Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Cynthia Van Zandt

Second Advisor

Eliga H Gould

Third Advisor

Willem Klooster


This thesis examines seventeenth-century Mohawk-Dutch relations through the lens of the colonial gunpowder trade. Looking through the eyes of cultural brokers such as Arent van Curler or Saggodryochta, it argues the Dutch colonies of New Netherland and Rensselaerswijck and the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee formed a symbiotic relationship that significantly altered the geopolitical landscape of eastern North America in the seventeenth century. As time wore on, and neighboring European colonies and Indian nations grew stronger, the Mohawks and Dutch grew increasingly dependent on one another for survival. These Mohawk-Dutch encounters and negotiations, dictated by the need for gunpowder and pelts, reveal a distinct arc of intertwined fates, outlining their shared rise, peak, and decline within a world embroiled in conflict. As a result of perpetual mourning wars, and a colony plagued with indigenous conflicts, New Netherland never possessed adequate stores of guns, powder, and shot to defend itself from invasion or fuel endless Mohawk conquests. The Mohawks survived, but the Dutch did not, relinquishing New Netherland to the English without a shot in 1664.