The Arvid E. Miller Museum and Library

By Larry P. Madden

The efforts of many Stockbridge-Munsee members, many no longer with us, gave us the Arvid E. Miller Museum and Library located on the Mohican Nation Reserve near Bowler, WI. For the modern flare, there’s beadwork from current members for sale, and for those looking for the rest of the story there’s artifacts and explanations of bygone times. One diorama is of the village of Morgan Siding when it was a vibrant logging and farming center—showing homes, train services and churches. Another is of the area that was once the logging headquarters of Ross Logging Company.

Arvid E. Miller was the tribal chairman for 26 years, and he kept the important documents produced during his tenure. After his passing, a house fire raised the need for a central and community-based place to archive the tribal documents. In 1974, the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Library and Museum was established and became the official depository for public records of the Mohican Nation. Its mission statement was to preserve history and culture for tribal members as well as the general public, and the archives grew to include rare books, microfilm of the Green Bay Indian agency, the Huntington Library Collection, language films from the American Philosophical Society, and maps that date back to the early 17th century.

arvid miller museumThe collection continues to grow with pictures ranging from tintypes to modern photography depicting not only members but their lifestyles too. There are displays of men and women’s clothing from various time periods beginning with pre-European contact. Tribal elder’s pictures also line the walls of the museum, allowing the eyes of the past to stare at the present. They include veterans, housewives, loggers, and loved ones—all captured in a moment in time, freezing Mohicans in their element for posterity.

“The People of the Waters that are Never Still” have a rich and illustrious history which has been preserved through oral tradition and written word. It spans from their ancient homelands, now known as the Hudson River Valley, to the Long Island of New York, to the Mohican Trail of Tears, to their being forced out of Massachusetts and the Christian village of Stockbridge, to Indiana, where land was promised, and finally to the Menominee in what is now Wisconsin.

You can learn the depths of all of this and more at the Arvid E. Miller Museum and Library on Mo he kun nuck Road. If you go you’ll, be greeted by the ladies who curate the collection. They can steer your visit to suit your interests or just point you to the artifacts depicting a resilient history. Either way, if you stop by you’ll realize that had James Fennimore Cooper had the privilege of visiting before he wrote The Last of the Mohicans, the book would’ve had both a better title and a plotline worth reading.

Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.