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From Homeland to New Land

A History of the Mahican Indians, 1600-1830

William A. Starna

Publication Year: 2013

This history of the Mahicans begins with the appearance of Europeans on the Hudson River in 1609 and ends with the removal of these Native people to Wisconsin in the 1830s. Marshaling the methods of history, ethnology, and archaeology, William A. Starna describes as comprehensively as the sources allow the Mahicans while in their Hudson and Housatonic Valley homeland; after their consolidation at the praying town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts; and following their move to Oneida country in central New York at the end of the Revolution and their migration west.

The emphasis throughout this book is on describing and placing into historical context Mahican relations with surrounding Native groups: the Munsees of the lower Hudson, eastern Iroquoians, and the St. Lawrence and New England Algonquians. Starna also examines the Mahicans’ interactions with Dutch, English, and French interlopers. The first and most transformative of these encounters was with the Dutch and the trade in furs, which ushered in culture change and the loss of Mahican lands. The Dutch presence, along with the new economy, worked to unsettle political alliances in the region that, while leading to new alignments, often engendered rivalries and war. The result is an outstanding examination of the historical record that will become the definitive work on the Mahican people from the colonial period to the Removal Era.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7

Contents

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pp. vii-8

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I would like to thank James Bradley, José António Brandão, Colin Calloway, Jack Campisi, Jaap Jacobs, Daniel Mandell, Eileen McClafferty, Ruth Piwonka, Martha Dickinson Shattuck, and David Silverman, who read drafts of various chapters, and in Eileen’s...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xvi

This is a story, one of the many that has been or could be told about the Mahicans, an Indian people who lived along the tidal waters they called Muhheakunnuk, today’s Hudson River. It spans the years between 1600 and 1830, beginning just before...

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Prologue

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pp. 1-2

In May 1631 one Cornelis Maesen van Buijrmaelsen sailed for New Netherland aboard the ship Eendracht. He had been engaged by the patroon, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, to serve as a farm laborer for a period of three years. At the end of his contract he returned...

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1. Landscape and Environment

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pp. 3-17

In life and lore the Hudson Valley has long fascinated the multitudes that have contemplated its expanse, sailed its waters, or lived and labored among its forested hills, meadows, and tributary streams. Narratives about the valley are legion, whether they appear as sketches...

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2. Natives on the Land

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pp. 18-37

The meetings of Indians and Europeans—Dutch, French, and English, but earlier Basques, Portuguese, and Italians—on the coast and soon thereafter in the interior of northeastern North America, began a long period of a mutual stocktaking. Where appropriate, it is the rare history...

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3. Mahican Places

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pp. 38-48

Archaeological sites reflecting contact and postcontact period Native lifeways in the upper Hudson Valley, while present in some number, have been inadequately or incompletely studied. Moreover, descriptions of artifact assemblages, along with settlement and subsistence data, in the...

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4. Native Neighbors

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pp. 49-58

Beginning some thirty-five miles west from where the Mohawk River enters the Hudson was the homeland of the Mohawks, an Iroquoian-speaking people (map 7). Their large, often palisaded, and densely populated villages, situated on hilltops and low terraces adjacent to the Mohawk...

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5. The Ethnographic Past

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pp. 59-76

The Native people living in the Hudson Valley at the time the Dutch arrived either had previous firsthand encounters with Europeans or were well aware of their presence in nearby regions, in particular, the St. Lawrence Valley. To what degree these experiences...

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6. The Mahicans and the Dutch

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pp. 77-98

Dutch ships began appearing on the Hudson River soon after Henry Hudson’s explorations in September and early October 1609. Although the record is meager, the first vessel known to be dispatched to engage in the fur trade in what would be called...

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7. The Mahican Homeland

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pp. 99-118

Establishing the extent—the boundaries—of the Mahican homeland at contact, and for the period of these Indians’ occupancy of the upper Hudson and upper Housatonic Valleys and environs, is a task fraught with difficulties. The basis for the earliest...

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8. A Century of Mahican History

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pp. 119-169

This excerpt from Van Wassenaer’s Historisch Verhael offers the only hint as to where an unknown number of the Mahicans might have withdrawn two years after some of their warriors, aided by Daniel van Crieckenbeeck and his men, had been routed by a party of Mohawks,...

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9. Stockbridge and Its Companions

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pp. 170-200

The second and third decades of the eighteenth century found Mahicans at several locations in the Hudson and Housatonic Valleys. A small number, it is generally believed, resided at Schaghticoke until its abandonment shortly after 1750, leaving these Indians to seek shelter elsewhere in...

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10. New Stockbridge and Beyond

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pp. 201-221

In 1783 New York State took steps to settle its boundaries and assert its claims of jurisdiction over Indian lands west of the 1768 line of property. It first called for a council with the Iroquois nations to be held at Fort Stanwix in late summer 1784, the foremost object of which was to...

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Afterword

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pp. 222-223

In the 1630s Martin van Buren’s ancestors arrived from Holland, settling and flourishing on Mahican lands in the Hudson Valley. Yet as president, Van Buren had a direct hand in the relocation of Native people from New York State and the thousands of Indians from America’s south...

Notes

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pp. 225-267

Bibliography

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pp. 269-291

Index

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pp. 293-301


E-ISBN-13: 9780803245792
E-ISBN-10: 0803245793
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803244955

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 2 illustrations, 11 maps
Publication Year: 2013