Fort Ticonderoga Highlights Role of 1759 Indian Agent

Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga this summer will be able to explore the role of an Indian agent in 1759 as part of a new program entitled “Within Humane Bounds.” The program will be offered from 2 pm – 5 pm, Sunday through Thursday through October 20, 2011.

An historic interpreter representing an Indian agent of Sir William Johnson’s Northern Indian Department who supplied and coordinated with Mohawk warriors in 1759 brings this nuanced history to life. The program includes an impressive display of representative trade goods including leggings, shirts, powder horns and weapons that were that were needed to secure Mohawk support to the British army. Visitors will learn about the role the agent played in maintaining the bonds of alliance as well as being an important source for practical trade goods utilized in the native villages including agricultural tools and cutlery.

Native American allies in the French & Indian War were key players for both the French and British armies. Accordingly, both sides had extensive networks of agents and traders to try to forge those alliances and coordinate native warriors. Beyond the backing of the British crown, and a large supply of trade goods, Indian agents also had to use personal connections to fulfill their positions. Their fluency in languages, knowledge of local customs, as well as their own personal bonds of kinship within tribes were all essential in securing native alliances. These bonds were very often tested during these times of war, as Indian agents walked a fine line between encouraging native military support while keeping these warriors acting, “Within Humane Bounds”. Sir William Johnson’s directive to his Indian agents was to use the inherent skills of natives in woodland warfare, while keeping them acting within the moral morays of European warfare. Indeed, 1759 through the work of Indian Agents, the Mohawk allies had a reputation among the British army for discipline as admirable as their martial skill.

“Within Humane Bounds” program is part of Fort Ticonderoga’s broader interpretive emphasis this season which brings to life the year 1759. Costumed historic interpreters portraying members of Abijah Williard’s Massachusetts Provincial Regiment recreate 1759 through daily programs and historic trades demonstrations.

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga’s Historic Interpreter, Joseph Privott, portrays an Indian Agent of Sir William Johnson’s Northern Indian Department at Fort Ticonderoga as part of the “Within Humane Bounds” Program.

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