The Memory of All Ancient Customs
Native American Diplomacy in the Colonial Hudson Valley
In The Memory of All Ancient Customs, Tom Arne Midtrød examines the complex patterns of diplomatic, political, and social communication among the American Indian peoples of the Hudson Valley—including the Mahicans, Wappingers, and Esopus Indians—from the early seventeenth century through the American Revolutionary era. By focusing on how members of different Native groups interacted with one another, this book places Indians rather than Europeans on center stage.
Midtrød uncovers a vast and multifaceted Native American world that was largely hidden from the eyes of the Dutch and English colonists who gradually displaced the indigenous peoples of the Hudson Valley. In The Memory of All Ancient Customs he establishes the surprising extent to which numerically small and militarily weak Indian groups continued to understand the world around them in their own terms, and as often engaged— sometimes violently, sometimes cooperatively—with neighboring peoples to the east (New England Indians) and west (the Iroquois ) as with the Dutch and English colonizers. Even as they fell more and more under the domination of powerful outsiders—Iroquois as well as Dutch and English—the Hudson Valley Indians were resilient, maintaining or adapting features of their traditional diplomatic ties until the moment of their final dispossession during the American Revolutionary War.