Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Over a century before the Cherokees' Infamous "Trail of Tears," uprooted refugees already made up a majority among Indians in many regions of the American backcountry. Using the Tuscarora Indians as a case study, I take a new look at the role of refugee Indian groups in the construction of colonial frontiers and examine the ways that Indians thrown together from varying regional and cultural backgrounds wrestled with questions of collective identity. Although the Tuscaroras had once been eastern North Carolina's most influential Indian nation, after devastating military defeat, in the words of one contemporary, they "scattered as the wind scatters smoke." Some remained in North Carolina where they resided uneasily on the periphery of a plantation society and saw their lives restructured as "tributaries" of that colony. A few moved to South Carolina where they found employment as mercenaries, working to buy back enslaved kin.;Nearly two thousand trekked to Pennsylvania and New York where they settled with the Iroquois, a powerful five-nation confederacy that adopted the newcomers as their "sixth nation." The result of such dispersals was an eighteenth-century backcountry tied together by new bonds of trade, war, diplomacy, and kinship: Indian travelers, often members of displaced nations, constantly visited each other on worn valley paths hidden behind Appalachian ridge lines. at the same time, massive refugee movements that crossed colonial boundaries forced previously insular colonial governments to square off in either cooperation or competition in implementing frontier policies.;This study is the first detailed examination of the Tuscaroras and a provocative case study in the interrelations between migration, culture, and politics.



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