Posted by Tom Kilbane on October 31, 1997 at 09:48:54:
In Reply to: Re: Alternative timeline posted by Mike Zeares on October 31, 1997 at 03:48:29:
Mike wrote: (I belive the Iroquoi Confederacy was formed in reaction to the European presence, but I could be wrong.).
I enjoyed your comments. The Iroquios Confederacy existed before the Europeans became a strong presence on the continent. The reason behind the confederation was to stop the ceaseless warfare and bloodletting between the five nations (Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senacas.) When you are surrounded by enemies such at the Mahicans to the east, the Hurons to the north, the Susquahannocks to the south, and the Eries to the west it does not make much sense to be fighting with people you have so much in common with.
There is a debate among historians about whether the Iroquios Confederacy was much of a power before the European presence though. Parkman portrayed the Iroquois as a growing forest empire well before the Europeans but recent scholarship debates this. The Iroquios in order to ensure their survival in a changing world would ruthlessly wage war against its neighbors. In the mid-17th century the Iroquios would destroy the mighty Hurons as a power, essentially exterminate the Eries, and inflict humiliating defeats on most of the other tribe within the region. Why? The fur trade. Tribes that controlled acess to water highways and regions full of fur bearing animals would survive in the world of the Europeans. Those who did not would not. The Iroquios controlled neither trade routes or a plentiful trapping region; therefore they destroyed the tribes that did and seized control of their territory.
Essentially what I wrote above completely refutes Hawkeye's speech to the Huron sachem about the horror of Indians acting like the Yengwes and the Francais traders. The fact of it is the Indians had been doing just that for over century. We all know that broken treaties, warfare, and disease destroyed these great peoples but what is often ignored is that by 1763 the Indians of the Northeast could not live without the whiteman but the whiteman could live without the Indian. They had been in contact with the Europeans for centuries and had come to rely upon their goods to survive. And in the end it was a reason for their destruction and defeat.
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