Author Topic: Ann (Harding) Murdock "Princess Sun Tama" "Matinecock tribe of Long Island"  (Read 4068 times)

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In the 1950s, two sisters named Ann Harding Murdock (Princess Sun Tama) and Lila Elizabeth Harding (Princess Brown Thrush) helped create a "tribe"in New York.

There are people today who believe that they are tribal members based on what the Harding sisters created decades ago.

Here is a land acknowledgement that invokes Ann Harding Murdock's story:

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the land on which I have grown up. For thousands of years, this land has been the home of Matinecock people, one of thirteen Algonquian tribes on Long Island. I am grateful to have grown, lived, and learned here on their traditional lands. Despite continuous violence and forced removal, the Matinecock are still here on this land. Ann Harding Murdock, in particular, reactivated the Matinecock tribe in 1958. In 1975, the Matinecock began to revitalize their religion, reviving four religious ceremonies to date. These ceremonies include Nunnowa, held in October, a community gathering at harvest time largely surrounding food; a midwinter ceremony that takes place in February; naming ceremonies; and pipe ceremonies

During the 1950s a charismatic leader appeared. Ann Harding Murdock (Sun Tama) experienced a compelling vision in which she was commanded to lead her people out of obscurity. Her guardian spirit was probably Tackapusha, a colonial-period sachem. In 1958 the Matinnecock Indian Tribe was formally reactivated.

The sisters and their friends got quite a bit of media coverage over time, I'll be posting clips, make sure that you are signed in to see any images.

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Ann/Anna Harding was born 11 Aug 1907 in Queens, NY. She died in 1969.

Her sister Lila Elizabeth Harding was born 15 Jul 1912 in Quees, died 20 Jan 1992 Queens.

Their parents were George Henry Harding and Louisa Smith Rapelyea.

Everyone listed black in census and other records.

Ann Harding Murdock was a district health secretary, director of mission work for her church, vice president of the Flushing Bland Community Center Inc., and a President of the NAACP North Shore chapter.

In 1958 she and others held a service Zion Episcopal Church in Douglaston, Queens, claiming that they were reviving the Matinecock tribe. Members of this group included people who were already part of a hobbyist fraternal order called Tipi Order of America.

She and this group then were regularly featured in media.

Some current descriptions of her and this group:

Ann Harding Murdock , a woman of triracial ancestry , had a compelling visionary experience . Her guardian spirit was a long - dead sachem , probably Tackapusha of the Massapequas

The Matinecock longhouse suffered the loss of Sun Tama ( Ann Harding Murdock ) , who died in 1969 after leading an unsuccessful fight to reclaim Matinecock land in Huntington . Her sister Brown Thrush ( Lila E. Harding ) replaced her

In the 1950s, Ann Harding Murdock, who claimed descent from Tackapousha, initiated a cultural revitalization movement among the Matinnecocks, which continued during the following decades

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This is a good example of Ann Harding Murdock's interviews and features in media:

MOHAWK AT FAIR? RIVAL ASKS, HOW?; Matinnecock Tribe Asserts Claim to Free Admission

March 30, 1964

If any group is going to get into the World's Fair by using the password “bulrushes,” it's going to be the Matinnecock and not the Mohawk Indians.

That was the word yesterday from Princess Sun Tamo, who is Mrs. Ann Harding Murdock, chairman of the Matinnecock Indian long house, a two?story turquoise and yellow house on Union Street in Flushing, Queens.

Ten Indians conveyed title to the Flushing Meadow area to a group of English settlers on April 14, 1684, with one reservation; “Ye Indians hath reserved Liberty to cut bullrushes for them and their heyres for ever in any place within ye Tract.”

Mary A. Benjamin, an autograph dealer at 790 Madison Avenue, recently identified the Indians who conveyed the title to “fflushing within Queenes County” as Mohawks.

“Not so,” says Princess Sun Tamo, proclaiming that no Mohawk was ever within 200 miles of Flushing Meadows.

Indianophiles agree with the princess. A spokesman for the Heye Foundation's Museum of the American Indian said that the Matinnecock were indeed a small tribe of Algonquins who dwelt in the Flushing area.

But, he said, since the Matinnecocks were constantly being plundered by other Indians, they might possibly have given another tribe the Flushing Meadow rights. However, the Mohawks, who were in north-western New York, would hardly have been involved, he said.

Princess Sun Tamo was adamant. “If any Indians get into the fair for free, it will have to be us,” she said.

The princess, who was wearing a gaily colored flower print dress, donned the symbol of her Indian authority yesterday to discuss the problem. She calls it her “woodland bonnet.” It is a white rabbit skin skull cap, to which are affixed four hang ing eagle feathers, a half dozen strips of ermine, two shells and a band of beads.

She said there were now 200 Matinnecocks in the long house, and “all of us have the right to live in Flushing and plant corn and hunt here.”

She was critical of the fact that there would be no American Indian pavilion at the World's Fair.

“We were told that if we wanted such an exhibit, we would have to pay for it,” she said.

“Now wouldn’t we be foolish to pay for an exhibit on land which we still own?”

Apparently she had forgotten about the 10 Indians, who conveyed title to the area to the white man 280 years ago.

Princess Sun Tamo conceded that she would not feel too bad about the “bulrushes” password if the whole thing had not become involved with the Mohawk — “our bitterest enemies.”

“No Mohawk better put claim to our Matinnecock land,” she warned.

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Her brother wrote this letter to editor in 1963:

Queens: A Voicer stated that Indians in this country are discriminated against. I, a member of the Mattinnecock tribe, feel this is not true. The Indians were given reservations on which they could live in peace and happiness - or leave at any time they pleased. They were well paid for jobs, especially high jobs. I, myself, see little or no discrimination against any of my people.

John Harding
(Chief Bald Eagle)

 Ann (Harding) Murdock helped invent a fake tribe based on the Tipi Order of America. They are responsible for a lot of misinformation and outright damaging lies.

(sources for this thread include, Proquest,, google books)

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One of the many schisms of these extended families hobbyist religious groups happened after Ann Harding Murdock died.

William Hawk in his dissertation "The revitalization of the Matinnecock Indian tribe of New York" (also discussed in related thread describes "The Schism of 1979".

Ann Harding Murdock had died and her sister Lila Harding had taken over. Ann had been seen as charismatic with strong leadership skills. Lila Harding was seen as abrasive and unnecessarily secretive.

Confrontations ensued, attendance at meetings declined, eventually the group split up.

As for how these groups dressed and dress for faux religious and other events, William Hawk referred to their clothing as "a Pan Indian potpourri". "Matinnecocks  are unaware of tribal and regional differences in style"