The Native Americans: Behind the Scenes

   The Revolutionary War was the war for American Independence from Britain. Many people know that this war was between the American colonists and the British, but they were not the only ones. African Americans, French allies, and Native Americans were also involved in this war. Native Americans had important roles in the war, behind the scenes.

      Native American sided with both the Americans and the British. During the first couple years of the war, the Natives remained neutral because the colonial and British leaders told them to stay out of the conflict. This is what the Native Americans were told, when they wanted to help:

      “This is a family quarrel between us and Old England. You Indians are not concerned in it. We don't wish you to take up the hatchet against the king's troops. We desire you to remain at home, and not join either side, but keep the hatchet buried deep.” -- Continental Congress, July 1775

      Only a year or two after telling the Native Americans to stay out of the war, both the colonists and the British were trying to convince the six Iroquois Nations to help them. The Iroquois refused all invitations to join the either side, because they wanted to live in peace. But, while this was happening, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk leader was finishing up his visit to England. He had a wonderful time in England, so this made him convinced that siding with the British was the best for the Native Americans future. Therefore, he turned many of the Native Americans against the Americans. 

      Joseph Brant wasn’t the only reason that they sided with the British. The Americans kept on expanding onto their land, and wouldn’t share it. British leaders tried to keep the colonists from expanding onto the Native Americans land. This was mostly because they didn’t want the colonists going into war with the natives because then they would have to pay the expenses of the war, but the Natives thought it was to protect them.

      They Native Americans did different things that helped the British. They attacked the Americans, risking their lives and they snuck around the Patriots, because they knew the land. Their knowledge of the land also helped the British because North America wasn’t the British soldiers home, England was. A majority of the Native Americans sided with the British, but only a few tribes sided with the Americans.

      The Americans won the war! This was not the best thing for the Natives. They put their trust in the British, and the British lost the war. According to the Americans, the Native Americans lost their rights to live in the United States:

      "The Indian tribes by joining the British in the Revolution had forfeited their rights to possession of lands within the United States; the new country would be justified in compelling the Indians to retire to Canada or to the unknown areas beyond the Mississippi river." -- U.S. Congress, 1783-1784

      This was later changed, but as you can see, the Native Americans were affected by the Revolutionary War, in many ways. The Natives Americans were more involved in the war than it seems because they are not mentioned as much as the Americans and the British. The American Revolution was a war between the Americans and the British, and also the Native Americans. They weren’t just lazy people who pulled out their popcorn and candy, and sat and watched the battles. The Native Americans were involved and were ready to fight throughout the course of the war. Native Americans were the behind the scenes people.


Indians and the American Revolution. Wilcomb E. Washburn. History Channel. September 11, 2009. http://www.americanrevolution.org/ind1.html

Cultures in Contact. Samuel M. Wilson, Troy Lovata. 8/26/98. September 11,2009. http://www.utexas.edu/courses/wilson/ant326/outlines/revolutionary.html

The Learning Page. (editor unknown). 07/18/2003. September 11, 2009. http://memory.loc.gov/learn//features/timeline/amrev/homefrnt/homefrnt.html