||Brant, Joseph, 1742-1807
||Speech to British Government Concerning Indian Land Claims, Niagara, March 25, 1798 [manuscript]
||Draper Manuscripts: Joseph Brant Papers, 20 F 95 to 95-3, Wisconsin Historical Society.
||5 / 0
Brant (1743?-1807), or Thayendanegea in Mohawk (“He Places
Together Two Bets”) was the most important Indian leader between
Pontiac in the mid-eighteenth century (see AJ-160) and Tecumseh in the
early nineteenth (see AJ-155).
He was born in Ohio to a Mohawk chief but went in 1761 as a
child to Eleazar Wheelock’s Indian school in Connecticut. When
he returned to New York, his sister Molly’s position as mistress
to the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs helped him
secure assignments as a translator and interpreter. His
character, education, and influential family connections helped
him rise to positions of power among the Mohawks.
Foreseeing continued white expansion into Indian lands, he
convinced most of the Iroquois Confederacy in 1776 that they had
a greater chance of fair treatment under the English than under
the colonists. During the American Revolution he therefore
accepted a British commission and executed brilliant military
actions against the Americans. When, at the Treaty of Paris
(1783,) the English sold out their Native American allies, Brant
organized a pan-tribal alliance to keep American settlers out of
the Old Northwest, with many Indian nations from the southeast
through the Ohio Valley and into the Great Lakes embracing his
goals. Armed clandestinely by the British, Brant’s warriors
carried on the struggle for another decade until the Battle of
Fallen Timbers (1794) ended resistance against the U.S.
By that time Brant had secured more than 350,000 acres from
the British government on the Grand River in Ontario, sixty miles
west of Niagara Falls, to compensate Indians for the loss of
their homelands to the United States. British officials,
however, proved uncooperative and limited Indian rights to
utilize the grant, as revealed in this document.
Brant gave this speech in defense of Indian claims to use
their Grand River land grant however they saw fit. It was
collected by Lyman Copeland Draper, probably between 1877 and
1880, and is now in volume 20F (Brant Papers), document 95, of
the Draper Manuscripts.
Other Internet and Reference Sources
An excellent biography is available online in the
Encyclopedia of North American Indians at
Related articles there on the Iroquois Confederacy and Mohawk
nation are similary fine. The standard modern treatment of Brant
is Isabel Thompson Kelsay’s Joseph Brant, 1743-1807: Man of
Two Worlds (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press,