The Mohawk & The French & Indian War

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Because my most recent release, BLACK EAGLE, is a story of the Mohawk, I thought we’d have a look at the Mohawk and the French & Indian War.

This is a post that I’m rerunning (excuse me).  The reason I’m rerunning it is that it is so closely associated with the book, BLACK EAGLE — the entire story takes place during (and about) The French & Indian War.  I’ll also be giving away a free e-book copy of BLACK EAGLE — a $5.50 value.

Truth is, during my research for this book, I found a little known point of history that I’d never known and have never seen it imparted in any history of the Mohawk.  I love these little known facts.abenaki-indians

This is really quite an important fact because it contributed to the downfall of the Mohawk Indians.  It’s a bit of history with an impact, if one views history (real history — not what one is taught in school) because if one can and should learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before, this would be a good bit of history to know.

The Mohawk Indians were Indians of the Northeastern part of America.  They were part of the Great Iroquois Confederation.  Known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door, they guarded the Iroquois Confederation for hundreds of years against  invasion from the East.Mohawk Haircut wes-studi-magua

They were known as united and invincible.  They stood shoulder to shoulder and brother to brother.  In 1666, they were attacked by the French, and part of the negotiations was to allow Jesuit missionaries to come in amongst their people.   Sometime around 1669, the Jesuit missionaries not only converted many of the people to their faith, but several years later, they took half of the Mohawk Nation and  took them north into Canada where they erected two missions close to Montreal.  On one hand, this seems harmless enough.  On another, it was not so smart…unless one was trying to destroy the Mohawks from within.

So what does this have to do with the French and Indian war.  When I was in school, I learned that the war was fought against the French and the Indians, who terrorized the colonists.  But here’s the little known history, that isn’t even touched upon in most written accounts of the Iroquois.

mohawkThe Mohawk Indians who were left in the Mohawk River Valley of upper State New York, were friends with and sided with the English during the French and Indian war.  However, the Mohawk Indians who had been taken into Canada, sided with the French.  This had the effect of pitting Mohawk brother against Mohawk brother, a thing the chiefs feared — and the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy warned against.  But it didn’t entirely destroy their power and their freedom…yet…

Soon after the French and Indian war came the Revolutionary War.  Most of the Iroquois Tribes sided with their allies, the English.  But because the Colonies were fighting for Freedom, and because the Mohawk treasured freedom, many of the Mohawks sided with the Colonists.  Again, Mohawk Brother was pitted against Mohawk Brother.

iroquois canoeThis, coming so close on the tail-end of the French and Indian War effectively destroyed the unity of the Mohawks, who for so long had guarded the Iroquois against invasion in the East.  Added onto this, the results of the Revolutionary War forced all of the Iroquois/Mohawk allies, as well as the enemies, of the Colonists to cede their lands to the Americans.

Interestingly, it was a corporation that took the lands of the Mohawk and Iroquois — at the time, I believe the corporation was headed by a man who was related to the President”s wife at the time of the undertaking.  It has been many years since I did this research, so please forgive me for not knowing the name of that corporation, or the name of the man or wife.

250px-Joseph_Brant_by_Gilbert_Stuart,_1786So if I were a teacher, what might I ask was the lesson to be learned from this account of the Mohawk?  What method of war was used upon them that eventually led to their downfall?

Wouldn’t it be the old trick of divide and conquer?  There is an old, old, old book written by Sun Tzu.  It is  a Chinese book entitled THE ART OF WAR, which goes into how to employ the technique of divide and conquer without a people even knowing they are at war.  This book is read the world over by those employed in the profession of war.  There are many other methods of “winning” a war without firing a shot that are detailed in that book, as well.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the blog today.  I find it interesting that this is such a little known bit of history, and yet is so major, that the idea that it is not known even in most history books, seems a little strange to me.  For how are we, as a people, to ever learn from our mistakes if we must search and gather fact after fact to even put this information down to paper?  And yet a very great nation of people — a people who treasured Freedom — failed.  We should know why, I think.

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Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.

22 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing that information with me. I love history but am often frustrated with how either inaccurate it is or as you stated I how to put it together piece by piece. I have a niece that is multi-cultural and we try very hard to give her an accurate look at history but often find that what is in the “history books”,she learned from in school were not only incorrect but didn’t even include the histories of her peoples. If the history of all people isn’t included then it w never be correct and all of us will miss out o. What we could be learning.
    Thank you for the chance at such a great contest,the cover is gorgeous and I look forward to reading the book.

    Tammy R.
    trvlagnt1t@yahoo.com

    1. Hi Wyndwhisper!

      I love this name, by the way. I agree with you all the way. I have family members who are also multi-cultural — and I am myself, and I, too, believe that history should be taught as it was and not as the winning party would have us believe.

      With TV sending out its propaganda — with schools teaching less and less in terms of real education — it’s important to pass along to the next generation a love of research and getting down to the real facts of the matter. Sometimes it takes some doing.

      Enjoyed your response.

  2. Avatar

    After the disastrous Civil War you’d think we would learn about pitting brother against brother.

    I don’t remember learning about the French and Indian War in school. They always focused heavily on the Revolution. I learned a lot in Pamela Claire’s trilogy which started with the book Surrender and the impressment of Scotsmen to fight for England.

    Reading today’s headlines you can see we haven’t learned our lesson.

    1. Hi Laurie!

      I so agree with you. I did learn about the French and Indian War in school, but never from the Native American perspective. That was an eye opener. : )

  3. I believe the truth should always be taught in school, especially when it comes to history. Omitting facts never helps anyone.

    1. I agree. So totally agree. But often, this is not the case. Whoever is in control at the moment gets to write their own version it seems. That’s why I think real research and putting facts together is so very, very important.

  4. Greatpost. I do enjoy them so much. Brother against brother is never a good thing.

    1. Yes, so very, very true. : )

  5. Well, as Terry Jones put in Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, “History isn’t necessarily what happened. It’s often what people want us to think happened”. Not to mention that it’s also what the winners want us to think happened. These days I certainly read the history book with more than just a grain of salt.

  6. Hi Minna!

    You made me smile. I so agree — and that includes history of Native Americans, also, which is often written not by the people themselves, but another race of people who was antagonistic to the Indians. One really has to look at the source of one’s information, also.

  7. I never liked how history leaves so much out and only focuses on us being the winners and from our viewpoint. I am making sure my kiddos are learning about all sides of it, what we may have done wrong and to learn from it. The history of the Native Americans is huge to me.

    1. Hi Susan!

      My kids are all grown, but if I had it to do over again, I’d do as you are doing. Give my kids a real education. : )

  8. Good morning, Karen!! I love reading about the history of the Indians through your blogs!! Thank you for another chance to win the ebook Black Eagle!!!

  9. Hi Arlene!

    Wonderful to hear from you here again!

  10. Thank you for shining some light on a chapter of history that often gets overlooked. Many issues that drove the thirteen colonies to declare independence from Great Britain arose from the French and Indian War, but it usually just gets a footnote in textbooks. Also, I love the pic of Wes Studi as Magua. I’ve been a fan of his for years.

    1. It’s so interesting to me that we went from that war into another one so very few years. War — wish governments didn’t expect to solve their problems through such a barbaric practice.

      I’m a fan of Wes Studi’s also — met him once at a celebration after the First Americans in the Arts Awards celebration. Only introduced to him for a moment, but I gained the impression that he was kind. : )

  11. I grew up in the Mohawk part of the Iroquois Confederacy. In our history classes, it was mentioned that different segments of the tribes fought with the French and English both in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. They never really connected the dots for the decline of the Confederacy after the wars. They just sort of passed over why they lost so much of their land.

    I have the original version of this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1. Hi Patricia!

      It’s interesting to note that none of my sources connected the dots either. But there was all the information — all the concern over brother fighting brother — and of course something that the Peacemaker warned against.

      As far as I know, the Iroquois had the longest running true Republic in our known history — another thing that is skimmed over in history class. The Greek and/or the Romans didn’t last 500 years, which is about how long the Republic lasted. Interesting. I know that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were mighty interested in the Iroquois form of government.

      I’d love to know more. Thank you, also, for the compliment. : )

      1. From what I researched, the Confederacy was worked out to curtail constant raiding and warfare and to establish the rights of the people. These tribes comprise the oldest living participatory democracy in the world, having lasted over 800 years. Too bad colonization and the wars between the French and English and the Indians destroyed it. Some day I will have the time to pursue it a bit further and find out more.

        1. Hi Patricia!

          Yes, indeed. What’s so interesting to me is that we don’t know much about that Confederation. I do believe that word has been passed down from one generation to another, but it would certainly benefit us all to learn more. They had a ceremony to heal grief, and thus end war forever. That was their aim. I didn’t know it was 800 years old — I’d thought it was 500 years, which is still the longest true Republic that we have knowledge of.

  12. Loved the commentary! As a missionary to Nicaragua, I take no responsibility of breaking up this tribe! I would love to read Black Eagle!

  13. Hi Melody!

    But I bet you didn’t split up any tribes, either. Personally I love missionaries and the idea of being a missionary. However, the Jesuits were not what I call true missionaries. If one looks up their history, one will find that they have deep roots in the Inquisition — and were often the rough hand of the powers that be. While I’m sure that most had the very best intentions, I’m not certain that they all did — and of course one can never forget the horrible things that Father Sara (not sure of that spelling) did in California to the Native Americans there.

    If ever there was a Zorro needed, it was during that time period of Father Sara’s reign in California — probably only the genocide of Christians in Soviet Russia in the last century might compare with the blood bath and the numbers murdered by the hand and wishes of Father Sara.

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