Native Peoples in the Revolutionary War

TitleNative Peoples in the Revolutionary War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMerritt, Jane T.
EditorKamensky, Jane, and Edward G. Gray
Book TitleThe Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution
PublisherOxford University Press

The relationship between Native peoples and the emerging United States during the era of the American Revolution was a complicated one. From the onset of Lord Dunmore's War in 1774 to the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Indians in North America faced a dilemma on whether they would fight, for whom they would fight, and why they would fight. Most Native Americans initially thought that the Revolution was an isolated disagreement between white colonists and their mother country. However, the Revolutionary War evolved into a continent-wide struggle that the Indians could not avoid. Individual Indians joined both the Continental and British armies as regular soldiers or as scouts, guides, mariners, and diplomats. Indian involvement in the American Revolution has often been interpreted as the story of a people who picked the wrong side, lost, and were destined to move west and disappear. However, history shows that Native Americans not only participated in the American Revolution, but also survived the long-term changes it produced.

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