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By John Sugden

Blue Jacket (ca. 1743–ca. 1808), or Waweyapiersenwaw, was once the galvanizing strength at the back of an intertribal confederacy of unheard of scope that fought an extended and bloody struggle opposed to white encroachments into the Shawnees’ place of origin within the Ohio River Valley. Blue Jacket used to be an astute strategist and diplomat who, notwithstanding courted via American and British leaders, remained a staunch defender of the Shawnees’ independence and territory. during this arresting and arguable account, John Sugden depicts the main influential local American chief of his time.

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A major bone of contention was the right of the Mekoches to manage the affairs of the tribe in peacetime. They resented the war chief Blue Jacket’s long period of supremacy during the extended warfare of the 1790s. In 1795, when Blue Jacket boasted of holding a British commission, three Mekoche chiefs raised a jealous outcry over the matter. They charged “the English . . ” And they coupled their complaint with an account of the origins of the Mekoches and the Pekowis, which established that the “younger brothers” had merely grown from the ashes of a Mekoche fire.

It was in Virginia that Nancy Moore was born. Blue Jacket did not see his daughter until both she and her mother returned to Ohio about 1804, after the Indian wars had ended. Margaret lived in the white settlements, which by then had displaced most of the native towns, and Nancy was already married to a Virginian, one James Stewart. Nevertheless, Nancy was accepted by both her father and the Shawnees and spent much of her remaining years with them. The two women — wife and daughter of Blue Jacket — were a marked contrast, according to one who knew them.

Even the Iroquois, who defeated the Shawnees in the seventeenth century, warned the French about their ferocity. Revenge was only one reason why Shawnees occasionally went to war. Sometimes they fought to defend territory or to support allies, and the war trail was one means by which young men obtained plunder, prestige, and authority. During wars with the whites the flow of captured goods into Shawnee villages was often considerable and a lucrative substitute for the previous spoils of peaceful trade.

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