Strategic Alliances and Trail of Broken Treaties 1700-1799


In the early 1700s, Native communities still maintain their sovereignty and reside in the territories that they had inhabited since time immemorial. With the Spanish, Dutch, English, and French invasions of the 1600s and the Russian invasion of Alaska in the 1700s, Native peoples often have to strategically select alliances. Most tribes focus on allying with international partners according to trading interests and/or driven by protection of Indigenous land interests. Some alliances pit rival tribal nations against one another, or Native warriors become the on-the-ground soldiers for British or French forces (e.g., the French and Indian War). Native communities pay a high cost for international battles fought on Indigenous lands, particularly when they are on the losing end, experiencing enslavement, land dispossession, and land cessions. Moreover, English and American forces actively engage in germ warfare, decimating many Native populations. By the end of the 1700s, the former colonies evolve into the United States of America, with new treaty-making powers with Native nations. The rise of the United States as a central power in North America and the relinquishment of territories by European powers incite White colonial settlers to flood into Native territories, causing major chaos and upheaval. Native nations encounter mounting pressure to remove from their lands in the Great Northwest (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Tennessee) or cede lands. Some tribes in the east are reduced by two-thirds, due to slavery, disease, economic deprivation, and missionization; of those that survive, many merge with other tribes for survival. “As the 18th century dawned the slave trade in American Indians was so serious that it eclipsed the trade for furs and skins and had become the primary source of commerce between the English and the South Carolina colonials” (Minges, 2002, p. 454).