The many surviving records documenting negotiations between Native Americans and colonial Pennsylvanians feature numerous references to time. Studied closely, these temporal allusions reveal significant differences between Indigenous and colonial timescapes—but also point to a broad diachronic pattern. After an initial period of intercultural familiarization, both sides learned to appeal to the temporal logic of their diplomatic counterparts. But as Native delegates came to recognize the importance of punctuality and clock time to colonists, they also began to occasionally resist it, in a purposeful process of diplomatic disidentification. Time was thus a material that was both the subject of, and subject to, consequential negotiation during a formative period in the Delaware Valley.

The hundreds of treaties, laws, deeds, and council records documenting negotiations between Native Americans and colonial Pennsylvanians are well known to period scholars, who have long recognized their remarkable importance as both historical and literary sources.1 Alden Vaughan, who edited a collection of the documents, asserted that they are “among the most crucial sources for understanding early American history in general and the ethnohistory of Indian-European contact in particular.”2 Carl Van Doren held that “nothing quite like the Indian treaties exists anywhere else in the literature of the world,” and Robert A. Williams has argued that “in this amazing body of literature, we find the primary source documents for the basic principles defining Indian rights in the United States today.”3 To be sure, the texts demand a careful reading, as they are hybrid texts, shaped variously by the imperfect linguistic skills of period translators, the limited patience of clerks, and the motivated edits of colonial politicians.4 But such attentive work is surely merited—for, as Daniel K. Richter has put it, “in no other source did ethnocentric Euro-Americans preserve with less distortion a memoir of Indian thoughts, concerns, and interpretations of events.”5

Unsurprisingly, historians have considered these documents from various methodological angles.6 However, the significant and evolving role that temporal references play in them has gone largely unremarked.7 It is widely acknowledged that colonial and Indigenous diplomats quibbled over variables such as the site at which a council might be held, the precise order of speakers, the specific languages used, and the forms of recordkeeping precisely because they understood that the control of such details comprised an expression of power. But time was also a regular topic of negotiation and a key medium through which influence and priorities were expressed. Indeed, setting (or ignoring) a schedule and controlling the pace of negotiations constituted a form of agency and acted as a form of intercultural communication. In proposing meeting times, in upholding or flouting those times, and in granting, apologizing for, or refusing to explain delays, both parties used time as a tactical tool.

Furthermore, a reading of the documents with a close attention to temporal references reveals a more specific diachronic pattern that gradually took shape between the foundation of William Penn’s colony in the 1680s and the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. This was, not coincidentally, a dynamic period in the field of European and American timekeeping, as the invention of pendulum-regulated clocks and the anchor escapement facilitated the production of unprecedentedly accurate timepieces. Also, the development of the balance spring and cylinder escapement sparked dramatic improvement in the performance of watches.8 Significantly, many of the officials who governed colonial Pennsylvania owned clocks or watches, played a role in the erection and maintenance of large public bells and clocks, or earned their living as members of the colony’s growing community of watch- and clockmakers. It is hardly surprising, then, to find that colonial references to clock time in negotiations with Indians became increasingly common and assertive in the early 1700s. The records reflect, in this sense, consequential technological and conceptual changes.

Native Americans inhabited distinct timescapes of their own and approached negotiations in specific ways that reflected particular cultural assumptions.9 But their responses to colonial practices are also notable. Where the earliest allusions to clock time seem to have drawn little response from Indian delegates, years of negotiating experience fostered a growing familiarity with the imported system, and by the 1720s some Indians apparently began to refer to clock time in conversation with colonial officials. Importantly, too, a growing awareness of the colonial fondness for precision and haste enabled Indian negotiators to see how time could function as a diplomatic tool. As they became accustomed to the colonial emphasis upon punctuality, Indians sometimes also chose to resist an imposed air of urgency by refusing to commit to a meeting time—or, in an intriguing 1758 exchange, by claiming to be unacquainted with clock time, despite firm evidence to the contrary. Consequently, to borrow a term devised in a different context by José Esteban Muñoz, time offered Native negotiators a means with which they could practice a form of disidentification, proclaiming their own identity by refusing to embrace an externally applied norm.10

Admittedly, the place of time in these negotiations was complex and uneven, largely because so many Native peoples were involved and because their roles changed in relation to larger political currents. Where many of the earliest documents involve transactions with the Lenapes, for instance, the Five Nations become increasingly central participants in the records beginning in the 1720s. But the evidence strongly implies, in any case, that clock time gradually became both more common and more hegemonic, enmeshing Indigenous peoples in an abstract, imposed system of reckoning and prompting them to develop a meaningful responsive position in relation to it. Of course, this was not only true of clock time. Indians also found their lives shaped by specifically English notions of property and by an English emphasis upon the written word, and they were sometimes compelled to seek redress in a foreign judicial system whose principles were hardly universal.11 And the colonists, for their part, had to adjust their diplomatic mechanisms to include regular gift exchanges and the condolence ritual.12 Nevertheless, time—as Raymond Cohen pointed out in an analysis of twentieth-century intercultural negotiation—“is crucial in diplomacy. Major tactical and strategic judgments hang on assumptions about history, ripeness, timing, tempo, and duration.”13

The result was something rather different from the middle ground famously characterized by Richard White, in his work on the Great Lakes region, as the productive outcome of intercultural misunderstandings.14 Neither was it a simple process of acculturation, or a product of diplomats who were unable, as James Merrell once put it, “to see past their differences in order to embrace their similarities.”15 Rather, instead of simply accepting or rejecting colonial social norms and ideology, Native delegates often pursued a different option: a variant of what Scott Wert has called active adaptation.16 Over the course of eighty years, Lenape, Shawnee and Haudenosaunee diplomats learned to productively use an imported temporal logic against itself, toward particular ends. In the process, time became—quite like imported cloth, as Maeve Kane has shown—a material that served as a subject of manipulation and as a vehicle for the expression of cultural priorities in the Delaware Valley.17 And yet, the emerging colonial insistence upon clock time also anticipated and established patterns that would influence American diplomacy for centuries to come.


There was no clock time in Pennsylvania before the arrival of Europeans. Instead, Indigenous people in the region had developed a complex combination of ecological, seasonal, and task-based temporal frameworks. As Cheryl Wells has put it, they “did not lack a sense of time [. . .] but rather selected which temporal cues to follow.”18 Attentive to the motions of the sun, moon, and stars, and alert to the winds and tides, the migrations of birds, and the subtle rhythms of the forest, they measured time in ways that were locally specific, generationally cumulative, and cosmically cyclical. The Algonquians paid close heed to signals such as spring buds and the earring of corn, while the Lenapes referred to the annual shad moon, which marked the period in which certain fish began to climb the region’s rivers.19 Seasonal changes also dictated the motions of the Lenapes, who alternated between riverside base camps in the summer and inland hunting grounds in the winter.20 Annual festivals further punctuated this routine. To be sure, local variables mattered, and some Indians may even have encountered references to clock time in their dealings with the several hundred Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish traders in the region. Nevertheless, most seventeenth-century Delaware Valley residents inhabited a timescape that was generally comparable to the one familiar to the Haudenosaunee to the north, and even to many rural Europeans—who were also generally unaffected by, or unaware of, clock time.21

But the creation of William Penn’s proprietary colony soon changed things. Strikingly, Penn explicitly conceived of his fledgling government in relation to a clock: “Governments, like clocks,” he wrote in the Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsilvania, “go from the motion men give them.” Moreover, he repeatedly urged rapid, timely actions in the foundation of his colony. In a letter written from London in October of 1681, for example, Penn instructed William Markham, his deputy governor, to “to treat speedily with the Indians for land before they are furnished by others with things that please them.”22 The first negotiations between Penn’s officials and the Lenapes were thus shaped by a colonial emphasis upon the efficient transaction of business. So, too, were the meetings of Penn’s fledgling provincial government following his 1682 arrival. Repeatedly, the minutes of the meetings of both the Council and Assembly indicate a close attention to clock time and an accompanying interest in precision. A few examples may suffice. On December 4, 1682, the Assembly met for the first time in Chester. After approving a Committee for Elections and Privileges, the body decreed that “the said Committee [was] to meet at Eight a Clock in the Morning, at this House, and sit till Ten.”23 The following spring, during a March 14, 1683, meeting in Philadelphia, the Council adjourned “till two of the Clock in the afternoon,” and three days after that, “The Committees presented several bills to the Councill, and adjourned till Three of ye Clock in the afternoon.”24 Perhaps most revealing, however, is a line in the minutes from a meeting of the Assembly in Philadelphia in May of 1686: “Adjourn’d for a Quarter of an Hour.”25

How literally should we read such a phrase? While it would seem to indicate the local availability of a mechanical timepiece as a common point of reference, it could conceivably be merely figurative: a convenient means of roughly implying a brief span of time. But even if we interpret it in such a loose manner, the wording nevertheless suggests, again, a nominal desire for precision and efficiency: an understandable goal, given the real difficulty that Penn encountered in finding willing representatives in a population of newly arrived colonists largely preoccupied with other more pressing tasks.26 In a more abstract sense, the insistence upon clock time also embodies the much-analyzed Protestant ethic, with its accent on measured labor, and the related Puritan distaste for any perceived waste of time.27 But the specific reference to a quarter hour also suggests that some, if not all, of the assemblymen understood the language of clock time. Time literacy varied greatly in seventeenth-century Britain, but it was broadly linked to wealth and social status: qualities typical of many of the early elected officials.28 Indeed, we can speak with relative confidence in at least one case, for the will of Robert Wade, a resident of Chester who served as a member of the Assembly in 1685–86, indicates that he owned a balance clock that was located in a ground-floor chamber of his home upon his death in 1698.29 Evidently interested in the measurement of time, he presumably had little trouble comprehending the idea of a quarter-hour adjournment.

Notably, however, the grants and indentures that record purchases of land from Native representatives in the 1680s eschew explicit references to clock time. That is partly due, surely, to their genre: as documents of sale, they hardly required references to specific hours. And yet, they do allude to time in several other senses, which are worth considering. Take, for instance, the opening lines of a relatively typical grant from 1683:

We, Essepenaike and Swanpees the 23d day of the 4th month called June, in the year, according to the English account, 1683, for us and our heirs and Assignes do grant and dispose of all our Lands Lying betwixt Pemapeck and Neshamineh Creeks, and all along upon Neshamineh Creek and backward of the same and to run two days Journey with an horse up into the country as the said River doeth goe to William Penn.30

The document, which was clearly composed by colonial officials and then presented to the named Lenape men, refers to the day, month, and year—but qualifies them as part of a specifically English system. Motivated, perhaps, by the fact that England, unlike much of Catholic Europe, continued to use the Julian calendar (rather than the more recently developed Gregorian alternative), the wording thus tacitly acknowledges the possibility of alternative modes of time reckoning.

The allusion to the distance that a horse can travel in two days carries, however, no similar qualification. Arguably, it needed none, for expressions of distance in terms of travel time had long been common among both Europeans and Native Americans—and Indigenous people in the eastern woodlands had been trading for horses since at least 1670.31 Of course, such a figure was inevitably fluid, as it depended upon variables such as the pace of a particular horse and rider and the local terrain; the resulting distance could thus be as little as fifteen and or as great as forty miles. Apparently, though, such a phrasing satisfied, as references to the distance covered in a two-day ride also appear in several other related agreements.32 Surely the phrasing was in part a concession to the lack of any detailed maps of the region at the time. It may also have proven acceptable to the Lenapes because of their conception of land rights. Initially unaware of the English emphasis on ownership, the Lenapes saw themselves as merely granting temporary shared access to the land—and could thus accept a certain vagueness in the creation of boundaries.33 As Stephen Harper has put it, the Lenapes thought in terms of areas, while the English imposed geometry upon the land.34 In any event, the reference to a “two days Journey,” rather than to a definite distance or a ride done at a specific pace for a specific number of hours, served as a convenient intercultural bridge, obscuring underlying differences in the ways in which Native Americans and Whites conceived of both property and time in the 1680s.

Over the next decade, however, the colonial insistence upon clock time as an element in the transaction of official business intensified—and began to directly affect Native delegates, as well. In the 1690s the Pennsylvania government was increasingly populated by men who owned clocks. Patrick Robinson, who served as a secretary to the Council, owned a clock and a case when he died in 1699. The probate inventory of James Fox, a member of the Assembly in 1698, indicates that he possessed a pendulum clock; so, too, did Richard Hough and Edward Shippen, who both served in the Council in the late 1690s.35 Unsurprisingly, governmental meetings reflected this interest in precisely calibrated time. In the minutes from an Assembly meeting held in September of 1695, we read that

William Rodney, and Edward Gibbs, are sent to the Governor and Council, by Order of the House, to know if they had any Business in Readiness, and returned, Answer should be given in a Quarter of an Hour. At which Time two Members of Council came to this House, and gave their Report, That the Council had adjourn’d till Two of the Clock this Afternoon; and hath requested that this House would be pleased to give them the Meeting at the same Time precisely.36

It is a record of men who are comfortable with, and care deeply about, temporal exactness. And such a concern soon led in turn to the creation of penalties for colleagues who ignored the tight temporal regimen. In 1700 a bell was rung to mark the beginning of each Assembly, and fines were issued to members who arrived late. Thus, in the Assembly meeting held in Newcastle in October of 1700, it was “Agreed, that if any Member be wanting a Quarter of an Hour after the Ringing of the Bell, he shall pay Ten Pence.”37 Christopher Hill once observed that by the end of the 1600s, a “sense that time is money, this voluntary commitment to duty, had been internalized by the bulk of the English middle class.”38 In 1700 the Pennsylvania government formalized that principle. A perceived waste of time carried a precise price.

For obvious reasons, though, such penalties could not be immediately levied upon Native delegations, who often traveled long distances to attend meetings, harbored their own culturally specific notions regarding time and efficiency, and were viewed as valuable potential allies. Nevertheless, when Indians began to receive invitations to Pennsylvania governmental meetings, they soon encountered the impersonal logic of the clock—whose centrality was directly at odds with Indigenous dialogic conventions. For example, in July of 1694 a sizable group of Lenape representatives requested an audience with William Markham, who was now serving a second term as the governor of Pennsylvania. They were invited to attend a meeting of the Provincial Council, at which

Tamanee said: Wee and the Christians of this river Have allwayes had a free rode way to one another, and though sometimes a tree has fallen across the rode yet wee have still removed it again, and keept the path clean, and wee design to Continou the old friendshipp that has been between us and you; and gives a Belt of wampum.

The Leuit. Governor said, That by three of the Clock in the afternoon hee wold consider and give them an answer.39

The transition between rhetorical styles and temporal models is sudden, jarring, and revealing. To the Lenapes diplomacy was an ongoing, perpetual process, requiring regular renewal, dedication, and mutual effort. To the Pennsylvanians, it was ideally a brisk, bilateral business whose form was determined in part by the clock.40 Certainly, the passage does raise some unanswerable practical questions: did the Lenape delegates understand the governor’s reference to clock time? Was there a clock on site, to which they could refer? Or did they simply wait, until the Council took up action once again? In the end, though, the outcome is clear: at 3 p.m., we read, “praesentibus ysdem; except Andrew Robeson.”41 In other words, the Lenapes were on hand to meet Markham at the assigned moment—and subject, at least implicitly, to the dicta of clock time.

Subsequently, the colonial insistence upon clock time shaped negotiations with the Native Americans in increasingly assertive ways, eventually positioning the Indians as the objects of blunt temporal commands. The record of a council with Susquehannock (or Conestoga, in the colonial argot) delegates held in Philadelphia on July 23, 1712, is in this sense rather mild; it concludes with a note that the meeting was “adjourned till to-morrow at 3 in the afternoon.” Again, the Indians were merely expected to accept the reference to clock time. Eight years later, however, the minutes of a meeting with representatives from several Algonquian tribes employed notably more aggressive language: “Then the Council was adjourned, and the Indians ordered to attend at four o’clock in the afternoon.” Similarly, in 1725, the House was informed that representatives of the Brandywine Lenapes wanted to set forth a grievance regarding squatters. The response was curt: “Ordered, That they wait on the House at Three a Clock this Afternoon, with their Interpreters.”42 In a rhetorical exercise of colonial power, the Indians were thus commanded to wait until the assigned time.43


Through such encounters, though, Native negotiators began to comprehend the principles of clock time and the depth of the colonial veneration of punctuality. The precise course of this process of intercultural observation is difficult to trace in detail, but the archival record offers recurring hints of a growing Native fluency in clock time. For instance, in the 1722 inquiry into the murder of Sawantaeny, a member of the Five Nations Haudenosaunee, a young Shawnee man named Aquannachke is reported to have described the assault to Pennsylvania officials by referring to clock time: “this happened about nine in the morning.”44 Six years later Captain Civility, a Susquehannock man who spoke several languages, also seems to have resorted to clock time when he informed colonial officials of an imminent gathering of Indian delegates: “Here are Severall Shawnees and Conoys come, the Rest wee Expectt Every hour, so that wee have had no Councell as yett.”45

Of course, caution is necessary here, for these documents are not always verbatim transcripts; they were often the result of what one secretary called “settling” and “revising.”46 Might these allusions to clock time, then, have been added by scribes intent on converting Native speech into a familiar idiom? Perhaps, but it seems improbable—for in fact Aquannachke’s description of the time differed from an estimate provided by John Cartlidge, one of Sawantaeny’s attackers, who owned a watch. If this was settling, it was hardly consistent. Moreover, the scribes clearly showed no hesitation in attributing references to clock time to these go-betweens; evidently, Native familiarity with the hours was an unremarkable phenomenon. In any event, it is also clear that some Indians were now aware, too, of the colonial desire for promptness. In October of 1728 Sassoonan, a Lenape negotiator, explained his delegation’s belated arrival through an interpreter. “He would not, he says, have the Governour take it amiss, that they did not exactly come at the time they appointed, for he was taken very ill; that, however, he is now come to see the Governour.”47

He would not have the Governour take it amiss: we might discern, in Sassoonan’s conciliatory language, his realization that Governor Gordon and James Logan, the proprietary land agent and former mayor of Philadelphia, were temporarily shifting their attention away from him, and toward a more receptive Lenape sachem.48 But we can also sense, in the text, his recognition that punctuality mattered to the colonists, and thus identify an example of what Robert A. Williams has termed “the process of cooperation that created the beginnings of the complex multicultural society that now occupies North America.”49 Indeed, such a spirit is also apparent in other roughly contemporary colonial allusions to Indigenous modes of timekeeping. In 1721, for example, Logan and the Council had informed an Indian delegation that the day was “within one Moon of thirty seven years” since the conclusion of an important treaty. The wording, which recalls Lenape phrasings, was atypical of Logan but precisely calibrated: it was the verbal equivalent of occasional colonial attempts to set arriving Indians at ease by performing the Edge of the Woods ceremony.50 And it was not Logan’s only attempt at temporal diplomacy. In 1732 he carefully mirrored the wording of Kanickhungo, his Indian counterpart, in stating that a treaty had been concluded “for our Children and Children’s Children, to all Generations, as long as the Sun, Moon, and Earth, endure.”51 Logan’s occasional willingness to allude to Native temporal idioms or modes of reckoning implies a pragmatic desire to accommodate, and arguably constitutes an example of what communications theorists call recipient design.52

But Sassoonan’s tempered phrasing can also be read as part of a larger field of related and concurrent negotiations between Native Americans and Pennsylvanians. Indian references to clock time, that is, were not simply polite concessions to Euro-American expectations; they were also tactical moves in a complex intercultural dialogue that included gestures of resistance, as well as accommodation. For in fact, even as colonial officials in Philadelphia were openly ordering Indian delegates to appear at meetings at specific times, Native diplomats were actively shaping the more general schedule of their meetings and obligations to suit their own priorities and obligations. In an October 1722 meeting of the Provincial Council, for instance, Governor William Keith strongly urged Conestoga and Shawnee Indians to return any runaway slaves in their communities; this was, Keith stressed, “a matter of Importance” that needed to be dealt with in a “forthwith” manner. A Shawnee delegate offered a mollifying but qualified response: “as soon in the Spring as the Bark will Run, We will lose no time to perform the taking of them according to Direction, for now they are abroad a Hunting, so it can be done no sooner.”53

In other words, yes—but only after the conclusion of the hunting season, which typically lasted until April. Similarly, in a conversation held in August of 1731, Logan instructed Sassoonan to urge the Lenapes to offer lands for sale at moderate rates. Sassoonan, however, answered that he would not be able to respond for eight months, as his people were now engaged in hunting, and scattered—precluding any possibility of quick deliberation. This reply seems to have vexed Logan; Sassoonan “was urged to Shorten the time.” But the Indian negotiator held firm: “He Sayes he cannot come before April next, eight months hence and then they will Come.”54

Was this simply an acknowledgment of the realities of the Indian calendar? Certainly it was that; indeed, harsh wintry conditions could also lead to the postponement of negotiations.55 But Sassoonan’s reply also constitutes a considered, diplomatic response to Logan’s request for prompt action. As Vicki Hsueh has observed, more generally, “Treaty negotiations [. . .] did include cross-cultural adjudication, but they did so in ways that created moments of exclusion and fostered opportunism.”56 And the colonial emphasis upon rapid action clearly presented an opportunity: by resisting that sense of urgency, Native diplomats articulated their sense of the value of deliberation and consensus, while also registering their discomfort with certain colonial aims. In analyzing the negotiations surrounding the infamous Walking Purchase of 1737, Steven Harper observed that “what might appear to be waffling by the Delawares was actually informed negotiation.”57 The same could be said, more or less, of the claims by earlier Indian negotiators that certain actions were simply impossible in the near term.

Despite the occasionally polite rhetoric, then, it was increasingly clear to all involved that Native Americans and colonial Pennsylvanians ultimately inhabited very different timescapes. And, occasionally, documents record the pronounced distances between cultural forms in emphatic terms. On July 27, 1739, the Pennsylvania Provincial Council, unnerved by reports of recent French attempts to win favor with the Shawnees, welcomed a sizable Native delegation to Philadelphia. After the two parties had reviewed records of several earlier meetings and diplomatic agreements, Logan delivered a speech in which he accented the longstanding ties between the Shawnees and Pennsylvania. He expressed his hope that the Indians would share what had been said between them and the French; the Shawnees, in turn, were asked if they would like to respond to his request. The minutes of the meeting then state that the Shawnees “declared they were well satisfied with what they had heard and would speak to it to-morrow morning, for it was their Custom to speak, or Transact Business of importance only whilst the Sun was rising and not when it was declining. The board then agreed to adjourn to Ten of the Clock to-morrow morning and gave them Notice of it, at which time they said they would be ready.”58

At first glance, the text may suggest a spirit of amicable accommodation, as the parties affirm a general willingness to engage in conversation and settle upon a mutually agreeable time for further discussion.59 But the passage can also be read as evidence of a subtle bilateral display of diplomatic autonomy, as each delegation works to schedule the speech in a manner they deem appropriate. To the Shawnees, the appropriate time for a response was determined by several longstanding customs. Viewing immediate responses as imprudent and inappropriate, they favored rest, deliberation, and consensus; approaching dialogue in a spirit of optimism, they sought to pair their response with the growing light of the rising sun. Pennsylvanian officials, by contrast, were often intent on concluding land purchases or obtaining diplomatic commitments and sought to proceed efficiently, treating time as a valuable commodity.60 While their chosen meeting times were not wholly uncoupled from natural phenomena—daylight mattered to all people, after all—they organized their day according to the nominally impersonal logic of clock time and implicitly conveyed the value of punctuality.61 The meeting was thus an encounter characterized by what Mark Rifkin has called, in an analysis of nineteenth-century encounters between Natives and settlers, multiple temporalities.62

And multiple temporalities, again, fostered opportunism. By the 1740s, Native delegates began to resist the more local and immediate temporal expectations of the colonists in a variety of ways. The consequential treaty negotiations held in Lancaster in 1744 (which drew more than 250 Indians and resulted in an agreement that Benjamin Franklin subsequently printed, sending three hundred copies of the treaty to a London distributor) offer an important example.63 They took place at the Lancaster courthouse, and there was seemingly a timepiece of some sort on hand; in the minutes of a session held on June 28, we read that “At 12 o’Clock the Commissioners departed the Chamber.”64

Repeatedly, however, the Six Nations deputies chose not to commit to specific meeting times, flouting the exact strictures of the clock. Thus, on June 28, the Indians accepted a range of goods intended as compensation for land, and then “informed the Interpreter, that they would give an Answer to the Speech made to them this Morning by the honourable the Commissioners of Maryland, but did not express the Time when such Answer should be made.” This is quite different from Sassoonan’s polite and concrete explanation of a delay in 1728. Here, the Indian delegates eschew (while giving no reason for their decision) a precise temporal commitment, forcing colonial officials to adjust accordingly. Moreover, it seems to have been part of a considered strategy. At another point in the same negotiations, Governor George Thomas “ordered the Interpreter to tell the Indians, that as they had greatly exceeded their appointed Time for meeting the Commissioners, he recommended to them to use all the Expedition possible in giving their Answer to what had been said.” But the exhortation held little force, and was quickly brushed aside by Canasatego, an Onondaga diplomat, who “proceeded to return the Thanks of the Six Nations for the Governor’s kind Advice, promising to follow it as far as lay in their Power; but as it was their Custom when a Belt was given to return another, they would take Time till the Afternoon to provide one, and would then give their Answer.”65 The colonial insistence upon expedition is acknowledged—but existing Haudenosaunee customs take precedence. And so the Haudenosaunee took, in several senses of the word, their time. Or, as Giordano Nanni has put it, in an overview of temporal resistance among British subalterns, the colonized actively responded to, and shaped, “the new tempo of colonial society.”66

It is surely relevant that the Six Nations were negotiating, in 1744, from a period of relative strength. Where the Lenapes had seen their modest numbers decimated and lacked a strong central organization, the Haudenosaunee represented a powerful confederacy whose support was seen as vital by both the British and the French.67 Six Nations diplomats’ repeated willingness to flout colonial expectations of promptness may reflect, then, confidence in their diplomatic position. But it should also be seen as the culmination of a lengthy process of familiarization and acculturation that spanned roughly half a century.68 Over the course of the 1700s, as they grew familiar with colonial habits, Native negotiators used time as an increasingly effective means of exercising diplomatic autonomy. In a useful analysis of early Hudson Valley diplomacy, Tom Midtrød has observed that “Natives had to accept the reality that many foreign political and cultural assumptions would apply in their relationship with the Europeans, but they did not necessarily embrace these practices, and on some points they remained unwilling to make concessions, regardless of the level of pressure applied by the Europeans.”69 This was true, as well, of temporal negotiations in the Delaware and Susquehanna Valleys.

How did Pennsylvanians respond, in turn? Evidently, such delays sometimes prompted frustration on the colonial side. As Nancy Hagedorn has pointed out, English officials often found negotiations with the Indians to be tedious and fatiguing. Thus Cadwallader Colden complained, in 1747, that Indian ceremonies required “an abundance of time and consumed a large Quantity of Wampum.”70 Time, from such a perspective, was a finite resource that was not to be squandered. Strikingly, though, the Pennsylvanians were consistently reluctant to share their timekeeping technologies with their Native counterparts, as if they hoped to maintain a unilateral control over the clock. The many goods offered to the Indians in conjunction with negotiations and purchases were remarkably diverse; they routinely included utilitarian items such as powder, rifles, kettles, looking glasses, needles, scissors, and money, as well as fashionable matchcoats laced with silver, ruffled shirts, and brass shoe buckles. As Jessica Yirush Stern has emphasized, the bestowal of these various objects was an important means of acculturation.71 But it is thus notable that the lists never include sundials, watches, or clocks of any sort. Again, practical considerations may have played a role; case clocks were expensive and would likely have had little appeal to the seasonally itinerant Lenapes. But the pattern also involved an ideological dimension. After all, colonial diplomats were also ambivalent about (or even openly opposed to) teaching Native Americans to write and providing Indian delegations with clerks.72 Even as colonists sought to convince Indians of the reliability of the written word, that is, they sought to retain control over its manufacture. Similarly, by withholding the basic tools of clock time from their counterparts, Pennsylvanians effectively delimited, or maintained their control over, its management.

Nevertheless, it is clear that by the 1750s Indian negotiators were quite familiar with the contours of colonial time—and used that cultural knowledge variously. The Albany Congress of 1754 attracted an attentive Pennsylvanian contingent, as it was held at a fraught time: a group of Mohawks had recently declared that the longstanding Covenant Chain was now broken.73 By June 20 nearly all of the relevant colonial officials were on hand, hoping to embark on negotiations. But two days later the Mohawks had still not arrived. Vexed by this seemingly intentional delay, the colonial commissioners tinkered with the text of Lieutenant Governor James DeLancey’s planned opening speech, drafting an optional paragraph that asked the Indians to be “more Punctual for the future.” That meant little, of course, to the Mohawks, whose cool disregard for time struck several observers as expressive. But what, exactly, were they expressing? Rumors quickly multiplied—and, as Timothy J. Shannon has noted, DeLancey sensed that his authority was being eroded. On June 26 he thus sent a messenger to exhort the Mohawks to “come down immediately” to “this place, where I have been for a considerable time.”74 Two days later the Mohawks arrived—in a position of relative power, as they had effectively forced DeLancey to acknowledge, and then alter, his temporal expectations.

Naturally, the multilingual go-betweens who worked to ensure effective communication between parties were especially well positioned to master and manipulate temporal rhetorics. For example, at the celebrated conference held at Easton in 1756, Lenape translator and guide Moses Tatamy told the delegation of Pennsylvania officials “That he came to the Indians at nine o’clock yesterday noon, and delivered his Message, after which they were in Council till three in the afternoon.”75 The report is congenially framed in temporal terms that conform to colonial expectations. But Native fluency in clock time could also be applied selectively, as Pennsylvanians negotiating with the Lenape leader Teedyuscung soon learned. During a 1757 meeting Teedyuscung told Governor Denny that he would be ready to meet the next day at eight in the morning; at another moment in the same series of negotiations, Teedyuscung responded to a question about when deeds should be read by saying that it might be done “between Seven and Eight a’Clock; which time was accordingly agreed on.”76

Here, Teedyuscung’s references to clock time read as both fluent and diplomatic. But a year later, when Denny asked Teedyuscung and a Six Nations counterpart to fix the time of a meeting to be held at Easton, “they declined it, saying, they were unacquainted with Hours, but would give Notice when they were ready.”77 Teedyuscung, it is true, sometimes acted erratically and allegedly drank excessively.78 But his disavowal of a familiarity with hours reads, in the tense context of 1758 (when the French and Indian War was raging and Native frustrations regarding land dispossession were especially intense), as both intentional and strategic. By refusing to name a particular hour, the Native delegates were declining to participate in a system that had never been of their own designing. And by decreeing that they would eventually give notice when they were ready, they proposed a model of time reckoning that hinged upon their own open-ended decision-making process, granting themselves a degree of agency and centrality at a critical moment in Native–colonial relations.

There are some echoes, here, of the Six Nations delegation’s similarly cool response in 1744 to colonial requests for specific meeting times. But the 1758 delegation’s reaction moves still further away, in both time and tone, from Sassoonan’s early expression of his hope that the governor would not misinterpret the Lenapes’ failure to arrive at a time that had been appointed by colonial officials. By mid-century, the time for polite deference had passed; war was erupting and the covenant chain was in serious disrepair. Increasingly, Native negotiators were quite comfortable ignoring or rejecting the system of clock time that had once shaped their regular interactions with colonial officials. In the past, conforming to the colonial preference for haste and precisely scheduled meetings had offered a means of conveying diplomatic good will and a spirit of accommodation. But resisting that same preference could also serve, it was now clear, as a valuable means of communicating a position of a different sort.


In the 1751 edition of Poor Richard Improved, Benjamin Franklin observed that “Clocks and Watches, to shew the Hour, are very modern Inventions. The Sub-dividing Hours into Minutes, and Minutes into Seconds, by those curious Machines, is not older than the Days of our Fathers.”79 But even in the span of a few decades, the broad embrace of clocks and watches had precipitated considerable change. And the surviving records of negotiations between Native Americans and Pennsylvanians offer detailed evidence of a complex and evolving intercultural conversation, which was partially rooted in distinct and evolving ways of reckoning time.

Their initial meetings involved moments of acquaintance and familiarization, as Lenape representatives learned the logic of clock time, colonial delegates came to understand the temporal customs of the Lenapes, and both sides found occasional common conceptual ground—say, in the idea of the distance traversed in a day’s journey. Subsequently, the sides began to practice forms of temporal accommodation. Pennsylvanian officials realized that they had to honor seasonal patterns and obligations, and Native representatives adjusted their language and behavior to match their British counterparts’ emphasis upon punctuality. But as tensions between the colonists, the Lenapes, and the Haudenosaunee intensified, negotiations often became diplomatic contests characterized by subtle exercises of power. And just as the venue, the use of a particular language, and the specific form of recordkeeping could all imply superiority, so too could the imposition of certain temporal expectations—or, critically, the intentional frustration of those expectations. For, as we have seen, Native negotiators sometimes chose to resist the temporal demands of their colonial counterparts, engaging with Europeans in a manner that accented, rather than undermined, their sovereignty.80

Certainly, as James Merrell and Cheryl Wells have argued, Indians sometimes felt compelled to choose between a tacit embrace or an outright rejection of the imported semantic systems of the colonists.81 But the evidence also suggests that Indians in the Delaware Valley were increasingly adept, by the mid-1700s, at moving between modes of temporal reckoning and practicing forms of disidentification, through which they conveyed hesitations about unfolding diplomatic processes. Importantly, they were hardly alone in sensing the tactical potential of temporal resistance. In the 1680s and ’90s, Thomas Lloyd and other members of the Council had resisted the appointment of the Puritan John Blackwell as governor by making it impossible to reach a quorum, subjecting the process to an indefinite delay. And in the 1730s, laborers in England began to challenge the practice of time-accounting by Anglican factory owners, while enslaved West Africans in Virginia frustrated plantation managers with deliberately slow movements.82 But the detailed records of negotiations between Native Americans and early Pennsylvanians allow us to observe with unusual specificity how notions of urgency and clock time began, over the course of several decades, to structure those deliberations and to become the subjects of negotiation.

Finally, those records thus also testify to the genesis of a pattern that would subsequently shape centuries of American diplomatic practice—and that is still discernible today. As Raymond Cohen noted in a valuable study of international diplomacy, “Americans, viewing time as a wasting asset, are more likely to feel the pressure of approaching deadlines.” This constitutes, he added, a diplomatic liability. As a State Department official remarked to him, “the weakness of the American approach to negotiation lay in its domestically conditioned habit of working under self-imposed time constraints.” To be sure, Cohen was referring to twentieth-century practices. Arguably, though, the early stages of that domestic conditioning are visible in the minutes of meetings between Delaware Valley Indians and Pennsylvania officials, in which the colonists repeatedly attempted to impose the impersonal logic of clock time upon their meetings and their counterparts. But the records also indicate that Native delegates, like some early colonial protestors, came to perceive the weakness of such an approach, and to exploit it strategically. After all, as Cohen pointed out, “The arbitrary divisions of the clock face have little saliency for cultures grounded in the cycle of the seasons, the invariant pattern of rural life, and the calendar of religious festivities.”83 Thus, while the surviving body of minutes, laws, deeds, and council records has already been interpreted in various ways, it can and should be seen as a record of a consequential confrontation of culturally distinct understandings of time and its functions.



In this article, like many contemporary scholars, I use the terms “Native American,” “Indigenous,” “Native,” and “Indian” interchangeably. For a relevant explanation of the reasoning behind such an approach, see Céline Carayon, Eloquence Embodied: Nonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019), 27.


Alden T. Vaughan, “Preface,” in Early American Indian Documents: Treaties and Laws, 1607–1789, vol. 1, ed. Donald H. Kent (Washington, DC: University Publications of America, 1979), xiii.


Carl Van Doren, “Introduction,” in Van Doren, Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1736–1762, with notes by Julian P. Boyd (Philadelphia: The Historical Society of Philadelphia, 1938), xviii; and Robert A. Williams, Linking Arms Together: American Indian Treaty Visions of Law and Peace, 1600–1800 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 8. Also relevant is Lawrence C. Wroth, “The Indian Treaty as Literature,” Yale Review 7 (1928): 749–66.


James Merrell, “‘I Desire All that I Have Said . . . May be Taken down Aright’: Revisiting Teedyuscung’s 1756 Treaty Council Speeches,” William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 4 (October 2006): 777–826.


Daniel K. Richter, “Rediscovered Links in the Covenant Chain: Previously Unpublished Transcripts of New York Indian Treaty Minutes, 1677–1691,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 92 (January 1982): 47.


An abbreviated list of the studies that have drawn productively on the documents might include (in addition to the works by Williams, Richter, and Merrell mentioned above): Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from Its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984); William N. Fenton, “Structure, Continuity, and Change in the Process of Iroquois Treaty Making,” in The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy: An Interdisciplinary Guide to the Treaties of the Six Nations and Their League, ed. Francis Jennings et al. (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985), 3–36; John Smolenski, Friends and Strangers: The Making of a Creole Culture in Colonial Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010); Timothy J. Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier (New York: Viking, 2008); Vicki Hsueh, Hybrid Constitutions: Challenging Legacies of Law, Privilege, and Culture in Colonial America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); and Anthony F. C. Wallace, “How to Buy a Continent: The Protocol of Indian Treaties as Developed by Benjamin Franklin and Other Members of the American Philosophical Society,” ed. Timothy B. Howell, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 159, no. 3 (September 2015): 251–81.


For a rare example of a consideration of the role that temporal negotiation played in one instance of frontier diplomacy, see Timothy J. Shannon, Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 149–50.


R. W. Symonds, A History of English Clocks (New York: King Penguin, 1947), 34–35; Cecil Clutton and George Daniels, Clocks and Watches: The Collection of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1975), 3 and 41; Tom Robinson, The Longcase Clock (Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors’ Club, 1981), 24–26; David F. Wood, “Far from Equilibrium; Clocks and Clock Shops,” in Frank L. Hohmann III, Timeless: Masterpiece American Brass Dial Clocks (New York: Hohmann Holdings, 2009), 52–64.


Hazel W. Hertzberg, The Great Tree and the Longhouse: The Culture of the Iroquois (New York: Macmillan, 1966), 36–52; Vine Deloria Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2016), 61–63, 98–99, and 122; Mark Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 2–3.


José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 1. It is also worth noting, here, that colonial time was never a unified or entirely consistent phenomenon. Rather, as Giordano Nanni has observed, “the ways in which colonial agents sought to transform Indigenous temporalities diverged and overlapped at several nodal points.” See The Colonisation of Time: Ritual, Routine and Resistance in the British Empire (New York: Manchester University Press, 2012), 225.


For a similar assertion, made in relation to Hudson Valley Indians, see Tom Arne Midtrød, The Memory of All Ancient Customs: Native American Diplomacy in the Colonial Hudson Valley (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 86 and 212. On Indian perplexity regarding the English emphasis on writing and the “colonial chorus of praise for paper,” see James H. Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 216.


On the evolving centrality of the condolence ritual in Anglo-Indian diplomatic exchanges see Fenton, “Structure, Continuity, and Change in the Process of Iroquois Treaty Making,” 6, and Nancy L. Hagedorn, “‘With the Air and Gesture of an Orator: Council Oratory, Translation, and Cultural Mediation During Anglo-Iroquois Treaty Conferences, 1690–1774,” in New Trends in Translation and Cultural Identity, ed. Micaela Muñoz-Calvo et al. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 37.


Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures: International Communication in an Interdependent World, rev. ed. (Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, 1997), 33.


Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011 reprint of 1991 original). For a related observation that the society forged by the Lenape and the Europeans was ultimately “different from those described by historians for other regions,” see Jean R. Soderlund, Lenape Country: Delaware Valley Society Before William Penn (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 10.


Merrell, Into the American Woods, 294. On acculturation in this context, see White, The Middle Ground, xxvi.


Scott M. Wert, “‘The Calumett, a Sure Bond and Seal of Peace’: Native-Pennsylvania Treaties as Religious Discourse,” in Quakers and Native Americans, ed. Ignacio Gallup-Diaz and Geoffrey Plank (Leiden: Brill, 2019), 55.


For Kane’s analysis of the ways in which cloth was used and modified in particular ways by Indians in order to articulate cultural sovereignty and to convey particular ideas to their colonial counterparts, see Shirts Powdered Red: Haudenosaunee Gender, Trade, and Exchange Across Three Centuries (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2023), esp. 78–80 and 244.


Cheryl A. Wells, “‘Why[,] These Children Are Not Really Indians: Race, Time, and Indian Authenticity,” American Indian Quarterly 39, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 10; see, too, William N. Fenton, The Great Law and the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998), 11–12, and Fenton, “Structure, Continuity, and Change in the Process of Iroquois Treaty Making,” 6. For an influential, if dated, theoretical analysis of Indigenous notions of time, see M. P. Nilsson, Primitive Time-Reckoning: A Study in the Origins and First Development of the Art of Counting Time Among the Primitive and Early Culture Peoples (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1920).


Wells, “‘Why [,] These Children Are Not Really Indians,” 5.


Thomas J. Sugrue, “The Peopling and Depeopling of Early Pennsylvania: Indians and Colonists, 1680–1720,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 116, no. 1 (January 1992): 9; Soderlund, Lenape Country, 39–41.


On Iroquois notions of time, see Fenton, The Great Law and the Longhouse 11–12, and Hertzberg, The Great Tree and the Longhouse, 36–52. On rural Europe, see E. P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” Past and Present 38 (Dec. 1967), esp. 63–67.


William Penn, The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsilvania in America: Together with certain Laws Agreed upon in England by the Governour and Divers Free-men of the aforesaid Province (London, 1682). Reprinted with modernizations in William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania: A Documentary History, ed. Jean R. Soderlund (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 89, 120–33.


Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania, vol. 1, ed. Gertrude MacKinney (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Archives, 1931), 1.


Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, vol. 1 (Harrisburg: Theophilus Fenn, 1838), 60, 62. Of course, such references were not without precedent in colonial America. A 1638 list of bylaws for the Maryland colonial assembly, for instance, includes the provision that “the house shall sit every day holy days excepted unless it be adjourned at eight of the Clock in the morning at the furthest and at two of the Clock in the afternoon.” William Hand Browne, ed., Archives of Maryland: Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1883), 33; Daniel K. Richter, email to the author, May 8, 2023.


Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania, ed. MacKinney, 1:73.


Andrew R. Murphy, Liberty, Conscience, and Toleration: The Political Thought of William Penn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 147–50.


Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Routledge, 1992), 154; Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (London: Secker and Warburg, 1964), 130; David Brody, “Time and Working During Early American Industrialization,” Labor History 30, no. 1 (1989): 22.


Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” 67.


Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, Stretch: America’s First Family of Clockmakers (Winterthur, DE: Winterthur Museum, 2013), 308.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:62–63. This article relies heavily on Kent’s edited multivolume collection of documents, but many of the cited texts can also be found in the similarly valuable Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, vols. 1–7 (Harrisburg: Theo. Fenn and Co., 1838–51).


On the widespread use of such a terminology among Native Americans, see Carayon, Eloquence Embodied, 62. For early references to horse trading in Albany, see Evan Haefeli, “Becoming a ‘Nation of Statesmen’: The Mohicans’ Incorporation into the Iroquois League, 1671–1675,” New England Quarterly 93, no. 3 (2020): 438. More work on the history of Lenape and Iroquois horsemanship is needed, but an account of the Indian procession entering Lancaster in June of 1744 clearly refers to several Native women and children riding on horseback. See Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier, 79.


A 1685 grant, for instance, construed a boundary in these terms: “as far as a man can go in Two Dayes from the said Station of the said Paralell line at Pemapecka.” See Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:77. For a brief discussion of this tendency, see Ray Thompson, The Walking Purchase Hoax of 1737 (Fort Washington, PA: The Bicentennial Press, 1973), 30.


Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, 326.


Steven Craig Harper, Promised Land: Penn’s Holy Experiment, The Walking Purchase, and the Dispossession of Delawares, 1600–1763 (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2006), 33.


Fennimore and Hohmann, Stretch, 308–9.


Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania, ed. MacKinney, 1:182.


Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania, ed. MacKinney, 1:244.


Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (New York: Viking Press, 1972), 264.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:89–90.


Fenton, “Structure, Continuity, and Change in the Process of Iroquois Treaty Making,” 6; Merrell, Into the American Woods, 265.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:90. The Latin phrase is an abbreviation of praesentibus eiusdem: in the presence of the same.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:148, 196, 273.


Native Americans were not the only people to find themselves in this position. On June 4, 1684, it was “Ordered that Griffith Jones be informed that the Govr & Councill Sit at two of ye Clock in ye Afternoone, in order to his Business.” See Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, 1:63.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:219. For a detailed consideration of the assault and its aftermath, see Nicole Eustace, Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America (New York: Liveright, 2021).


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:313.


Merrell, “‘I Desire All that I Have Said,” 784.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:219, 314. Significantly, Cartlidge’s separate testimony that he “left the place at ten by his watch” constitutes a rare indication that watches were at least occasionally used in the backwoods at the time.


Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier, 108. For further context, and remarks on Sassoonan’s opposition to European settlement, see Soderlund, Lenape Country, 183–84.


Williams, Linking Arms Together, 28.


And in at least one case, a scribe seems to have taken it upon himself to translate the Native idiom into more familiar terms. The July 18, 1717, minutes of the Provincial Council thus quote Native delegates as referring to an event that took place “about two moons or months agoe.” See Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:165.


Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1736–1762, 10.


See, for example, Jessica Gasiorek, “Theoretical Perspectives on Interpersonal Adjustments in Language and Communication,” in Communication Accommodation Theory: Negotiating Personal Relationships and Social Identities Across Contexts, ed. Howard Giles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 16.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:264.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:336.


In December of 1731, for instance, a delegation of Five Nations leaders postponed a journey due to the winter weather. See Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 1:336.


Hsueh, Hybrid Constitutions, 110.


Harper, Promised Land, 65.


Donald H. Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents: Treaties and Laws, 1607–1789, vol. 2 (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984), 12.


For a related claim about the importance of accommodation as a Native response to European culture in general, see James Merrell, “Cultural Continuity Among the Piscataway Indians of Colonial Maryland,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 36 (Oct. 1979): 570.


Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier, 82.


Other scholars have also remarked on the recurring tension between a colonial sense of urgency and a general Native preference for patience. See, for instance, Merrell, Into the American Woods, 265, and Fenton, The Great Law and the Longhouse, 11, 663.


Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time, 2, 31, and 43. Also relevant here is Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999), 55.


Van Doren, “Introduction,” v–xviii; Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier, 78.


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 2:92. Incidentally, the courthouse was described in some detail by William Marshe in his account of the treaty, but he makes no reference to a public clock. See Witham Marshe, Journal of the Treaty at Lancaster in 1744 with the Six Nations, ed. William H. Egle (Lancaster, 1884).


Kent, ed., Early American Indian Documents, 2:80, 92.


Nanni, The Colonisation of Time, 4.


On the Lenapes, see Sugrue, “The Peopling and Depeopling of Early Pennsylvania,” 10, and Richard S. Grimes, The Western Delaware Indian Nation, 1730–1795: Warriors and Diplomats (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2017), xix. On the increasing centrality of the Haudenosaunee in British foreign policy in the 1730s and 1740s, see Richard Aquila, The Iroquois Restoration: Iroquois Diplomacy on the Colonial Frontier, 1701–1754 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1983), 84–94, and Pekka Hämäläinen, “The Shapes of Power: Indians, Europeans, and North American Worlds from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century,” in Contested Spaces of Early America, ed. Juliana Barr and Edward Countryman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 31–68.


Andrew R. Murphy, William Penn: A Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 199–200 and 207–8.


Midtrød, The Memory of All Ancient Customs, 212.


Hagedorn, “‘With the Air and Gesture of an Orator,” 37–38.


Jessica Yirush Stern, The Lives in Objects: Native Americans, British Colonists, and Cultures of Labor and Exchange in the Southeast (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), 99.


Merrell, Into the American Woods, 216, 219–20.


On the consequential Mohawk announcement, see Brian Seitz and Thomas Thorp, The Iroquois and the Athenians: A Political Ontology (Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2013), 251.


Shannon, Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads Empire, 149.


Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, vol. 7 (Harrisburg: Theophilus Fenn, 1851), 318.


Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, 7:668, 701. See also 712 for the governor’s response, which implies an assumption that Teedyuscung would comprehend a reference to hours: “The Governor said he would take into Consideration what Teedyuscung had said, and in half an hour would give you an answer.”


Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, vol. 8 (Harrisburg: Theophilus Fenn, 1852), 180. For a brief consideration of the passage in modern scholarship, see Merrell, Into the American Woods, 266.


For instances of Teedyuscung’s alleged drunkenness, see Nicholas B. Wainwright, George Croghan, Wilderness Diplomat (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959), 132 and 146.


Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack and Other Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell (Mineola: Dover, 2013), 116.


For comparable claims, made in different contexts, see Soderlund, Lenape Country, 178–79, and Kane, Shirts Powdered Red, 9.


On a dichotomy in eighteenth-century Native responses to writing, see Merrell, Into the American Woods, 221; for a parallel claim about nineteenth-century Native responses to clock time, see Wells, “‘Why [,] These Children Are Not Really Indians.”


Mechal Sobel, The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), 23–26.


Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures, 34, 163, 180.