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Chief Joseph Brant: Canadian Hero

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife and I had the privilege of attending the First Peoples Forgiven Summit in Ottawa.  During that time we were able to meet a number of Mohawk believers, including Jonathan Maracle of Broken Walls who led us in remarkable worship music.  Canada’s most famous Mohawk was Chief Joseph Brant.  Recently the Canadian Royal Mint produced a Canadian Loonie with the imprint of Chief Joseph Brant  (1742-1807).  More Canadians need to hear this story of this Canadian hero.  He was described by Mark Jodoin as having the mind of a statesman, the heart of a leader, and the soul of a warrior. Without the military and spiritual support of Chief Brant, Canada would have likely never survived.

Chief Joseph Brant’s Mohawk name was Thayendanegea which means “two sticks bound together for strength”.  Isabel Thompson Kelsay notes that “the most famous (aboriginal) who ever lived, has been for two centuries a virtual unknown.”   I suspect that he is unknown to most North Americans because he chose the side of Canada in the American revolutionary war.  As Canada’s premier First Nations leader, Brant had the privilege of meeting both Georges in person: King George III and President George Washington.

Brant learned to speak, read and write English at a New Hampshire school led by Rev Wheelock. Wheelock described Brant as being “of a sprightly genius, a manly and gentle deportment, and of a modest, courteous and benevolent temper.”  In 1772, Brant was then mentored by Rev John Stuart, being trained in the art of Bible and Prayer Book translation.  During that time, Brant developed a deep prayer life, becoming a committed Anglican Christian.

During the American Revolutionary war, Brant was falsely accused of committing atrocities in locations which he was not present, including the tragic Wyoming and Cherry Valley Massacres.  Those who knew Brant well testified that he often prevented atrocities through the use of his persuasive leadership. As a devout Anglican Christian, he exhibited compassion and humanity, especially towards women, children, and non-combatants. American Colonel Ichabod Alden commented that he “should much rather fall into the hands of Brant than either of them [Loyalists and Tories].”  It was frequently said of Joseph Brant that during the American revolution, he fought with a tomahawk in one hand, a copy of the New Testament in the other.

Joseph Brant’s father was one of the sachem/chiefs, known as the Four Indian Kings, who visited Queen Anne in 1710.  These chiefs asked ‘for missionaries to be sent to the People of the Longhouse to teach them more about Christianity.”  Queen Anne sent this request to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, promising to build them a chapel. In 1711, Queen Anne’s Royal Chapel was built in the Mohawk Valley in New York State.  When the Mohawks relocated to Southern Ontario, the Mohawk Royal Chapel was rebuilt there in 1785.  Joseph Brant’s grave is located right next to the historic Mohawk Chapel, the oldest protestant church in Ontario. Just this past July, Queen Elizabeth, while visiting Ontario, presented the Mohawk Chapel with a set of eight silver hand bells engraved ‘The Silver Chain of Friendship 1710-2010’.

On each side of the Mohawk Chapel pulpit are two tablets in the Mohawk language of the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments.  Joseph Brant was a brilliant linguist translating the Bible and Anglican Prayer Book into Mohawk (of which there are microfiche copies at Simon Fraser University).  He also wrote a concise history of the Bible and a Mohawk language catechism. Brant spoke at least three and possibly all of the Six Nations’ languages.  When the Chapel was dedicated in 1788, each person was given a Mohawk book containing the Gospel of Mark and the Anglican Prayer Book.  At that celebration, sixty five Mohawks were baptized and three couples were married.

When Joseph Brant first visited England in 1775, he was described by a British commander as ‘His Majesty’s greatest North American subject.’, and painted in full aboriginal regalia by George Romney.  Receiving a captain’s commission, Brant met with the King on two occasions, with a dinner being held in his honour. Brant was honoured by the English leaders in the arts, letters and government, including James Boswell, the famed biographer of Samuel Johnson.

In 1779 Brant was commissioned by the King as ‘captain of the Northern Confederate Indians’ in recognition of his “astonishing activity and success’. Brant was described as “the perfect soldier, possessed of remarkable stamina, courage under fire, and dedicated to the cause, an able and inspiring leader and a complete gentleman.”

Joseph Brant’s Six Nations were tragically driven out of their homeland in Central New York.  Brant was hurt that in granting their Mohawk homeland in Central New York State to the Americans, England had ‘sold the Indians to the US Congress’.  Writing to King George III, he reminded the British that “we, the Mohawks, were the first Indian Nation that took you by hand and invited you to live among us, treating you with kindness…”  The Six Nations were eventually resettled by Governor Frederick Haldimand in the Grand River area around modern-day Brantford.  The British realized that locating the Six Nations in the Grand River area would be a natural protection against any future American invasion.  Initially the Mississauga First Nation resisted the concept of having their former foes on their land.  One Mississauga Chief Pokquan however persuaded his other chiefs by arguing that other aboriginals would be better neighbours than European settlers, and that Brant’s knowledge of the British could prove useful.

The term Brantford comes from Brant’s Ford, the shallow part of the Grand River that could be forded.  The first years at Brantford were difficult as there was a drought with game being hard to find.  Throughout all the challenges, Chief Brant’s deep faith sustained him.  Chief Brant’s sacrificial love for God and nation should inspire all of us.  He memorably said: “No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action but the consciousness of having served one’s nation.”

May all of us be willing to learn from the bravery and loyalty of Chief Joseph Brant.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Thomas Edison: Let There Be Light….

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

I had no idea that Thomas Edison’s family were United Empire Loyalists, refugees fleeing to Canada in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War.  Thomas’ grandfather Samuel Sr. even took part in the Canadian conquest of Detroit during the war of 1812.  But frustrated with inequalities in Canada, his son Samuel Jr. joined in Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie’s 1837 unsuccessful plot to liberate Toronto from Canada.  As Samuel Edison Jr. fled with his family to Ohio, Canada lost one of the world’s greatest inventors: Thomas Alva Edison.

In talking to many people, I have not met one yet who hasn’t heard of Thomas Edison.  But few of us have realized just how prolific an inventor Edison really was, with 1,069 different inventions patented!   Edison of course is best known for the creation of the world’s first usable lightbulb.  Realizing that a lightbulb needed a power source, he went on to create the world’s first electrical power station, a revolutionary act that transformed modern technology, and created ten of millions of jobs.  Henry Ford once commented: ‘To find a man who has not benefited by Edison and who is not in debt to him, it would be necessary to go deep into the jungle.’

It was also interesting to discover that his own father and his teachers saw this unique genius as unintelligent.  He irritated his superiors by continually asking questions.  He also had trouble hearing which made learning difficult in school.  Years later, Thomas said, ‘My father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce’.  Thomas was afraid to tell his mother how difficult school was, in case she too would lose her confidence in him.  His mother Nancy, who always stood up for him, eventually pulled him out and home-schooled him herself.  Edison later said: ‘My mother was the making of me; she let me follow my bent’.  At one particularly low point, he realized that his mother was ‘the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had.’  At age 12, he began selling newspapers and snacks from 6am-11pm to railway passengers.  During his spare moments, he used to conduct chemistry experiments in the baggage cars until one day he was fired for setting the train car on fire. As the last of seven children, Thomas was always a kid at heart, seeing life as one big experiment.

Edison’s next job as a telegrapher allowed him to create his first invention, an automatic telegraph dispatcher that allowed him to work on his experiments and sleep the rest of the time.  His invention worked like clockwork until one day sleepy Edison was fired for not forwarding an unusual message warning of a narrowly-averted head-on train collision.

Thomas Edison changed his world before he even reached age 40.  His success in the fields of telegraph, telephone, phonograph, and the electric light were achieved between the ages of 20 to 39.  He continued inventing right up until his death at age 85.  Edison aimed to produce one minor invention every ten days and one major one every six months.  Inventing for Edison was as natural as breathing.

One co-worker said of Edison that ‘His genius for sleep equaled his genius for invention. He could go to sleep anywhere, any time on anything.’  Always a night bird, Edison would often start work at nightfall, break for ‘lunch’ at midnight, and then go until daybreak.  Because Edison believed that changing clothes was bad for creativity, he often slept fully clothed.  His wife Mary was so irritated by this habit that she often encouraged him to sleep elsewhere.  Sadly time for his wife and children often became lost in his passion for creativity and invention.

Edison created and patented both the gramophone, the ancestor of our modern CD and Tape Player, as well as the Kinetoscope, the ancestor of movie cameras.  As well as creating the world’s first Movie Studio in New Jersey, he indirectly created the Hollywood film industry by ‘driving’ his competitors right across the country in their efforts to avoid Edison’s subpoenas and court orders.  Edison struggled all his life with lawsuits over people stealing or imitating his inventions.  But it never stopped Edison’s creativity in bringing new light to age-old technological problems.

As Edison brought physical light, so Jesus brings spiritual light to the darkness and confusion that we all face on a daily basis.  Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’.  As you are reading this article, it may be very dark outside, but you are directly benefiting from Edison’s enlightening breakthrough with workable light bulbs.

My prayer is that in the same way that each of us benefit from the light that Edison has brought into our lives, so too we may be willing to benefit from the light that Jesus is waiting to bring into our lives.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca