July 04, 2013

Native activities in 1776

Top 5 Historic Moments From 1776 for Natives: No Independence Day HereWhile the Founding Fathers were signing the Declaration of Independence purportedly in Philadelphia, Natives were fighting for their own independence and survival. Here are 5 things that were going on while the newly formed colonies declared their independence from Great Britain.

1. The Cherokee took a stand against white settlers in North Carolina led by Dragging Canoe and Abraham of Chilowee on July 20, 1776.

2. The Chickamauga Wars started in 1776. They were a continuation of the Cherokee struggle against white encroachment.

3. Because the British were using Indian troops, the Continental Congress, on May 25, 1776 thought “it was highly expedient to engage the Indians in the service of the United Colonies,” and tried recruiting 2,000 Indian soldiers.

4. Though some Natives were fighting alongside the colonies against Britain in the Revolutionary War, the history of which began in 1776 when the Oneida Indian Nation urged Americans to reoccupy an abandoned British fort in upstate New York.
Comment:  The fifth "moment" is the Native deaths caused by disease, which isn't a moment. But the first four remind us that Indians were part of the Revolutionary War story. They were active during the first Independence Day, not off-stage somewhere twiddling their thumbs.

Of course, they fought mostly on the British side. Which is understandable, since they had good evidence the American colonists were more rapacious than their British forefathers.

Meanwhile, Indians across the continent were living free and sovereign lives. Dealing with Spanish, French, and British colonizers, to be sure, but unaware of the American threat about to dwarf all others. Does any history book or documentary convey that in 1776, Indians owned and occupied most of North America?

For more on July 4th, see Why Indians Celebrate July 4th and No Independence Day Without Indians.

Below:  "British General Burgoyne addressing Native Americans to secure an alliance during the Revolutionary War."

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