In 1710, five Native American men traveled first class from New York State to London. One died on the voyage, but the remaining four became the talk of the town and had numerous interactions with Queen Anne.
This was not the first ‘royal treatment’ bestowed upon a native American. About 100 years earlier, Pocahontas was received as a “princess” because her Algonquin father, Powhaten, had been called The Indian King.
|The Four Indian Kings|
The four kings were not kings and not even chiefs. One was Mahican, the other three Mohawk, and only one, King Hendrick, a baptized Christian, had any position in his nation as a member of the Mohawk council.
The native Americans were sent out by New York’s colonial leaders, (mostly by Dutchman Peter Schuyler) to ask Queen Anne for money and help to fight the French influence. The Iroquois confederacy (Five Nations plus the Tuscarora) were THE BUFFER/BORDER between the English speaking colonies and the French speaking colonies of what is now Canada.
The kings asked for missionaries ‘to spread the Gospel’. (yes, their translated speeches are on file.)
While in London, they visited the sights and a Shakespeare play. It’s said that the audience clammered until the Four Kings were placed on stage where they could be seen --- they were much more of a draw than a repeat of Shakespeare! They also sat for oil portraits after being fitted out for royal robes. Many English considered the Four Kings to be only a bit more savage than their own Barbarians of the north—the Irish and the Scots Highlanders!
Prints were made of the oil paintings and sent to each Iroquois village as well as NY City, the mission and Fort Hunter in Lower Mohawk Castle (village), and Kensington Palace. The originals were moved to Canada in 1977 and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in Ottawa.
As all things to do with government and religion, part of the request for funding a mission had to do with the angst between the Catholic and Protestant churches. French Jesuits had converted some Mohawks to Catholicism while others adopted Anglican faith. Eventually, these Catholic Mohawks became their own nation close to Canada called the Caughnawaga and would later be part of the turmoil during the French and Indian War. As you can see, the Mohawks had a long standing relationship with Great Britain.
While the goal of the Iroquois Confederacy was neutrality, Mohawks (Keepers of the Eastern Door) accepted Colonial ways and the English King, but some Seneca (Keepers of the Western Door) favored the French. Despite this family squabble, the Iroquois held together through a century of agreeing to disagree and were loath to fight each other unless …it was a matter of life or death.
Back in the Mohawk Valley of NY, an Anglican mission was built, funded by Queen Anne and run by “The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel”, a missionary society still active today.
One more interesting note: Two King Hendricks?
Only as late as 2010 was a long-standing Mohawk mystery solved. King Hendrick who traveled to England in 1710 was referred to as the same King Hendrick who led Indian attacks alongside the British at Crown Point, and later at Fort George where he died at “The Bloody Morning Scout” in 1755.
The fact is there were two Mohawk King Hendricks, one from the Wolf Clan, one from the Bear Clan and in almost all ways very dissimilar besides a thirty year age difference.
King Hendrick of the French and Indian war, loved wearing British military regalia.