Native American/Settler Interactions in the Early Republic


This packet contains materials related to Native American and colonial settler interactions in the period of the Early United States Republic (1780s-1810s). Specifically, materials document interactions between the Seneca and Oneida in Western New York State and Pennsylvania Quakers. These materials may be of interest to those studying Indigenous history, early US history, and borderlands. Pedagogical possibilities include the exploration of what voices are present or missing in documents, analyzing a “private” document, and exploration of the ways in which religion and politics shape the everyday experiences depicted in the documents. 

Packet contents:

  • List of primary sources
  • Guiding questions for students using these manuscripts
  • Articles for background and context
    • Daggar, Lori J. “The Mission Complex: Economic Development, “Civilization,” and Empire in the Early Republic.” Journal of the Early Republic 36, no. 3 (2016): 467-491. doi:10.1353/jer.2016.0044.
    • Dennis, Matthew. “Friendly Mission: The Holy Conversation of Quakers and Senecas.” In Seneca Possessed: Indians, Witchcraft, and Power in the Early American Republic, 117-47. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Accessed June 12, 2020.
    • Krischer, Elana. “Expansion in the East: Seneca Sovereignty, Quaker Missionaries, and the Great Survey, 1797–1801.” In Inventing Destiny: Cultural Explorations of US Expansion, edited by Bryan Jimmy L., 74-88. University Press of Kansas, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2020.

Primary Sources

Henry Simmons. Journal. Vol. 2. 1799.MC 975-01-072 v. 2
[Digitized version]

David Bacon. Some account of our journey to Cannandaigue [sic] 1794. MC 975-01-003
[Digitized version]

William Allinson. Journal: Visit to Indians in New York State. Vol. 2. 1809. MC 968
[Digitized version]

Isaac Coates, Joshua Sharpless, and John Pierce. Account of I. Coates, J. Sharpless, & J. Pierce, visits to Indian Reservation, NY. 1789-1799. MC 975-07-130
[Digitized version]

The above are only a sample of similar materials available in Quaker & Special Collections. Contact staff for information about other materials. 

Guiding Questions

Some helpful questions for discussions when viewing these materials include:

  • Who created the document(s)? For what purpose?
  • Describe the implied audience for these materials. What informs your opinion?
  • What arguments are these documents making?
  • Whose voices are heard within the documents? Whose are not?
  • How does the document(s) add to your understanding of early American history? Does it give you a new perspective or point of view? Does it seem to fit with other readings and discussions?