seventeenth reading - INTRODUCTION At the Crossroads In...

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Unformatted text preview: INTRODUCTION At the Crossroads In October 1736, during a treaty council outside Philadelphia at Stenton, Pennsylvania, the Seneca chief Kanickhungo, representing the Six Na- tions, explained to the proprietor Thomas Penn that, soon after his father William Penn “came into this Country, he and we treated together.” “He opened and cleared the Road between this Place and our Nations, which was very much to our good Liking, and it gave us great Pleasure. We now desire that this Road, for the mutual Accommodation and Conveniency of you and us, who travel therein to see each other, may be kept clear and open, free from all Stops or Incumbrances.” In a few words, the Iroquois leader invoked a simple element of the landscape, “the Road,” as a meta— phor for communication, diplomacy, and cultural exchange between Indi— ans and whites. Yet the road also referred to a physical space, a passage that connected national territories, communities, and people, a space used by many parties. Experience had taught Kanickhungo that shared roads often suffered from “Stops or Incumbrances"-—like brambles, competi— tion for resources and political power stood in the way of cooperation. He thus invoked the memory of the first colonial peacemaker who had advo- cated tolerance toward native peoples, and he gently reprimanded the son for his apparent deficiencies. Kanickhungo, like many eighteenth-century Americans, tried to articulate ways that coexistence could work. As rep— resentative of one imperial power addressing another, he drew on meta— phors that implored native Americans and Euramericans to be equally re— sponsible for keeping the route between their communities clear, to share that frontier as they negotiated a better understanding.1 Employing the image of the road to visualize Indian-white relations is useful, partly because the metaphor was integral to eighteenth-century cultural encounters and diplomacy. But roads can also provide an apt metaphor for historians, proffering new paths of inquiry through the tan- 1. MPCP, IV, 83. INTRODUCTION AT THE CROSSROADS 3 Z gled landscape of the past. As we construct a more complete picture of This book examines the interactions at one Such cultural crossroads in native peoples in contact, we can no longer think in terms of two roads meeting, where American Indians are offered few choices: a551m11ate Eur— american worldviews or resist change. Modern scholarship has explored new and complex relationships within native cultures and between Indi— ans and whites during the first two centuries of contact, discovering roads leSS traveled. Historians have picked apart the evolution of native Ameri— can cultural practices, their reactions to the Euramerican presence in North America, and the impact of new technologies on Indian societies. Some have demonstrated the intricate political developments within In- dian nations, some the adaptations to a Euramerican market economy and an increasingly white-dominated social landscape, some the various effects of religious revivalism and pan—Indian political activities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and some the social and gen— der reordering of native communities. Indeed, the Indian experience of a colonial New World begins to look more like a crossroads, a place where many paths converged, providing divers possibilities and directions to those who passed through.2 Pennsylvania between the late seventeenth century and the 17605. From the first meeting of the Lenni Lenapes with William Penn, purported to have taken place under an old elm tree at Shackamaxon in October 1682, Indians in the mid—Atlantic region negotiated a common space with Euro- pean settlers along a shifting frontier where roads both literally and figu— ratively passed through and between communities, connecting their lives and histories. Here, well—established Indian paths and newly laid colonial roads crisscrossed the landscape, often overlapping. These roads brought travelers along valley floors nestled between the ridges of what Delawares called the Kittatinny, or Endless, Mountains, which linked Iroquoia in the north with the gateway to the Chesapeake Bay. Eventually white inhabi- tants of New York would use these same paths to reach central Maryland and Virginia. The waterways that connected the Susquehanna and Dela- ware Rivers to each other and to more distant passages of the Great Lakes region snaked through narrow ravines in the mountain ridges, thus pro- viding all who lived in the mid-Atlantic with commercial networks for trade and travel. Indian trails, with names such as the Tulpehocken Path, Nanticoke Path, Allegheny Path, and the Warriors’ Path, which passed through wind and water gaps in the mountains, connected communities or provided specific people with access acroSs the frontier. During this period, roads brought together many groups of immigrant peoples who 2. Arnold Krupat, Ethnocriticism: Ethnography, History, Literature (Berkeley, Calif, 1992) 25—26, argues that we should reject the dichotomies of resistance and aSSimi- lation and conqueror and victim and look instead at the multifaceted dynamics of cultural differences and power relations. My study strives to use a dialogic-model of interrogation rather than an oppositional model. Other works using a Similar inter- pretive model include Daniel K. Richter, The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill, NC, 1992); Daniel H. Usner, Jr., Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mis- sissippi Valley before 1783 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1992); Jean M. O Brien, Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650,4790 (Cambridge, 1997); Gregory Evans Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815 (Baltimore, 1992); Kathleen M. Brown, ‘ The Anglo-Algonquian Gender Frontier,” in Nancy Shoemaker, ed., Negotiators of Change: Historical Perspec- tives on Native American Women (New York, 1995), 26—48; Kathleen Bragdon, “Gender as a Social Category in Native Southern New England," Ethnohistory, XLIII (1996), 573—592; Ann Marie Plane, Colonial Intimacies: Indian Marriage in Early New England (Ithaca, N.Y., 2000); Claudio Saunt, A New Order of Things: Property, Power, and the Transformation of the Creek Indians, 1733—1816 (New York, 1999); James H. Merrell, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (Chapel Hill, NC, 1989). In “The Indians’ New World: The Catawba Experience," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., XLI (1984), 537— 565, Merrell postu- tried, if somewhat imperfectly, to understand each other.3 Kanickhungo’s open road and the subsequentconvergence of peoples had far-reaching consequences, however, that even diplomats could not foresee. At this crossroads, Indians and whites arrived with a certain will- ingness to cooperate, but, in negotiating their differences, they redefined lated that contact between native Americans and Europeans “was more a matter of subtle cultural processes than mere physical displacements" (538). 3. H. Frank Eshleman, Lancaster County Indians: Annals of the Susquehannocks and Other Indian Tribes of the Susquehanna Territory from about the Year 1500 to 1763, the Date of Their Extinction . . . (Lancaster, Pa., 1908), 125; Paul A. W. Wallace, Indians in Pennsylvania (1961; reprint, Harrisburg, Pa., 1975), 40—44, 54—55; Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from Its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1 744 (New York, 1984), 74— 80; Barry C. Kent, Susquehanna’s Indians, Anthropological Series No. 6 (Harrisburg, Pa., 1984), 10—11. ' I INTRODUCTION 4 themselves and each other. In the following pages, I argue that the dif- ferences among Pennsylvania immigrants—whether political, economic, social, religious, ethnic, or racial—once negotiable and oftentolerat’ed at a local level, became increasingly characterized by race (‘ Indianness ) by the 17605. The construction of race as a category is not a new supposmon; humans have divided themselves into different groups based on cultural, social, or economic factors throughout history. Less clear, however, IS why prolonged intercultural contact often produces deep and long—lasting ani— mosities that are cast in racial terms. In eighteenth—century Pennsylvania, racial divisiveness was not a foregone conclusion, especially in light of the colony’s initial policies of tolerance. Yet,by the 1760s, the hybrid nature of frontier life, the competition for resources, and the tenSions of an im— perial war had engendered a nationalist sentiment among both white and Indian populations. Rather than roads connecting communities, Pennsyl- vanians called for new territorial and political boundaries to. separate and control peOple. In turn, race became a tool for placing indiViduals on one side or the other of those national boundaries. Instead of community— based strategies for negotiating alliances and coexistence, as suggested by Kanickhungo in the 17305, native Americans and Euramerican-settlers turned to once-distrusted confederations or empires for protection and rt. 3111:5111}, forces triggered the deterioration of personal relations between Indians and whites in the eighteenth century. Both the frontier as a pomt of contact and the dynamics of colonial power within that frontier zone affected how Indians and whites reacted to each other. The first part of ' the book looks at migration and community building in Pennsylvania during the first half of the eighteenth century and the tenSions between local autonomy and colonial authority. Before 1750, the frontier was rela- tively open—akin to what Marvin Mikesell and later. John Mack Para— gher have called “frontiers of inclusion." It was a region on the fringesf of empire, between but not yet dominated by the Imperial influences 0 Great Britain and France.vThe Indian and white populations were nearly equal outside Philadelphia, and their relations were relatively fluid. From 1700, a variety of ethnic groups moved into the region north and west of Philadelphia between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. Dela- wares, Germans, Mahicans, Scots-Irish, English, Tutelos, Shawnees, and Iroquois came together to form new communities, sometimes overlap- ping and sometimes defiantly separate but invariably connected by inter— AT THE CROSSROADS 5 dependent social, economic, and political networks that drew Indians and non-Indians together.4 Kinship and clan affiliations often guided the actions of these local communities. As white traders, political agents, and missionaries became more visible on the frontier, Indians attempted to incorporate them into their regional support networks. Whites, in turn, sometimes accepted the responsibilities of reciprocity entailed in these kinlike relationships and shared in the material and emotional lives of Indians. Moravian mission- aries, for example, participated in Indian alliances, as did many individual fur traders or political go-betweens. Although whites sometimes vied for use of the same land and resources, they also negotiated social and eco— nomic relations that brought relative stability to the frontier. Although Indians increasingly depended on a market economy, which changed the nature of reciprocal alliances, they also used economic exchange to their own advantage, whether to gain access to needed goods and services or as a means of political leverage and to critique white society. As long as the penetration of colonial infrastructures on the frontier was minimal, Indians and whites had to rely on each other for a modicum of support. As long as Eurarnerican settlement on the frontier did not outpace the ability of Indians to incorporate them into their communities, roads and metaphors of the road would act as bridges between their cultures. Imperial infrastructures might have been weak on the frontier before the Seven Years’ War, but internal colonialism—that control imposed by local governing bodies over subject populations—still helped to shape the course of Indian-white relations in Pennsylvania. During the first half of the eighteenth century, Great Britain. was creating an empire in North America, with varying degrees of success. In Pennsylvania, empire build- ing entailed continual negotiations between the proprietors and the Six Nations, who competed with each other for local political power and at- tempted to dominate those who lived on the inclusive frontier of Pennsyl- vania. Although the two groups sometimes disagreed over specific issues, they cooperated more often than not to regulate the disposition of land 4. Marvin Mikesell, “Comparative Studies in Frontier History," Annals of the As— ‘ sedation of American Geographers, L (1960), 64—74; John Mack Faragher, “ ‘More Mot- ley than Mackinaw’: From Ethnic Mixing to Ethnic Cleansing on the Frontier of the Lower Missouri, 1783—1833,” in Andrew R. L. Cayton and Fredn‘ka J. Teute, eds, ' Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750—1830 Chapel Hill, NC, 1998), 305. INTRODUCTION AT THE CROSSROADS 7 6 1755 and the effects these interactions had on the dynamics Within Indian communities and their relationship to colonial authorities. Their societies in a state of flux, native Americans found that adapting to some Eurameri- can practices, such as Christianity, and participating in a larger market economy provided new strategies for survival. Euramerican social systems and economic practices did not replace customary native habits, however; instead, many Indians, contending with shifting circumstances, created and direct the settlement and development of frontier-communitiesin their respective suzerainties. At times, leaders pitted Indian and wllute 1: habitants against each other to make a larger point-to their colonia rave; a; For the proprietors and the Six Nations, frontiermhabitants provi e t protective buffer from each other but also established broader claims 0 territory.5 _ Yet internal factionalism also hampered internal colonialism. Instead of a unified, omnipotent colonial authority conquering or subduing a ho- mogeneous population, marginal and often antagonistic parties Wit in these political structures competed over who would control the frontier. Religious groups exerted power within and outside normal political chan- nels, for instance, but were mostly at odds with provincial‘leaders and th:1 proprietors. To enhance their own position in Pennsylvania, Quakers a; Moravians established separate alliances with local Indian groups, w o, in turn, were disaffected with the Six Nations. Delawares and other 1nd: pendent Indian communities, having gained the support of Quakers all: Moravians, paid metaphoric lip service to their “uncles, the Iroguoah-ut denounced any concrete obligations to them as a political authority. 1h e settlers also worked outside existing political systems. Profiting from t e animosities between Quaker assembly members and the proprietors, chy avoided paying quitrents, squatted on western lands, and freely used ava - able natural resourCes. Before the 17505, Indian and white frontier com- munities as far west as the Ohio Valley were able to manipulate colonial factions or use militant resistance to render colonial authorities ineffective aintain relative autonomy. anianthin this context of negotiated power relations, individual commu— nities struggled to position themselves in a rapidly changing world. Naive Americans, in particular, confronted new cultural ch01ces, or roads, th ad veered from older practices, responses, and beliefs. Yet they approac .e these challenges with a keen ability to adapt. Chapters 3 and 4 examine how Indians, particularly those living in and around German Moravfian mission towns, adjusted to the growing presence of white settlers be ore 5. Eric Hinderaker, Elusive Empires: Constructing Colonialism in the Ohio .Vail/zy,‘ 1653— 1800 (New York, 1997), xi. Warren R. Hofstra, “‘The Extention of His ' ?? (:15: Dominions’: The Virginia Backcountry and the Reconfiguration of Impena rtia- tiers," Journal of American History, LXXXIV (1997—1998), 1286, sees Sdln'll aEtIQZg; h- tions occurring on the Virginia frontier during the first three deca es 0 g teenth century. new identities from the cultural material at hand.6 Adaptation to Euramerican culture also came at a price. By 1754, Chris- tian mission communities began to unravel, even as they succeeded eco- nomically. Partially jealous of the success of the Christian Indians and their independent alliance with the Moravians, the Six Nations reasserted pressure on Christian Indians to move north into the Six Nations’ sphere of influence. Adaptation also brought Christian Indians into direct eco— nomic competition with White settlers, who increasingly encroached on Indian lands. These external forces exacerbated internal conflicts, and the subsequent social fractures within the mission communities further eroded Indian autonomy in Pennsylvania. Delawares and Mahicans, for instance, although nominally united as Christians, still harbored deep- seated ethnic animosities toward each other and, by the early 17503, began to make separate decisions accordingly. Gender and generational conflict also divided native families, prompting individual members to question 6. Pierre Bourdieu, In Other Words: Essays towards a Reflexive Sociology, trans. Mat- thew Adamson (Stanford, Calif, 1990), 60, 61, 62. Bourdieu looks at “habitus (or system of dispositions), practical sense, and strategy," including a subject’s emo- tions, mannerisms, and perceptions, and their effects on the historical actions of humans. See also Michelle Rosaldo, “Toward an Anthropology of Self and Feeling," in Richard A. Shweder and Robert A. LeVine, eds., Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion (New York, 1984), 146; Anthony P. Cohen, “Culture as Identity: An Anthropologist’s View,” New Literary History, XXIV (1993), 2.07; Greg Dening, “Introduction: In Search of a Metaphor," and Richard White, “ “Although I am dead, I am not entirely dead. I have left a second of myself’: Contructing Self and Persons on the Middle Ground of Early America,” both in Ronald Hoffman, Mechal Sobel, and Fredrika I. Teute, eds., Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Personal Identity in Early America (Chapel Hill, NC, 1997), 2, 418; James Clifford, The Predicament of Cul- ture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), 9; William H. Sewell, Jr., “The Concept(s) of Culture," in Victoria E. Bonnell and Lynn Hunt, eds., Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture (Berkeley, Calif, 1999), 52—55. INTRODUCTION 8 the eflicacy of cultural accommodation and rethink where their loyal— t1elrlazeissence, by 1755, Pennsylvania Indians had reached another cross;1 roads, where they would revisit their past, account for their present, an make choices about their future. The third part of the book deals With this transition, a period occupied with war and attempts at peace buft domi- nated by the consolidation of colonial powers over an 1ntensrfi:d rontie: By the late 174os, white settlers flocked to. sparsely populated lrontier :rs gions not yet ceded by Indians. The proprietors and provrncra1 gilvern150 complained that immigrants acted illegally, yet these colonial ea ers am used white settlers as a toehold for their own claims to western lands. 3 imperial conflict between Britain and Franceover North America open:3d the way for colonial expansion into the frontier as well. Both nationslyi - for domination of the lucrative fur trade in the Ohio Valley, whic . re quired the cooperation of Indians. Inadvertently, or perhaps intention- ally, they invited ...
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