Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795

By Celia Barnes | Go to book overview

2

In Pursuit of Land and Liberty

WHILE CORNWALLIS WAS SURRENDERING HIS SWORD AT YORKTOWN in 1781, multitribal war parties were successfully waging war on American settlers in the west. British defeat had little meaning on the frontier, as Indian-white hostilities raged with intensity. Nevertheless, the Anglo-American treaty of peace that resulted from that surrender would have profound implications for Native Americans, irrespective of which side they had fought with. Under the terms of the treaty, the British gave the United States a large territory stretching north to the Great Lakes and west to the Mississippi River, but no mention was made of the residents of that territory— there was no provision for the Native Americans. This agreement consequently did not reflect the reality of the situation, as neither party to the treaty was in control of the area. Great Britain was certainly in no position to cede territory over the heads of the Native American inhabitants, and it would take the new republic twelve years to wrest control of it from them. 1

The political geography of North America had been radically altered at the negotiating tables in 1783, but the west had still to be won. Britain had failed to control expansion into the west, and it was now the task of the U.S. government to take up that challenge and establish orderly possession and settlement of the western lands. The central government faced stiff competition, however. Westward- moving settlers, hostile to distant authority, saw the opportunity to spread out in the vast new land and did so at an alarming rate, disregarding any talk of prior Indian claim and resistant to government controls. State governments jealously guarded their western lands, reluctant to relinquish control of this valuable resource to a central authority. Eastern land speculators saw the money to be made there and sought to exploit the land themselves. Finally, resident Indians resisted all attempts to steal the land from them. Those in pursuit of land and liberty thus represented an assortment of groups, both Indian and white, all driven by different ambitions. Frontiersmen

-43-

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Native American Power in the United States, 1783-1795
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Native American Power in the United States, 1783—1795 *
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1 - A Collision of Cultures 19
  • 2 - In Pursuit of Land and Liberty 43
  • 3 - The British Connection 64
  • 4 - The Spanish Connection 87
  • 5 - Indian Victory in the Northwest 120
  • 6 - The Southwest Frontier 152
  • 7 - The Collapse of Indian Resistance in the Northwest 177
  • Conclusion 209
  • Notes 216
  • Bibliography 237
  • Index 246
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