Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees

Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees

Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees

Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees

Synopsis

Blue Jacket (ca. 1743- ca. 1808), or Waweyapiersenwaw, was the galvanizing force behind an intertribal confederacy of unparalleled scope that fought a long and bloody war against white encroachments into the Shawnees' homeland in the Ohio River Valley. Blue Jacket was an astute strategist and diplomat who, though courted by American and British leaders, remained a staunch defender of the Shawnees' independence and territory. In this arresting and controversial account, John Sugden depicts the most influential Native American leader of his time.

Excerpt

On 15 February 1877 the Ohio State Journal published a strange story. It told how a white man had become a war chief of the Shawnee Indians and led the tribe into battle against his own people. The story, written by a newspaperman named Thomas Jefferson Larsh, concerned the adventures of one Marmaduke van Sweringen. Sweringen, Larsh said, had been captured by Shawnees during the Revolutionary War, when he was “about seventeen years of age” and “a stout, healthy, well-developed, athletic youth” to boot.

According to Larsh, the Shawnees were extraordinarily amenable the day they captured Marmaduke and his younger brother. They even bargained with the boys and agreed to let the younger one go if Marmaduke consented to be their prisoner. And so Marmaduke joined the Shawnees, learned their ways, and grew to manhood among them. He married a Shawnee woman “and reared several children,” all but one of them daughters. His adopted people named him Blue Jacket on account of a “blue linsey blouse or ‘hunting shirt’ ” he wore at the time of his capture. So styled, he rose to prominence, becoming a chief by the age of twentyfive and enjoying a most distinguished career.

It was at this point that history took root, for though Marmaduke van Sweringen was unknown to Ohio readers, Blue Jacket assuredly was not. The Shawnee war chief was a notable figure in the annals of the Old Northwest and had participated in some of the most severe . . .

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