribal and/or title descendAncy."
: Of course Uncas descends from his father too. DUH! Fuzzier and fuzzier ...


Let's play with Tamenund's exchange with Uncas on pp. 330, 331. Uncas confirms what you said about the Lenni Lenape (Delawares) being the grandfather of nations. Tamenund, when he recognizes Uncas, refers to him as Uncas the Child of Uncas. But then Tamenund, who is supposed to be over a hundred years old, regresses and thinks he sees standing before him his own boyhood friend and says "Yet is Uncas before him as they went to battle against the palefaces! Uncas, the panther of his tribe, the eldest son of the Lenape, the wisest Sagamore of the Mohicans! Tell me, ye Delawares, has Tamenund been asleep for a hundred winters?"

This sounds to me as if Cooper is harking back both the Delaware and Mohican lineage of Uncas through his father's line instead of the matriarchal line. Still, when Uncas replies that "four warriors of his race have lived and died since the friend of Tamenund led his people in battle," he does take it back far enough to incorporate the Uncas of Wish ton Wish. Even though Wish ton Wish was written later, Cooper extended connections with The Leatherstocking characters, just as he did in Homeward Bound and Home as Found, so I think the Uncas who killed Conanchet in Wish ton Wish was seen by Cooper as the ancestor or Chingachgook. But again, the descent from Delaware and Mohican is confusing to me, unless the various Uncases consistently married down a straight line of Mohican princesses who were Wah ta Wah's mother and grandmothers. "Fuzzier and fuzzier", said Alice as she popped another pill.

(I'm getting into this matrilineal thing.)

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