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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, January 24, 2014

New York’s Native People and their Colonial Neighbors


The People of the Longhouse, the Haudenosaunee, or more commonly the Iroquois* were once a sizable league of six nations encompassing much of New York State. By joining together in a confederacy, they were able to have significant sway in the affairs of neighboring nations/tribes, as well as be an important factor in any French or British activity. Given their skills at sustainable living and trade, they controlled the waterways connecting the ‘western frontier’ and ‘British Canada’ to the colonial populations along the coast.

(*Iroquois is an adaptation of the derogatory name by which the French and Hurons called the Haudenosaunee. It is not their preferred name)

Today, we see the circumstances of the native Americans, or First Nations, as one of protecting their own way of life and survival.
Nathan Benn/Corbis

French traders were the first whites to co-exist and establish relationships with the Haudenosaunee, hence their leaning toward the French during the French and Indian War –but not as a confederacy. The six nations were split in their loyalties. In the 1750s, both France and Britain courted that loyalty.  Most Seneca (keepers of the western door) sided with the French while the Mohawks (keepers of the eastern door) sided with the British—mostly due to the British Aide to Indian affairs, Sir William Johnson who was quite integrated into Mohawk society.

The other tribes, Cayuga, Oneida, Tuscarora, and Onondaga were unable to remain neutral.
Success for the British in the French and Indian War brought new British settlers into conflict with the Haudenosaunee, and those hostilities had not waned when the settlers decided to break with, and war against Britain.

(Note: "French and Indian War" is the American name for this war; British=The Seven Years’ War; Canadian – the War of the Conquest.  This was a trade war between Britain, France and Spain)

Again, the Iroquois Confederacy was split as each nation or village chose sides based on the personal relationships they had built with white leaders. To gain support, both revolutionary leaders and representatives of the British Gov’t made promises. Again, New York’s native people fought one against another, often raiding each other’s villages and participating in battles between the British and the new “Americans”.

Most Haudenosaunee felt they had a better chance of success staying with their British allies and became a deciding factor in many battles. In 1779, to punish them for siding with the British, George Washington sent 6200 Continental soldiers under General Sullivan to march across New York State to destroy villages.  Men, women and children were burned out of their homes and their stored food and crops destroyed.

When the revolutionary war ended, nothing was afforded the native people in the treaty between Britain and the United States. Worse, the new country sought to force the natives out of their lands.  Loyalty to Britain cost the Haudenosaunee their lands.

None of this should be news to any student of American, British, or Canadian history, but it may be. It’s part of the past we like to hide. I live in an area still under dispute. A treaty signed in 1794 by the U.S. Government with New York’s native people is still in effect, but New York state chose to break it. I don’t believe two wrongs make a right, but I can’t help thinking of it when I look out my window and see the land and lake once part of a Cayuga village,  Only 250 years ago, it was so different.  I don’t have a solution, but I do believe that we can’t lump groups of people together as fair, unfair, savage or honorable.

A partially ice-covered Cayuga  Lake

The Cayuga people dispersed from their beautiful lake, forests and swamp to the west and Canada, and for decades have fought New York State and each other in court to regain what a treaty promised them. There are no simple answers.

Were you aware of the involvement of the many eastern tribes in the  United States' war of Independance? Do you believe history is being taught differently than it was 30 or 50 years ago?



8 comments:

  1. Thanks for stopping in. I will be checking in, myself, over the weekend.

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  2. Very interesting. I love to learn about our Native Americans.
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Tina! Enjoy your weekend. Stay warm!

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  3. Definitely a sad and difficult part of the early history of our country. And you are so right about not lumping people together, and no easy answers yesterday or today.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Rebecca. We can only make the best of today!

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  4. History has been re-written not only in relation to native Americans but also to our Godly heritage. I'd love to get my hands on the history textbooks used when I was young and earlier.

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    1. I'm not sure what will come of history with the new Common Core. So many people seem to think it's not relevant today. I am pretty sure they won't be emphasizing traditional Christian faith and values. They seem to think that is opposition to tolerance and diversity because Christian faith has been made into a joke.

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  5. Yes, I think it is being taught differently to our children. Have heard they have already changed some things and added a lot about Muslims in the children's textbooks. The Pres. said the Muslims had a part of settling our country. Have never found anything about that. And parts of the comments on Monuments in the Veterans Cemetery have been left out or changed. You can check it out. People need to teach our children the truth of our country. I have always hated that Indians were treated so badly and lied to about the treaties. Our Constitution and Declaration was founded on Christian principles and now is being ignored. Enjoyed your post. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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