Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Compact History" of the Mohicans

An ambitious project was started a while back by Lee Sultzman. The idea was to write "about 240 compact tribal histories." Although I doubt that he's finished 240 histories, the ones that Sultzman did write are well done and in the spirit of the internet, he asks us, his readers, for feedback.

The first paragraph of the "History" section that Sultzman has on the Mahicans [Mohicans] is consistent with everything that I've read and consistent with the idea that it was not missionaries, but rather another European industry that brought on the downfall of the Mohicans and other once-mighty Native nations.

Throughout the 1500s, European sea captains rode the Gulf Stream north along the east coast of the United States on their return to Europe. It became common practice to add some last minute profit to their voyage by stopping enroute to capture native slaves. For this reason, many coastal tribes became hostile to the pale-faced men from the big ships, but the Mahican lived well-inland and had no such experience. Employed by the Dutch East India Company to search for the Northwest Passage (a fabled shortcut to China), Henry Hudson sailed through the Verrazano strait and entered the Hudson River in September, 1609. For the reasons mentioned, the Wappinger on the lower river proved hostile, but Hudson continued upstream until stopped by shallow water near the Mahican villages just below Albany. The Mahican were not only friendly but eager to trade. Hudson exhausted his trade goods and returned to Holland with a cargo of valuable furs which immediately attracted Dutch merchants to the area. The first Dutch fur traders arrived on the Hudson River the following year to trade with the Mahican. Besides exposing them to European epidemics, the fur trade destabilized the region, and rather than prosperity, it brought the Mahican death and destruction.

Click here to continue reading.

No comments :