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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History


Canadian Military History: An Overview
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War of 1812
Aboriginal Peoples

The Role of the First Nations

Members of various First Nations fought on each side during the War of 1812, but overwhelmingly alongside of the British and Canadians. Although First Nations from throughout British North America participated in the conflict -- including the Grand River Mohawks under John Norton, who played a prominent part at Queenston Heights -- it was in the Old Northwest where the First Nations' role was most significant. For the confederacy of the Ohio valley tribes, the War of 1812 was the final chapter in the struggle against American expansion into their traditional areas. American Major General "Mad Anthony" Wayne had crushed the tribes at Fallen Timbers, near present-day Toledo, Ohio, in 1794, and forced them to accept the peace of Greenville the next year. Tecumseh, a young Shawnee warrior who had fought at Fallen Timbers, had risen, with his half-brother the Prophet, to the leadership of the confederacy by 1811. They were defeated once again, this time by William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe south of Lake Michigan, and by 1812 Tecumseh had little choice but to ally himself with the British.

See also the several biographies of Tecumseh and The journal of Major John Norton listed in the Autobiography, Biography and Memoirs section, as well as the works about Tecumseh in the Fiction, Poetry and Drama section.

Allen, Robert S. -- His Majesty's Indian allies : British Indian policy in the defence of Canada, 1774-1815. -- Toronto : Dundurn Press, 1992. -- 294 p.

Benn, Carl. -- The Iroquois in the War of 1812. -- Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1998. -- 272 p.

Goltz, Herbert C.W. -- "The Indian revival religion and the Western District, 1805-1813". -- In Pryke, K.G.; Kulisek, L.L., eds. -- The Western District : papers from the Western District conference. -- Windsor, Ont. : Essex County Historical Soc. and the Western District Council, 1983. -- P. 18-32. -- (Essex County Historical Society occasional papers, no. 2)

Goodspeed, Donald J. -- "The role of the Indians in the War of 1812". -- In Turner, Wesley B., ed. -- The military in the Niagara Peninsula : eighth annual Niagara Peninsula History Conference. -- St. Catharines, Ont. : Vanwell Pub., 1990. -- P. 133-144

Stanley, George F.G. -- "The Indians in the War of 1812". -- The Canadian historical review. -- Vol. 31, no. 2 (June 1950). -- P. 145-165

_____. -- "The significance of the Six Nations participation in the War of 1812". -- Ontario history. -- Vol. 55, no. 4 (December 1963). -- P. 215-231


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