on 17 june 1825 Peter Jones (Sacred Feathers), a mixed- race Mississauga, penned a letter to the local Indian agent James Givens. He wrote that about fifty of the Mississaugas had "planted potatoes . . . embraced Christianity, and are attending to the means of education." 1 While this news surprised the agent, it demonstrated one option open to Native Americans in the era after the War of 1812. As a supporter of acculturation, Jones, a recent convert to Methodist Christianity, personified one strain of leadership among the tribal peoples of North America. Other individuals and groups might choose this same path, but for many the white man's way appeared uncertain, even forbidding.
Sacred Feathers' initiative developed because of his intense personal religious feelings. It also grew out of the apparent collapse of the traditional Indian world. Certainly by the 1820s many tribal people in both the eastern United States and Canada lacked the unity, leadership, or cultural strength they had demonstrated earlier. With some exceptions the tribes found themselves being pushed from their homes, forced to surrender large portions of their land, and facing demands that they accept Anglo-American education, religion, technology, and control of their lives. During the middle decades of the nineteenth century the increasing white domination in both countries threatened to overwhelm native societies and left Indian people with an ever-narrowing set of choices for their lives.
Despite that, some groups took or held the initiative when dealing with the onrushing pioneers and the governments. Often fully realizing the weakness of