In my reading of A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. M
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In my reading of A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, written by James E. Seaver and edited by June Namias, I discovered many things I did not know about not only the Seneca Indians, but also the other Iroquois tribes within upstate New York. I enjoyed the perspective this book gives the reader. The story is told from someone that was introduced to the Indians, not as an original member of the tribe, but from someone that was captured by these Indians at an early age and assimilated into their culture. It serves as a direct source of information from a person that was taught everything about being an Indian. The information comes from someone that wasnít born into the culture, and I think that is what gives the book so much life. The fact that she came from a whole different culture shows us the comparisons she makes, between the people she was once with and the people she resided with till her last days. Mary gives the book a feeling like you are almost there, like being a part of the story. Her strength is something that I thought was a crucial part of the story. The ordeal she went through and how well she dealt with everything ,in my mind, really made the story. The fact of how well she adapted to the Indian culture itself is simply amazing. It says a lot about this culture when you look at the countless number of times she was offered a chance to free herself from them and be liberated back to her own people. Through all the hardships she had to go through, when captured by the Indians and French, her family being murdered, and the unseen future she was to face, she still stood by her new-found family. The scope of this book and the time period it covers is incredible.
From the readings in class and the narrative, I found the relationship between the Indians and the Revolutionary had war peaked my interest. It proves to be a profound turning point , not only in the history of the Iroquois Indians, but all tribes within the American frontier. I became particularly interested in the predicament the Iroquois had been placed in, and what they tried to accomplish to survive in this war between the patriots that bordered their land and the mother country that had originally sent these colonists over.
There had been a long history of both trust and friendship between the Iroquois and Britain. But the patriots had a certain appeal to the Indians. These patriots longed for a government much like the Indians had in place, and saw the wisdom in Indian views. A local government, where everyone either voted or council was held to discuss the issue, was the choice among these two groups. They both shared a distrust of a singular, central government body ruling over all. This is part of the enduring gift that the United States had received from the Iroquois and other Indian people, through their knowledge with the government they had in place.1
The young American Congress realized how important these Indian people were towards winning the Revolution. To attempt to secure the Indians as allies, Congress setup a commission that split the Indian country into three sections, sending three representatives to the northern department, and one each to the remaining. This was in fact copying what the French had done to receive the favor of Indian nations. Failing in doing so, they sought after the neutrality of the Iroquois Confederacy and its affiliates. The British, on the other hand, were having problems with the Indians even before the outset of the war. Indians were upset with the fact the British government was not enforcing treaties it had setup, such as settlers moving west of the 1763 Proclamation Line. They grew tired of these occurrences, and wanted actions, not promises. But in Britainís defense, how could it govern these settlers that closely from three thousand miles away? It was indeed an impossible task, and they sought other means for compensating the Iroquois for their losses. But, seeing they would probably not win over the Confederacy, they too stressed the need to keep the Indians neutral in these affairs. There was
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First Nations in Ontario, Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, Iroquois, Seneca people, Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, Sullivan Expedition, Oneida people, Cayuga people, Mary Jemison, Economy of the Iroquois, Beaver Wars
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