Indians of the American Revolution (History 101)

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Indians of the American Revolution

During the war for independence, the colonists receive support from the Spanish and the French to fight against the British. The Indian tribes of North America were also very involved in the fight and much like the American Civil War, some tribes were split; Indian brothers fought against brothers. Some smaller tribes supported the colonists however; the larger alliances supported Great Britain because of their commitment to recognize their sovereignty. From 1754 to 1763, England and the American colonies fought against France and their Indian allies, which eventually became worldwide. The French and Indian war was actually a series of wars that took place in North America overland that both the French and the British claimed. The Indian tribes fought against the American colonists because of their encroachment onto their land; however, the Iroquois remained loyal to the British and help defeat French. The Proclamation of 1763 was one of the acts imposed by King George III of Great Britain on the colonies in America. This proclamation was to prohibit the expansion of the colonists into the western territories and declared the Appalachian Mountain chain as off-limits; these lands were reserved for the Indian nations. From 1763 to 1775, a series of boundaries were set between the Indians of the interior and the colonists. These were the result of the treaties made between Great Britain and the in the Indian nations. The boundaries extend it from Lake Ontario down to Florida. Regardless of the treaties the colonists continued to move West beyond the mountains into the Ohio River Valley (Washburn and Utley 1977). 1774 was the beginning of the breakdown of the arrangements between the Indians and the seaboard colonists. Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, wished to reoccupy the abandoned Fort Pitt, located in western Pennsylvania. This resulted in a war against the Shawnees and Delaware tribes. This also resulted in a response from the Iroquois tribes in the north; however, the superintendent of Indian affairs diligently worked to keep the Iroquois out of the war. The Iroquois agreed but demanded to know why the, "whites" were not honoring the treaties and were still moving beyond the mountains into the Ohio River Valley. During the great meeting in Onondaga in October 1774, the Iroquois decided to ratify their pledge to remain at peace with English and persuaded the Shawnees to settle their differences with the Virginians. The British imposed the Québec Act on the colonies in an effort to shut them off from expanding into the Indian lands. This cemented the relationship between the British and the Indian nations of the North (Washburn and Utley 1977). After the start of the American Revolution, neither the loyalists to Britain nor the colonists sought support by the Indians. Both sides urged the Indian nations not to involve themselves in the war and to remain neutral (Nash 2006). However in the winter of 1774, General George Washington recruited some gunmen among the minor Eastern tribes, including the Stockbridge Mohicans, the Passamaquoddy, St. John’s and Penobscot Indians. These acts by General Washington encourage the British to bring other Indians tribes into the war, if the opportunity arose. In July of 1775 the Continental Congress proposed a plan similar to Great Britain’s plan, to encourage the Indian nations not to become involved in the war. They propose a speech to the Six Confederate Nations, Mohawks, Oneidas, Tusscaroras, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senekas, to encourage them not to take sides. In part it stated, “This is a family quarrel between us and Old England. You Indians are not concerned in it. We don't wish you to take up the hatchet against the king's troops. We desire you to remain at home, and not join on either side, but keep the hatchet buried deep…” (Congress 1776). This changed in the summer of 1776 when both American and British made attempts...
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