In my reading of A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, written by James E. Seaver and edit
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 Britain's 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 a long, draw-out period of bickering between the British and the Americans, each side accusing the other of wrong-doings concerning Indian affairs. This quarreling made the Iroquois uneasy. The conflict between the white brothers was nothing the Indian wanted anything to do with. The Oniedas responded with this statement to Governor Trumbull:
We are unwilling to join either side of such a contest, for we love you both-old England and new. Should the Great King of England apply to us for aid-we shall deny...