Frightening rumors of conspiracies and plots were a prominent feature of relations between Native Americans and Europeans in the colonial Hudson Valley in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While these alarming reports usually had no foundation in reality, they nevertheless shed light on several aspects of Indian political and diplomatic relationships in this area. This article holds that the spread of rumors and tales from one people to the next represents only the most visible of a great variety of interactions among the Indian groups of the valley, and therefore stands as indirect evidence of a vast native social and political world largely hidden from modern eyes. By plotting the career and distribution of particular rumors, one may get a sense of channels of communication and networks of exchange among the native peoples in the Hudson Valley as well as of the ties these Indians had to native groups in both adjacent regions and more distant locales. In particular, rumors of an Indian conspiracy against the Europeans in 1712 provide evidence of how the outbreak of the Tuscarora War in North Carolina reverberated in the Hudson Valley, which indicates that even small groups of Indians living close to centers of European settlement might be participants in extensive Indian exchange networks and thus be part of a larger Native American world.
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Research Article| January 01 2011
Strange and Disturbing News: Rumor and Diplomacy in the Colonial Hudson Valley
Ethnohistory (2011) 58 (1): 91–112.
Tom Arne Midtrød; Strange and Disturbing News: Rumor and Diplomacy in the Colonial Hudson Valley. Ethnohistory 1 January 2011; 58 (1): 91–112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2010-065
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