The Ordeal of the Longhouse

Historiographical Review

Daniel Richters work, The Ordeal of the Longhouse, provides depth to the early contact between one of North Americas largest indigenous tribal confederations and European colonizers. Richters historiography centers on life within the five nations of the Iroquois League and provides the reader with a way to think about the evolving relationships between a powerful and culturally rich populace and three distinct foreign invading peoples. As we will be discussing in class, the conquest of the Americas was an historic period of transition and change, particularly for the people who called these continents home for centuries. Europeans (Dutch, French, British, and though theyre not part of this work, the Spanish) appeared on Turtle Island competing for power. Each brought with them colonial and/or imperial ideals albeit with varying interpretations, practices, and accommodations. While the colonial powers ranged from Dutch civilizers, French traders, and British soldiers, Enlightenment notions of superiority still provided the common narrative to assume territorial and political authority.

Richters window into the other side presents many individuals who populated this region espousing different understandings of civilization. They lived their lives and ran their affairs through means and vehicles natural to them, yet completely antithetical to the foreigners they ultimately were forced to accept as neighbors. Even the way Native Americans and Europeans thought about the world was completely oppositional (circular versus linear thought) and thus language barriers were not the only communicative issue. Richters interpretation of the Iroquois and their relationships with other tribes and colonizers is one of evolution. While considering the historical context (from readings, lectures, and discussions), I want you to write a paper on the following question.

In what ways do the relationships between the Iroquois and the three European colonial powers differ and evolve; and further how do they reflect a period of historical transformation in North America?

This paper should:

1.) Introduce: Set the table for the paper! You could start with an enigmatic quote, provide some background, or historically situate your analysis.

2.) State your claim and make an argument. Your introduction should close with your thesis statement. The transition must be seamless so make sure the introduction is always relatable to the point you are going to make.

3.) Back up your discourse. Argue for your thesis and solidify all theories and claims by implementing evidence from your sources (quality over quantity). This segment will compose the body of the paper. This section potentially contains many pitfalls; make sure your claims are cogent and defensible given your source work. All should relate back to your thesis.

4.) Conclude. Review your thesis statement (though not in the exact same words) and wrap up your arguments. You may also include a general connection to the larger American project.


*Four (4) pages.

*Punctuation, grammar, and spelling are of the utmost importance and will weigh heavily on your grade.

*You are to cite all quoted material and/or content that is not your own using the Chicago Manual of Style (instructions in Rampollas A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, online or in the Writing Center or here: Chicago Sample Paper.pdfPreview the document).

*You are to use twelve-point (12) font, double space, and one inch margins.