Abstract

In the wake of the first murder of an Indian by two Pennsylvania colonists in 1722, the Delaware (Lenape), Shawnee, Conoy (Piscataway), and Conestoga (Susquehannock/Mingo) Indians engineered a confederated diplomatic and political identity to defend their homeland. They styled themselves the “Four Nations of Indians upon the Susquehanna” to counteract the “Covenant Chain” devised by the Iroquois and colonial governments. Anthropologists have identified “ethno-genesis” wherein peoples from multiple Indian cultures wracked by epidemics intertwined to form wholly new cultures and nations. This, however, is a story of “politico-genesis.” These four nations retained their individual languages and governing structures while living in multinational or adjacent towns and joined together to present a single diplomatic voice to the English government and the Iroquois League who sought to control them. This was an early and significant attempt at political and diplomatic confederation that Indian peoples would employ in centuries to follow.

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