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Document Number: AJ-153
Author: Brant, Joseph, 1742-1807
Title: Speech to British Government Concerning Indian Land Claims, Niagara, March 25, 1798 [manuscript]
Source: Draper Manuscripts: Joseph Brant Papers, 20 F 95 to 95-3, Wisconsin Historical Society.
Pages/Illustrations: 5 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

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 Wheelocks Indian school in Connecticut. When he returned to New York, his sister Mollys 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, Brants 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.

Document Note

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 na_004800_brantjoseph.htm.

Related articles there on the Iroquois Confederacy and Mohawk nation are similary fine. The standard modern treatment of Brant is Isabel Thompson Kelsays Joseph Brant, 1743-1807: Man of Two Worlds (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1984).

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