adventures at the end of the world


the best thing about us is the people we know.

New York || Minisink Battleground

Things did not go great for the American revolutionary troops at the Battle of Minisink. An army of British loyalists joined forces with a troop of Iroquois led by a Mohawk war chief named Joseph Brant and chased the colonists up a hill and against a bluestone outcropping known now as Hospital Rock. (You can guess how it got that name.)

Brant's reputation for winning battles like these led to him being known as "Monster Brant" among the colonists. In fact, he was a well educated man who spoke 7 languages. He'd been on the verge of going to college in New York City when war got in the way. He translated several books of the Bible into the Mohawk language. And in spite of the colonists' propensity for burning Native villages and leaving no survivors, Brant forbade his troops from killing women or children. When the Iroquois prepared to torture a colonial officer they had captured, Brant stepped in and forbade it.

Brant took a lot of heat from the Native peoples for siding with the British; he did it on the promise of having the Mohawks' land restored.

But then the British started seeing that maybe America wasn't worth their effort anymore. The Treaty of Paris was signed without any regard for the promises made to the Natives.

Brant spent the next six years lobbying for restoration of Native lands. He traveled to London to speak with King George III, who initiated him as a Freemason. He went to the capital to visit George Washington, who tried to buy him off. He even approached the French for help in overthrowing the government and getting his people's land back.

In 1806, at the age of 59, Brant gave up. He went to Canada and built a house on 3500 acres near Lake Ontario. (He had to pay a Canadian officer to buy it for him and then "give" it to him, since Indians couldn't buy and sell land from each other.) Brant lived there 5 years until he died.

His last words:

"If you have any influence with the great, endeavor to use it for [the Indians'] good."