The Wampum Chronicles Treaties of Contention

The Healing Powers of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

(Originally published in The People’s Voice, October 21, 2005)

Written by Darren Bonaparte

Abram George, a young Mohawk healer from Akwesasne, was said to be the seventh son of a seventh son. This young fellow garnered a lot of press in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s because of his abilities as a healer.

The Massena Observer ran an article on February 17, 1927 under the headline INDIAN BOY IS CAUSE OF WORRY.  The story dealt with the question of whether or not Indians lose their rights when buying a home off the reservation.  The house in question was purchased for Abram George by his father, Mitchell.

In Batavia, there lives an 11-year-old St. Regis Indian boy named Abram George.  The boy has built up a reputation as a healer and, incidentally, a small fortune.

His father, Mitchell George, has purchased expensive automobiles for the lad and puts him up at the best hotels when traveling.

Now, he wants to buy a home for the boy and he doesn’t want it on an Indian reservation.  Through an attorney, he asked the assemblyman to ascertain whether an Indian would lose his tribal rights, ceded to him by state and federal governments, if he bought a home outside the reservation…

The article mentions that Abram had assisted in the recovery of a drowning victim in the St. Lawrence:

…All efforts to recover the body failed until the Georges went to the scene the following Monday afternoon.  Abram is the seventh son of a seventh son and is therefore supposed to be credited with unusual powers including the finding of drowned bodies.

Abram pointed out where he believed the body was resting.  Grappling irons struck an object there but could not raise it.  A professional diver went down but could find nothing.  Tuesday morning, however, the grappling irons hooked the body at the spot denoted by the Indian boy.

Abram is credited not only with the ability to find bodies of drowned persons but with magical powers of healing and curing lameness.  A St. Regis Indian, he formerly resided with his parents, nine brothers and two sisters between Hogansburg and St. Regis.  He has been doing “private practice,” besides visiting the fairs in the fall.

On March 10, 1927, the Massena Observer ran another article under the headline, ABRAM GEORGE, SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON.

…“There is nothing boyish about the little red doctor,” says the Batavia Daily News.  “Years of traveling around the country and being held up as a supernatural being have given him a reticent manner and a countenance as solemn as that of Jiddu Krishnamurti, the much heralded ‘New Messiah,’ who recently came to this country from the Far East.  He is a husky little chap of 12 years with the true bronze skin of his race and tousled shock of straight, black hair.  He has unusually large jet black eyes that have a lustrous quality and intensity that command immediate attention.  He never questions his father’s orders and goes about his business with the matter of fact air of a practitioner…”

The article goes on to suggest that his healing power stems more from the faith of those being healed than in the boy himself, who understands English but doesn’t speak it.

“…While the powers claimed for the boy are explained by his father only in the statement that he is the seventh son of a seventh son, it is believed that this belief must be one of the Iroquois tribe or perhaps some clan of which the Georges are memers.  Seneca Indians on the Tonawanda reservation say they have never heard of such an Indian legend until the coming of the George family to Batavia.  There is the belief that the seventh son of a seventh son is favored by luck, but as far as can be learned it is the first time that anyone has come forth with a statement that Indians thus endowed have a magic healing power…”

The article goes on to describe one Laverne Ellis, a Batavia boy  who suffered from an attack of infantile paralysis that shrank his arms and legs and left him in a wheelchair.  Abram George healed him of his afflictions, prompting his mother to declare the young healer “worth his weight in gold.”

“…Abraham never speaks from the time he enters the home of a patient until he leaves–a nod or shake of his head or a smile being his only response to questions asked of him as he massages the atrophied limbs and twisted body parts of his patient.”

The boy was also called upon to rid a haunted house in Memphis, Tennessee of its unwanted guests.  After staying in the home for the thirteen days, the house appeared to be free of the ghosts that kept the owner’s family from enjoying it.

The Massena Observer ran another article about Abram George on March 20, 1930 under the headline, INDIAN HEALER RETURNS HOME.

…Like a medicine man, whose descendant he is said to be, the youth is revered to among the members of the St. Regis tribe for it was among them that the curative powers of the touch of his hands were first brought to light.  Just at what time this seeming power was discovered is not known. In recent years he startled thousands with his apparent miracles.

Two years ago, when he was 14 years of age, accounts of a demonstration given by the boy at Rochester, swept through pages of newspapers and magazines.  At that time, before a gathering of thousands of people, the boy is said to have given the healing touch to 75 people and was eagerly pressed for assistance by others who sought the touch of his hand.

Again, while he was at Batavia near Tonawanda reservation, hundreds of letters came to him asking him to come to other cities and demonstrate his healing power, but it was decided that he must wait until he was 16 years of age before going out into the world on his curative missions…

…Abram returns to Hogansburg after several weeks spent in Miami, Florida, where he mystified hundreds with demonstrations of his apparent power to heal by touch.  At the Alcazar hotel in that city early in January of this year he gave a remarkable revelation of his miraculous healing before approximately 250 people.  The crowd was amazed as afflicted persons announced that they had been helped by the touch of the boy’s hands.

…Some have attributed the boy’s miraculous powers to his descendancy.  He is the seventh son of a seventh son and from this circumstance is believed to have been endowed with a sort of sixth sense.  He is also a direct descendant of a great Indian healer and medicine man who lived in the days of the French and Indian wars when the powerful Iroquois tribes were supreme in the north…

…Members of the St. Regis tribe and other followers of the youth, although unable to account for the work which he has done, stoutly declare that the healing touch of his hands has brought health to scores of afflicted.

Abram George’s career as a healer eventually came to an end when he grew up, according to a member of the George family.  He lived out the rest of his days in Akwesasne.

Next in series: Old News Clippings Document “Mohawk” Political Revival

By Darren Bonaparte, historian and author of  The Wampum Chronicles. Reprinted with permission.

Darren Bonaparte is a cultural historian from the Akwesasne First Nation. He is a frequent lecturer at schools, universities, museums, and historical sites in the United States and Canada. He has written four books, several articles, and the libretto for the McGill Chamber Orchestra’s Aboriginal Visions and Voices. Darren is a former chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. He is the creator of The Wampum Chronicles and historical advisor to film and television. He currently serves as the Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.