New York’s Big Party: A Native Voice at the Table?

By Robert Spiegelman
©All rights reserved, 2004, 2006

The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779 was the largest expedition ever before mounted against the Indians of North America. Deploying 5,100 to 6,200 troops - roughly 1/3 of the army! – (without counting supply and support personnel) in the heat of the Revolution, George Washington’s aim is to forever crush Iroquois power and clear-cut the tribes from their ancestral New York homelands - one of earth’s most irrigated regions. He orders that they “not be merely overrun, but destroyed.” And his generals, John Sullivan and James Clinton, don’t fail him. Although the Campaign now lies “off the radar” in most American minds and classrooms, like nothing before, this juggernaut kicked open the door to American expansion across New York and points West. And while it did not end their armed resistance, Indian life in New York would never be the same.

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Refugees of Niagara 1779-1780: The Winter of Hunger

by Timothy T. Shaw
©All rights reserved, 2004 *

The expedition you are appointed to command is directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and preventing their planting more...Should Niagara fall into yourhands in the manner I have mentioned you will do everything in your power for preserving and maintaining it by establishing a chain of posts in such a manner as shall appear to you most safe and effectual and tending as little to reduce our general forces as possible....
- George Washington’s orders to Gen. John Sullivan, 31 May 1779

Each morning, as the Middle East's crises unfold, we read statements in our newspapers that we’re devoted to the plight of the region's refugees. Yet, while digesting these paragraphs, many of us are not aware of a similar desperate drama that unfolded here, during the American Revolution, on the Niagara Frontier of New York State.

Until recently, my view of Fort Niagara was one of a strictly myopic military historian...someone who only sees the military importance of given strategic situations pertaining to a frontier post. Before this time I had never taken into account the problems posed by the mass exodus of people, forced by war, into displacement camps. The story of the Niagara refugees, though from a distant era, is still as poignant today as it was then.

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(Still) Open Wounds: NOLA Dispossessed

America’s Open Wound
by Bob Herbert

It’s eerie. The air is still. There is no noise. Night is falling.

The five stone steps in front of me once led to a porch, or maybe directly to the front door of a house. There is no way to be sure. The house is completely gone. All that’s left are the five steps, one of which is painted with the address, 1630 Reynes St. The steps sit alone, like a piece of minimalist art, at the front of a small vacant lot full of weeds and rubble. Next door is a house that is completely capsized, fallen over on its side like a sunken ship.

Welcome to the Lower Ninth Ward. You won’t find much holiday spirit here. In every direction, as far as it is possible to see, is devastation.

On another lot, piled high with the rubble of a ruined house, I saw a middle-aged man standing in the front yard weeping. He wore a dirty white baseball cap and he was sobbing like a child. I walked toward him to ask a question but he waved me away.

Whatever you’ve heard about New Orleans, the reality is much worse...

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