Turning Points in Iroquois History

Kurt A. Jordan

in The Seneca Restoration, 1715–1754

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032511
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039428 | DOI:
Turning Points in Iroquois History

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Scholars have identified five main turning points that they claim initiated Iroquois decline. The first model holds that Iroquois matrilineal institutions were unable to endure the demographic upheavals caused by European-borne epidemic diseases and the warfare and adoption that accompanied them; these upheavals began in the seventeenth and continued into the eighteenth centuries. A second position maintains that the Iroquois never recovered from their military defeats in the Twenty Years' War, notably the 1687 defeat of the Senecas by the Denonville expedition. Proponents of a third model argue that the Iroquois were defeated and dominated by the unilateral European construction of trading posts/forts at Niagara and Oswego from 1718 to 1724. A fourth interpretation claims that the Iroquois political-economic position was undermined by the shift in European fur trade interests away from Iroquoia to the Ohio and Mississippi valleys in the 1740s and the elimination of the French from Canada in 1760. The fifth model maintains that Iroquois autonomy was undermined by European territorial encroachment and reservationization after the American Revolution. This chapter summarizes the main points of these models and evaluates each in light of the archaeological and documentary evidence set forth in this study, demonstrating that many of these models fit neither the Seneca region nor the rest of the Confederacy particularly well.

Keywords: Senecas; Iroquois decline; epidemics; warfare; Twenty Years' War; European trading posts; fur trade; encroachment; reservationization; Confederacy

Chapter.  8650 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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