- Date Posted: 11/02/11
- Update Relevancy: 04/11 - 10/11
- Comment Posted By: Lake Champlain Basin Program
- Sub-watershed: Poultney-Mettowee/South
- Jurisdiction: NY
Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga explored the role of an Indian agent in 1759 as part of a program entitled “Within Humane Bounds” in the summer of 2011.
The program featured an historic interpreter representing an Indian agent of Sir William Johnson’s Northern Indian Department who supplied and coordinated with Mohawk warriors in 1759. The program included an impressive display of representative trade goods including leggings, shirts, powder horns and weapons that were that were needed to secure Mohawk support to the British army. The program highlighted the role the agent played in maintaining the bonds of alliance as well as being an important source for practical trade goods utilized in the native villages including agricultural tools and cutlery.
Native American allies in the French & Indian War were key players for both the French and British armies. Accordingly, both sides had extensive networks of agents and traders to try to forge those alliances and coordinate native warriors. Beyond the backing of the British crown, and a large supply of trade goods, Indian agents also had to use personal connections to fulfill their positions. Their fluency in languages, knowledge of local customs, as well as their own personal bonds of kinship within tribes were all essential in securing native alliances. These bonds were very often tested during these times of war, as Indian agents walked a fine line between encouraging native military support while keeping these warriors acting, “Within Humane Bounds.” Sir William Johnson’s directive to his Indian agents was to use the inherent skills of natives in woodland warfare, while keeping them acting within the moral morays of European warfare. Indeed, in 1759 through the work of Indian Agents, the Mohawk allies had a reputation among the British army for discipline as admirable as their martial skill.
For Special Revolutionary War programs in July, Native Interpreter Joseph Privott portrayed a Stockbridge Mohican as they appeared around Fort Ticonderoga in 1776. Through the early 18th century the Mohicans of the lower Hudson valley had created a settled town at Stockbridge, Massachusetts modeled on contemporary New England townships. The name of this town became commonly used for these Mohicans, commonly called Stockbridge Indians. Warriors from Stockbridge formed a complete company with the famous Roger’s Rangers, siding with the American patriot movement in 1776. A company of Stockbridge warriors arrived at Ticonderoga in the mid summer of 1776, along with regulars and militia from Massachusetts. The Stockbridge warriors were attached to the Massachusetts militia posted to Mount Hope, overlooking the LeChute valley. In late September the Stockbridges were posted on ships with Benedict Arnold’s navy. Landed on shore near Valcour Island, the Stockbridge warriors harassed the British Gunboats assaulting Arnold’s Fleet.
A Quadricentennial Legacy Grant from the CVNHP enabled Fort Ticonderoga to hire an experienced interpreter, Joseph Privott, who brought a wealth of knowledge about the Native American experience in this area during the 18th century. The Fort also purchased the necessary interpretive materials to bring the program to life for our visitors, including brass kettles, axes, hoes, hatches, knives, and flint/steel.
The program, which ran Sunday through Thursday afternoons, was extremely well received by Fort visitors. It was a new type of program for Fort Ticonderoga and has become part of the Fort’s broader interpretive emphasis to bring the year 1759 to life. Components of the program will be incorporated into the 2012 season when the interpretive staff will be portraying members of Captain Edward Mott’s Company of Colonel Parson’s Connecticut state battalion from 1775. Additional research will be conducted in the winter of 2012 to add to the interpretive program.
A short video of the interpretation can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/fortticonderogany