Forest Diplomacy, 1756-57 and Red Clay, 1835

CRN – 16286
Day – Monday & Wednesday
Time – 1400-1550
Location – 130 GSH
Adjunct Assistant Professor Kevin Hatfield

Forest Diplomacy: War, Peace, and Land on the colonial Frontier, 1756-1757

This game begins with Pennsylvania and the Delaware Indians engaged in a vicious and destructive war. The focus of the game is a peace negotiation, which seeks to end the conflict. At the outset, students familiarize themselves with the historical context, previous treaties, firsthand accounts of the war, controversies over Quaker pacifism, and various Iroquois and Lenâpé cultural texts. Then, students divide into three groups: Interpreters, Pennsylvanians, and Indians. Initially, the latter two groups meet separately, but interpreters may shuttle back and forth. This gives students an opportunity to identify with their assigned cultures. It also allows distrust and suspicion to fester. Students reunite when formal treaty deliberations begin. The structure of these meetings is dictated by the traditional rituals of Indian forest diplomacy, which are intended to create a dispassionate space in the midst of the bloodthirstiness of war. Understanding the attendant cultural conventions becomes an essential element in peacemaking. Ignoring the protocols negates clever compromise on issues like scalping, the liquor trade, settlement, treaty-writing, and land ownership. When negotiations conclude, students must still maintain the peace. Negotiating a clever compromise is one thing, but if the treaty remains disagreeable to a significant number of participants, it collapses amid renewed violence. However, if enough participants can be convinced that the treaty represents a just peace then it will stand.

Red Clay, 1835: Cherokee Removal and the Meaning of Sovereignty focuses on American Indian removal from the American Southeast in the 1830s and events leading up to the Trail of Tears.  In particular it focuses on a pivotal historical conference held in Red Clay, Tennessee in October 1835 at which the United States presented terms for a removal treaty a few months before the illegal Treaty of New Echota was signed.  It deals not only with this too-little-known part of American history, but it also opens up other issues of the period (many of which have continuing relevance today), including westward expansion, race and the status of Native Americans within the framework of the United States, cultural change and assimilation of minorities, how one deals with social problems, and the sectional divide that eventual leads to the American Civil War.