Alliances and the Susquehannocks' Geography
of North America
Intercultural alliances had far-reaching impacts and shaped the lives of nearly everyone on the seventeenth-century Atlantic seaboard. We have seen the degree to which Europeans and Native Americans became linked from the earliest wave of European colonial ventures. These collaborative efforts look rather different when viewed primarily from the points of view of native peoples rather than from Europeans' perspectives. Indeed, when we try to understand the full extent of Native American influence and interests, the geography of eastern North America takes on significantly different dimensions. Nowhere is this clearer than in the mid-Atlantic region.
The mid-Atlantic area, which stretched from the northern limits of the Chesapeake Bay to Iroquoia and centered around the Delaware and Hudson River regions, at first appears to have been a bewildering array of cultures and alliances, each of which played a role in shaping events there. However, when we shift our focus to a region defined chiefly by Native American interests rather than colonial European ones, a clear pattern emerges out of the apparent confusion.
In the mid-Atlantic, events were regularly affected by the Indians' and the Europeans' constant efforts to build and benefit from intercultural connections. The pursuit of alliances in the mid-Atlantic came to a head in the 1650s, when the Susquehannocks' networks collided with Dutch colonial ambitions. The fallout eliminated one European nation from the imperial contest over North America and helped to weaken several other nations, including the Susquehannocks.