The Hail to the Sunrise Monument
by Millard D. and Nathan R.
Have you ever wondered about the Indian monument called Hail to the Sunrise in Charlemont, Massachusetts? This eight foot tall bronze statue, that is located on the Mohawk Trail, was made in 1932. Hail to the Sunrise is a monument to the Five Indian nations of the area surrounding the Mohawk Trail. This 900-pound beast is one of the most famous monuments on the Mohawk Trail and faces east to
the sunrise.His arms are lifted up to welcome the Great Spirit of the East. More than 2,000 people attended the ceremony when it was revealed on October 1st, 1932. It was created by sculptor Joseph Pollia and owned by a group called The Improved Order of the Redmen. Although this group has the word redmen in their title, they are not Native peoples but an organization that, according to their website,
”The fraternity traces its origins back to 1765 and is descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked “underground” to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body. Their system, with elected representatives to govern tribal councils, had been in existence for several centuries.
After the War of 1812 the name was changed to the Society of Red Men and in 1834 to the Improved Order of Red Men. They kept the customs and terminology of Native Americans as a basic part of the fraternity. Some of the words and terms may sound strange, but they soon become a familiar part of the language for every member.” (taken from the web site
The inscription on the base of the statue says, ” Hail to the sunrise. In memory of the Mohawk Indians. The Mohawks of the Five Nations began to settle in New York State in 1590 and for 90 great suns they fought the New England tribes. The New York Mohawks that traveled this trail were friendly to the white settlers.” Historian Paul Marino warned us that much of what is written about the Native poeples of this region should be considered untrue. He suggests that it was the Mohican and not the Mohawks used the origonal footpaths but our research was not clear. Below we are including some of the postcards and souviners that include pictures and imagesof Indians, many dressed like Native people from the southwestern United States. Stan Brown told us that these images are sterotypes of Indians and they became more of brandname than a really tribute to Indians. During the turn of the century there was a really longing for the “wild, west” and the Mohawk Trail let people fell they were entering a wild part of the country, even though it was only western Massachsuetts.
Today, the statue has some green on it because it is weathered. The memorial includes a circular stone pool with 100 stones with different inscriptions from the many different Native tribes and councils around ther country..My partner and I dthe Hail to the Sunrise because it’s a memory of the past and it’s an Indian statue. We wonder if the sign made of rocks that says Mohawk Park was there when the statue was first built. When local historian Stanley Brown visited our class, he said that he once had a school picnic at the Hail to the Sunrise Indian monument. We don’
t take field trips there any more today, but it might be nice, to now that we’ve learned about it. To see and learn more about the Hail to the Sunrise monument look below.