Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Joshua Piker

Committee Member

Andrew Fisher

Committee Member

Brett Rushforth

Committee Member

Karin Wulf

Committee Member

Andrew Sturtevant


My dissertation examines how social relationships of kinship, co-residence, and nationhood structured the Indigenous politics of alliance that was at the center of diplomacy in the Great Lakes during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The project traces how the diverse array of Native people living between Green Bay and the Mississippi River made and remade alliances, founded on many overlapping and intersecting relationships that structured their social world, between the arrival of European colonizers in the region in the mid seventeenth century and the 1750s, when many of the region’s Native peoples began to migrate further west and the French shifted focus to the Ohio Country with the beginnings of the Seven Years War. Examining English- and French-language historical documents in U.S. and Canadian archives, I argue that the diversity of Native peoples in the Green Bay region and the multiplicity of their social relationships gave Native people a wide array of sometimes-conflicting obligations and alliances that they had to negotiate simultaneously in order to maintain the alliance networks on which their security relied. Alliances therefore had to be actively maintained and constantly renegotiated as Native individuals and communities reevaluated their relationships in response to their changing goals and contexts. In the seventeenth century, these relationships and alliances structured how and where people lived in the Green Bay region, including French colonizers. The character of Indigenous alliances limited French attempts to assert hegemony over the region through alliance. Without a permanent presence, they could not establish the kinds of day-to-day social relationships with Native people that strong alliances depended upon. Because Native people largely sought alliance with the French to gain advantages over other French allies, French officials were required to pick a side. These processes and negotiations reached their zenith with the Fox Wars (1712–33), which saw the violent rearrangement of the region’s Indigenous alliance networks, who in turn pulled their French and Indigenous allies into the conflict. At every stage, the interests and actions of Native people in the context of the Indigenous politics of alliance drove the Fox Wars. Their aftermath saw the human geography of the Green Bay region reshaped in line with the changes the wars had wrought to its alliance networks. Throughout, the daily priorities of Indigenous people, particularly their relationships with each other, structured the social and diplomatic worlds of Natives and newcomers in the geopolitically critical region between the Mississippi and St. Lawrence Rivers.



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