"So great a correspondence" : Native American diplomacy in the Hudson Valley, 1609-1783
Midtrød, Tom Arne, 1976-
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This study examines Native American diplomacy and intergroup relations in the Hudson Valley between 1609 and 1783. It investigates actual and fictive kinship relations, religious festivals, patterns of gift exchange, and other customs and practices that tied the area's multiple independent Native political groups and peoples to one another and thus formed the basis for the Valley's indigenous diplomatic system. These diplomatic ties form an essential backdrop for understanding how Hudson Valley Indians attempted to integrate the European newcomers into their established political-diplomatic practices following the commencement of sustained contact with Europeans in 1609. The study thus seeks to contribute to the scholarly debate about Native American diplomatic and political practices in general. The investigation suggests that Indian-Indian relations continued to play an important role in shaping the strategic and political considerations of Native peoples long after the beginning of European colonization, and thus proposes a more complex picture than that suggested by a relative straightforward confrontation between Indians and Europeans common to much of the scholarly literature. The study argues that Hudson Valley Indians maintained a coherent political and diplomatic system or pattern of interaction throughout the era of European colonization of their homeland, even as the European colonizers and the powerful Iroquois peoples to the north of the Valley began to place the Valley Natives under foreign domination. In spite of clear evidence of large-scale political change, most obvious in the disappearance of many political groups in the lower Valley by the first decade of the eighteenth century, the Valley's diplomatic system possessed a remarkable vitality. Native patterns of diplomatic interaction did not begin to decline until the latter half of the eighteenth century, when internal divisions, warfare, and migrations to other areas critically weakened the political arrangements of the Valley Indians. Even then, some features of the Valley's old political landscape continued to persist, and it was ultimately mounting European pressures and the Revolutionary War that caused the final collapse of the diplomatic and political world of the Native Hudson Valley peoples by the early 1780s.