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By Maurice Winternitz

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The Haudenosaunee leaders recognized this as a chance to assert Iroquois authority over Shawnees and their neighbors. They calculated that if they accepted the responsibility for the actions of these peoples, the British would help them to control these communities. 61 The Albany Treaty of 1722 represented an unprecedented British and Iroquois attack against the autonomy of the Shawnee communities on the Susquehanna, Potomac, and Delaware rivers. After the colonists and Haudenosaunees had imposed both a peace and a boundary on the Shawnees, Governor Keith simply sent messengers to inform them and their neighbors of the matter.

Finally, the diaspora did not mean a total breakdown of the old political order. On the contrary, the dispersal followed enduring Shawnee social structures. 32 The Shawnee groups that dispersed from the Ohio toward the Great Lakes, the Southeast, and the mid-Atlantic had divergent interests and pursued differing strategies to survive the crisis. Many moved, not so much pushed by the Haudenosaunees and the southern slavers as pulled by colonial trade. The first Shawnees to leave the Ohio drainage migrated to the Savannah River and settled in the neighborhood of Charles Town, the center of the Atlantic deerskin trade, in the 1670s.

38 This collaboration was based on much more than mere political expediency. Intermarriages between Shawnees and their neighbors bound individuals with diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds together as families. Elite Shawnee women played a major role in constructing such networks. One such woman was Weenepeeweytah, a “Cousin” of a lower Susquehanna Shawnee headman “The Greatest Travellers in America” known as Savannah. She married a noted Seneca man named Sawantaeny whose networks extended from the Potomac River to Iroquoia.

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A History of Indian Literature. Vol. I. by Maurice Winternitz


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