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This chapter examines the American Revolution in the territory of the Six Nations and in colonial New York as an example of the shift in power to settlers and settler rejection of Indigenous modes of alliance that also typified the expansion of settler colonialism elsewhere. In borderland regions, the American Revolution was also a land war. Ethnic cleansing and warfare broke many of such fragile bonds of kinship (real and fictive) as existed between settlers and Indigenous peoples, even as the metaphor of brotherhood was important to Ranger groups in which Indigenous and settler soldiers fought together. Difference was entrenched through violence. Specific examples of the politics of kinship examined include nineteenth-century settler family stories about warfare, including stories about Joseph Brant, who was often taken as a symbol of settler relationships with the Six Nations; changing practices of captive-taking on the part of the Six Nations; complex relationships between white and Indigenous soldiers; and the breaking of kinship links between the Six Nations themselves, in which the Brants played a significant role.
The introduction traces the main arguments of the book and provides an overview of key events discussed. It begins with the Sullivan Campaign of the American Revolution. This campaign ethnically cleansed Haudenosaunee people from territory that would later be ceded by the British to the Americans after the Revolution. The chapter asks what this campaign can tell us about the larger history of Indigenous–settler relationships. Among other things, it takes the campaign as an example of the rejection of real and fictive kinship ties between Indigenous peoples and settlers that was, I argue, a necessary precursor to the creation of settler nations. At the same time, some prominent imperial policy makers would struggle, as the book to come will also argue, to maintain different conceptions of Indigenous–imperial kinship in an effort to create a manageable and moral colonialism. The introduction outlines the book’s methodology of using microcosmic analyses to illuminate a macroscopic process: the project of British settler colonialism as it sprawled across time and space during this critical period of the creation and consolidation of settler colonial states. It gives an overview of pertinent scholarship and describes the topics of chapters to come.
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