Date of Degree
Donna T. Haverty-Stacke
American Material Culture | Cultural History | Ethnic Studies | Indigenous Studies | Intellectual History | Other American Studies | Political History | Public History | Social History | United States History
New York, empire, biography, kinship, colonialism, decolonization
This project is a history and memory study of Iroquois exceptionalism. This is an idea that shaped our understanding of the Iroquois as the “most studied” Indian nation and that they, as the debunked Iroquois Influence Thesis claimed, influenced the structure and scope of the U.S. Constitution. My study examines the lives of four related (by blood and by claim) Seneca leaders: Red Jacket, Ely S. Parker, Harriet Maxwell Converse, and Arthur C. Parker. These four stand out because each was one of the most famous Native Americans of their generation who worked within and against American colonial society and shaped how New Yorkers and Americans remembered the Iroquois and their history. Through deed and reputation, they created and then preserved an enduring vision of Iroquoian history told on Seneca terms in the American Revolution, through the rise of the Empire State, the era of Indian Removal, the Civil War and Indian Wars, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the first half of the twentieth century.
Each chapter tells the story of a Seneca leader who made the mythological Iroquois “empire” central to the rise of the Empire State, wielded kinship as a weapon as well as a shield, told the history of the region in museums and in scholarship, influenced New York’s Indian policy, questioned contemporary notions of patriotism and belonging in American society, challenged what Americans thought Indians were “supposed” to look and act like, and shaped what we know of the Iroquois who, as Arthur Parker explained, were truly “amazing.”
Winters, John C., "“The Amazing Iroquois”: Haudenosaunee History in Myth and Memory, 1776–1955" (2020). CUNY Academic Works.
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American Material Culture Commons, Cultural History Commons, Ethnic Studies Commons, Indigenous Studies Commons, Intellectual History Commons, Other American Studies Commons, Political History Commons, Public History Commons, Social History Commons, United States History Commons