Sunday, November 11, 2007
Natve American Wars: A New Perspective
For centuries the historiography of the American Revolution has focused primarily on the colonial perspective. We teach and learn about the revolution from a viewpoint that often neglects to mention the opinions and motivations of others. Don't get me wrong, I still maintain that teaching the "traditional" historiography of the American Revolution (i.e. The Stamp Act, Boston Tea Party, Lexington & Concord, etc) is extremely important. For this post, however, I would like to deviate from the traditional history we all know so well.
When one takes an in-depth look at the American Revolution from the perspective of Native Americans, a very different and unique history comes to light. Looking specifically at the wars of Native Americans we see that this conflict was longer and more intense than we once thought. Traditional historiography teaches that the American colonies first endured the 7 Years War (or French & Indian War) from roughly 1754-1763. Following this war, America was again gripped with the war of independence from 1775-1783. A period of peace was then disrupted with the War of 1812, which lasted roughly from 1812-1815.
Now, if we forget the traditional historiography and see the same time period from the perspective of Native Americans, a different story emerges. Let us begin in 1754 with the French & Indian War. Native American tribes were divided on the issue of loyalty. Some favored France while others favored Britain. In the end, as we know, Britain emerged victorious and began a policy with the Native American tribes that greatly damaged relations. As a result, Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763 irrupts. At the conclusion of Pontiac's Rebellion, other Indian uprisings occur throughout the frontier, which last until the American Revolution. With the American Revolution, Native American tribes again choose sides (many fighting for the British) from 1775-1783. At the conclusion, Native tribes were again treated to less than favorable treaties and practices that kept tensions high. As a result, further war came about. From the conclusion of the American Revolution to 1794 the former colonies were forced to deal with the Chickamauga Wars. In the north, other tribes began the Northwest Indian War from 1785-1795. At the conclusions of those conflicts, other smaller wars were fought on the frontier. During the War of 1812, the famous Indian warrior Tecumseh initiated the Creek wars, which let to the infamous battle of Tippecanoe.
So what am I getting at? Look at the dates. What we think of as SEPARATE wars from an American perspective could actually be seen as one long continuous war from the perspective of Native Americans. Look again at the dates:
French & Indian War: 1754-1763
Pontiac's Rebellion: 1763-1766
Smaller Frontier Wars: 1766-1773
American Revolution: 1775-1783
Chickamauga Wars: 1779-1794
Northwest Indian War: 1785-1795
More Frontier fighting: 1800-1810
Tecumseh & Creek Wars: 1812-1814
From the perspective of Native Americans, this is one long war, which they had been fighting even before the French & Indian war. Perspective is an interesting thing huh!