Land Where The Partridge Drums
A History of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation
In the Shadow of Serpents:
Trials and Tribulations of the Early 1800’s
The Last Years of Cook and Gray
Written and illustrated by Darren Bonaparte
The War of 1812 saw further pro-American military activity by Colonel Cook, who was by then a man in his seventies. When some Kahnawake Mohawks and their British allies were captured by the Americans at Fort George in 1813, he went to Niagara to negotiate for their release. He was arrested as a spy by the Americans, then released with full exoneration when he presented his credentials and letters of recommendation written by George Washington and other American military leaders. In the fall of 1814, Cook fell from his horse while leading a party of Tuscarora warriors in engagements against the British and Indians previously mentioned. He died soon after and was buried with honors near Buffalo, New York. William Gray, who led the American forces to St. Regis in 1812, was captured by the enemy in December of 1813 and died in a Quebec prison in the spring of 1814. Thomas Williams, another of their associates, is said to have been active in the war as well but he survived his friends and lived to a ripe old age.
The End of the War of 1812
The War of 1812 came to an end with a stalemate of sorts. Great Britain was worn out by the wars against both France and the United States, and the Americans realized that with the defeat of Napoleon in Europe, England would be able to turn its full attention and resources to the conflict in North America. The Treaty of Ghent, signed in 1814 and ratified by the United States early in 1815, effectively ended the war, although a British general later led an attack of 500 ships against New Orleans because he hadn’t heard about the treaty. Territory each country held before the war was returned. Although the Americans were unable to drive Great Britain from North America as they might have hoped, their major victories caused an upsurge in nationalism that practically guaranteed their westward expansion in the years that followed.
For the natives that stood in the way of that expansion, the end of the war saw their abandonment by their ally Great Britain. Akwesasne Mohawks, who fought valiantly for both sides in the war, found their community bitterly divided in its aftermath. The spirit of Mohawk unity had once again met its match in the passions of war, and non-native authorities wasted no time setting these divisions in stone with acts of legislation.
Next week: The Rise of the Chief Warriors
By Darren Bonaparte, historian and author of The Wampum Chronicles. Reprinted with permission.
Darren Bonaparte is a cultural historian from the Akwesasne First Nation. He is a frequent lecturer at schools, universities, museums, and historical sites in the United States and Canada. He has written four books, several articles, and the libretto for the McGill Chamber Orchestra’s Aboriginal Visions and Voices. Darren is a former chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. He is the creator of The Wampum Chronicles and historical advisor to film and television. He currently serves as the Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.