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Revolutionary Mothers -p.113

Carole Berkin

Carol Berkin, Revolutionary Mothers, New York: Vintage Books, 2005, p. 113

Molly Brant was a Mohawk Indian who was educated in an American school and married to a British government official, who was in charge of Indian Affairs. Before the war, Brant, her brother, and her husband worked to connect Indian and British traders. With the American Revolution the Mohawks took the side of the British rather than the Patriots, as did Brant. What does this author say was her role in the war? Why was she considered important?

The American Revolution brought conflict to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois) who wanted to maintain neutrality with the British and Americans. The tribes eventually split, with the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas and Seneca supporting the British, and the Oneidas and Tuscaroras siding with the patriots. Molly Brant used her power to support the British, which included using her political authority to obtain military support for the British war effort and later new land for the Mohawk people. By supporting the British side, the Mohawks believed that the British would stop migration of whites into the territory of the Iroquois and preserve their land and culture. Ask your students to navigate this source to determine the role that native women played in the war, especially with regard to determining alliances.

Throughout the war, the British relied heavily on Molly’s influence with the Mohawks. It was Molly who persuaded the Society of Six Nations Matrons to press their men to fight for the king, and it was Molly who rallied these Indian warriors when they began to question their participation in the war. British officials never underestimated her importance.