Unconquered: The Iroquois League at War in Colonial America

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - Social Science - 193 pages
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Unconquered explores the complex world of Iroquois warfare, providing a narrative overview of nearly two hundred years of Iroquois conflict during the colonial era of North America. Detailing Iroquois wars against the French, English, Americans, and a host of Indian enemies, Unconquered builds upon decades of modern scholarship to reveal the vital importance of warfare in Iroquois society and culture, at the same time exploring the diverse motivations that guided Iroquois warfare. Economic competition and rivalry for trade were important factors in Iroquois warfare, but they often provided less motivation for waging war than Iroquoian spiritual and cultural beliefs, including the important tradition of the "mourning war." Nor were European agendas particularly important to Iroquois warfare, except in that they occasionally coincided with Iroquois designs. Europeans influenced and incited, both directly and indirectly, conflict within the Iroquois League and with other Indian nations, but the peoples of the Iroquois League waged war according to their own cultural beliefs and by their own rules. In reality, the Iroquoi League rarely waged war against anyone. Rather its individual member nations drove the warfare often attributed to the whole, creating a shifting, amorphous political and military position that allowed member nations to pursue separate policies of war and peace against common foes and multiple enemies. Unconquered also seeks to dispel longstanding beliefs about the invincible Iroquois "empire," myths that have been dispelled by focused academic studies, but still retain a powerful resonance among popular conceptions of the Iroquois League. While the Iroquois created far-reaching networks of trade and destroyed or dispersed Indian peoples along their borders, they created no expansive territorial empires. Nor were Iroquois warriors unequaled in battle. Europeans, Americans, and Indians defeated Iroquois warriors and burned Iroquois villages as often as they tasted defeat, and on more than one occasion they brought the Iroquois League to the brink of utter ruin. Yet the Iroquois were never completely destroyed. Because they waged war as individual members of a loosely united, voluntary league, rather than as a unified political state, they remained unconquered, retaining influence and power longer than any other native nation in North America, and providing for their exulted status in the history of American Indian peoples during the age of European colonization.

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About the author (2006)

Daniel P. Barr is Assistant Professor of History at Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh. His research interests include American Indian history and the early American frontier. He is editor of The Boundaries Between Us: Natives and Newcomers along the Frontiers of the Old Northwest Territory and author of The Ends of the American Earth: War and Society on the Pittsburgh Frontier, both forthcoming.

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