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Beyond Conquest

Native Peoples and the Struggle for History in New England

Amy E. Den Ouden

Publication Year: 2005

By focusing on the complex cultural and political facets of Native resistance to encroachment on reservation lands during the eighteenth century in southern New England, Beyond Conquest reconceptualizes indigenous histories and debates over Native land rights.
As Amy E. Den Ouden demonstrates, Mohegans, Pequots, and Niantics living on reservations in New London County, Connecticut—where the largest indigenous population in the colony resided—were under siege by colonists who employed various means to expropriate reserved lands. Natives were also subjected to the policies of a colonial government that sought to strictly control them and that undermined Native land rights by depicting reservation populations as culturally and politically illegitimate. Although colonial tactics of rule sometimes incited internal disputes among Native women and men, reservation communities and their leaders engaged in subtle and sometimes overt acts of resistance to dispossession, thus demonstrating the power of historical consciousness, cultural connections to land, and ties to local kin. The Mohegans, for example, boldly challenged colonial authority and its land encroachment policies in 1736 by holding a “great dance,” during which they publicly affirmed the leadership of Mahomet and, with the support of their Pequot and Niantic allies, articulated their intent to continue their legal case against the colony.
Beyond Conquest demonstrates how the current Euroamerican scrutiny and denial of local Indian identities is a practice with a long history in southern New England, one linked to colonial notions of cultural—and ultimately “racial”—illegitimacy that emerged in the context of eighteenth-century disputes regarding Native land rights.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Fourth World Rising


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii


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p. viii

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Series Editors’ Introduction

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pp. ix-xi

Beyond Conquest is the fifth volume in Fourth World Rising, a series of contemporary ethnographies from the University of Nebraska Press. The series focuses on contemporary issues, including class, gender, religion, and politics: in sum, it addresses social and cultural differentiation among and between Native peoples ...

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pp. xiii-xv

For their patience, generosity, and wisdom, I would like to thank the elders who have been important mentors and most gracious friends to me since this project began, especially Alton Smith Sr., Chief Hockeo, Trudie Lamb Richmond, Mary Sebastian, Betty Jackson Fletcher, and Chief Big Eagle. ...

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1. Dilemmas of Conquest

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pp. 1-38

In September of 1736 Mohegans held a ceremony on their reserved land to name a new leader. This land, where perhaps three hundred or more Mohegans were known to “dwell and plant” (Connecticut Archives, “Indians” [hereafter IND], 1st ser., vol. 1:122), was engulfed by the town of New London and was the remaining ...

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2. Manufacturing Colonial Legitimacy

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pp. 39-64

English claims to Native lands entailed the production of a discourse of conquest that conjoined ideas about colonial cultural legitimacy, property rights, and “Indian savagery.”1 It is by now a truism to say that colonial discourse – and particularly the ideas about “others” that it has conveyed – is itself a crucial mechanism ...

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3. Colonial Law and Native Lives

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pp. 65-90

Colonial law cannot be understood as a consistent protector of reservation lands or of the indigenous communities that labored to make a life upon them in eighteenth-century Connecticut. Native women and men could petition the General Assembly to protest encroachment and argue for their rights to land ...

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4. “Only an Indian’s Story”

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pp. 91-142

Although the legal proceedings of Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut have received some attention by scholars (e.g., Beardsley 1882; Conroy 1994; F. Morgan 1904:275–89; Smith 1950:422–42; Walters 1995; DeForest 1852:303–46), the historical significance of Mohegans’ resistance to dispossession in the eighteenth century ...

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5. “Now They Make Us as Goats”

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pp. 143-180

In the context of the Mohegan land dispute, the identity of Mohegans who dared defy colonial rule was to become the subject of governmental scrutiny and manipulation. Mahomet II was depicted not simply as an illegitimate leader, but as an illegitimate Mohegan: an “impostor” in the fullest sense, whose genealogy ...

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6. “Race”and the Denial of Local Histories

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pp. 181-208

In the diary of Joshua Hempstead, an elderly, well-to-do Anglo-American farmer and man of considerable political influence in the town of New London, an entry for Monday, July 13, 1752, opens as do most of the others – with a weather report. After a few words about his work that day Hempstead added: ...

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Series Editors’ Afterword

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pp. 209-212

Amy Den Ouden’s Beyond Conquest moves in two directions simultaneously, both of which are indicated in the title. The book, to begin, presents what happened to Native people in Connecticut beyond (i.e., after) conquest – continuing conquest, for it was not, and is not yet, a oncefor- all-time event. ...


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pp. 213-274


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pp. 275-290


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pp. 291-303

E-ISBN-13: 9780803251670
E-ISBN-10: 080325167X

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Fourth World Rising
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OCLC Number: 62145037
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Beyond Conquest

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Connecticut -- Politics and government.
  • Local history -- Connecticut.
  • Connecticut -- Historiography.
  • Indians of North America -- Land tenure -- Connecticut.
  • Indians, Treatment of -- Connecticut -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- Connecticut -- Historiography.
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