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Imperial Entanglements

Iroquois Change and Persistence on the Frontiers of Empire

By Gail D. MacLeitch

Publication Year: 2012

Imperial Entanglements chronicles the history of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois in the eighteenth century, a dramatic period during which they became further entangled in a burgeoning market economy, participated in imperial warfare, and encountered a waxing British Empire. Rescuing the Seven Years' War era from the shadows of the American Revolution and moving away from the political focus that dominates Iroquois studies, historian Gail D. MacLeitch offers a fresh examination of Iroquois experience in economic and cultural terms. As land sellers, fur hunters, paid laborers, consumers, and commercial farmers, the Iroquois helped to create a new economic culture that connected the New York hinterland to a transatlantic world of commerce. By doing so they exposed themselves to both opportunities and risks.

As their economic practices changed, so too did Iroquois ways of making sense of gender and ethnic differences. MacLeitch examines the formation of new cultural identities as men and women negotiated challenges to long-established gendered practices and confronted and cocreated a new racialized discourses of difference. On the frontiers of empire, Indians, as much as European settlers, colonial officials, and imperial soldiers, directed the course of events. However, as MacLeitch also demonstrates, imperial entanglements with a rising British power intent on securing native land, labor, and resources ultimately worked to diminish Iroquois economic and political sovereignty.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Early American Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-12

During an Anglo-Iroquois conference an Iroquois headman approached the British superintendent for Indian affairs, William Johnson, with a special request. The headman relayed to him a dream he had had in which Johnson had given him “a fine laced coat” much like...

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Chapter 1. Maintaining Their Ground

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pp. 13-44

In the spring of 1710, after an arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean, a middle-aged Mohawk man named Tejonihokarawa arrived in the bustling London metropolis. He was part of a delegation of “four Indian kings” brought to London by two prominent colonists...

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Chapter 2. The Ascension of Empire

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pp. 45-84

American-born artist Benjamin West captured on canvas a famous moment in the 1755 Battle of Lake George when William Johnson intercedes to prevent a Mohawk warrior from scalping the captured French commanding officer (fig. 2). Recently appointed as supervisor...

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Chapter 3. Trade, Land, and Labor

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pp. 85-112

“An Indian makes 40£ & upwards yearly by hunting [furs] Winter, Spring & Fall,” Warren Johnson observed during his tour of the Mohawk Valley at the close of the Seven Years’ War. He detailed how hunters ventured to Canada, where furs were...

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Chapter 4. Gendered Encounters

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pp. 113-145

In 1754, Theyanoguin employed a gendered slur to chastise the British for their tardiness in confronting the French threat. Deriding Britain’s past military performance “which was a shame and a scandal,” he drew on sexualized imagery to criticize them further...

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Chapter 5. Indian and Other

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pp. 146-174

At the height of the Seven Years’ War, William Johnson complained to his superior of “the intemperate, and imprudent sallies of prejudice and resentment which escape from many of our European Bretheren,” aimed toward Iroquois allies. He warned that “if not curbed,” such malicious...

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Chapter 6. Economic Adversity and Adjustment

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pp. 175-210

The close of the Seven Years’ War may very well have brought peace to the New York frontier, but it did not bring peace of mind to Oneida headman Canaghquiesa. “We have for sometime past heard that our Brethren the English were wanting to get more Lands...

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Chapter 7. The Iroquois in British North America

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pp. 211-243

In the 1770s, Iroquois “brethren” from neighboring settlements chastised the Kanowarohare Oneidas for failing to “live like true Indians.” Ever since the arrival of missionary Samuel Kirkland to their village in 1767, Kanowarohare Oneidas had undergone rapid baptism...

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pp. 244-247

"‘Westward, the Star of Empire takes its way,’ and whenever that Empire is held by the white man, nothing is safe or unmolested or enduring against his avidity for gain.” When Seneca Indian Maris B. Pierce spoke these words at a public meeting in 1839 in Buffalo...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 248-249


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pp. 250-318


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pp. 319-328

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pp. 329-330

Writing this book felt akin to running a marathon: seemingly unending, utterly exhausting, but ultimately satisfying. Now that the finish line is finally in view, I wish to thank the institutions, colleagues, friends, and family members who through their guidance and support helped keep me and this project on track...


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E-ISBN-13: 9780812208511
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812242812

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Early American Studies