The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes hold the annual Arlee Celebration in Montana every year around the Fourth of July. Photo: Justin Moore

Alex Jacobs: How the United States might have turned out differently

Powwows, fireworks and celebrations took place throughout Indian Country and America over the last few days. But would Independence Day be different had the United States treated tribal nations differently back in the late 1700s? Mohawk artist Alex Jacobs ponders our shared history:
I had a good question asked to me about the American Revolution, since it is still our country and homeland that resides under the political entity called the United States of America. What if Native Nations, were offered admittance as States? That proposal came with keeping lands, congressional representation, and paying taxes and other obligations that came with joining the union.

I recall a historical reference in which the Oneidas and the Delawares (Lenni Lenape) were offered such propositions. Like some tribes on the frontier or essentially surrounded by the settlers, they were split in supporting the Americans or the British. The United States signed its first treaty with an Indian nation, the Lenni Lenape in 1778, and that’s where the proposal first came up. The Lenape allowed the movement of American troops, food and supplies and many warriors fought for them. Those Lenape who opposed the Americans moved west closer to the Wyandots who fought for the British. The offer to the Oneida was probably due to Chief Shenandoah’s support of the Americans and if not take accounting for the Oneida’s place in the Iroquois Confederacy, perhaps was an issue to divide them.

In New England, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, Maliseet and Stockbridge Indians were actively recruited while some resisted the call. Many Natives who fought for either side did so because of Christian missionaries. The 1778 treaty did not seem to help, as the Lenape were beset upon by both vengeful Americans and British forces.

Read More on the Story:
Alex Jacobs: July 4: Who Is Celebrating What? (Indian Country Media Network 7/4)