A History of the Influential Seneca Leader Who Fought to Maintain Indian Sovereignty During the Bitter Wars for North America Nearly a century before the United States declared the end of the Indian Wars, the fate of Native Americans was revealed in the battle of Fallen Timbers. In 1794, General Anthony Wayne led the first American army— the Legion of the United States—against a unified Indian force in the Ohio country. The Indians were routed and forced to vacate their lands. ...
A History of the Influential Seneca Leader Who Fought to Maintain Indian Sovereignty During the Bitter Wars for North America Nearly a century before the United States declared the end of the Indian Wars, the fate of Native Americans was revealed in the battle of Fallen Timbers. In 1794, General Anthony Wayne led the first American army— the Legion of the United States—against a unified Indian force in the Ohio country. The Indians were routed and forced to vacate their lands. It was the last of a series of Indian attempts in the East to retain their sovereignty and foreshadowed what would occur across the rest of the continent. In Guyasuta and the Fall of Indian America, historian Brady J. Crytzer traces how American Indians were affected by the wars leading to American Independence through the life of one of the period’s most influential figures. Born in 1724, Guyasuta is perfectly positioned to understand the emerging political landscape of America in the tumultuous eighteenth century. As a sachem of the vaunted Iroquois Confederacy, for nearly fifty years Guyasuta dedicated his life to the preservation and survival of Indian order in a rapidly changing world, whether it was on the battlefield, in the face of powerful imperial armies, or around a campfire negotiating with his French, British, and American counterparts. Guyasuta was present at many significant events in the century, including George Washington’s expedition to Fort Le Boeuf, the Braddock disaster of 1755, Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Battle of Bushy Run in 1763, and the Battle of Oriskany during the American Revolution. Guyasuta’s involvement in the French and British wars and the American War for Independence were all motivated by a desire to retain relevance for Indian society. It was only upon the birth of the United States of America that Guyasuta finally laid his rifle down and watched as his Indian world crumbled beneath his feet. A broken man, debilitated by alcoholism, he died near Pittsburgh in 1794.
Supported by extensive research and full of compelling drama, Guyasuta and the Fall of Indian America unravels the tangled web of alliances, both white and native, and explains how the world of the American Indians could not survive alongside the emergent United States.
Guyasuta was a Seneca by birth, but he was known as a Mingo in the Ohio Valley. Mingos were members of the Iroquois Confederacy who migrated to the region to assert Iroquois authority over the local native peoples, although they never had the power they claimed. Guyasuta earned a reputation for opposing Euro-American encroachment into the Ohio Country. His opposition was not absolute, as opportunism prevailed in 1753 when he helped guide George Washington and his troops through the region. Crytzer (history, Robert Morris Univ.) depicts his subject in this narrative as the equal of such native leaders as Pontiac, Little Turtle, and Blue Jacket, which he clearly was not. Furthermore, the assertion that Guyasuta's death marked the effective end of native resistance in the Ohio Country ignores the colossal impact that Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa would have soon thereafter. VERDICT Crytzer's monograph is recommended for readers interested in the role of the Iroquois in the Ohio Country, but for further balance and context, readers should acquire Michael N. McConnell's A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724–1774 and David L. Preston's The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667–1783.—John R. Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY
Crytzer (Major Washington’s Pittsburgh and the Mission to Fort Le Boeuf), who teaches history at Robert Morris University, traces the life and times of Guyasuta, an influential sachem, or chief, among the Iroquois. The author’s task is a difficult one—Guyasuta lived a relatively long life (1724–1799) during one of the most tumultuous centuries on the North American continent, especially for Native Americans. The book unfolds as a litany of woes—ambushes, massacres, sieges, battles, and treaties (drafted and broken)—that constituted frontier conflict in the heyday of the hatchet and musket. Complicating the narrative are the shifting allegiances and reciprocal savageries of an age in which “Indians fought as a group of individuals seeking individual glory” and, for settlers, “each colony had its own character.” Crytzer emphasizes the fickle relationship between Guyasuta and his sometime ally George Washington, “two men whose careers were defined by battling the ideological fortunes of the other.” Although a visionary in his ideation of a “unified Indian identity,” Guyasuta never saw his dream fulfilled, and indeed witnessed the beginning of the end of Native America. Early American history buffs will relish this perspective on a seminal period of rebellion and revolution that saw the rise of one nation atop the remains of many more. 21 illus. & 8 maps. (June 21)
BRADY J. CRYTZER teaches history at Robert Morris University. A recipient of both the Donald S. Kelly and Donna J. McKee Awards for outstanding scholarship, he is the author of Major Washington’s Pittsburgh and the Mission to Fort Le Boeuf and Fort Pitt: A Frontier History.